Something happened in 1970, and this something continued to happen through the year 1976, in the assembly lines of Sweden’s Volvo. Those who had bought and relied upon Volvos suddenly found that the new Volvos were defective, with rust making itself known within the first year of ownership.
Bad wheel bearings, fuses, carburetors, alternators, regulators, clutches, internal engine parts, locks, radios, and windows were amount the ailments encountered with the full range of Volvo from these years. If mechanical difficulties in and of themselves weren’t enough, drivers reported bizarre performance patterns that caused some Volvo owners to state that their cars drove so erratically that they appeared to be ‘possessed.’
Gas guzzling and oil burning added to the list of complaints. Many drivers had difficulty starting their cars in hot or cold weather. Volvo issued a ‘Cold-Start Kit’ to help with these woes. Additionally, Volvo recalled its 1975 and 1976 164, 240 and 260 model cars for gas-fume seepage into the passenger compartment.
Volvos of later and earlier years are considered to be good cars, but, as with Ford and its Edsel, everyone makes mistakes. Volvos of the 1970-76 period were offered in four-door sedan, two-door sedan, coupe and station wagon models on wheelbases graduating from 96.5 to 107.1 inches (2.4 to 2.7 meters).
One of the biggest automotive mistakes of the 1970s caused a furor that rivaled Ralph Nader’s expose of the Corvair—and like that controversy, was generated by an American automaker. The car in question seemed to be a timely design—simple, inexpensive and with a modicum of aesthetic appeal.