Hot Rod Longroof: 1997 Volvo 850R Sportswagon – SOLD!

Jan 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

February 1, 2022 Update – Given the buzz this ’97 Volvo 850R generated on our social media feed last week, we’re not surprised to see how quickly this Long Roof sold.  While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

You’d be forgiven if you have forgotten just what a cool company Volvo used to be. Ever since the Chinese took over, whatever soul was left in the company was promptly sucked out, never to be seen again. Gone are the days that Volvo proudly marketed its wagons as being faster than a Porsche, and cars like this 1997 Volvo 850R Sportswagon originally listed in January 2022 on Craigslist in Dover, New Hampshire with extensive recent maintenance and an asking price of $6,000 remind us how great the late 90s were for rad performance cars. Comparing this price against the NADA Price Guide confirms this private seller has his 850R priced at the top of the market, which placed the “High” retail value at $5,850.

The 850R was the climax of the original Turbo Wagon, in many ways, achieving its peak identity at perhaps its brashest level. The turbocharged 740 and 940 wagons were subdued in the looks department, which is part of their appeal – you had to go looking pretty closely to understand that it wasn’t your grandma’s wagon, and by that point, it was likely too late as you were staring down a set of quickly moving taillights. The 850R also gave drivers the full assortment of performance car upgrades, from unique wheels and a firmer suspension to colors and graphics that were only offered on the “R” models. The turbocharged and intercooled five-cylinder engine kicks out an impressive 240 horsepower and responds well to a tune; the R-trim wagon came standard with an automatic gearbox in the U.S.

The MotorWeek Retro Review YouTube Channel provides this vintage road test of a 1996 Volvo 850R Sportswagon:

The seller’s car looks sharp in black with the R-spec gunmetal gray “Volan” wheels. There are under 90,000 miles on the clock, and the seller reports buying it with just under 70,000. He hasn’t gone down the rabbit hole of modifications, thankfully, limiting his tweaks to a set of IPD lowering springs. Meanwhile, the recent maintenance list includes a new battery, lower radiator hose, and coolant overflow tank, while the cosmetic side of things includes a new headliner. Some work remains unfinished, like a warped dash pad, but a good replacement is included. Most importantly, the seller has records of the previous owner replacing the timing belt and performing a PCV service. It’s hard to beat a rare performance wagon like this for the money, especially considering how few come up for grabs in near-stock condition.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“I love this car and hate to see it go but it’s not getting the use it deserves so it’s time for a new home.

Super rare black Volvo 850R wagon for sale, only 84k miles. Turbocharged and intercooled 5 cylinder engine with 4-speed automatic transmission. 240hp with sport, economy, and winter driving modes. Very nice heated leather and Alcantara seats. They are pretty special cars worth doing a Google/YouTube search on if you don’t know about them.

Car runs and drives nice. Stock aside from ipd sport lowering springs. Original 17” Volan wheels (5) in good shape. Paint has failing clear coat but still cleans up and looks good from a distance. Comes with a rear spoiler (will need paint match). Interior is in good shape with a beautiful two tone steering wheel. Brand new headliner. Dash pad has gone wonky (very common) but a used replacement is included. A small piece of the walnut trim is missing but a replacement is included as well. Neither bothered me enough to worry about fixing.

I bought the car in 2019 with 69k miles from an enthusiast who did a bunch of work on the car including the timing belt and pcv service at around 65k.
Work that’s been done in the last 1k miles:
-New headliner
-New battery
-New lower radiator hose
-New coolant overflow reservoir
-Fresh inspection sticker

Has some things to fix/monitor:
-Abs/traction control light intermittently comes on- super common and easy fix by replacing the abs module with a readily available refurbished unit.
-oil seepage from the cooler lines- not enough to drip on the driveway but should be monitored/replaced
-interior tailgate panel is loose- also common, ipd sells a repair kit for $9

Overall a very solid, rust-free, practical, fun car that is sure to have a long enjoyable life. I have a red one with over 300k miles that I drive daily. Come take a look. Asking $6,000 OBO cash only no trades please..”

Do you have a Volvo 850R Sportswagon story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

  1. Cory

    I’ve always loved these. I bought a set of Volan wheels for my C30 and it really made the car look much more exciting.

  2. charles j myers

    I am interested in purchasing a 850R Wagon


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