Volvo Honors 20th Anniversary of the 240-Series "Flying Brick"

By Jacob Brown | May 05, 2013
Twenty years ago, Jurassic Park had just been released in movie theaters, a Democrat succeeded a Bush as the president of the United States, and Congressmen were still bickering over how best to spend--or not spend--your tax dollars.
On this date, May 5 1993--Cinco de Mayo as you may call it--Volvo called its quits with its 240-Series sedan, coupe, and wagon, ending a 19-year run of the most popular Volvo model in the company's history.
Nowadays, a car model is considered old if it's more than five years past its introduction date. Back in the 1970s, when the Volvo 240-Series was launched, most cars were miserable in safety, sophistication, and long-term reliability. The 240 wasn't. The rest of the world just had to catch up with it over the next two decades.
It looked like a shoebox, especially as the car--first introduced in the U.S. in 1975--aged in the 1980s and '90s alongside much more aerodynamic vehicles that had since arisen after the "Malaise Era" of car-building. But for its time, the 240 had a certain amount of charm, attracting yuppies and families drawn to it because of its longstanding reputation for safety. Not only was it safe, its staid styling hid another well-kept secret: It was fun--frugal if you opted for a diesel-powered model or an under-the-radar sports sedan if optioned with Volvo's turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In race spec--yes, people raced them--the Volvo 240 put out more than 350 horsepower, propelling it to win the British Touring Car Championship, among a case full of other trophies, earning the nickname "flying brick." In fact, several online forums are comprised of "turbo brick" owners, sharing in the love of the rear-wheel-drive, fairly innocuous Swede of speed.
Today, the car has fallen in favor with hipsters, reveling in how lame the car looks but just how functional and comfortable it is. The Volvo 240-Series, which consists of everything from the 245 wagon to the 242 Bertone coupe to a long list of other models with diesel engines in addition to four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines, has become a symbol of yesteryear's sensible shoes once only for the U.M.C., as Bob Seger put it. The last two numbers used to stand for cylinder count--a 4 or a 6--and door count--2, 4, or 5. But Volvo simplified it to 240 for nearly every model eventually.
Altogether, Volvo made 2,862,573 of the boxy midsizers, replacing the line with front- and all-wheel-drive sedans and wagons that would eventually spawn the current Volvo S60, which doesn't quite share the boxy proportions of the vehicle from which it traces its roots. Even today after side and curtain airbags have become standard on nearly everything, stability control is mandatory, and the 155 horsepower the original Volvo 240 Turbo had is considered so-so a compact car today, the 240 still carries a reputation befitting a car of the utmost safety. Twenty years now on, Jurassic Park is back in the theaters and outside of acid-wash jeans, today's cheap cell phones, cable having more than 50 channels, and MTV's purpose being supplanted by YouTube, the world really hasn't changed a whole lot. Heck, Volvo is even bringing a boxy station wagon back to the U.S. Source: Volvo