During college I helped lead a team that built a solar racing vehicle for an international solar race. One day after running some errands I returned to the facility where we were building the car. I was racing up the hill – something had to be done quickly – I don’t remember what it was. But then I ran over a huge metal pipe in the semi darkness of the fading daylight. My sisters borrowed Volvo immediately stopped running – the engine died.
I then turned the ignition and voila, the car started right away. However as soon as I started driving it I noticed the wheels were completely turned to one side and I had to really fight the steering column to keep the car driving straight. Being young and with my mind focused on the intensity of our solar car project, I thought little of this at the time. I continued to drive the Volvo for the next several weeks. I eventually mentioned this to one of my friends who is mechanically inclined; he looked underneath and told me the axle was hanging together by a thread.
I had even been driving the Volvo on the freeway at fairly fast speeds. I immediately took it to the shop and the dealer told me I was extremely lucky the axle had not broken!
My mother chimed today in when I told her I was going to be taking a tour of the heart of the company, their headquarters in Gothenburg Sweden.
She has grown up with Volvo’s nearly all of her adult driving life. Her father bought her first Volvo, (the one I used to ride in as a baby), in 1968. It was a 2 door and sold for 2,300 dollars! That was the first Volvo in her family. Her sister owned several Volvo cars in the years after – following the lead of my mother. Her sister credits one for saving her from serious injury in a a major accident – possibly saving her life.
A brown standard sedan was next. That was purchased around 1975 for about $12,000.
A new 960 series came next in 1994. Then another one – a used Diesel in 1997 at the decent price at the time of about $10,000.
My mother’s current model had a computer glitch about 8 years ago that her dealership couldn’t fix – even after months and months of problems. My parents were getting ready to trade in for a newer model. While visiting friends in Monterrey California for a mini vacation the car died. They had it towed to the local Volvo dealer. The dealership kept the car for several days and nights and the head mechanic even drove it to his home for a couple of nights. The car died on the way several times but with the problem happening right on the road he finally diagnosed it correctly.
And that one correct diagnosis allowed her to keep the vehicle. She currently has over 230,000 miles on that car. Today, both my parents have their own Volvos.And lastly – my father liked to take his 2-whd Volvo off roading on 4-wd tracks. One of the toughest 4wd tracks in California is the Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We made it into Miller Lakes a number of times – one incident was priceless. On the way up the mountain we found a wide amount of fast moving water crossing the road where snow melt had allowed it to accumulate. We physically walked through this massive amount of water slowly – finding the high points of the road immediately under the surface. Then on the way back several hours later – we saw a jeep stuck in the mud in this huge mud hole/water and we calmly shot through using the high parts of the road previously navigated on foot – passing the jeep while they stared at us in awe!
We had our old brown Volvo sedan on a number of California’s roughest off roads. Several times I remember four wheelers stopping in amazement at seeing this car in some remote rugged, rutted and very rocky road. They would get out of their jeep or other 4whd vehicle and look under our car for skid plates and other defensive add ons. They never found any!
I’m currently on the road, but I’ll have to dig up some old photos of our Volvo’s over the years – I will post them here as soon as I find them 🙂
…and as my mom told me today via email:
“So all in all a pretty impressive Volvo story. A total of six cars!”