h2g2 – Volvo 300 Series – A700949

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on h2g2 – Volvo 300 Series – A700949

The Volvo 340 has been characterised entirely unfairly) as a car for grannies strong arms. The steering is not as as early VW Passats, but power should have been

It was, and still is, fashionable to at the 340, but it consistently came at or the top of owner satisfaction and reliability It’s safe, well-mannered, dependable and easy to maintain, and it was enough to sell (steadily, if more than a million over a 15-year period. It a greatly underrated vehicle.

The Volvo 300 series was originally a DAF as was the Volvo 66 and the later 400 series. were built in the DAF factories in the low rather than at Volvo’s plants. It took some for the Volvo standards of rust to make it to the 300 series, and even the ones were more than a traditional Volvo.

conceived in 1970. the Volvo 300 came into production in following Volvo’s purchase of the car side of DAF. Interestingly, the 340 was a BMW, and could also been an Audi – and other companies were all partners during the development the DAF P900, which became the The car did poorly at first, partly due to its being available with doors and variomatic transmission, but addition of more doors, trim levels and a manual secured it a steady market.

the 1,136,689th and last Volvo 340 of the line at Born in the Netherlands on 13 1991, it marked the end of an era; it was the of over 1.1 million rubber drive cars manufactured at the During that time 80,000 Variomatic and 300,000 340s had made their way Britain’s roads.


The car had a conventional monocoque 1 steel available in three-, four- and variants. The body was big, and fairly heavy, and there steel side impact on all models. Traditional Volvo such as collapsible energy-absorbing mountings were standard.

Engines and Things

340s with either a steel OHV 1.4 alloy head, an all-alloy OHC and the 360 had a businesslike steel 2.0 OHC with head. All were de-tuned for life. The 1.4 was Renault-sourced, and also to the contemporary Renault 5. The 1.7 was also the PSA 2 stable and could be found in the BX and most Peugeots (and in the Volvo 400 series).

The 2.0 was a Volvo from a 240.

Engines mounted longitudinally driving the wheels via a cable-operated dry-plate in the manual version, and a servo-operated in the automatic. 340 models and lower 360s had carburettors (mostly or Solex twin-choke down-draught and the 360 GLT had Bosch LE Jetronic fuel The 1.4 had a Renix electronic ignition which was not particularly reliable.

The gearbox was from the 240 and was combined the differential (in an arrangement sometimes as a transaxle). Early models had a all-synchromesh gearbox. and this was upgraded to five-speed. The 360 series had a tube surrounding the propshaft prevented the engine twisting in to the gearbox.

This tightened changes and reduced the amount of in the transmission.

Automatics – Bands

Continuously variable (CVT) is, in theory, better fixed-ratio systems. It is more than normal automatic with their power-sapping converters, and allows the engine to run at the speed for power delivery. The DAF was highly developed and, care, could give years of reliable service.

Ford and Nissan have all small cars in the UK with

DAFs CVT (for which the car was was branded ‘variomatic’. It was a quirky of rubber belts and sliding also found on the DAF 33 and DAF/Volvo 66. The notable features of this of transmission are that the engine often be slowing down the car is speeding up, and vice-versa, which is unnerving at first, and secondly you can go as backwards as forwards, since simply adds a reversing at the final drive.

Reversing races have

The Good Bits

Safety is a These cars are as tough as old But we’ll assume that you that and go on to the bits which everyday use.

Top of the list is the seats. They are comfortable and with adjustable lumbar and head restraints which are and beefy enough to protect drivers rather than the whiplash in precisely the worst as so many head restraints do.

is the engines. The 1.4 is surprisingly willing, and for reason appears unusually to wearing out. The 1.7 also indefinitely and was slightly more although this manifested in more relaxed cruising than brisker acceleration.

The two was a brute of a thing with to spare.

Handling was better it had any right to be, although the front struts had a tendency to go soggy fast. But with new Monroe dampers all round, the weight of the over the back axle the effects of body roll to cornering pretty stable, and in general pretty predictable. journalists hated it and condemned it as but then motoring journalists cars which you can drive bends at 120mph, tail tyres smoking.

Most of us the back end to stay tucked in, you, which the 300 series much does.

Ride was also above average, the cart-sprung rear axle. The was of the De Dion type, with the transaxle mounted to the car and telescopic to the wheels.

Strong bodies and big bumpers mean that in Volvo 300s are typically dramatic than for other although body damage is bad as panels come expensive least because of the number of of paint). Brakes were and up to the job.

The interior was well-built and didn’t or fall apart, and most were bolted together than glued or welded, so you get them apart if mending is The electrical fittings were of a high standard and rarely trouble. The heater was efficient and the vents blew cold making for adequate summer and providing the recommended ‘cool warm feet’ combination in the

The heater was thermostatically controlled.

outside the franchised dealer is cheap, as the engines are common. Do buy oil filters, though, as they non-return valves which engine life by stopping the oil down to the sump overnight.

of course, they went on and on and on. Any failure before 100,000 was rare, and the clutch would last well past These cars were old workhorses which would abuse well.

The Bad Bits

was a weak spot. The heavy meant that it took a to wind up to speed (although the two 360 series were much and attempting decent round acceleration came at a price in economy.

The boot sill on the was quite high so although the car was it was hard work to load. The seat folded, but not in a split as is now There was ample room for two on the seat, but a third would be due to the large tunnel carrying the and would only have a lap

The body was not as rust-resistant as most and although the metal was thick it fail MOTs due to corrosion of the Happily this was simple and to patch, and in any case the rust was massively less than on competitors, notably the Ford The places to watch were the back number plate and inboard of the rear light door bottoms, rear just in front of the wheels, and at the B pillar (behind the driver’s

When open, the boot was by gas struts (as with most These tended to wear leaving you holding up a very hatchback. Unless you had the four-door, in case you had to put up instead with a hideous boot which like an afterthought (it was).

The running at engine speed and the being at the back meant you had to be careful with gear and not rush the box. Double made for an easier life. was less serious on the 360 due to the torque The gears were from a and felt like it. Agricultural be a good description.

The synchromesh seemed to ease up a bit after miles, making the car an easier

On 1.4 litre engines the crankcase tube had an annoying habit of blocked. Cleaning it out is a simple but failure to do so resulted in crankcase leading to oil leaks and blue

And the steering was incredibly heavy. Few had assisted steering, although the models (with wrap-around bumpers) were a bit lighter.

a 300 series

The 300 series is ideal for the DIY for two reasons: first, it’s very simple, and secondly, much goes wrong

The Haynes manual covers all the points, and most jobs are within the competence of the amateur The two most common routine are cleaning the crankcase breather and the inside of the distributor cap.

the points on the 1.4 is a bit of a challenge, as the distributor is against the firewall, and changing the plug, half-hidden behind the mounting, demands care or a thread could result. All on the 1.7 are a doddle except changing the cap (again, hard up against the Even changing the shocks in the McPherson struts is surprisingly and there are pattern parts for everything.

Why Would I Want One?

they are getting a bit long in the 340s are good for two things safe family transport on a and new drivers. They provide and safety; if you crash you’ll live. They are cheap to buy and and there are plenty of non-franchised specialists to keep the cost still.

There is no known way of one of these out.

The alternative be an old Golf, which is nearly as (though lacking side-impact but these command higher for the same age and condition, and it can be hard to one that’s not ratty and mechanically

The 360GLT is quite amusing. The two engine is thirsty, but fast under 10s) and the engine a grin-inducing growl. Above though, there is more than power, so use the torque and the revs moderate.

Buying a 300

Step one is to get the newest one you can. quality and rust resistance year by year, so newer is Avoid metallics (hard to if touch-ups are needed, and the early paint was not good), and don’t go anything with a ratty as the inside is the best bit. out for blue smoke, which indicates lack of servicing than bad driving – and sure the service book is up.

Most 340s have in private hands from so should be well looked

The best of the crop is the five 1.4 or 1.7, with five-speed The four door is ugly and practical, and the three door the usual challenge for rear passengers. The 2.0 (360 models) is

All have heated rear and if you choose well you will get heated seats (brilliant), windows, central locking, an radio/cassette, head lamp and maybe even air conditioning. If it has power steering, get your out.

The engine should idle at 600rpm or so with no juddering or Some noise from the bearings is normal at idle. It remain when you rest foot on the clutch and go when you the clutch in. If not it may be the clutch bearing is not too bad but not a five minute job).

driving there should be no spots; the engine should cleanly and quietly (if not excitingly) up to 4,000 rpm. Check the if the nose dives deeply the shocks need replacing. can pass the MOT however bad they but when they go soggy as any car the braking is compromised in wet weather.

all 340s are likely to have front shocks, so budget for them if funds permit, not that expensive and you’ll the money in reduced tyre This holds true for any Monroe gas-filled dampers to work best.

A grand buy you a really tidy little with at least three or good years in it, and for five you can buy one which should give at two further MOT passes before consigned to the scrap heap. be scared by mileage as long as the is there.

For more advice see the Owners Club website, is packed with handy (and has a for-sale section).

1 aircraft or vehicle structure in the chassis is integral with the – Concise Oxford

2 A joint venture for engine between Peugeot and Renault, Volvo as a minor partner.

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