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300 series curious

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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 17:01   #1
sthodgson
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Hello all,

Iíve had a few Volvos in my time but my interest in the 300 was piqued last year when I inadvertently, on one of my regular visits to Brooklands, there were a number of excellent three hundreds on show.

I realise there arenít many about now but how are they as a classic to own and run? Is it best to buy them from here or other internet locations?

Thanks,
Sam
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 17:40   #2
john.wigley
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Good evening, Sam,

Please regard this as a personal perspective - other posters may disagree!

I had two 3 - series Volvos back in the day; a 1.7 GLE Saloon and a 2.0 5 Door GL. The smaller car (Renault engine) delivered reasonable performance and returned upwards of 40 MPG. The larger car (Volvo engine) was quite lively by the standards of the day, but only returned a little over 30 MPG.

My MIL also had one, an '83 360 GLE (2.0 5 Door) which expired with terminal rust when 19 years old. I think that is the most important consideration, mechanical parts can be relatively easily replaced, but body restoration is a much more involved issue.

We road tested a 1.4 (also Renault engine) but considered it to be under-powered (it is quite a heavy car). Automatic (CVT) was only available on the 1.4, which was a shame, as a conventional automatic 'box on the 2.0 would have made for a very nice car indeed in my opinion.

If I was looking for one today I would definitely lean towards a 2.0 as the fuel consumption would not be a big issue on a car that may only be driven 2 -3000 miles per year. I would look for a GLE from choice, with a GLT a close second. I would definitely prefer to buy from an enthusiast through this forum. You can be reasonably sure that the car will have been well looked after and will have the benefit of members' considerable knowledge and experience if you ever need advice. If you are serious, you could do a lot worse than place a 'wanted' ad in this forum.

But, I would always buy on condition and the best that I could afford ahead of specification. Remember that the newest 3 - series will now be approaching it's 30th birthday, and don't forget to check for rust!

Regards, John.
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Old Apr 21st, 2020, 16:11   #3
sthodgson
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Thank you for the reply - very informative. I saw a great one a year or so ago but never bought it due to the usual issue of storage and too many vehicles.

They certainly are getting old now and I know about rust from my old camper but good to know what to look out for.
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Old Apr 24th, 2020, 19:47   #4
Joe Harding
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Iím currently using my time constructively treating the tin worm on our 1990 340. It runs on LPG so itís a cheap as chips to fill up. Also the engine oil stays golden and clean.
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Old Apr 27th, 2020, 08:22   #5
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I worked on loads of them back when they were new. A bit quirky, easy to work on, pretty well made when compared to normal cars but not as "solid" as the traditional Swedish Volvos.Think of a 340 more as a well made European car. I've owned several, and sat waiting for ages for the AA with a car full of kids due to the rubbish 1.7 Carburettor air leak as a result. Best one to go for is a 1.4 in my opinion. CVT is an acquired taste, drive one and you.ll understand. Manual boxes are nice.Rot will be the deciding thing though, I remember some rotted out at the front when a few years old.
They are characterful and useful things- I collected a Small Block Chevy in the back of mine once without problems.
Happy hunting!
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Old Apr 27th, 2020, 10:39   #6
john.wigley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heckflosse View Post
I worked on loads of them back when they were new. A bit quirky, easy to work on, pretty well made when compared to normal cars but not as "solid" as the traditional Swedish Volvos.Think of a 340 more as a well made European car. I've owned several, and sat waiting for ages for the AA with a car full of kids due to the rubbish 1.7 Carburettor air leak as a result. Best one to go for is a 1.4 in my opinion. CVT is an acquired taste, drive one and you.ll understand. Manual boxes are nice.Rot will be the deciding thing though, I remember some rotted out at the front when a few years old.
They are characterful and useful things- I collected a Small Block Chevy in the back of mine once without problems.
Happy hunting!
Maybe the 1.4 that we road tested was 'off-colour', 'heckflosse', but it felt distinctly under-powered to me; I would go for the 2.0 Volvo motor every time. Although Linda and I both prefer automatics, neither of us got on with the CVT, so agree that it probably is 'an acquired taste', as you say.

As for breakdowns, both my 360 and 340 let me down only the once. The 360 blew a blanking plate on the motor which resulted in me spraying oil all over a length of the M42, and requiring recovery by the AA. The 340 disgraced itself in Sweden, when the throttle cable snapped. Suffice to say that we were exceedingly glad of our AA 5* travel insurance on that occasion!

Regards, John.
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Old May 12th, 2020, 13:43   #7
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Right then a bit late to the party but here goes

Common issues that I know of

1.7 distributor getting wet
1.4 & 1.7 engine mounts sag misaligning the propshaft causing it to strip the splines
Central locking fails
Sunroof plastic clips break causing the sunroof to not seal properly and become inoperable
Steering UJ wears out

Rust issues

Front valence
Front wing arches
Front inner arches
Rear arches
Sills
Jacking points
Scuttle

1.4 340 is apparently quite nippy and a bulletproof engine but at the end of the day it isn't going to break any speed records. Someone on 300 mania described the 340 as feeling like it was dragged in to the 80's from the 1970's and he has owned many 340s.

1.7 is quick for what it is but again not exactly amazing, same issue with engine mounts as the 1.4

360

Right this car is a complete different animal.

Common issues that I know of

Engine mounts sag causing the sump to sit on the steering rack creating heavy steering... ask me how I know
Steering UJ wears out
Sunroof as above

Torque tube not a propshaft so no issues there
Proper Volvo engine not Renault engine so much more durable

I have had 4 300 series

2 360 injection saloons
1 360 carb saloon
1 360 carb hatchback

Saloon is quite to drive than the hatchback

Injection is easier to drive as there is no messing around with the choke and lack of power when cold in Winter.

85 & 86 had the highest compression ratios at 10:1 and the build quality was still good, 87 onwards it went downhill especially with rust proofing. Stripped the wings off an 88 360 and the wax behind the wings was barely there!
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Old May 15th, 2020, 14:12   #8
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From my experiences:

I'd not want one without PAS. I like cars that don't have PAS (and own 3) but the 340 steering is just dull and lifeless. The PAS improves the feeling (speaking as someone who converted their car from manual to power assisted steering.

The 1.4s and 1.7 propshafts are a pretty awful design, and not robust. I'd take care buying anything which has been driven hard. The 1.4 doesn't give good MPG in my experience either.

Personally I'd be after a 3 door 360 with the Volvo engine.

Mine is a 340, but now has a 2.3 turbo and a PAS conversion. It's indecently quick and not bad to drive...
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Old May 26th, 2020, 11:04   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sthodgson View Post
Hello all,

Iíve had a few Volvos in my time but my interest in the 300 was piqued last year when I inadvertently, on one of my regular visits to Brooklands, there were a number of excellent three hundreds on show.

I realise there arenít many about now but how are they as a classic to own and run? Is it best to buy them from here or other internet locations?

Thanks,
Sam
If you can find one without rust ( probably the only ones left now anyway ) then go for it whatever the engine . This is what I did 5 years ago and got an immaculate 1988 343 1.4 I fitted the 5 speed gearbox from a 1.7 and its a brilliant car , it does between 38 and 45 mpg , that 5th gear is great for cruising at higher speeds but torque is reduced of course . Contrary to popular belief it is not slow if you use the full rev range ,unless you have 4 adults in there . remember that 72 bhp is not unleashed unless you get up to 5200rpm . You hear of people saying they have a lack of grip on the rear .. rubbish , always use premium tyres ..Its a beautifully 50-50 balanced car . The car is larger than modern cars inside , with a huge space in the rear with seats folded down . someone mentioned safety? Its a lot more solid than the escorts vauxhalls etc of the time , IT was probably the first car to use an upper chassis rail as well in the front end , just look underneath at the huge full length chassis box sections there.
People say the steering is heavy , not so on the 1.4 if it is then get the tyre pressures up to 35 psi and always use premium tyres .
You wont need any parts for the 343 , neither will it break down . My 1988 is completely original it has never had any new parts except a fan belt i fitted when i bought it , The Green volvo coolant is still original , clear, bright and clean protecting down to -37C . rear brakes last forever .

Oh we still have our 1980 343 in the family too , 250,000 miles , never broken down and never needed parts either . It hasn't quite got the power of the newer one and it uses more fuel and the heater air flow is nowhere near as good ! The engine runs on lpg which i fitted in 1985.

The 343 won the European Rallycross championship in 1980 , here it is racing in uk at Lyden Hill in 1981 .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vQXvA6FCyI&t=31s

The Ford Escort in the second race has 200 bhp more than the 343 contrary to what Murray Walker says !
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Old May 27th, 2020, 22:54   #10
Joe Harding
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Do you use the valve saver fluid? I find it quite good, saves having to adjust the tappets quite so frequently
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