What’s the ideal car in which to hit the road in a convoy of TVRs? A Volvo 240, of course. Our resident road tripper Ben Coombs explains…
This September saw Pub2Pub’s Eagle Rally return to the road, after a three year gap due to that inconsiderate virus which now seems to have mostly faded to history. Now, the Eagle Rally is no small affair. In fact, it’s a road trip of over 2,000 miles from the UK to the far side of Bavaria, following some of Europe’s greatest driving roads to visit the famous ‘Eagle’s Nest’. Its entry list is predominantly sports cars, with TVRs often in ascendance.
So, a 34-year-old Volvo 240 is the ideal vehicle to take along on such a journey, right?
Okay, I completely understand that you may need some further convincing of this…
And as with so many choices, the decision was all about context. Naturally, as the proud owner of a well-travelled TVR, I could have joined the crowd and set off in my Chimaera, but a few things swayed me to take the Volvo on this occasion instead. Firstly, as I was undertaking the trip in support of the more sporty entries, the Volvo would enable me to carry a greater range of spares and tools along. Secondly, there was the fact that I’d already completed the trip to the Eagle’s Nest twice in the TVR already, so taking a different vehicle was rather appealing. And the third reason? Well, with two big European trips already under its belt this summer, my TVR was feeling the miles, and required a little TLC before its next big trip. So, the Volvo it was.
But how did it cope with a week pursuing a crowd of thoroughbred sports cars along some of Europe’s best driving roads? Pretty well, actually.
I mean, of course there were a few downsides. It’s not the fastest machine in the world, and despite being the ‘sporty’ GLT model, it treats corners as something to be endured, rather than relished. And then there’s the music situation – for originality, the Volvo retains its original cassette player, and I only had one tape along for the journey. ABBA’s greatest hits, naturally. Suffice to say, the Swedish pop wore thin quite early in the drive, leaving me with only the gruff 4-cylinder motor to listen to.
But these negatives were outweighed by the positives, such as the vehicle’s dependability. Everyone knows these old ‘240s are about as tough as cars can get, and so it proved on the Eagle Rally, with 2,500 miles being completed without any need to so much as open the bonnet. The fuel consumption is noticeably lower than the TVRs, and the spares-carrying ability was certainly a bonus. Because with the number of TVRs entered on this year’s rally reaching in double figures, common wisdom suggests we’d need all the spares we could carry.
So, you’re now probably expecting me to regale you of stories of all the times the Volvo heroically came to the rescue of all manner of ailing sports cars. But that’s not what happened. All of the fourteen cars on this year’s run made it down to the Eagle’s Nest and back with nothing to report in the way of major problems. Sure, there were a few minor electrical issues – the occasional blown fuse or temporary glitch – but overall, the Volvo wasn’t needed at all in the support role, and so it spent much of the week patiently plodding along behind the sports cars, offering moral support to their drivers, but not much more. Which is quite surprising, to be fair, as the Eagle Rally’s route across Europe doesn’t exactly follow the path of least resistance, instead taking in the twisty tarmac of the Ardennes, the fame of the Black Forest High Road, the endless mountains of the Alpenstrasse and the high speed hammering of the autobahn. Which, I guess, all goes to show that the more we use these classic cars of ours, the more they reward us with dependability, trustworthiness and ultimately, smiles.
Even if there isn’t an unglamorous Volvo 240 following stoically on behind them, ready to help out if needed.