Buying used: Volvo 850 R

Buying used: Volvo 850 R
Buying used: Volvo 850 R

Take BTCC heritage, add a rare manual-plus-LSD combo, and multiply by today’s classic car market for this £20k nineties estate…

Volvo 850 R

Engine: 2.3-litre, five-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 253bhp
Torque: 258lb/ft
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
First registered: 1996
Recorded mileage: 40,000 miles
Yours for: £19,995

Since when did a mid-1990s Volvo estate become worth a fiver short of £20,000? Apart from when it was showroom-fresh?

The answer to that one is “when it’s an 850 R in pristine condition”. Younger readers might not remember the 850 R, but back in the 1990s fans of British touring car racing thrilled to the sight of slightly modified blue and white versions of these warbling around UK racetracks in the hands of full-on crazy men like Jan Lammers.

The 850 R came from the T-5R, which sent 240bhp and 240lb/ft of torque from its character-rich 2.3-litre five-cylinder engine to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic ‘box. That car did the 0-60mph run in 7.4 seconds.

The 850 R is rather more focused, however, with 250hp and 260lb ft of torque and a manual gearbox dropping the 0-60mph figure by the best part of a second. It also has a limited slip differential, sports suspension with self-levelling rear shock absorbers and rubber-band tyres (or so they seemed at the time) on mean and moody seven-spoke 17-inch Volan alloys.

It was quite a thing in its day, and this 40,000-miler still looks pretty purposeful over 20 years later. Check its Olive Green paint with metallic gold flake and the spotless Alcantara and leather interior. This car has landed in the UK from Japan, of all places, and has just had a major service with new belts. It’s being sold by Fast Classics in Surrey.

We gather that there are just 75 850 Rs still registered here in the UK, and there can’t be many around that are as good as this one. Not cheap, certainly, but not common either – and an uncommonly quick, big estate to boot.

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