Driving a youngtimer on long holiday trips…an undisturbed joy!


Our Volvo standing proudly before the Cathedral in Danish Roskilde…

Many people looked at us with some amazement: driving your 22 year old car for thousands of kilometers, all the way to Scandinavia and back? With no further preparation than just ordinary maintenance? Just step in and go?  We were also anxiously asked about fuel consumption, and the need to take on spare parts. Well, as you guessed form our previous reports, this trip proved to be actually great fun, and was a very relaxing and comfortable experience too.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Of course, the Volvo 850 is a very comfortable and roomy car indeed, has excellent seats, suspension, handling. Performance is also more than adequate, so everything contributed here to a delightful driving experience. The sound level too is very low, and no drivetrain vibrations are disturbing your motoring experience.


Well at home on Swedish country roads…

Two decades ago, we also went through oil crises, and therefore also in those days much attention was paid to aerodynamics, efficient DOHC engines and longer gearing. This means that at constant cruising speeds, the cars of that era performed very creditably indeed. The Volvo 850 is no exception. Cruising at the 110-120 km/h speed limit on  Scandinavian motorways and touring on secondary roads resulted in averages well below 8 liters/100 km, as did the overall consumption on the whole trip by the way. Oil consumption was nil.


Of course, infotainment/navigation systems have vastly improved in our modern cars. They were virtually absent on the cars of that period. But then, we had our faithful 9 year old Tom Tom, and we set it (just for fun, and to get us in the mood) on the language of the country we were travelling through, and choosing the destinations proved the simplest of things, guided by a melodious Danish or Swedish voice.

This little Tom Tom miracle is totally, but then totally intuitive to use, and gives you all the navigation information you want. You choose intermediate or final destinations in seconds, in merely a few self explaining steps.


Along the canals in Dutch Harlingen…

Ok, no smartphone connection on this nineties car, so you simply stop to make a call or text a message. But we have an excellent radio, with outstanding sensitivity and separation, with a radio station search function. All one ever really needs…you just look up the FM frequencies of your favorite jazz or classic radios in the countries you are travelling through before you start off. Wikipedia helps. So we discovered Radio Klassisk in Denmark for example. What a marvel it proved to be. We had all the radio info and music you could wish for to enjoy every trip thoroughly, which we did!


In front of our hotel in historic Danish Tønder

The only thing we really missed was the cruise control. Our 850 did not come with that. Ok, we also have to miss driving or parking aids, but then the squarish 850 body offers very large glass areas, and overall visibility is of another league when compared with today’s cars. Parking and moving the car through narrow spaces is totally easy, and we were blessed with a very tight turning circle for such a roomy car. The side mirrors are easily turned lower to see the curbside when parking, so no risk of damaging your alloy rims. You see on the photo the still original alloy rims, the few minute scratches on it stem from the previous owner…


Returning through scenic Holland…

The Volvo took us safely home. And will us bring this summer to the south of France. After the Scandinavian trip, we treated it to a hand car wash and let it have a good valeting of the interior, but that was it. All this for 15 Euros. Look at the result in the photo below!


After our trip, with a careful handwash and interior valeting, our Volvo 850 looks again as new… 

It is now going about its daily routes, and when not used, standing there outside in the blazing heat of the early summer heat wave we experience now on our shores… Oh, one last thing, we are going to have the faded and whitened plastics a thorough going over. That will be done in France, just stay tuned…From there we will also make a trip to the Italian Riviera and Tuscany, enjoying the open air delight of our French VW new Beetle Cabrio!


Hans Knol ten Bensel

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