pride and joy, or at least mine, a 1971 Volvo 144S.
In 1971 my father needed a family car, so he took a
Triumph for a test drive over Kloofnek, a well known scenic
drive at Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa.
He felt that the Triumph just did not have enough power
up the hills, and the car was needed for long driving to our
family farm at Sutherland, which includes an 11km constant-climb
mountain pass. Sutherland
is also known for it's extreme climate, very dry most of the
year, extremely hot in summer, and most of all, extremely cold
in winter. He was
also on a tight budget, requiring a car of a certain size for a
certain price, and the 144 was perfect.
A few people recommended the 144, so he bought it without
even taking it for a test drive! And he never looked back.
Sure, it is a bit heavy on the gas and does not really
perform, but it always kept going.
The only real complaint is the lack of centre air vents.
There are vents for de-misting, vents for defrosting your
feet, even separate air ducts to freshen your feet, but nothing
directly to your face. My
father (and mother) always commented on how tight it can turn,
and how much space there is. We would load the trunk and take supplies from Cape Town to
Sutherland, and my father would calculate exactly how he would
load the car, leaving a gap for my brother and I, then my mother
would pull out another 5 boxes to take with.
Shoes or something for auntie Bets's cousin's brother's
the mid-70's Volvo pulled out of South Africa when many
countries imposed sanctions against the country, but spare parts
were always available. Then,
in the late 80's, my father bought an Opel (Holden) Commodore
with air conditioning, power steering, and a few other
Volvo did not see the sun for quite a few years, except for the
monthly drive to pump the tyres and keep the engine lubricated. Then, in 1999/2000 my car broke down and I needed a car to
get to/from work. The
Volvo was available, and we did not have money for anything else
that would resemble a decent form of transport (cars in SA are
expensive), so my father agreed to sell it to me for about NZ$ 2
000. I've paid
about NZ$ 1 500, then he said “forget the rest”.
At that stage the car had done 94 000 km, barely run it.
the end of 2000 my wife, our 3 month old daughter and I migrated
to New Zealand. We
tried to sell the Volvo, but people were just not interested, so
we decided to bring it with us.
Registering the car here was easy, the only major problem
being that the AA found a very slightly worn suspension ball
joint on one of the link arms.
We were in a hurry with no time to search the internet,
and I was driving my mother-in-law's Toyota Saurer, so the
mechanic had a ball joint specially made.
The car has been very reliable and only once broke down,
with a broken distributor cap.
There are people that say the BW35 automatic transmission
is horrible, but one thing I can say in it's favour is that the
car can be push started if the battery dies, not that Volvo
owners ever forget the lights on!
of the car is original. There
has never been a radio fitted, and the paint is original.
Last year I've replaced the shock absorbers and rubber
brake hoses, this year I've fitted a new carburettor kit and
replaced most of the rubber water hoses, and the next jobs would
be fitting new engine mounts and a new valve cover gasket.
The car will then be in such a state that I do not have
to worry about Warrant Of Fitness inspections.
Soon I'll be starting an electronic ignition project with
fully programmable electronic vacuum and centrifugal timing
advance, and I'm sure you'll be able to read all about it on
this site. It will
be time for improvements rather than fixes...