The 1967 Volvo 210 story
I wrote this entry about Volvo 210 (sold as Volvo Duett here in Sweden) and got a comment from David Shamlian in the USA, who is happy enough to own one. To make it short, I asked if he would write his story about his car and attach some photos of it that I could post in my blog and I was delighted when he accepted so thanks a million.
Now over to David:
My first car after High School was a 1970 Volvo 164. I was working as a chef for a year before college. I remember my coworkers confused expressions when they first saw it. My boss couldn’t understand why a 19 year old wouldn’t want an American muscle car. I loved the 164. One of its best features was the ability to unbolt the front leather passenger seat and turn it backwards. It created a loveseat in the front and a lounge in the back.
Two years later when I was walking to class on campus at the University of Delaware I saw the 1967 Volvo 210 with a “for sale” sign in the window for $1300 dollars. I was instantly smitten. It was the coolest surf wagon that I had ever seen. I called and found out that it belonged to a plumber who was selling it to buy his son a (crappy) Chevy Chevette. My only concerns were how I would adjust to less power and no air conditioning. After a spirited test drive with the synchonized 4 on the floor and tinkering with the vent windows I was sold. My girlfriend was not…
My next challenge was how to quickly sell my beloved (but betrayed) 164 and pony up the asking price. I wandered into one of my dorm mates room next door and confided in a sophomore named Wes. I was going to ask him to help me put sales notices up around campus. To my utter shock he put down his drink and picked up his checkbook and wrote
me a check for $2000. He said he was going to buy it for his mom. I waited for a day for him to sober up and ask me for the check back, but never another word was said. I had a friend drive me to pick up the car and went through the paper work. It was originally purchased and imported by a doctor who traded it in to a dealer (who spray painted all
the gray mats blue). That is where the plumber bought it.
To celebrate my new sweet ride I took the 210 out to the Jersey sand pits and thrashed it through woods and over the dunes. That summer in between semesters I had a bondo/sheet metal fest with the floors and wheel wells and fitted it with curtains and a mattress.
I followed my twin brother’s Volvo 240 wagon cross country to California traversing the Mohave desert at night. The muffler fell off in Flagstaff but I waited til Santa Barbara to remuffle its roar. The 210 was revving high at 65 mph but didn’t complain. The 150 mile range of the 9 gallon gas tank facilitated meeting many pump jockeys. Many of whom wanted to buy the car to make it a hot rod. We split up in California. I headed south to San Diego and then back West over the mountains to Tucson here my girlfriend (now wife) was going to nursing school. I remember thinking that if I put my arm out of the window it would cool off. Instead it burned like a blow torch. We headed south into Mexico with no particular destination and ended up at the Baha sound.
This was as deserted a beach as it gets. No civilization. I waded into the hot baywater and picked up what I thought was a long piece of plastic wrapping in front of me. The tenticles of a Man- O-War feel like 10,000 volts as it wraps around your arm and stings you. My arms were already paralysed as I staggered up the beach to the Volvo and collapsed in the back. Slowly the paralysis crept from my neck down to my waist. The glands under my arms felt as big as basket balls. When my lungs started to fail I was philosophically thinking about how there was no better place to die than with my angel in the back of my Duett. The only thing that kept me from drifting off was that I knew my angel didn’t know how to drive a stick. 12 hours later I started getting movement back and I knew we would be getting back on the road. Stopping for gas in a small village I gave the man $20 for $5 worth of gas. Of course he pretended not to understand that change was due, but at that point I just blew him a kiss and headed for the border. I kissed the ground on the American side of Nogales.
For the 4 day drive back to New Jersey I had enough money for gas and a big jar of peanut butter. The Duette was a comfy nest with the curtains and mattress at rest stops. As I was pulling into the driveway at my destination my rear shockmount broke. It is uncanny how this car always got me home.
Once before, the diaphram in the Zenith Stomberg broke as I was drifting into the driveway after a long trip. Another time as I was making a 12 hour drive from Maine to New Jersey my fuel pump failed near Providence Rhode Island. I drifted off the exit and had just enough momentum to make it to a car repair shop. To my surprise I was greeted by an old friend from RISD who now ran a repair service for Swedish cars. He had me on my way in a couple of hours. In the ensuing years I had 4 fender benders on solid ice.
There was also a hit-and-run when I was parked. The final straw was being rear ended on an oil soaked road by a van. Although there was never any injuries I knew in 1989 it was time to retire the Duett from daily service and have her restored properly. The owner of Fosters Auto Restoration thought I was nuts to put 10k into a car that was worth only 5k restored. I also had the engine rebuilt with IPD parts and a Weber carb this headers installed. The interior was next and a sway bar added.
A few hours ago I took her out of the garage and thrashed around a bit. She runs great and never fails to get a few thumbs up. The restoration is 20 years old now. I would really like to get a frame off restoration now. I can hear the restorer saying now ” Why do you want to put 30k into a car that is worth only about 15k tops?”.
PS. Ironically 32 years later I am museum designer with a heavy emphasis on private car collections.