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History 240 & 260

At the beginning of the 70’s Volvo was wondering if the 140-series should be replaced sooner than expected (the PV and Amazon lasted for many more years). The 140 was looking outdated and the engines were already outdated. Behind the scenes Volvo was indeed planning to do something new: they were developing the VESC. VESC stands for: Volvo Experimental Safety Car. This prototype should represent Volvo’s vision in car safety for the future.

History of the Volvo VESC

The idea of ESV-cars was developed in the USA since 1970. It should lead to better and safer cars in the eighties and beyond. There was a list made with 82 points. Volvo build 10 prototypes for its own ESV-project. In fact: Volvo started his project before the USA ESV was developed!

In 1968 Volvo completed the P1560, a prototype (actually 2 prototypes which were developed parallel) with elements based on the 140 but with even better developed safety systems. The prototypes had rubber bumpers, reinforced doors (introduced at the late 140-series), better crumple zones and even a prototype (based on a 140) with airbags was build. As you can see below the two prototypes were a 4-door saloon and a 5-door hatchback.

Volvo P1560 prototype sedan
The Volvo P1560 sedan prototype

Volvo P1560 prototype hatchback
The P1560 as notchback

According to Volvo 10 prototypes were built, the last one in 1970. In 1971 the P1560-project was cancelled due uncertain rules that were going to be set in the USA. The last prototype is shown below. The P1560-project was replaced by the VESC-project and P1720-project.

Volvo P1560 prototype 1970
The last P1560 prototype. The VESC was inspired by the design of this car.

Volvo 240 VESC prototype
The first prototype of the VESC

Volvo made a list of 70 point (based on the 82-points list the USA made) with safety features of the car. Most of these 70 points were better than de 82-point list.

When the VESC was presented in 1972, the car was extremely safe and highly advanced in many aspects. The passengers could survive a 80km/h head-on collission thanks to the big and heavy bumpers and new crumple zones, the car has airbags (front and at the rear located in the parcel shelf as inflatable headrest during an accident), automatic safety belts, the steering wheel was pulled away from the driver during a collission, pop-up headrests (during a collission), the car withstands dropping on its roof from 2,4m (not more than 75mm should be indented), ABS, backup camera, Macpherson suspension for better road handling, rollover protection, safety cage and many other safety features.

Volvo VESC
The Volvo VESC, which was very big with its length of 552cm

Volvo announced the VESC was only a safety experiment but many features will be used in future cars.

History Volvo 240

Back to the 240. When the P1560-project was cancelled Volvo decided the car that should replace the 140-series should be based on the 140 to reduce costs and was called the P1720-project. While the VESC was developed Jan Wilsgaard was designing the new car. Two prototypes were build: a car which had the same size as the 140 and a very big car (which was cancelled because of the energy crisis, the size of it can be seen at the VESC). In June 1970 Volvo-president Gyllenhammar announced that a new factory was going to be built in Kalmar. The new car should be built at Kalmar in 1974.

New engines were also being developed. The new engines should be more powerful, more economical (due stricter enviromental standards) and meet up new expectations Volvo has set, including a overhead camshaft. The new engine, which was belt-driven, was called the B21 (2,1 litre, 2127cc with 97bhp). When the oil crisis started and some countries introduced a new tax system for cars (based on volume of the engine) the B19 (1.9 litre) was introduced which was based on the B21. Even a B17-engine was developed for countries like Greece and Israel! The B20-engine was still available in the first 240-series. The B21E-engine (with Bosch’ K-Jetronic fuel injected system), B21ET (Garett turbo-equiped engine with K-Jetronic) and B23 (2316cc) engine. The USA-versions had a lower compression ratio and were called the B21F, B21FT and B23F-engines. All 240-series for the USA-market were equiped with a fuel injection system due emission regulations (so the B21A was never available in the US and only the 260-series was available with carburator in the USA). The B21 and B23-engine were replaced by the B200 (1986cc) and B230-engines.

Also new was the M45 gearbox, the M46 gearbox (based on the M45 with overdrive) and the M47 5-speed gearbox.

The design of the car (by Jan Wilsgaard) is based on the 140 but with a new front and back. The front was inspired by the VESC but with bumpers as seen on the last 140 (but with some modifications of course) and the angle of the grille has been changed. The back has a new bumper (based on and almost the same as the last 140-bumper) and new emblems. At the interior there was new seats and upholstery, slightly changed door panels and a new dashboard.

The new car was equiped with MacPherson strut front suspension (better road handling but also more free space around the engine), the fuel tank was moved into the front of the rear axle, better crumple zones, the rear suspension was based on the 140’s but improved, rack-and-pinion steering provides better steering handling and modifications in the braking system (new master cilinder and new type of brake booster).

The name was chosen easily: since the 140 was replaced by a new serie, the name should be 240. The versions “L”, “DL” and “GL” was used like the 140-series. Later the GLE (fuel injection), GLT (most luxious version of the 240) and Turbo (with B21ET-engine) were introduced.

The 240-series contains the following models:
242: a two-door coach with 4-cilinder engine
242GT: a two-door coach with B21E engine, limited edition.
244: a four-door saloon with 4-cilinder engine
245: a five-door Estate with 4-cilinder engine.
240: the name Volvo used since 1985 instead of “244, 245 etc).
GTX: a special version with striping, USA sealed beams and Virgo wheels.
240 Polar: the name of the latest 240-series
240 Classic: limited edition, same as Polar but for USA-market. Numbered.
240 Limited: limited edition, almost the same as Classic but not numbered.
240 Super Polar: 240-series with a lot of options, only sold in a very few countries like Italy (also sold as “Polar Italia”).
240 SE: Special Equipment, sold in only a few countries.
240 Van: commercial break with no rear seats.
243: a 1982 240 with one side as 242 and one side as 244, so the car has 3 doors. The legend says it was a mistake at the production so the car was mixed up to a 243. Other stories tell it was a demand of the Swedish police to have a 3-door saloon (only a single entrypoint for the back seat). All 243’s (30 cars) were exported to Estonia.
240 Jubileum: limited edition to celebrate Volvo’s amniversery in 1977.
240 Amniversery (Diamond): another limited edition to celebrate Volvo’s amniversery in 1987.
DLS: special version of the 244 sold in the DDR with a special 260-alike grille.
Ambulance (3-door).
Hearse (3-door).
California: a 242DL with white grille. round headlights (with white surroundings), white & orange interior upholstery (also the plastic parts are white), only available in 1978.
Group A Special Edition: a homologation version of the 242 Turbo Intercooler flathood, only available at the USA. The car was made to meet the requirements for the Group A-class by FIA.
Torslanda: developed for the Swedish market. With special striping just above the plastic rocker panels. No chrome was used on the car: it was especially developed for surviving ice and snow in the winters.

The 240-series were introduced in August 1974 and build until 1993.

Volvo 240 diesel

At the end of 1979 (modelyear 1980) the D24 diesel engine was introduced and available as 244 D6 and 245 D6. The D24-engine is build by Volkswagen, who fitted the engines in their LT commercial trucks and Audi-cars. The engine is a 6-cilinder inline engine (82bhp), there was also 2 litre 5-cilinder (D20 with 69bhpn) engine available for some countries. The 240-series which contains a diesel-engine was called the 244 D6 or 245 D6 and not 264/265 because most of the diesels didn’t meet the equipment levels of the 260-series.

The D24 engine is very reliable. But to keep it in good condition you have to change the oil every 7500km, not use the car for only short distance (it needs to be warmed up, before it’s warm be sure to keep the revs low) and keep the glow plugs in good condition (change them all when they are worn, not only 4 of the glowplugs). A turbocharged diesel-engine was not available in the 240.

Volvo 244 GL D6 diesel 1979
My own Volvo 244 GL D6 diesel (October 1979) with automatic gearbox.

History of the Volvo 260

In 1966 Peugeot and Renault had the idea to develop some parts together to reduce costs. In 1969 a factory was opened in Douvrin (near Lille in France).

In June 1971 Volvo joined Peugeot and Renault in a joint-venture to develop a small 6-cilinder engine. The new engines should be built in the factory in Douvrin. Not only the costs of the project were shared but also certain developments of the cars where the new engine was fitted into. The PRV-engine was planned as a V8-engine but this idea was transferred into a V6-engine because of economical reasons (a V6-engine was less thirstier, smaller and cheaper to build). The first 2.7 lite (2664cc) fuel-injected V6 PRV-engine used by Volvo was made of aluminium and has 140bhp and was called the B27. It was introduced in the Volvo 264 in 1974 and was available with SU-carburator (125bhp) or fuel injection (140bhp).

The engines were produced until 1990 and can also be found in the Renault 30, 25 (also as a turbocharged engine), Safrane, Espace and Alpine, Talbot Tagora, UMM Alter II (a Portugese offroad-jeep), Peugeot 504 and 604 (also as modified version in the 605 and Citroen XM), Lancia Thema, Dodge Monaco, Volvo’s 260, 760 and 780 (even in a small number of 960’s), Venturi (as modified version) and of course the DeLorean DMC-12 (famous for its role in Back to the Future). The new DeLorean (which should be in production one of these days) will have the PRV-engine because there was a big overstock of the engines and the new owner bought all these engines. The PRV-engine is known as: B27 (first type), B28 (modified version with slightly bigger volume) and B280 (modified version of the B28).

The PRV-block is known for being less reliable than the redblock-engines (B20, B21 etc) because of blocked oil channels (solved in the B28), problems with distribution tensioners, oil consumption, loss of power, ignition problems, problems with the injection system and several other problems. But if you have a PRV which is maintained well and runs well you can have a lot of fun with it!

The 260-series had the same design as the 240, except the front. The front has a “bignose” grille, other type of hood (to cover the longer nose thanks to the grille), and rectangular H1 headlights. The 260 was available with M45 4-speed gearbox, M46 gearbox (with elecrical overdrive), M47 5-speed gearbox and BW35 automatic gearbox (later the BW55-gearbox and several years later the AW70 & AW71-gearbox with overdrive).

Altough the 264 should replace the 164, both cars were available next to eachother for two years.

The 260-series has the following models:
264: a four-door saloon with V6-engine, introduced in 1974.
262: a two-door coach with V6-engine, only sold in a few countries and very rare.
262C Bertone: replaces the rare 262. See below for detailed information.
265: a five-door stationcar (estate) with V6-engine, introduced in 1975.
264TE: a stretched (limo) version of the 264. Also sold to the DDR for official purposes.

The 260-series were build until 1985.


Volvo 262C Bertone

When the P1800ES went out of production in 1973 there was a big gap left at the Volvo model range. A top-of-the-range luxury car was missing. Volvo felt the gap needed to be filled up. Jan Wilsgaard was told to design a sports coupé based on the Volvo 264. The project was called “Tre Kronor”.

Volvo built a 263 (with the 260-front) and 243 Coupe (with the 240 front and round headlights) but fortunately it was only a experiment.

The Volvo 263 Coupe at Volvo Museum. There was also a yellow 243-version of it

Coggiola (Italy) chopped a used 164 and rebuild the car to a two-door coach which resulted in a good looking car. The roof was lowered with 6cm. See the result below.

Volvo 262C prototype
The good looking 162, built by Coggiola

At the Geneva Autosalon in march 1977 the 262C was introduced. The car was inspired by Coggiola’s design but (of course) with the 260-front. The three crowns which was shown on the prototypes were replaced by a single crown. The car will be build in Italy at Bertone because Volvo didn’t have any capacity for producing the car itself. Hence the name 262C Bertone. Bertone lowered the roofs and put vinyl into it. At its first year the 262C was only available in silver with black vinyl roof.

The car was equiped with a B27 engine and BW55 automatic gearbox. nice leather upholstery, wooden trims, power steering, tinted windows, electrical windows and mirrors and airconditioning. Later models were labeled “Coupé” instead of 262C.

Later versions were also available with a manual gearbox and other colors (with not a vinyl roof). About 75% of the total production (6622 cars) were sold in the USA. The 262C was produced until 1981.

Volvo 200-series: differences European and USA-markets

Because many rules and regulations there are some differences between the European cars and USA-cars. Here are some of the main differences:
– the B21A was never available in the USA. All USA 240-series were equiped with a fuel injection system. Only the 260-series were available in the USA with a SU-carburator.
– Sealed beams for the USA-market since 1975 (most models got the 260-grille and 260-hood) depending on the model.
– When the new front of the 240-series was introduced in Europe (end of 1980, MY1981), the USA-types still had the old type front fenders because the double square sealed beams were used until 1985 in the USA and required the old type front fenders and indicator lights.
– Since 1986 the USA-cars also had the European style headlights and indicators. But the headlights were not made of glass but plastic.
– Speedometer and odometer in miles for USA-market (and some other countries).
– No headlamp wipers available for USA-market.
– Sidemarkers for USA-market.
– Diesel-engine was available until 1993 at European market but not available since 1985 at the USA-market (except some old stock which were sold in 1985 but were 1984-models).
– USA-engines have a lower compression ratio. The engines with an “E” are indicated with an “F” (for example: B20F, B21F, B21FT, B230FT).

Volvo 240 & 260 changes and modificitations over the years

Like the 140-series the modelyear is used instead of a model-letter (like the PV and Amazon). A modelyear starts in August and indicates the next year. So a car produced in September 1982 has modelyear 1983, but also a car produced in April 1983 has modelyear 1983.

The 240-series and 260-series had the following changes and modifications:
1975: the first 240 and 260-series. Available with B20 (B21A as an option), in USA as B20F.
1976: B21F was introduced, M46 manual gearbox (with overdrive and ATF as gearing oil) and AW/BW55 automatic gearbox introduced (replaces BW35), introduction of 262 and 265, tachometer available for all 260-models, black windshield wiper-arms.
1977: catalytic converters and lambda sensor for all USA-cars, fuel prepumps, AW55-transmissions for 240-series (instead of BW35, 260-series uses the BW55), introduction of 262C Bertone.
1978: 260-front for all USA-cars (including all 240-models), new front for non-USA-models, new seat cushions, introduction of 242 GT, introduction of B23E (140bhp).
1979: new headlights for DL (square) and GL (rectangular) except the USA-market, new designed rear headlights and trunk, new steering wheel, more power of engines.
1980: introduction D24 diesel-engine, black mirrors instead of chrome mirrors (also adjustable from inside the car), new emblems and number of models dissappereared on USA-cars, B27 becomes the B28 engine with a lot of improvements. Maximum speed of speedometers at USA set to 85mph.
1981: new dashboard (and gear lever knob), new front for European markets (new headlights, new bumpers, new grille and new hood), new rear lights (also for 245 Estate), introduction of B21ET and B21FT turbocharged engines, vinyl roof at 262C Bertone was abandoned, also final year of the 262C, introduction of GLT.
1982: new speaker grilles in front doors, introduction of AW70/AW71 automatic transmission (replaces BW55 except for the D6 and GLE), Zenith/Stromberg 175 CD2 carburator replaces SU HIF6-carburator, reduction of power for some engine models to meet up emission regulations or create some more torque, LH-Jetronic for some F-engine models (instead of K-Jetronic), introduction of B23A.
1983: new bumpers for all USA-models (European bumpers), 260-series production stopped end of 1982.
1984: speedometer for USA-cars set to 120mph (instead of 85mph), last production year of 242 and B23E.
1985: introduction of B200 and B230-engines (both available as fuel injected or Solex-Cisac- or Pierburg-carburated engines). Last 260’s and Turbo’s are build. Diesel-engine discontinued in USA, new starter motor for diesel engines, all models have the thicker propeller shaft (50,8mm).
1986: new hood and splitted cowls, new tailgate for sedan, new front fenders with extra indicator (USA-cars have the same modifications but have larger bumpers), plastic protection for tresholds. Volvo names the car “240” for all models (244, 245 etc dissappears as a name on the car). Third brakelight and new rear lights for USA-cars, mechanical pulse for speedometer replaced by electrical version.
1987: B230K with EGR and Pulsair introduced (replaces B230A) and has a Solex-Cisac-carburator, M47 replaces all M46-gearbox models (discontinued), extra door isolation (felt) on front doors to reduce noise, Euro 95 can be used instead of Euro 98 (Super Plus) for all European models.
1988: engines that can handle unleaded fuel are recognisable by a green fuel cap instead of a red cap (only applies for European models), new starter motor.
1989: new steering wheel, headrests in the back standard for all models, introduction of LH Jetronic 2.4, new hub caps, dashboard has a matte finish.
1990: airbag standard for all USA-models, LH-Jetronic 3.1 for some USA-models, LH-Jetronic 2.4 with EZ116K for all European injection-models, unleaded fuel for all European models, last year of B230K.
1991: only fuel injection-engines available, power steering as standard for all models, ABS as option available, new pump for power steering (except diesel-cars), new tailgate for 240 Estate (including new rear window), new rubber trim for windscreen (no chrome striping).
1992: only Estate-version available as Polar (with no chrome and black door handles) in most European countries. In the USA the Estate discontinued and only the saloon is available.
1993: ABS standard for all models. Airconditioning-system with R134A is introduced. At the end of 1993 the production of the 240 has ended (some cars are sold in 1994 but are all 1993-models).

© Volvotips 2011


2 Responses to “History 240 & 260”

  1. hpmb says:

    Hi! Do you know how many 240 Jubileums where made and from what month in 1987?

    • Volvotips says:

      Hi there! Unfortunately I only have the total production numbers per year, not the numbers of the special models which are produced in a certain year. The best thing you could do is to contact Volvo Heritage itself, they should have the exact production numbers of the Jubileum-cars. Good luck!

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