According to roughly half of our politicians, there are just four months or so to go until the Apocalypse. Shed therefore believes it to be his civic duty to root out a large, functional vehicle, something you can buy now for threepence or thereabouts to move your family and possessions to higher ground when it all kicks off. Then the value of your apocalypsemobile will rise when less far-sighted people than you realise they should have bought it before you did, at which point you will need plenty of guns and ammo. For free advice on this please click through to Shed's Shooter of the Week column, on Firingpin.com.
Shed has a secret love for Volvo estates. It all started in the late 1960s when, as a young lad with a flat cap, a Fair Isle pullover and a black bicycle he bolstered his pocket money by cleaning the local pie magnate's white 144. A lovely thing, or so it seemed until Shed began his own motoring career on two wheels. That's when he came to hate Volvos as the dumb choice of dopey drivers who thought a Volvo would keep them sleeping soundly on in the event of a crash.
Many decades later, the circle of life has reborn Shed as an admirer of the Swedish battlewagons. Having said that, there are V70s and there are V70s. The D5 diesels are strong and reliable, but a bit dull. The 300bhp second-gen V70 Rs and even the first-gen 260bhp Rs are anything but dull, but they're also well out of Shed range.
Luckily, characterful V70s are still available at Shed money, despite the peculiar hoisting of Volvo estate prices that seems to be going on in the auction houses these days. Having focused his search on the 140bhp 2.4 petrol versions - if only because they have inline fives that sound a bit like Audi quattros even if they don't go like them - Shed was delighted to find not just one but two very worthy examples. Both are the curvier gen-two models, both are autos, both were first registered in 2001 and both are in the same colour - but one's twice the price of the other. Rather than picking one and abandoning the other Shed has generously decided to present you with both.
The first V70 2.4 is a privately owned 137,000 miler bought for a single job - a house move - and then retained for two years when the family grew to like it. That's a commonly heard story with these Volvo wagons. As the vendor says, it's got the best part of a full MOT on it, the only advisories mentioned in March being some wear to the steering rack inner joint and to the front suspension bush, both on the nearside. Weak front suspension drop links are a generic V70 problem that can lead to uneven wear elsewear, sorry elsewhere. Volvo seats are great even in cloth and the car has a nice set of alloys on it. The whole thing looks honest, straight, and very tempting at £750.
Our second V70 2.4 is a bit more expensive at £1499, but it does come from a dealer, which automatically adds 50% to the price, and it does have under 100,000 miles, which is unusual for an 18-year-old Volvo estate. It looks just as clean as the private car but there are a couple of slightly jarring notes. The first one is that it is a Torslanda, which sounds like it should be posh but which actually means it's the base model. Fortunately, on gen-two cars it appears that even the base V70 could come with half-leather seats, but apparently not the headlamp washers that you can see on the cheaper of our two cars (does that make it an SE?). If those washers are anything like the ones you get on old Mercs, which tend to gum up and conk out over time, maybe that's not such a terrible loss.
The other possible glitch with the dearer car is its odd bonnet shut line. Shed's investigations don't go as far as checking possible crash damage but the MOT history is full and clean bar an advisory for a bust reversing light. The failed test that preceded its pass in April mentioned excessive CO content. This and the wonky bonnet may or may not mean that the previous owner was a stereotypical Volvo owner, i.e. nearly as old as Shed with even worse parking skills and a considerably weaker right foot. Given the 95,000 mileage and the fact that the recommended timing belt change interval is 8 years or 80,000 miles, you might want to make sure the cambelt isn't as ancient as the last driver could have been, as a bust one of them will bust a lot more stuff on its way out.
Other generic V70 faults are sticky locks, transmission troubles (especially if you don't use the right tranny fluid), clogged ETMs (electronic throttle modules), driver information modules, ABS modules and module modules. Exhaust shields and handbrake shoes work loose. Ironically, the electric cooling fans overheat. On the plus side, because both of these are straight 2.4 petrols, they're not going to ruin your life with turbocharger, intercooler, high-pressure injection or DPF issues. Happy apocalypse.