141 – If local government was a car, what sort of car would it be? Part 3 – the Volvo 240 series.

Posted by Whistler                                                                                          600 words

volvo 240

Some time ago I started thinking that if a council was a car, what it would be. This is the third post in a series of five. The first review was for the Hyundai Excel Sprint council and the second was the Leyland P76.

Third is the Volvo 240 series. Immortalised by Dudley Moore as being ‘boxy but good’, the 240 has carted many families around in relative safety for decades (yes decades – they last forever). No glamour here, just rock solid, dependable performance and the best safety standard available at the time.

Driving it was like travelling in your living room. I have picked an image of a station wagon (why own any other Volvo?) and the unusual orange colour that may have been an attempt to be fashionable in the 1980’s or effective anticipation of the favourite municipal safety colour to emerge in the 1990’s.

“Driving a Volvo might not be cool, but if you look past its painfully politically correct safe and sound image you’ll find a sturdy, well-built car that would make the perfect ride for the young inexperienced driver in the family. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Volvo’s designers placed heavy emphasis on fuel efficiency and safety when they penned the 240 in the early 1970s. After all it came at a time of considerable conflict in the Middle East and it was feared that our supply of oil would dry up overnight.

From the outside it was rather plain and angular but the boxy shape delivered plenty of room inside, which made it perfect for families. The wagon in particular could swallow everything a family could possibly want to carry, and more.

There were three levels of luxury. The DL or Deluxe was the poverty pack model, with a carburettor engine, and basic trim. The GL was the luxury model and that came with a fuel-injected engine, power steering and more luxurious trim, while the GLE was the top model and it came with all the bells and whistles, like full electrics, alloy wheels, sunroof, and the choice of leather trim.

Be careful when checking a car though and make sure the odometer is working. Odometers are prone to failure and owners happily motor on without getting them fixed, which means you can’t tell how many miles it’s really done.” www.carsguide.com.au Graham Smith in Car Reviews,·Herald Sun, ·30 January 2009

Review: The Volvo 240 series council.

A Volvo council has a substantial but unornamented civic centre catering for the whole community – no one will be left out. It is versatile and accommodating and staffed by people who view the comfort and safety of their patrons as the most important element of their service. There is no hurry and the patience of staff is an obvious virtue.

When services happen they are consistent and reliable. You get what you expect every time. Active market segmentation means that you have the choice of service levels to match your requirements. Pay more and get more. The reformation of services following rate capping (when councils thought that the supply of money would dry up overnight) has resulted in careful targeting.

For the Volvo council image is everything and the image is safe, reliable and good. No risks are taken.

Verdict – This is not the council for those seeking spontaneity and drama in the daily life. A demanding phone call to escalate your missed bin complaint to the CEO won’t work here (move to an Alfa Romeo council).

Competitors – Mercedes 190, Saab 900,

Value proposition – Practical and accommodating design providing safe and assured delivery of targeted services.