What’s It Like To Own A Volvo C70 Coupé As A First Car For 4 Years In The UK?
As everyone who knows me and this blog by now, I currently own a ’00’ Volvo C70 Coupé 2.0T which I’ve owned since just before turning 18 years old, It’s also my first car as well, now this may not sound like much however in the UK where we tend to buy small city cars like the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa or the Ford Fiesta to name a few, the Volvo is quite a leap in car choice compared to what a majority of first time drivers over here buy, so with that mentioned and with ownership crossing over onto its 4th year, why exactly did I buy my C70 and what is it actually like to own 4 years on now I’m nearly 22 years of age?
Well, we’ll start off with the first part of the question and that is this, why the C70 in particular and why not a similarly priced small car?, well, I’ll freely admit that the Volvo was never my first choice in cars and before buying the C70 I wasn’t really considered a Volvo enthusiast of sorts, I’d never grown up around Volvo’s and I never had any friends or family members with one neither so I was completely blind to the brand due to those reasons, however, when my parents were looking to change their MK1 Honda CR-V for a wagon, we first tried to get a Subaru Outback MK4, however, as luck would have it these were way out of league for us as at the time, now, this is where I come in, I decided to help by looking at cars similar to the Outback but was more affordable and this is where it really all started unbeknownst to me at the time, because what I found was tons & tons of MK2 V70 Wagons for sale, thinking nothing of it, I soon shown these to my parents to look at & to my belief they started to look them up, however for some reason they decided to look into a MK1 Volvo S80 2.4 (170), now while this was a completely different step compared to the V70 originally planned, it still shared the same platform & most of the equipment so it still kinda made sense, this is where I started to fall for the brand.
See, as soon as we got word we were to buy a 2001 Volvo S80, I went down to check it out and as soon as we got down to Hemel Hempstead which is the outskirts of London and we saw the car for the first time, I instantly fell for it, compared to the CR-V which we had before, it had way better kit, was ten times more comfier and was just a complete cut above the rest in every single way and I soon found myself enjoying every second of that car, so much so intact, that when we got home a few days afterward I instantly went onto my iPad to look up the classifieds to find a Volvo for myself, this is when everything was to change.
See, up until that point, I was looking at cars for sale which were a bit different than the rest, however, most of these were small & not very powerful, some of these included an R53 Mini One, a MK6 Ford Escort, a MK1 Ford Focus, a MK4 Vauxhall Astra Coupé Bertone as well as many others, a Volvo never made the list as I’d never really appreciated them before, however with the new arrival of the S80 I decided to look up Volvo’s for a possible second or 3rd car as I had in my mind that insurance would be too much to have as a first car.
However, I started to look regardless and at first glance I found nothing I really liked nor something which shouted out to me as either a car I’d love to own or a car which grabbed my attention, see, while Volvo make fantastic cars, they’re never marketed for young owners specifically apart from a small few so this made it difficult as the ones which looked like a possibility were way too expensive and the ones which didn’t were unbelievably cheap, however, I kept looking and after starting to endlessly lose hope, I eventually came across the C70, now I remembered these mainly as being convertibles so when I saw that there was a coupé for sale, I was rather intrigued, first of all I never knew at the time that Volvo made a C70 coupé and secondly I was kinda already looking at possible coupés as potential cars, especially the likes of the EM1 Civic coupé, the MK4 Astra Bertone coupé and the CL203 Mercedes-Benz C-Class SportCoupé so to find yet another potential coupé to the list wasn’t exactly a bad thing at all.
The main difference between those three cars above and the C70 was quite large to be quite honest, see with the cars above, to find a really good one you had to search with a fine tooth comb to get a good one which wasn’t ragged to within an inch of its life whereas the with the C70, even though their fewer to come across, on a whole they’re looked after a whole lot better, now at the time, there was only the one C70 coupé for sale and it was down in Taunton for £1000, it was in Nautical Blue with BBS Propus Alloys which were a factory option and it had the 2.0T B5204T4 engine fitted with the M56 manual Gearbox fitted, this particular car grabbed my attention like no other, even though it was the only one for sale at the time, compared to the cars I’d looked at before, this C70 just had something the others could never have, whether that was outright pace, levels of equipment or even the price, the C70 had it all, however, I still knew that with a car like that it’d possibly cost a lot to insure so it came to my absolute surprise that when I did a quote on that blue C70 that it wound up being the same price to insure as a mid spec EM1 Civic manual which in comparison had hardly nothing in it nor had the pace of the big swede.
With that information, I decided to see if the insurance results were frequent or if they kept changing price, the reason for this was solely down to previous quotes I’d been given on the cars I’d been looking at prior to quoting the C70, however, to my surprise, as long I stuck to the 2.0T engine, the C70 would stay true to its word and kept delivering fantastic quotes, to the point it could actually be reachable as a first car instead of the 2nd or 3rd car it was originally intended to be, however, before I could actually go-ahead to get one I had to chat with my parents to see if it was ok with them, at first they weren’t so sure but after having a discussion, it was given the green light – I was getting a C70 as my first car and nothing was gonna stop me from getting one!!
After getting the green light, I researched everything on the MK1 C70 Coupé, everything from potential upgrades too numerous videos on the car itself, I’d read articles on the car and everything associated with it to find out more about it and what I was eventually getting myself into once I had enough money saved up.
While on the subject of money, at the time when all this was happening, I was just about to start my second year in my first college and due to my age at the time, I had a budget of £2500 to spend but this also had to buy the car, tax & insurance so not really a lot considering.
Once I started the College, I saved as much as I could to buy what would eventually be a C70 of sorts, this meant not getting new clothes or even haircuts when I needed them, this way I was able to save as much as I possibly could to get the C70 I’d always been after, it wasn’t easy but it had to be done to get a good example, after doing that for about 7 months out of an academic year, I finally had enough money to buy what would now be my C70.
I remember it like it was yesterday, it was a Friday and I had college that day and I was in the garage workshop that day all day, I’d found the car the night before on Gumtree and arranged to meet what is now the previous owner the Friday night at 6:30PM that night as like everyone else he was at work that day, I remember trying my hardest to keep it a secret from all my mates & fellow colleagues however it was such an exciting time that a few suspected that something was up as I just couldn’t keep my excitement at bay, in fact, due to that, the day flew in so when I finished that day, I instantly went to the bank to get all my money, we had to kill a few hours so we went into the town to kill time.
Eventually the time came to head to the previous owners house to see the car, emotionally I was all over the place as the day had finally came, for a good half an hour I was just all over the place however when the car turned up I was just star-struck, it was everything I’d ever hoped for, it had the engine I was looking for, it had the BBS’s I loved and it was in a color I rather liked, I instantly fell in love with it and couldn’t help but not buy it, that night 4 years ago today I came home with my C70 and I’ve had it ever since!!
Now onto my second point and that is this – What is it like to actually own?, well, it’s certainly been an experience and I’ll admit there has been ups & downs to the ownership however I won’t change it for the world, before it became a project car it drove really really well and was really easy to control and was such a relaxing drive, however due to age and old parts, it needed new stuff fitted quite quickly so after a year of driving it, I took it off the road here & there to fix it and that was how it became ProjectC70.
At this point, I’d changed colleges due to issues with the first one and with my newly known skills, I decided to put them to use on the C70 and fix it myself with some help from fellow friends, colleagues & family members, soon after I started, the car came from an ordinary C70 into my vision of what a C70 should look like & drive like, first off was to replace the power steering suction hose and after doing that things just escalated into what it is now, now sure the car has been testing as of late and I have looked at potential replacements, however, for some reason or another I’ve stuck to the C70 and kept at it through thick & thin.
It’s actually very well built and also very easy to fix, however, due to negligence & old parts it has been a pain in a lot of circumstances, however slowly but surely I’ve ironed out its issues and got them fixed once & for all, the build is still in progress however as of late I’ve been doing some relatively big jobs to it to fix it’s issues, these include chrome rings around the dials in the instrument cluster as well as a front bumper as well, currently I’m in the process of ripping out the carpets to change the door seals as they’re perished and are letting water in which isn’t good however it is fixable.
As already mentioned, it’s not been an easy road to both ownership and to the stage it’s currently in now, I’ve lost contact in friends, meetings & numerous events however, I know that when the car is eventually done, it’ll be perfect & possibly one of the best C70 MK1’s in the country, if not the best then most likely the cleanest example going and for that it’ll all be worth it.
For those of you who fancy owning a C70 or have even considered one, I’d say to go get one, they are such underrated cars with fantastic engines and really good looks, the community overall are fantastic and for the money that they currently go for, it has to be the best bargain coupé out there!!
Here’s hoping that the next 4 years are just as fantastic as the first 4 have been, it’s been a long road but overall I’m pleased with the purchase and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson