I didn't know anything about Volvos when I got my car, but I'm a convert. My Volvo is solid and reliable even though I'm terrible about tune-ups & oil changes (every few years). I grew up with Nissans and Toyotas and I thought bi-yearly break downs were a given. My Volvo has broken down only once after 7 years of smooth sailing. It was a sensor problem. I took it in for a full tune-up this time because I want it to last another 200,000 miles. My mechanic says it's possible. Do find yourself a mechanic who knows these cars. Volvos do not react well to aftermarket parts and there are some quirks which only an old pro will know.
I've always loved Volvos, owned a 960, which was a great car, but it does not even compare to my 240 DL. The car is a tank. I feel very safe driving it around town and on the highway. The fuel economy is decent, although I did manage to get around 28 MPG when driving steady 55 MPH on the highway. The car is very simple to maintain and you will not get charged extra just because it is an import. I love the car's design, which really sets it apart from other vehicles. Because the car is so roomy, and has great visibility it has become an all time favorite of Hollywood (there is a bunch of movies in which the car is featured..Bridge to Tarabitha being one of them)..If you get a chance get one..
I've wanted a 240 since I was a kid, in the early 80's.. Since I began driving, I've owned Saab, BMW, Nissan, Daewoo (yeah, lol!) Audi, and Honda.. Only one of these were new, (the 'woo) and the rest were on the older end of things.. but certainly not 25 like my 1987 240! I recently purchased mine with about 150,000 miles.. it was well maintained and *everything* still works. I love the simplicity of the design, the fantastic ride, and great turning circle. The car may be slow, but it feels solid, competent, and surefooted. I'm looking forward to owning this for a while, and making a hobby out of it too :)
Very nice basic straightforward model. Owned 4 between 1986 and 2005 all pre- 1990. An outstanding, safe and reliable straightforward vehicle. I would purchase be these forever and had them down from generation to generation if I could figure out a way to replace the poor quality air conditioner. Placing a board or cardboard (color coordinated with the interior, of course) over the dash above the a/c controls makes huge difference but a/c still can't cope day in and day out when it's really hot or in slow city traffic. Simple, straightforward engine and drive train design makes it easy and simple for do-it-yourself maintenance.
The 240 has a strong (as in reliable) engine, and is purportedly safe, but that is it. The engine is anemic and roars like an 18 wheeler in the lower gears. Handling reminds me of a large moving van. The seats are not comfortable, and at some point all of the interior trim pieces get brittle and explode on contact. The exterior trim pieces have a habit of falling off too. I have had two of these (long story), both "wine" red, and both paint jobs have faded badly. The exterior styling inspires only extended yawns; espcially ugly are the large plastic headlights. I have owned a lot of cars, these are by far the least fun to drive.