The enduring charm of the classic Volvo

Many Malaysians’ love for a particular Volvo have stirred their hearts enough for them to form the Kelab Volvo Klasik Malaysia (KVKM).

To become a full-fledged member of the club, one must be an owner of either a Volvo series 120, of which the 122 is the most popular or the 1800 sports coupe, prevalent in Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s. Owners of other Volvo models are still welcome to join, but as associate members.

The Volvo 122 was reserved mainly for senior government servants and professionals, befitting its premium status at that time. They were the first Volvos brought into Malaysia. One can still see these cars on the road, having been passed down the generations.

KVKM President Noel Chua said the club has about 100 members. They do a long distance run of about 1,000km every year. The cars have been to Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi, testimony that these cars aren’t just lookers but runners as well.

As the Volvo 122 is now half-a-century old, Uppre asked Chua about the extent of restoration. Apparently, it is not too expensive to get the car running.

Spare parts are still available as they are being reproduced by independent manufacturers in Europe. If you can’t source for new parts, Volvo’s network of garages and mechanics can help you find used parts.

However, if the owner really wants to restore his vehicle back to factory specifications, then the sky’s the limit, Chua said.

Of the many 120 series cars in the club, Chua’s is one of the most prominent with its black exterior adorned with flames at the front. It is also extensively modified as the seats are decked out in red and the car fitted with audio entertainment.

Another KVKM member S Dorai also shared his journey of restoring his classic. The Volvo 122 was his father’s dream car, and he wanted to carry on that legacy.

Dorai bought his car for RM5,000 15 years ago when he was 22, and has spent about RM30,000 restoring the vehicle to 90% of its original specification, with his father excitedly supervising. The other 10% accounts for a modern convenience – air conditioning, as the Volvo 122 wasn’t factory-fitted with it.

The mechanical genius behind the restoration of most of the Volvos is Joe Miranda, who’s been restoring 122s for over 30 years. Some of the cars even belonged to him before he sold them to members of KVKM.

In fact, Joe’s station wagon comes with another modern convenience – electronic power steering, bringing its handling up to par with current automotive offerings. It also drives smooth as butter.

Part of the 122’s lasting power comes from its simple construction. Without fancy electronics and diagnostic equipment to worry about, the mechanical engineering of the 122 makes restoration and maintenance a simple affair as there are fewer areas of concern.

One can’t help but compare this with current cars built with planned obsolescence in mind.

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