100% Original:

1974 Volvo 144 Sedan
53,438 Miles!

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Old Volvos live forever. They really do. Not all of them, of course, but those that live a sheltered life certainly can outlive any modern car by decades, for two primary reasons.

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Reason number 1: Body
Old Volvos were made in Sweden, were winters are harsh and last many months. Consequently, their steel needed to be of much higher quality, and their bodies needed to be rust-proofed before they hit the road for the first time.

Reason number 2: Mechanicals
Old Volvos are simple machines. They are equipped with everything needed, but nothing that's not, pretty much like a classic Volkswagen Beetle.

Many old Volvos have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles; some have traveled millions, literally. Irving Gordon's 1966 Volvo, his daily driver for over 50 years, had accumulatd over 3.2 million miles on its original engine by the time Irving passed. His Volvo is still alive.

Now imagine an old Volvo that lived all its life in sunny Santa Barbara, under one owner for 50-some years. A car that has traveled just 53,426 miles in close to half a century, and is 100% original, inside, out, underneath. Impossible to find? Pretty much, yet here it is!

VIN *1446364-486396* was built in March of 1974 in Gothenburg (Götheburg), Sweden. It was delivered to a Lady in Santa Barbara, who used it faithfully for 40-some years until she got too old to drive. Thus the car sat in her garage for years until she had it towed to a local Volvo specialist to be revived. The good mechanic went through the entire brake and fuel system, even eventually ended up buying the car from her. A few months later he offered it up for adoption, and we got lucky being at the right place at the right time.

To this day, the odometer reads 053,434 miles, which is the original and total mileage this Volvo has traveled in the past 47 years.

As the dataplate confirms, the car was delivered in "California White"/"Cascade White" paint over a disco-era groovy blue cloth interior. The car was ordered without any options, with the single exception for the automatic transmission. Less fancy options means less things that can break!

Let's now inspect this car in more detail, starting up front, in the engine compartment.
The hood itself is heavy, and held by unique, "super duty" hinges. Modern cars have gas struts here which eventually fail and need to be replaced. These mechanical hinges are 47 years old and work like new.

The tootbrush clean engine compartment houses the undestructible B20 engine which derives from Volvo's B36 truck V8, overbuilt and made entirely from cast iron. With 53K miles on the clock, it's barely broken in!

The engine's single camshaft is located inside the block. Valves are gear driven (like on a Cummins Diesel), so no timing chain and no belt to service. The engine is a non-interferrence engine, meaning even if the gear drive were to fail, nothing bad would happen to the valves or pistons, it would just spin out. From personal experience with my longtime Volvo PV544 I can attest to the sturdiness and reliabilty of the B18/B20 powerplants. Only concession to "modern times" is the Bosch-derived fuel injection, which itself as simple and as reliable as they come.

The 144's body is built like a tank. Since it's never been apart, the body's integrity has been preserved. Body gaps and shut lines are perfect and on par with those of a contemporary Mercedes. All of the glass is flawless; not even the windshield has any signs of age to it.

Volvo rolls on factory steelies, with aluminum wheel covers. Tires are correct 165-15 radials, with about 90% thread left in front and 75% out back.

The car wears all of its factory original California White paint, and it's all still thick and shiny. There are no paint repairs, no touch ups, no scratches. However, there are some dings in various places, as to be expected after close to half a century.

Roof's paint is as thick as the rest of the body's, and it's as shiny!

Original headliner and sunvisors are flawless. Dome light works.

The dash is as solid as a brick and as sexy as a middle-aged Siberian housewife. It doesn't have any cracks, and neither does the steering wheel. All of the gauges and control lights work as they should.

Instrumentation is basic yet easy to read. No blinking space ship screens here that cost $2K to replace.

Lockable glove box with undamaged cardboard/felt insert.

Original door panels are beautifully preserved, with some fluffyness to the door pockets as only witness that they are not brand new.

When was the last time you saw a car with factory radio delete? Yes, this Volvo never had a radio!

Vintage Volvo seats are among the very best in the comfort department, and these seats are no exception. Since the original owner was a small lady, even the seat springs are still as stiff as they were decades ago.

Note that there's a single flaw in the center of the driver's seat, a small hole, hard to see, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I need to mention it.

Original seat belts show some wear. Original carpeting is exceptionally well preserved, with no visible wear.

Rear bench seat with fold-out arm rest looks like it's never been used.

This Volvo comes with its original, early 6-digit blue-and-yellow California license plates, front and back. It's registered 'til May of 2021.
Note the Volvo mud flaps!

The trunk lid is as heavy and solid as the hood and also features the made-to-last double hinges.

Trunk still has the original black rubber mat.

Stripped down . . .

Factory jack and tools are included too.

The original, ummolested, totally rust free undercarriage gives testimony to the sheltered life this Volvo has lived.

Everything you see here is factory original, without any touch-ups or spray can artistry of any kind. Being a super-low-mileage Santa Barbara car that has spent 99% of its life in a garage, we can probably assert that it rarely has been driven in the rain, if ever.

A photo says more than a thousand words. Here are more than 6,000 then . . .

So how does it drive, you may wonder?

Surprisingly well, thank you very much.
Unlike most vintage offerings from Italy and France -- and, sadly, a modern Volvo -- a vintage Mercedes or Volvo is perfectly well equipped for daily driving duties. It's solid, safe, reliable, and offers all the creature comforts needed, unless you absolutely can't live without a digital screen and Apple Connect on your way to work or the supermarket.

Equipped with power steering and power-operated 4-wheel disc brakes, the 144 is easy to steer and easy to stop. Its safe driver images works as a shield for traffic tickets. And its outstanding visibility matches that of a BMW 2002 and outperforms pretty much every modern car where you need a backup camera to see what's behind you.

A vintage Volvo is not for everyone. It's not flashy, doesn't scream prestige. But it gives access to a small club of enthusiasts who value internal qualities over external ones.

As long as you take care of this car, treat it like a friend and not an automobile you just stole, you can drive this particular Volvo for decades to come with just basic maintenance. It stands out like a nun in a bar today, and its impact on other motorists will only become more dramatic as time moves on and the majority of cars evolve into space ships on wheels.

If you've been patiently looking for a Volvo that is an exceptional, all original, super low mileage example, one as healthy as they come, you've found it, at the price of a battery pack for an old Nissan Leaf.
Opportunity calls, are you ready to answer?


You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to info@californiaclassix.com or call us at 805-792-9797.