Awesome Everyday Driver – Volvo 242GT

Some cars cause me to do a double take, because at first glance they just don’t look right. This is especially so in the 2 door versions of R31 Skylines, the Toyota Prado and 240 series Volvos. It’s nothing bad, it’s just the lines are the same and it doesn’t register exactly what is different. The last of these is the one that stands out the most, as it doesn’t make sense. Volvos aren’t meant to have a sporting style about them!


In 1979 Volvo decided it would try something different. The Amazon models gone from people’s minds, the safety concious Swedes decided to bring out a new model, to remind people that Volvo cars could pack performance as well as safety. This exercise lasted three years with 600 of the 242GT models making it to Australian shores. Of these small amounts imported, many were exploited for their performance value, resulting in these flying bricks being a rare sight on Australian roads today.


The sporting credentials given to this model was impressive, with the ability to move improved after some technical improvements in all different areas. Under the bonnet of this two tone coupe sits the 4 cylinder B23E, a larger version of it’s stablemates’ 2.1 powerplant. The bigger bore, along with raised compression and a ‘H’ cam, add up to the engine putting out a healthy 103kw. Being a Volvo, the stopping power is impressive, with brake rotors of 263mm & 281mm helping pull up the 1320kg easily.


In regards to the aesthetics, this model has been given small styling touches, to let other drivers know it’s not a normal Volvo passing them. Actually, the fact a Volvo is passing another car is saying something in itself. Flashes of red, in the form of pinstriping, badging and seat trim striping, break up the darker colouring of these coupes. Atop the gearshift knob sits a switch, used to activate the electric overdrive fitted to the GT models. To round out the sporting look, a lower bumper spoiler is fitted at the factory. The lower spoiler, mixed with the block shape of the car makes for quite a presence in the rear view mirror.


Volvo’s attempt at losing their pedestrian image with the 242GT ultimately didn’t pan out. Many more attempts were made sporadically over the years, these attempts made memorable because the stereotypical Volvo driver isn’t supposed to be interested in sports cars. The 242GT, the 850R, and most recently the S60 & C30 racecars have done well to try to shake the image of the ‘bloody Volvo driver’. And they all have the DNA of the Volvo 242GT from all those years ago.


Today’s Awesome Everyday Driver comes to us courtesy of Torben. A family car from new, it was passed down the line and Torben was lucky enough to be last one in the line. Almost completely stock, the family’s dedication to the car shows in it’s original patina, the dead straight panels and neat interior. The only upgrade on the outside of the car are the Simmons wheels, which I reckon look better than the rolling stock the Volvo left the factory with.


The pictures are my own.

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