Pros: Turbocharged engine, Smooth 4-speed manual with overdrive. 270,000 miles and still ran good!
Cons: Steering wheel, Only 127 horsepower, Boxy design.
Ok, so the title of this review is a little silly, but the Volvo GLT Turbo is no 'dog'. In the early 1980's, Volvo wanted to transform its safe but somewhat dull image. Their solution (instead of making it look sporty) was to add almost 50 HP to the 240 sedan and wagon. They even raced it in the competitive European car Championships. The GLT Turbo comes in two body styles; a sedan and wagon.
Volvo did a pretty good job with the turbo conversion. Volvo saw no reason why its traditional wagon customers should not have the same added excitement that the turbo sedan offered, so Volvo produced a turbocharged, load carrying wagon. The engine and turbo are tuned to give adequate power from a fairly low RPM. At 270,000 miles, the turbo was probably not up to its best potential, but turbo lag was not a big factor. Boost comes in as low as 1,500 RPM, but it really gets going at around 3,300 RPM. With 270,000 miles, the engine also was not really up to par. Tackling hills was not this car's strong attribute, while not making too much of a fuss, this is a vehicle that weighs almost 3,300lbs, has 127 horsepower at 5,700 RPM and 150 lb-ft of torque, so the pedal to the metal is where you will find your foot if you come across any steep hills at freeway speeds.
Acceleration from the light is adequate, faster than a new Chevrolet Tracker, and slower than a new Ford Taurus is where I'd say this vehicle lands. But this is a vehicle made in 1983, very strict emissions put a strain on power. I don't think I can name one fast car sold in America for that year. Even a Mustang GT 5.0 was running 16s in the quarter mile. The chassis is capable of handling the additional power of the turbo. It's stiff enough to resist rolls through fast corners, is stable at high speeds, and comfortable despite the up-rated shocks. The GLT surprisingly came with 4-wheel disc brakes which assured good braking. Expect to get around 25-28 MPG on the freeway with this 1983 beauty.
ABOUT THE ENGINE: Volvo's four cylinders were known for their strength, but the short stroke 2.1 liter 4-cylinder had to be modified for its turbocharged conversion. The compression ratio was lowered to allow for the boost, and the exhaust valves were upgraded with sodium filled stems. (also found in high performance Italian engines) to reduce valve train weight, along with harder stellate valve seats. The engine retained the same Iron block and head with 2 valves per cylinder operated by a single belt driven overhead camshaft.
The GLT underwent a number of changes to turn into a higher performance turbo car. And when I say "high performance" I'm speaking relative of course to other 1980s family cars. The monocoque body was unaltered, but the Macpherson strut front suspension was up-rated with gas shocks,and thicker anti roll bars. The same treatment was given to the live rear axle with its coil sprung suspension. The first gear ratio in the transmission was changed, and the brakes were upgraded.
The interior screams "1980's." Dressed in all black, this wagon almost feels like you are in a Hearse. The steering wheel is huge and thin. This thin steering wheel is one part of the interior that I do not find accommodating. There are gauges everywhere, a little too many if you ask me. There is a very useful boost gauge and tachometer however. The stereo system in my friends wagon did not work, sorry, otherwise I'd report on the sound. The AC did not work either. The seats are supportive and comfortable, and there is plenty of room for 5 adults.
The exterior is also '1980s'; very boxy, and long in both the sedan and wagon styles. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, the regular 240s are all over the road, you can't miss them. The GLT turbo looks almost exactly the same, with a few added sport features. Like the regular 240, there is an air dam, this air dam was designed to help stability. There is the traditional Volvo grille,and a badge in the rear that says 'TURBO.' Volvo could do little to set this sport model apart of its lesser models, so they added sporty wheels, and lower profile tires.
Price: The Volvo GLT Turbo wagon originally was sold for almost $15,000 in 1983. I'm not sure what that means in today's dollars, but that was a lot of moo-la. Today you will not find that price on a 1983 GLT turbo, but with Volvo's good name, it will be hard to find an 83 one for less than $2,000.
My friend bought hers at 180,000 miles back in 1996, now it has a little over 270,000 miles. Obviously this is a reliable vehicle. Although some of her amenities did not work anymore, everything was intact, and the seats still remained decent.
Other Cars To Consider:
1. BMW 3 Series
2. Lincoln Mark VII
3. Cadillac Cimmaron
4. Audi 5000
5. Cadillac Allante
6. Volvo 262C
7. De Tomaso Longchamp
8. Saab 900
9. Mercedes Benz 500SL
10. Bristol Beaufighter
-Happy Car Shopping