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Sunny Jim

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shiny480.thumb.jpg.dd18d7025386ed08b1cfc3c54cd3363e.jpgI blame @cort16, a week ago he posted a link to a rather shiny red 480 on the Ebay Tat thread. It was a thing of beauty but was rather beyond my budget and was in Scotland. You know when a car's got under your skin and you keep re-visiting the ad then looking at the DVLA online checker to see if a new V5 has been issued? I was doing various man maths calculations but I don't have any children to sell (I've never had them , it's not that I've sold them already) and I need what's left of both of my kidneys. I trawled the classifieds but anything within my budget was beyond my skillset.

I've been sleeping badly recently and in the early hours the other night I found a 480 an hour away from me closer to my theoretical budget. The ad sounded promising, the MOT history not too scary AND it was turquoise!


It's an 'S' so the base model, 1.7 Renault engine, no fancy info screen but had been specced with optional half leather seats. I arranged to go and see it yesterday. I have a thing for two door estates and pop-up headlights but had a firm figure in mind well below the asking price and resolved to walk away if I couldn't get it for what I was willing to pay. The Wayback Machine helped me discover the car had been for sale for 17 weeks at gradually reducing asking prices and some handy buyers guides from Owners Clubs meant I knew what to look out for. Prices are all over the place on these and as we all know what a car is advertised for isn't always what is sells for - they're rare but still rather forgotten. The vendor said he'd bought it from a local garage before lockdown but then it had developed some faults and he'd not had the money to sort them out. When I contacted him on WhatsApp his profile picture was of a car transporter so it seemed likely he was a trader of some sort.

He let me spend a good hour systematically going over the car while I compiled a list of issues in addition to the ones he'd mentioned. I hate negotiating so I was straight with him and said look I could pretend to be Mike Brewer and offer you and insultingly low figure and we can go back and forth but here's where I'm at. I showed him other ads (and how long they'd been up for) and my list of issues with a rough guesstimate of what it would cost to sort them and named what I was willing to pay. "Old art yer 'and," he said. "Hang on," I replied, "You've got a car transporter and as the car isn't currently driveable on the road (the indicators don't work) I want it delivered." He hummed and harred but eventually we shook on it.

So far the to do list is looking like this:

 4 new shocks - rears 'slightly corroded', fronts 'lightly misted'

2 new front tyres

New Battery

Sort exhaust blow and investigate rusty cat


Rear of sills where it meets rear arch is a known weak spot on these, this doesn't look too bad but want to sort it before it gets any worse


Replace damaged daytime running light


Possibly replace faded and cracked rear lights - these are no longer available and rare as rocking horse poop - 'best' price I've found a pair for so far is £260 (HFM!) but they'll need replacing eventually and the longer I leave it the dearer they'll get so I might just hold my breath and take the hit now.


Replace Central Electronics Module (CEM) which (hopefully) is the cause of the indicators not working and the headlights doing this (at least I know the motors work!). I've managed to track one of these down for £80.

These are getting to be rare cars now and although they share a lot of parts with the other 400 series cars the bits that are unique to the 480 are getting harder to find and consequently more expensive. The irony is that over time I'll probably end up spending more than I would have on the shiny red one. I won't have had the satisfaction of doing myself though and isn't that a large part of what our hobby is about? Built not bought. Other than my BX which I bought off here this is the first time I've bought a vehicle without taking it for a test drive. The biggest gamble is that the electrical issues aren't sorted by a new battery and CEM. But hey, what's life without taking a few risks?


I take delivery Monday, can't wait!

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I loved the one I had, the indicators could just be the dash not seated correctly. Mine had weird issues which were all due to the dash not being replaced correctly. It was a stunning motor and took us on our honeymoon, it was swapped for a Xantia. 

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It's the other way around, the physio appointment left me unable to do any tinkering: rotator cuff injury, left shoulder and I'm left-handed.

Should I be concerned about this? Water dripping from exhaust even after the car is up to temp and been running for 20 minutes? No sign of white smoke or evidence of mayo on the filler cap. Temp gauge hasn't got above 1/2 and the electric fan kicks in and out. The exhaust sounds like it's got a blow and the cat is v. rusty. The car had been stood for several months.

I decided not to worry for now and took loads of pictures instead.



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  • Sunny Jim changed the title to The Dutchie has arrived and it drips
6 hours ago, RoadworkUK said:

my favourite thing about these is how they put an actual, proper Volvo front grille below the front bumper.

“It’s like having your nose under your chin”

On 6/19/2021 at 4:49 PM, Sunny Jim said:

the indicators don't work

Try the fuse - it’s shared with the dash instrument illumination when the headlights are switched on. As your pop-up are going bloody mental it could be linked… On mine, if lights were on then the indicator fuse would blow due to a short on the binnacle backlight. I think stalk switches can fail regularly too. 

Excellent choice though. The 480 is one of my all time favourites and yours looks good.

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So long as it's not there once the car has actually been driven for a reasonable amount of time at speed don't worry about a wet exhaust.  It's just a sign of how ridiculously clean by the standards of the time they ran.

If a huge portion of your switchgear illumination appears to be dead don't panic - a lot of the lighting is via fibre optics, so if the lamp in that fails it obviously takes out a shedload of the lighting (including the seatbelt buckles!) in one shot.

Nice driving little cars these.  Though having the same fake indicator tick as in several buses I've driven is something which always messed with my head a bit.


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When I did my work experience at Lancaster Volvo in about 1992 these were brand new. Had lots of exciting test drives in 440 and 480 turbots, even went out in a 262!

I've always liked the 480 shape, pretty bold choice when ovloV were still seen as a fairly sensible car.

There was a red one looking a bit unused near me for ages I was keeping tabs on.

As for parts, are the rear lights symmetrical? European sellers may have more choice of used parts if so

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38 minutes ago, Tadhg Tiogar said:

Definitely not.

I wonder if Volvo breakers like Lakes might have tail lights available

Haha no chance with rear lights from there these days. 

The only real option is to repair your own by polishing or cutting them up and replacing the outer plastic lens with those on sale only from the French 480 Club for about £300-400 with shipping.

Pretty much any second hand unit will be trashed or approaching the cost of the new French lenses anyway. 

For the DRL lenses you can buy these from a guy in NL. You have to cut your old ones up and glue the lenses on. Think of it like a starter project for the rear lights. I haven’t been brave enough to chop my rear lights up yet but I do have the new keys lenses ready to go. 


Join us at Volvo 480 Club Europe forum for help and answers. The Facebook page is just full of idiots asking the same questions over and over again.  


I would hold off on buying a new headlight motor as it probably can be revived by running it and for a good amount of time. Instructions on the forum. 

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I had 1 of these in Turbo ES flavour,bought cheap as it needed a clutch and a few "niggles sorted"

Soon found out that the ES stood for Electrical Suicide as it had a complete meltdown,luckily before I'd done too much with it

Driving it to Danny's in Ruabon was probably it's most reliable trip


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18 minutes ago, andy18s said:

I had 1 of these in Turbo ES flavour,bought cheap as it needed a clutch and a few "niggles sorted"

Soon found out that the ES stood for Electrical Suicide as it had a complete meltdown,luckily before I'd done too much with it

Driving it to Danny's in Ruabon was probably it's most reliable trip


Sorry to be be pedantic but you either had a Turbo or an ES!

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Theres a chap locally who comes to our car meets in a late Celebration model in that nice burgundy colour, I've always quite like these but the ones I've driven had pretty poor squeaking interiors which grated after a bit. 

As for the exhaust that's just condensation, once you drive it on the road it should all just pour straight out the exhaust, it won't be doing it much good at the moment though as it will be rotting the insides out. 

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That back seat configuration is proper cool and all the seats have a really nice sporty style to them. I bet they made stuff from that era look very dated. Do the rear seats fold or are the fixed? Is there also much room in the boot?

Love the Citroen as well.


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48 minutes ago, trigger said:

... it won't be doing it much good at the moment though as it will be rotting the insides out. 

Which they made a habit of doing at the time.

We did quite a lot of 440/460 exhausts when I was at the garage and they generally had signs of having a lot of water sitting in them, especially on ones which didn't do many miles.

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14 hours ago, rob88h said:

As your pop-up are going bloody mental it could be linked…

I understood that comment to mean that the prices for the lift motors are going mental, rather than the pop-up mechanism on this particular car...

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29 minutes ago, wuvvum said:

I understood that comment to mean that the prices for the lift motors are going mental, rather than the pop-up mechanism on this particular car...

Haha, that too. The motors are common with those on a Ferrari 456, cementing the exotic credentials of the Volvo 480. 😉. When I replaced the motor on mine last summer I think it was ~£100. 

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2 hours ago, Tadhg Tiogar said:


You should try buying them second hand..... 600 Euro's is not uncommon and that's for second hand parts, that will fade and crack in time. At least the French reproduction lights are built the more modern plastics, with UV protection. 

Because TADTS, and the value of the cars are relatively low, it drives people to break a car, rather than repair it.


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54 minutes ago, Jifflemon said:

.... At least the French reproduction lights are built the more modern plastics, with UV protection. ...

I'd hope the lens plastics are up to scratch. Some seem to go opaque with cataracts after only a few years.

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  • Sunny Jim changed the title to The Dutchie - leak found

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