Sunday, April 05, 2020

My Daily Driver: @julkinen's Volvo XC70

1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

I bought this car over the phone over Christmas. I needed a dependable daily driver diesel for my hour-long commute, and since some of my friends from the UK were coming over to northern Finland in mid-January, we did a deal where I’d locate a car somewhere near them, cover the costs for the car and some initial roadtrip-proof maintenance and they would divide the fuel costs among themselves. It was basically this, a Multipla, a Frontera or a Discovery with a coil conversion, as I wanted something I could use for hauling garbage in the countryside as well as driving to work. I chose the Volvo as they’re the easiest to repair here due to good parts availability. It would also cost a fraction of what similar Volvos cost here. The car is RHD, too, but that’s another story.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

So, the guys bought the Volvo after determining it was beat and needed servicing but it wasn’t too beat to make it here. It’s far from mint as the paintjob is severely scratched here and there, the interior trim is coming off as a bunch of clips are broken, and the all wheel drive doesn’t actually work as it’s chewed up a sleeve next to the angle gear. “They all do that sir”, I believe, and on my commute it doesn’t really mean anything except wheelspin where there should be none. I’ll have it fixed as it’s not exactly desirable for a jacked-up crossover wagon Volvo to be FWD, but since the car runs and drives fine without any warning lights, I’m not too bothered about it. At least the car is a stout 6-speed manual, as I’ve let myself be told the automatics are more breaky.
I taxed and plated the car here soon after getting it and proceeded to drive it to work every day for months. It quickly proved its worth as it’s really quite frugal for such a big wagon, and really comfortable and capable. The seats are excellent, the leather is in good shape, and the entire car feels like it’s designed to be driven around here. The engine seems to be in alright shape for 160,000 miles, but I want to get some use out of the car before I invest into overhauling the AWD. There’s a lot of “While I’m here” parts that are adjacent to the angle gear, and I’ll have it done at a specialist anyway.
3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

The Volvo is probably the most appliance-like out of any cars I’ve ever bought, so I’ve been happiest just driving it to work and back and filling it up with increasingly cheap diesel. In the future, I plan to do more roadtrips in it, as I’ve only really driven it when necessary and not for fun’s sake. I’d love to chuck some bags in the back and drive to Lapland in it, where it belongs, make some memories. But it’s the one car I’ve bought out of need instead of the more usual “Let’s see if I can get away with buying one of these” approach that has led me to owning the project cars I have in the barn, or roadtrip cars like the one-liter Fiat Panda which I dailied last winter after driving it home from Slovenia. I couldn’t see myself commuting in anything else I own or have owned.
Right now, the Volvo’s declared off the road as keeping a diesel car taxed here is easily double the cost of a comparable gasoline car, due to the higher road tax which needs to be offset with getting use out of the car. As I now work from home instead of doing 100 miles per day, I’m running errands in my dad’s hand-me-down Mercedes S203 M271 C-Class which I initially used for commuting, but which I wanted to replace with a more beat wagon that would offer more countryside capability. The Merc is about the same age as the Volvo, but far better kept, and I don’t want to subject it to too much wear and tear. It’s also factory lowered where the Volvo has a factory lift, low profile tires where the Volvo rides on taller rubber, and it’s also an automatic. Great car, but it would go to waste just racking up the miles on a straight road to work and back. The Volvo’s better for that, and my fondest memories in it come from the countless hours of comfortable commuting.

4. Why do you love cars?

I’ve always loved cars, like many of the others who have taken part in this blog series. I don’t really remember a time in my life where I haven’t strictly been about cars, but of course you have to separate the idea of a car and the reality of owning several. In my life, cars are also linked to movies, music, brochures, adverts, roadtrips, photographs, the car aesthetic where it’s in the center of the frame but there’s either a million things happening around it or because of it or nothing at all, like in a sterile ‘80s brochure shot seemingly set up in a vacuum. I never seem to think about cars as constantly degrading hulks of defunct engineering ideals that gather rust and maladies, but as the way they were depicted in period marketing material and movies. The fact they are quite often a bit beat and broken by the time I get to own them is just a minor inconvenience. This is probably also why I can more readily champion cars that in actuality completely failed on the market. But it’s easier when you have known good, dependable cars that get you to work and then the cars that are fine as they are, working or not, and you can haul parts for the latter in the former.

If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

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