Technical & Buying Guides

A VOLVO 140 1966-1975


The Volvo 140 was really the first of the Volvo cars to become available to the man in the street, as a family saloon, sold on the promise of being safe, solid and reliable, it quickly gained a very strong foothold in the UK Market as specious family transport. The Volvo 140 was the forerunner of the 240, 740 and ultimately the 940 series cars, being a natural progression over the years from those early cars.

The 140 Series is still held in high regard by many people, being a popular car for rallying, and a favorite with many for a classic car, the price being well within most peoples reach. The ‘Tax Exempt’ status of all cars has also helped this car achieve true classic status.

The 140 Estate Car, known as the 145, has always been a very popular car because of its enormous load capacity. Today, good examples are hard to find, as most have been so well used for what they were intended, that they are beyond restoration and have been scrapped.

The 142, a 2 Door Saloon version, was primarily made for the foreign markets, and only available here as a special order, and only until 1971.

The 145 Estate and the 142 are the rarest of the 140 Series, with the Estate demanding the most money, especially if manual.



The first cars to be imported into the UK arrived in 1967; nearly twelve months after the 140 made its debut at the 1966 Motor Show. It was billed as the replacement for the aging 120 Amazon but in fact sales of the 120 continued at a steady rate and production ran alongside the 140 until it finally ceased production in 1970.

Powered by the well proven B18 1778cc, 4 cylinder engine as used in the 120 and 1800 models, the car came in three variations that were identified by a simple numbering system. The first number – the model, second number – the number of cylinders in the engine and thirdly – the number of doors and finally any special features. Models were the 144 – a 4-door saloon, 142 – a 2-door saloon and the 145 – a five-door estate. ‘S’ was added to some models e.g. 144S which denotes the vehicle was fitted with the twin carb higher performance engine. Other models were: ‘DL’ the base model, ‘GL’ higher specification interior etc, ‘E’ and ‘Grand Luxe’ had the B20 fuel injection engine and there was also a ‘GT’ in other markets.

In 1968 the B18 engine was replaced by a larger B20 unit of 1986cc and the one-piece aluminium grille gained a B20 Badge. Externally the 140 remained the same with only minor alterations to the trim.

The new model for 1970 saw improvements, which included head restraints and improved through-flow ventilation. The 145 up to 1971 had opening rear side windows, which today is a very rare model to find.

For 1971 the 140’s wheelbase and radiator capacity increased. Outside the car sported a new grille of three piece design and air vents were added to the front valance below the bumper. Wheel size was increased from 4½ J to 5J in width. New for 1971 was the fitting of the B20E injection engine from the 1800 into the Grand Luxe model, with overdrive fitted as standard on manual transmission. Nearly all were Metallic Gold with Black leather interior’

The 140 of 1972 had flush door handles fitted to the outside. A shorter sporty type stick replaced the long gear lever and a new style dash was fitted.

With new safety laws in the USA Volvo in 1973 fitted new larger bumpers, new grille, rear light assembly and repositioned the front indicator lights on to the side of the front wings. Internally the car gained childproof locks on the rear doors.

The cars of 1974 were the last year of production. The front door windows lost their opening vents and the size of the bumpers grew to meet further USA Regulations, which included the fitting of shock absorbing mountings to the bumpers. Injection models of 1974 were fitted with the K-Jetronic Fuel Injection System. All engines were fitted with the B20 'Big Valve' cylinder head and the crankshaft was of the 8 bolt type. This engine had many of the design features and parts that would be found in the B21 and B19 engines that would be used in the 240 and 360 models which would replace the 140.

Volvo also, not for the UK market, produced a high top version of the 145 Estate called the ‘Express’. These were popular with Volvo Agents in Europe as Service Vehicles. They also produced a van with solid rear sides – again not for UK market.


The B18 engined 140’s are today much sort after but parts, particularly trim are becoming difficult to find in new or excellent second-hand condition. If you decide to buy a B18 140 to restore make sure you examine it carefully before you take it on. Front wings for early cars are still available but new front panels are now difficult to find. Later panels can be fitted but have different lower air vents in the front valance and holes for the bumper irons.

All 140 series vehicles are collectable but the 145 and 142, in good condition, usually command a higher price than the 144 saloon. The twin carb ‘S’ models both estate and saloon are much prized and overdrive, where fitted to manual gearbox models, is very desirable. Early 145’s had opening rear side windows, these models are extremely rare and collectable.


Rust is not a major problem with the 140 series. The cars are well rust proofed from new. The underside of the car being heavily undersealed and if checked regularly should provide excellent protection against rust. However like many cars of the time. The Underseal becomes hard, cracks and allows moisture to venture between the steel and the seal, thus allowing corrosion to take place. So pay particular attention across the whole of the underside and particularly in the wheelarches. What looks solid may not be!!!!

When purchasing a 140 Series one should however remember that these cars are an old car. The last being produced in 1975. However despite their age fortunately the 140 does fair better that most other vehicles of the same age.

Rust does however appear in the following areas:

Front Wings:

Front wings on all 140 cars are prone to rust particularly around the headlight and sidelight. Look also along the top edge where the wing is bolted into position. Wings are still available new and can be replaced easily as they are bolted onto the main bodyshell.

Front Panel :

Rust is very common in this panel in the area around the sidelight. Make sure there is a seam where the two panels join (Front Wing and Front Panel). In rusty cars this is often filled in with filler and no physical groove where the two panels join can be seen (See Fig: 1). Check also the condition of the bonnet slam panel around the lock.

Radiator Crossmember:

Rust does appear in this chassis section. Check particularly the front sections behind the front valance. The rear of the member can be rust free due to splashed oil from the engine, while the front section has totally disappeared.

Inner Front Wings:

Rust in this area is extremely common. Purchasers should check this area with care particularly around the bonnet hinge mountings. A repair panel is available but requires welding into position. Check also the front end of the inner wings where they meet the front panel and the top rails where the wings are bolted onto the car.


Look for rust in top corners under the bonnet.

Front Scuttle (area below front windscreen):

Rust appears at the two extreme ends of the panel between the windscreen and the front wing. Repair of this area can be expensive as it requires both the windscreen and the front wings being removed.

Front and Rear Windscreen:

Rust can be found around both these areas. Pay particular attention to ANY rust, which appears to be coming from under the windscreen rubber. It is common to find large holes behind the seal due to corrosion when the windscreens are removed.


Look for rust in the front edge.


Generally 140 doors are long lived, however rust does affect the lower section of the skin and frame. Look also for rust around lock mechanism. Doors from the 142, the 2 door car doors are particularly difficult to find second hand but the club is able to help locate any parts that a member may require.


Sills generally are good but rust is common in the rear portion where they meet the rear wing.

Rear Wings:

Check condition of both inner and outer wheel arches. Repair panels are available for the arch edge and are reasonably priced. Check also the inner wheel arch inside the boot. This is where the top of the rear shock absorber is mounted and rust can affect this area.


Rust is very common in the two wheel wells on either side of the boot floor. Repair panels are available.

Boot Lid:

Check edge of boot lid.

145 Tailgate:

Rust in the lower portion is common. Good second hand tailgates are getting hard to find. Later 240/260 gates will fit.

Rear Axle Mounting Arms:

Rust can appear in the pressed arms used to mount the rear axle. Check condition, replacements could be expensive.

The above is only a guide to rust problems in 140’s. Care should be taken to check all parts of the car but do remember that all of these cars are old and the last cars were built in 1975.


Around Headlight and Side light - front wings

Front Panel where it joins wings.

Top on front wings

Bottom of Doors – Skin and frame

Sills – Rear portion.

Wheel arches, front and rear

Boot floor – Both spare wheel wells

Front edge of bonnet

Crossmember under radiator – check front edge

Inner front wing – tops of inner wing and is where bonnet hinges are mounted

Rear Tailgates – Estate Models

Ends of front scuttle (Panel below front windscreen)

Rust can appear around windscreens


Injection parts for Injection Engined models are expensive new, hard to find second-hand
Interior hard to find in good second-hand condition, particularly front seats
Some chrome trims no longer available new.
Time Clocks on all models rarely work but can be rebuilt



ALWAYS check that the car is fitted with a Genuine Volvo Oil Filter, other makes can cause problems with engine lubrication if they do not have the non-return valve fitted in them. A Volvo B18/B20 engine should cover over 200,000 miles without major rebuilding – although camshafts, valve guides and fibre timing gears may need replacement at around 100,000 miles.

Camshafts on injection engines are particularly prone to wear at around 100,000 miles and can be mistaken by unskilled ears as Crankshaft Big End Bearing failure, more skilled enthusiasts will note the sound is only half engine speed – hence valve area. Fibre timing gears can be replaced with all steel gear sets – originals are one fibre, one steel. The originals are fine and give no problem but if you intend to up-rate the engine with a high lift cam etc, steel gears are a must.

Engines with high mileage’s can smoke particularly on start up of on over-run down hill. This will generally be caused by valve guide wear and oil running down valve into combustion chamber.
B18 and B20 can be converted to run on unleaded. Original Valves fitted are already hard (Stellite) but valve seats will have to be replaced – Unleaded head conversions are though the Club.

Manual Gearbox:

The manual gearbox fitted to the 140 is robust, long lived, and should not cause any real problem. When driving cars it is best to ‘slip the clutch’ when engaging and dis-engaging overdrive. This helps to give a smooth operation and avoid damage to components. The use of the wrong oil can cause problems – Gear oil should never be used in gearboxes with overdrive. Oil is shared by the two units – checked and filled in the Gearbox. Manual Gearboxes without Overdrive use Gear Oil. Check Workshop Manual for Oil Grades. Overdrive Gearboxes are often found second hand.

Reconditioned Overdrives and Spares are available through the Club.

Auto Gearbox:

The Automatic Gearbox fitted to the 140 was made by Borg-Warner and gives little trouble. However if the vehicle has stood for a long period it may be worth having the box fully checked and serviced before use.

Rear Axle:

The rear axle is again almost indestructible, however, loss of oil can cause premature failure. Check for oil leaks around the pinion bearing seal (where prop shaft bolts to axle). It is common on higher mileage cars to encounter differential whine, but this does not mean that the axle will not give further long service.


All 140 Series vehicles have disc brakes all round – the handbrake is operated by brakes shoes mounted in a drum in the centre of the rear discs. All are very reliable but Brake Calipers on rear are prone to seize particularly if vehicle is left for long period in damp conditions. Both ATE and Girling Brakes were used – check which your vehicle has before ordering any parts, as they are different. Brakes are twin circuit. Very early cars have unique brakes so beware when ordering parts.

Engine Types Fitted to UK Spec Vehicles:

B18A – 1778cc Single Carburettor – Fitted to 142, 144 and 145 to 1968
B18B – 1778cc Twin SU Carburetors – Fitted to 142S, 144S and 145S to 1968
B20A – 1986cc Single Carburettor – Fitted to all single carb models
B20B – 1986cc Twin SU or Stromberg Carbs – Fitted to all twin carb models
B20E – 1986cc Bosch Jetronic Fuel Injection – Fitted to all injection models.

Tuning your 140,
The 140 can easily tuned/uprated by its owner, from simply adding Twin Carburettors to a Single Carb model to adding an overdrive gearbox often donated from an 1800E or ES (ES has lager gearbox the M410 if fitting this early models will need modification to the transmission tunnel to accommodate and also has larger Dia Propshaft. Proptech in Kidderminster will modify/rebuild Propshafts for Club Members

Suspension can be improved by adding Poly Bushes or better Shock Absorbers such as Koni or Bilsteins. Wider standard Volvo wheels again from an 1800ES or 164 can add to better ride and road holding. After 1968 Metric PCD of wheel studs means later model wheels will fit e.g 200, 700, 900 series.

Engines can be uprated, changing engines from a B18 to B20 is just a straight swop and if you are going to rebuild your B18 you can also bore it to 2lt for new pistons, the main other block components eg Crank, Con Rods etc are identical in both engines – you will need a B20 Cylinder Head. Those used in the Injection Cars and last of the 140’s (no holes for injectors) have large inlet valves (44mm) and are the choice of many tuners – known as the ‘Big Valve Head’, obviously the injector hole need to be blanked off before use.

IPD in the USA have for many years provided owners with a range of tuning parts but other suppliers both in UK and Europe can provide more specialized parts e.g high lift Camshafts, Steel Timing Gears, Sports Exhausts etc

Volvo Enthusiasts Club Technical Co-ordinator’s will also be able to help should you need advice.


Volvo 140’s For Sale generally can generally be divided into  five groups

For Restoration:
For a car to use as a basis for a total restoration or spares

Running but require work:
Running but in need of some major work in near future e.g. Sill replacement, inner front wings etc

Cars generally in good condition:
Cars generally in good condition but may need minor work to improve appearance – good useable car with no major faults or corrosion

The Best Cars:
The best cars – not concours but having only minor faults

Be prepared to pay more for an Estate, Grand Luxe, Genuine ‘S’ Models or a 142

The Very Best Cars – Concours Winners & Rebuilt:
Cars, which have been fully restored or are Concours standard, depending on all round condition of the vehicle. Interior, chrome, originality, and low mileage will add to the price, as does documented history of the car, original bill of sale etc.

The Volvo Enthusiasts Club provides Technical Information on the service etc for all 140 models and other Classic /Older Production Volvos.

Please Note: This Buyers Guide is produced and updated by Kevin Price and is the Copyright of the Volvo Enthusiasts Club. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior permission, in writing from:

Kevin Price, Volvo Enthusiasts Club, 127 Kidderminster Road, Bewdley, Worcs. DY12 1JE

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