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Austin-Rover

Volvo 960 Revival - Now Broken

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Earlier in the year, a friend and serial car hoarder was giving a run-down of his current fleet and mentioned he has a Volvo 960 he’d be prepared to sell. Being on the rebound from the crushing disappointment of owning that possessed Daihatsu Charade – I thought of no better way to get over it than replace it with a car three times the size, with twice the number of cylinders.

 

Anyway, many months passed with no movement from either of us, until the Sunday of the NEC show last month. I caught the train down to the NEC and managed to look through the doors in to the halls at all the nice shiny classics – and the seething masses within. That was as close as I got to the show proper as a drive back home to Huddersfield in the new 960 was calling…

 

Escaping the NEC before kicking out time made a wonderful change and I was soon wafting up the A42.

 

My previous experiences with ‘big’ cars were Rover 800s – neither top-spec or overly luxurious trim levels. So the Volvo is a bit of a change. It feels bigger, more substantial, better built (not hard, really!) and has the most kit and equipment of any ‘classic’ I’ve had before now. What is especially good about it is that all the electric goodies actually work. I doubt I’d have got that from a Rover Sterling!

 

Outside, it is in pretty good shape. The bumpers are scuffed on the corners as you would expect but the rest of it should polish up quite well. Inside, the beige interior is pretty horrid and needs a deep clean and scrub to make habitable.

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I don't know how well equipped the 940 that I have is compared to the 960 but compared to the Citroen XM it is a bit utilitarian. No dashboard gauge for engine oil level, no rain sensor delay on the wipers, no electric seat adjustment, no variable ride height, no climate control, no automatic adjustment of the passenger side door mirror for parking when you engage reverse, no outside temperature info, no fuel consumption info and no steering wheel buttons for radio. The only place it scores in the luxury stakes is the heated front seats. I can't think why I did the swap... oh yes, rugged reliability. :)

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Despite driving very well indeed – it wasn’t to last. It was dark when I got home from the NEC, so it wasn’t until a trip out the next day that I noticed it had dropped oil everywhere. In such a quantity and such a distribution that I was somewhat confused. There were oil patches on the road having dripped from parts of the car that shouldn't have oil in or on them. Later on, I get the hosepipe on the car to give it a wash, and find a film of oil all up the bootlid, bumper and tail lights.

 

Off to Google I go, and find that blocked oil breathers are a ‘thing’ on Volvos and that is likely to be my problem. I check the oil level on the dip stick. Nothing there. It takes three-and-a-half litres to get back to where it should. So end of day two sees it confined to the driveway! Great.

By the end of the week, cars have been shuffled around and the Volvo is in the garage and over the pit. I’ve also been down to my local Volvo dealer for parts and was impressed to find all the bits of the breather system I need are available and the most expensive part was the new oil trap at just under thirty quid!

 

Looking under the car, everything is coated in oil and a multitude of little drips. What a mess! Still, good for rust proofing, I suppose. The current state of play is that the inlet manifold is removed, giving access to the breather system and oil trap. New ones to be attached later this week when time allows.

 

Enjoy some oily pictures…

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Not certain from the pics, but the bonnet does not look fully open.

I think from memory you can get the bonnet vertical, by pressing releases on the bonnet struts. (Possibly the red tabs)

 

Never owned a 960, but helped a neighbour work on his a few years ago.

 

Does help with access quite a bit.

 

Car looks lovely by the way.

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Not certain from the pics, but the bonnet does not look fully open.

I think from memory you can get the bonnet vertical, by pressing releases on the bonnet struts. (Possibly the red tabs)

 

Never owned a 960, but helped a neighbour work on his a few years ago.

 

Does help with access quite a bit.

 

Car looks lovely by the way.

 

It will, the 740/940 does that.

As do Mercs of the period.

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I don't know how well equipped the 940 that I have is compared to the 960 but compared to the Citroen XM it is a bit utilitarian. No dashboard gauge for engine oil level, no rain sensor delay on the wipers, no electric seat adjustment, no variable ride height, no climate control, no automatic adjustment of the passenger side door mirror for parking when you engage reverse, no outside temperature info, no fuel consumption info and no steering wheel buttons for radio. The only place it scores in the luxury stakes is the heated front seats. I can't think why I did the swap... oh yes, rugged reliability. :)

And Volvo wins for RWD action also. Nice 960 Austin-Rover though it won't surprise you hear me say it would be better as an estate :) I drove David's old red 960 estate at SF14 and it rode so much better with the IRS compared to the 940 with live rear axle.

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I'm going to be doing the same job on the 850 soon, it's the same engine but missing a bit and sitting the wrong way in the car basically. Access on the 960 looks much better, should've got one of them.

 

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

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I wonder if mine does it? 

 

Will have to check :)

 

Lovely car that - My next Volvo will be of 900 series variety!

They will.

On the old 700's there's a little catch on each hinge that can be rotated around to allow the hinge to open further and the bonnet to open vertical.

 

 

 

Nice 960 btw, looks lovely.

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Not certain from the pics, but the bonnet does not look fully open.

I think from memory you can get the bonnet vertical, by pressing releases on the bonnet struts. (Possibly the red tabs)

Does help with access quite a bit.

 

Indeedy it does open up like that - but not pictured - the rafters supporting the attic which get in the way!

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The new oil trap and pipework are fitted, so the breather system is back as it should be. The inlet manifold, injection rail and a million other bits and bobs are re-attached and it all works!

 

Next stop is an oil change and disassembly of the oil filer housing/mount as the seals on it leak. This will involve shoveing the back of the car out of the garage again, as otherwise you can't get in and out of the pit. This makes what should be a cosy working environment rather cold! :-(

 

 

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Over Christmas, the oil cooler/filer housing received its new seals. The engine oil was changed from the 0w30 put in at its last service (Volvo main dealer, no less) for the 10w40 that should be inside the engine. It runs fine - after all the disassembly - which is good! Hopefully, come the first road test it will remain leak-free.

 

Other work over Christmas was to fix some advisory items from the last MoT; corrosion was mentioned forward of the front wheels. This is the area behind and below the headlamps. It contains the battery on the offside and the washer bottle on the near side. Removing these and having a poke around revealed holes - so out came the welder. Once repaired and a bit of seam sealer slapped on to tidy things up, they were painted and coated in Waxoyl.

 

Next jobs are to change the gear box oil and give the brakes a going over.

 

 

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Any more details on the Opporto Red Maestro that has photobombed one of your pics?

 

Slight thread deviation then;

 

It's a 1983 1.6HLS and has been off the road for about seven years. It's been stored on a farm - and would still be there now - but outstayed its welcome. It's not bad underneath, but requires the ends of the sills and the rear arches repairing/replacing for an MoT. The inside is lovely; with the quality Shetland Tweed trim, and the rather rare fibre-optic lit instruments with rev. counter (being the HLS).

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Nearly there now! It won't be long until the Volvo is out of the garage and back on the road (without oil pissing everywhere I hope!). Remaining jobs are;

 

2x front brake hoses replacement

Brake fluid change

Gear box oil change

 

Satisfying jobs undertaken since the last update; I fitted a replacement telescopic antenna to the motorised aerial in the boot. This provided perhaps more satisfaction that it should, but watching it go up and down silently certainly adds a certain executive feel! :-D This evening I put the front end back together following welding/engine works. I had a set of new indicators to replace the sun-baked originals and put the new front number plate on. It's a reproduction of the tatty original that survived on the boot lid - finishing touches, and all that!

 

 

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The Volvo escaped the garage this evening, just in time for a few proving runs this weekend.

 

This afternoon ticked off the final jobs (for now). The main one was to change the gearbox oil, which included dropping the sump and cleaning the oil strainer inside. The ATF was bad - not the worst I've seen - but the clean, fresh, red ATF was nice to add after re-assembly.

 

There's a small handful of jobs to do at a later date. Non essential stuff really. At least the unscheduled month or so in the garage has allowed me to get the car back to a usable, running vehicle, plus get me ahead of where I would otherwise be maintenance-wise. Got to look for the positives, I suppose!

 

The windscreen wipers have a fault whereby they are always on intermittent. I suspect a knackered wiper stalk, so in the meantime I've rigged up a switch to save me pulling the fuse every time it stops raining!

 

 

 

 

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A bit of an update (even though the Volvo is in the storage unit at the moment!); Following the breather system replacement, I got a few long journeys (expensive) in and a bit of pottering 'round town (thirsty!) and it is a whole lot more oil tight than it once was. Encouraged by this, at the end of March I hooked up the caravan, attached my eBay purchase Volvo accessory towing mirrors and hit the M62 for thirty miles and a little weekend away. I got where I was going. I got home, too. The front of the caravan also got coated in a fine mist of oil. Bugger! Still, I'm calling it a success as under normal driving it keeps its oil in.

 

More Googling would suggest there's an oil seal at the end of the block that is a likely culprit for further oil leaks. I'm at the point now of hunting out a specialist and packing it off to them for further works. The seal at the back of the block is a gearbox off job. It also needs the cam belt doing, so the final push might see the credit card taking a hammering!

 

 

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I also had a trip out to Lockerbie this week to collect two second hand front wings painted the correct colour, too (silversand). They were at a place called Dumfries Volvo who sound like they are a main dealer, but certainly are not! They run a great place repairing, servicing and stripping down old Volvo (They've even got a 740 clubman-style rally car under construction). My eyes lit up when I saw they were pulling apart a late S90 with the same beige leather interior as my 960. I managed to pick up a few smaller bits of trim that were broken on mine, but the star purchases were the rear seat base (fag burn on mine) and both front door cards. Take a nosey at any 960 next time you see one and notice the vinyl on the tops of the door cards is all shrivelled through sun exposure. Good replacements are hard to find and also expensive, so to find these and give very little money for them is a big result!

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Lovely to see another 900 series getting some love :)

 

I set out to buy a Merc estate about 3 months back, started a thread here for buying advice and was swiftly convinced that in reality what I really needed was a Volvo. A week later I ended up with a 940. I don't regret it, great cars with loads of character.

 

My door cards were ropey too...

 

 

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Luckily I managed to find a set of minters in a scrap yard in the right colour for £20 virtually on my doorstep... Everybody else in the world seemed to want £100+ for a set so decent examples of these must be rare.

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Luckily I managed to find a set of minters in a scrap yard in the right colour for £20 virtually on my doorstep... Everybody else in the world seemed to want £100+ for a set so decent examples of these must be rare.

 

I've seen a full set of 960 door cards for £300 before now, but equally, I've seen some really crap attempts at DIY 'repairs', so i guess you can charge what you like for nice ones!

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Bringing the Volvo story up to date; plenty of mechanical work since last summer. My local main dealer, Clive Brook, Huddersfield began a 'heritage' club on the first Saturday of each month. Essentially a lot of standing around looking at old and new Volvos, drinking tea and (if you ask in advance) getting your car up on the ramps and taking it apart. It's all brilliant fun and it is really nice of Clive Brook to make time and space for stuff like this.

 

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This was wonderful timing, as it means that I've been able to speed up progress through some of the mechanical works I had planned... and not even had to get my hands dirty as it's all been done at Clive Brook. The prices charged for parts and labour through the 'heritage club' have been VERY good, so much so that weighing up the cost of my own time it has been a no-brainer.

 

Over a couple of visits, I've had the cambelt and water pump changed, the camshaft oil seals (special tools required as the back of the head is about two inch from the bulkhead!) and the gear selector switch (which was a welcome repair as more and more often the gearbox would go into a limp mode - which gave you only one forward gear - 3rd!) The reassurance of a new cambelt, and the new selector switch has seen the Volvo get a bit more use (in nicer weather, anyway) I've been keeping tabs on fuel consumption and over about 5,000 miles it has averaged 21mpg. My best ever tank was 27mpg and round town use returns between 16 and 18mpg. It isn't particularly ruinous, especially as it doesn't get used for work. For days out or something to potter about in on my days off it is the only way to travel!

 

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A few posts previous, I mentioned that replacing most of the engine's breather system did wonders for its oil incontinence problem. In normal driving it was now oil tight, but when under the load of towing the caravan it made a right mess. Since then I've had the camshaft oil seals replaced (above), and I'd been waiting for another caravanning weekend to test the Volvo out again. Well, this weekend gone was the one; Forty miles to Bolton Abbey on Saturday and forty miles back this morning and the boot lid and front of the caravan are oil free! Hurrah!

 

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Huzzah! :-)

 

Great to see another one in use and appreciated.

 

Glad the oil leaks have been fixed; the breather is a commonly neglected item and if it gets blocked badly, the other seals around the engine get put under stress instead... then if you are lucky they just leak, otherwise they can blow out completely (how do I know this? :-( )

 

I like the idea of the Heritage Club at the Volvo dealer!

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Very nice...Ive owned a lot (an i mean a lot!) of pre 2000 Volvos (mainly estates).

For me, the 960's are up there with the best of them. You think you "have it all" in a 940, then once you jump into a 960, there is no going back!

Ive only ever owned the one 960 estate, but it was so much better than the 940's.................except when it came to fuel consumption!

960's eat fuel...but thats the trade off, when you enter into the world of a 960.

Would i buy another 960..............you bet ;-)

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