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See Homepage. This page: An early series Volvo 144 saloon of 1966 - 1971 at a motor show.
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Volvo 144 saloon.

When Volvo drew up plans for a replacement to take over from the successful 120 / Amazon series, gone were thoughts of curvy saloons echoing the styling of 1950's American cars, replaced instead by boxy Swedish lines designed with the modern, mid-1960's motorist, in mind. Under the skin though much of the Amazon's running gear remained. Although hardly a thing of great beauty, I've a soft spot for the 140-series Volvos as many family trips during my formative years in the late 1970s/early 1980s were undertaken in dad's bright yellow Volvo 144S saloon, the 'S' signifying the fitment of twin carburettors and some internal tweaks to the engine over the base model - a photo of which may be found further down this page.
Dad's car, SNE 57K, was a second-series version of the 144, while the car shown below is a first-series car, introduced in 1966 for the 1967 year, and which continued in this form until the range received a facelift in 1971.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Volvo 144 saloon car at a show
This LHD example was photographed at a continental motor show, possibly at the model's launch. The Volvo 140-series was produced alongside the Amazon for a number of years, until it took over altogether from the older model. The car would go on to be available as a two-door (142), a four-door (144) and - in 1968 - a five-door estate (145), in basic, De Luxe, or Grand Luxe specification. Under the bonnet, the Amazon's four-cylinder B18 engine provided the power for the first years of production, being replaced by the 2.0 Litre B20 engine in 1969, offering more torque but less of a revvy feel to it.
The 140 would form the basis of the six-cylinder 164 range for 1969, a model most easily identifiable from its four-cylinder cousins by a squarer radiator grille. A high-roof estate known as the Express would also be introduced, although not I think for the UK market.
In 1971 the car would receive its first facelift, becoming the version that I remember us owning. A black and silver grille was fitted, featuring the diagonal Volvo badge, and a re-designed steel road wheel was fitted from thereon. Tweaks, mainly safety-related, were incorporated to this series in 1973, with a further re-vamp of the front end styling making its debut for 1973.
In 1974 the entire 140 range was replaced by the 240/260 series, a new car based around the 140's basic styling that would, via many updates and re-workings, continue to be a presence in Volvo dealerships until the 1990s.

Our 144S and an assortment of ex-BA VC10s at Abingdon, 1980.

One from our own family's albums now - a photo of the Volvo 144S (SNE 57K) that replaced a pale blue 121 in our driveway at home. The photo dates to 1980, and the location is RAF Abingdon, or rather just outside the perimeter of it. The reason for dad taking the photo, en route to my gran's home in Bognor Regis, was the interesting assortment of ex-British Airways Super VC10s parked in the distance. At the time, the weary old airliners had already been pensioned-off by BA, and were destined for conversion into RAF tankers. Loitering outside the perimeter of the airfield attracted the attentions of the military police, so dad had to explain the reasons for his photographic interest in the site.
In many ways the four-door 144S was a more practical family car than the two-door 121 that had gone before (ENB 622D). I also remember that the latter's vinyl seats would become very sticky to sit on it hot weather, whereas the 144S had seats with cloth centres to them, much more agreeable to a short-wearing youth at the time. The rear fog lamps were a non-factory addition to this example.
These old Volvos were tough as old boots, although they weren't invincible. I well remember sitting for a meal at home, when we all heard a crunch outside. Out we sped, curious to find out what had happened. Unusually, the Volvo was parked on the road outside rather than in the drive, or the garage, where it usually rested. The lady who lived opposite owned a near-new MGB GT, supplied by Read's of Cheadle, the local British Leyland dealership. She wasn't known for her leisurely driving style. Most days she'd back out of her driveway at great speed, irrespective of who might be behind, and whizz off up the road, the 1800cc B-Series engine being given the full beans from cold. On this day, as on most days, she didn't trouble her rear view mirror, and reversed across the road in her usual haste, possibly lighting up a Marlboro at the time. Unfortunately a solid block of Swedish build quality was in her way, so the inevitable happened - her car's rear bumper impacted against the Volvo's front wing with some force.
Profuse apologies followed from the errant MGB's driver. Her car's hefty rear bumper barely showed any evidence of the impact, bar a few small pieces of plastic impregnated into its surface. The Volvo's offside front wing though had come off far worse. A week or two later a replacement front wing was sourced, in fibreglass, and fitted at home before being given a fresh lick of paint. Job done. The 144S remained in the household for two or three more years, before it was replaced by one of the first (1979) Saab 900 Turbos. The Volvo went to one of dad's work colleagues, but he drove it into the ground, eventually blowing up the engine due to lack of oil. A sad end for a comfortable, practical, and relatively lively car. It was exposure to the 121 Amazon and later 144S that ignited my appreciation of Swedish cars in general, which has seen examples of Volvo 121, 122S, PV444 and PV544 all grace our own driveway in recent times.
Volvo 144S and VC10s at RAF Abingdon
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