The Volvo 240 - A pioneer which became a classic
"There is often beauty in functionality. Natural, uncomplicated solutions based on sound common sense are often the most attractive ones as well," says Jan Wilsgaard, designer at Volvo from 1950 to 1990 and the man behind the Volvo 120, the Volvo 140 and the Volvo 240.
The design and body of the Volvo 240, which appeared in August 1974 as an upgrade of the Volvo 140 Series, had much in common with the Volvo Experimental Safety Car (see 1972) that Volvo had exhibited a couple of years earlier.
The forecarriage had spring struts and rack-and-pinion steering gear. The engine had four cylinders and overhead camshafts and an aluminium-alloy cylinder head. Comfortable upholstery and three-point inertia-reel safety belts were standard.
More than anything else, it was the car's crash safety properties combined with the fine driving characteristics which attracted attention when the car appeared on the market the world over.
In 1976, the Volvo 244 was chosen as the standard for future safety work by NHTSA in the USA on the grounds that it offered better protection for its occupants than any car of comparable size. This decision had a far-reaching impact on traffic safety requirements throughout the world automotive industry. In a major survey as recently as 1991, the Insurance Institute
for Highway Safety, IIHS, cited the Volvo 240 Estate as the safest car on the American market.
In environmental terms, the Volvo 240 was the first car in the world to be fitted with a catalytic converter and Lambda sond. The system was launched in 1976 in the USA.
The Volvo 240 has probably received more distinctions than any other car in the world: "Car of the Year", "Family Car of the Year" and "Safety Car of the Year", just to mention three examples.
The Volvo 240 also made a name for itself on the racetrack, attracting racing
drivers with its good roadholding properties on gravel and asphalt alike.
About every third Volvo 240 was an
estate, a popular choice among families the world over.
During the nineteen years the Volvo 240 was in production, it underwent constant development. More than 2.8 million cars in the Volvo 240 Series had been built by the time the last Volvo 240, an estate, left the production line in May 1993.