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What do an old Volvo and a woodburning stove have in common?
Please allow our resident road tripper Ben Coombs to explain…

There’s something very satisfying about an old object or tool which continues to fulfil its purpose, year after year. That hammer your grandfather bought half a century ago, which still does the job, for instance. Or the woodburning stove which has warmed your local countryside pub every winter since 1786. For that matter, the warm pub itself probably deserves a mention, too – still going strong centuries later.

Simple objects, thoroughly designed and well built, can seemingly last for ever, performing their role and providing satisfaction as they do so.

I’d now like to nominate another object which fits the above description – the ClassicLine Insurance-sponsored Volvo 240. Its design is now over 50 years old, while our particular example is still going strong 36 years after it was built. Mileage-wise, it’s most of the way to the moon. Age wise, in a few years it’ll be declared a historic vehicle, gaining tax-free status because surely something so old can’t still be pressed into service as dependable transport, right?

Wrong.

Earlier this month, the Volvo returned from Pub2Pub’s French Revolution road trip – the seventh European driving tour it’s supported since it started venturing across the channel with its flock of TVRs and other sports cars. Each of these trips requires it to cover thousands of miles, loaded with tools and spare parts, as reliably and comfortably as possible. And it seems that when Volvo created the ClassicLine 240, and its legendary red block engine, they took inspiration from that woodburning stove in the corner of the pub, given how they share their boxy shape, black paintwork and aura of unassailable reliability.

In a way though, supporting the European tours is the glamorous tip of the iceberg for this Volvo. In between its jaunts over the Alps or down the Route Napoleon, it performs its unsung daily driver duties in the UK, proving dependable in the cold dark of winter, practical for carting around people and things, and occasionally, even almost stylish, when it drops by a car show or coffee morning.

Unlike that old hammer of your grandfathers, it’s a tool of many uses; a Swiss army knife on wheels, fit for everything from chasing Maclaren’s down the Alpenstrasse, to carting rubbish to the tip. And just like those old tools in the shed, it looks set to provide many more years of service. The average age of a car when it took its final trip to the scrapyard in 2009 was only 13 years; in 2021 it was 16. So, the old Volvo has been performing its duties for over twice as long as the average vehicle, with all the environmental positives that entails.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that a 36 year old Volvo is the answer to every motoring question, but I would suggest that its example shows what classic cars can achieve if well looked after. So, don’t be shy, get out there and use them – there’s real satisfaction in doing so.

Just like lighting that old woodburner, in fact.

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Leisurely Road Trip Announcement: Has spring got you pondering where your next road trip will take you? If so, our resident road tripping expert has an announcement which may well be of interest. Expect slower paced exploration. Shorter driving days. And time to enjoy local culture.
Find out more here.