THE Holden Special Vehicles factory in Clayton, Victoria, didnít always produce such powerful cars. Back in the day, it was used to make (whisper it) Volvos.
The operation was called Motor Producers Ltd (previously Martin & King) and it began by assembling, then manufacturing, Volkswagen Beetles. As VWís sales dwindled, production space was loaned to Nissan, then in 1972 a deal was signed to produce Volvos. Nissan took over the plant in 1977 and turned it into a full-scale manufacturing facility before shutting shop here in 1992.
Volvo recognised the potential of its car in Australia, and its local assembly operation ended up producing some 65,000 cars through to 1988.
It started with the 140 series and ended with the 760, but the 240 and 260 are best known to Australians. The big boxes were boring but safe and their customers earned a reputation as bad drivers who wore hats and were also desperately slow (leading to the infamous cry of ďBloody Volvo DriversĒ).
The cars also had longevity on their side. Indeed, one Volvo Australia boss recently made a light-hearted suggestion that so many 240s remained that a bounty was needed for each one taken off the road in order to improve the brandís image.
The second digit in the title refers to cylinders; the 240 had a four, the 260 a V6. Until 1982, the third digit referred to doors; the 245 was a wagon, the 244 a sedan. Then it became a zero.
Solid, reliable and safer than many cars of its vintage
Itís a box. Did they even have designers at Volvo?