Happy Anniversary to My 1991 245 Volvo

It was 15 years ago today that I bought a Swedish steel wagon to haul all my gear and to be my daily driver. Yup, April Fools Day 2004, was the day that a 1991 245 Volvo came to live with me.

Back then 200 series Volvos were still a common sight, and I could still pick and choose which one to get. After all, the model had only been discontinued 11 years earlier in 1993—a mere blink of the eye in the life of a well-maintained Volvo.

1991 245 Volvo, Volvo station wagon, 200 series, gold wagon, Swedish car

October 2018, after its bath.

My gold 245 wagon originally came from California, and had been a one-owner car. It had never driven children or a dog around. (A rare thing for a Volvo wagon indeed!) It looked like new on the inside, as well as out.

The owner had moved to the Metro Vancouver Region from the LA area, and had bought the car new. No accidents; no repaints; all original windows; no tears in the upholstery; complete with a functioning, rear-facing, third row seat; and best of all: totally mechanically sound. Yup, when I saw it, I fell in love.

I bought the car through a friend who owned a used car shop that specialized in Volvos that were in only the finest condition. She bought these cars and then had her in-house mechanic do any the mechanical work necessary. Then the cars were detailed through her in-house detail person. When you bought a used Volvo from Marie, it looked and drove like a new car, despite the fact that it might have been over 10 years old.

Although I live on the West Coast where we have the mildest climate in Canada, climate change has brought about some pretty unusual winters over the past few years. Therefore both this baby, and my minty, 5 speed, 1989 Volvo sedan never go out in the winter. We have a slightly newer, and for me at least, less desirable model Volvo that we use as our everyday driver these days.

Today my 1991 245 pretty much still looks like the day I bought it. It gets to live in the garage along with its ’89 sedan cousin. From spring through fall my 245 gets driven regularly, and I maintain it—like I do all our cars—faithfully to make sure that it is never lacking for anything.

That is one thing this daughter of a VW, Porsche, & Audi Master Mechanic was taught very well from an early age. Hell, I knew how to check fluid levels and tire pressures at the age of around 11 or so. ;)

These days I trust a very good mechanic—who coincidentally enough happens to be both a Volvo & VW guy. Neil does a great job keeping my babies purring along. Between the two of us, my 1991 245 still has the look and feel of a new car.

What does this have to do with saxophones?

In a word: everything. I bought this station wagon specifically so I drive my bass sax around. Sure, I could have bought a mini van or an SUV, but I am a loyal Volvo owner. Always have been, always will be.

At the time I was looking for a car in BC—we were planning on moving back to BC from NB late summer of 2004—I needed to find something that would be a good gigging/gear hauling vehicle. This 1991 245 Volvo wagon fit the bill perfectly. If you fold down the back seat, the back accommodates a twin size mattress. I have never had so much gear for a show that it didn’t all fit in my wagon.

When I haul my horns around, they never ride on a hard surface. I have them riding either on the back seat, or on a foam mattress in the back. This reduces the bumping and jarring they are exposed to. I strongly believe this is what reduces the time in the shop that my horns spend.

Just last night my 245 wagon hauled my bari, alto, and other sundry items to a dance that The Moonliters played at. It was a packed dance hall of over 200 swing dancers. In fact, there were so many people there that the parking lot overflowed, and cars were parked on side streets and on the roadways.

As I was unloading my metallic gold, 1991 245, I noticed someone had parked a metallic teal, 1993 245 very close to where I was parked. It too was in lovely condition. (Truth be told, it was cleaner. Mine needs a bath desperately.) Suddenly my baby wasn’t so alone in that little corner of the world yesterday evening. Someone else there loves their Volvo just as much as I do. :)

© 2019, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

One Comment:

  1. Hi Helen,

    Oh dear, young lady, we seem to have the same problem with cars. Mine’s a 1991 Mercedes 250D saloon. Manual gearbox. i’ve only owned her for three years but had her predecessor (called “Tabby”) for twelve years. Exactly the same car.

    As Saxophonists, our choices are a bit limited as to which cars we use.

    Public transport is impossible when one has to take a bass Sax to gigs and PA gear any distance.

    Running an old car. It’s interesting to consider what the real environmental damage car ownership does.

    Is it standing in traffic with the engine running ? Is it changing the oil ? Is it the fuel used ? No. It’s the making of the car in the first place.

    Mining, refining, purifying metals, casting, welding, machining of the same.

    Maybe it’s best for the environment then to run and repair an old car ?

    Choice of old car: Will your saxophone fit in ? Along with all the other junk ? Is it reliable ? Can you mend it yourself ?

    Good car. Bikers hate them (i’m a biker but it’s impossible to transport a bass Sax on one…)

    All the Best,

    Neil xx.

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