Volvo has sold cars in North America for a long time. They were never considered stylish, but referred to as “sensible.” And, in spite of a conservative appearance, were stereotypically considered to be the favorite of liberals. The fact is that Volvos, until the late eighties, were much closer to their agrarian origins than other cars.
Parts for older Volvos are everywhere. They made few changes, and when they made them they stuck with them. The first post-war car with a modern appearance was the 140 series. These were available in 2 or 4 door sedans and a 4 door wagon, referred to as the 142,144, and 145, respectively. They were built for eight years before replacement by the 240 series. The 240 series was built until 1993, and is what most think of when they picture a Volvo. The 240 series was identical to the 140 from the A pillar back. The model change was made because of safety experiments conducted by Volvo, and to enable the fitting of a strut suspension. Tightening emissions regulations resulted in the switch to an overhead cam engine fitted with fuel injection and exhaust catalysts.
Used parts for these Volvos are easy to find. Although they didn’t sell large numbers in any year, they sold them for a long time. Conservative practices at Volvo also resulted in few changes to mechanical systems, and new parts are readily available.
Starting with the 850 series, Volvo began the switch to front-wheel-drive. Today all Volvos are FWD, except the four-wheel-drive models. Volvo continued to build RWD cars after the advent of the 850s, but gave up because of low sales.
Even with the newer cars, Volvo builds the same model for a long time. Finding used parts, especially sheet metal, is not difficult. But, due to the multitude of designations among what is actually a small number of models, the parts shopper must be sure to take all of the information with him. This should include the engine type, as listed on the under-the-hood sticker, and the VIN.