Volvo’s first foray into the small car market was the Daf-derived 300 series of 1976. Described by Honest John in his entertaining column as “bafflingly popular”, they sold like hot cakes, mainly to owners of larger Volvos who were getting on a bit and needed something more manageable than the tank-like load-luggers that had been Volvo’s speciality hitherto.
Compact, comfortable and safe, the reliable little Volvo 340 hatch and 360 saloon supplied exactly what they needed and flew out of the UK showrooms in unprecedented numbers. In 1987 the vastly improved 400 series arrived, making good use of a range of Renault-sourced engines, although Volvo’s customers weren’t to know that. The practical hatch version, the 440, was supplemented by the more luxurious 460 saloon from 1990, which could be ordered with a torquey 2.0-litre engine for the first time.
Although not the most exciting car in the world, they were actually very good to drive and like their predecessor, sold in enormous numbers, the UK market for the 400 series being the largest in the world, owners tending to hang onto them for years, much like the family Labrador.
First registered in 1993, this immaculate 460 saloon was ordered to SE spec with an automatic gearbox and clearly suited its first owner well as they hung onto it for 18 years before finally parting with it in 2011 by which time it had just 21,500 miles under its wheels. The second owner used it rather more, adding 25,000 miles in three years, not that you would know it judging by the condition of the car.
The vendor, its third owner, spotted it at a classic car meeting near Bristol and just had to have it, twisting the owner’s arm sufficiently to prise the keys from his hand that very same day so it could join his collection of fine, low mileage classics. Over the last two years it has been mainly kept in storage and polished more than driven, the vendor now realising that he has far too many vehicles to cope with so it is up for grabs once again. Still showing just 46,500 miles on the clock, he intends to get a fresh MOT by the time of the sale.
At the time of writing we had been unable to see the vehicle’s documents; needless to say, it has been thoroughly cherished from new and will offer its fourth owner a near concours car experience. Easily good enough for the show circuit, this low mileage cracker could also be pressed into service as a reliable and comfortable everyday modern classic and doubtless has years of useful life ahead of it.
Amendment: MoT not obtained before auction