During the two years I was finishing out my Navy career in Hawaii, my first wife was back in Mississippi tending to our house and settling into the local community. She had the 1988 Isuzu LS Pickup during those two years while out in Hawaii I had a bicycle and local buses for mechanized transportation. Almost as soon as I returned back to Mississippi we started looking for a second car for my wife.
She was into cars with big names like Mercedes and Volvo. Since we already had owned a Mercedes while in Naples, Italy, she now wanted a Volvo. I was just getting ready to retire from the Navy, my future career was completely undecided, and so we really did not want to take out a car loan. My wife and I had saved a lot of money my last two years in the Navy, so we decided this car would be a cash purchase.
Long Distance Purchase
Deciding on a cash purchase also limited what were would buy. We shopped around in the local Mississippi Gulf Coast area and learned that there really weren’t many options for Volvos. During our shopping, we stumbled upon a local Volvo mechanic, actually the best and only Volvo mechanic for about 100 miles in any direction. He advised us to go up to the regional Volvo dealership in Atlanta, Georgia, where we could have more selections and better prices. To help us out, he put us into contact with one of his favored salesmen up there and got us faxes of available used stock.
After a few weeks of checking out the inventory and a few phone calls to the salesman, we gathered together cash, rented a car one-way to Atlanta, and made a weekend drive up. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and met the salesman at the dealer lot. He showed us the cars available in our selected price range, and then explained he couldn’t do anything until the next day, Monday.
Bright and early Monday morning, April 29, 1996 we were back at the lot, and our salesman once again met us. We test drove three different cars in our price range, all nice but with the usual used-car issues. My wife and I went into a private huddle afterward and agreed that I would advise on the mechanical issues and she would pick what car she liked best. After discussion, we opted to make an offer on a 1991 240 Sedan, Silver-gray finish with maroon-leather upholstery. The dealership had performed a lot of mechanical work on this car so they weren’t willing to do too much negotiating on price, but my wife still bargained hard and finally got a price she was happy with. We wrote a check, took ownership, dropped our rental car off at the Atlanta airport and drove the Volvo home.
The next day was my official retirement date from the Navy, truly a day to remember.
Driving a Volvo
My wife loved this car, but I actually never much cared for it. For some reason, I never felt emotionally comfortable driving it, even though it really was nicely fitted. The air conditioning worked extremely well, important for those Mississippi summers, and the heated seat were nice on the occasional cold winter day. The moon roof was cute and cruise control was nice for long trips. Because the car was a bit more roomy and comfortable than my Isuzu LS Pickup we normally took the Volvo on long trips.
It was solid car and we had very few mechanical problems with it. The local Volvo mechanic, Bob Zellner, was a very good and very honest mechanic, perhaps the best I’ve even dealt with. My wife babied her car, and any time there was even an unusual noise she had it in the shop. Bob was always patient with her when the “problem” turned out to be mostly nothing, and very quick to get the car repaired when there was a real issue.
The longest trip we used this car for was to drive to visit my Mom in New York, with my wife’s parents along. The car was loaded down pretty heavy with four people and our entire luggage, but still handled really well. I had used cruise control on our old Chevette, but the Volvo had a factory-installed unit that really worked well.
Not A Volvo Person
Whenever my wife and I were driving together I drove the car. On occasion, I would use it for some personal business on my own, but otherwise it was my wife’s car and she preferred to drive it over the Isuzu LS pickup. Interestingly enough, the more I drove it the less emotionally comfortable I felt in it. There was just something about the “Volvo Image” I grew to dislike.
When we were separating our property during our divorce in 2001, there was no issue over who was getting the Volvo and who was getting the Isuzu.
After Hurricane Katrina, I learned that my ex- and her new husband evacuated in his RV, leaving the Volvo safely parked in their garage. It wasn’t safe enough however, as they lived right on the gulf coast. The Volvo, along with their house, was destroyed by the storm surge.