Street-Spotted: Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon

Volvo seemed to have a lock on station wagons in the 1990s. Not only did US buyers get the 240 wagon through 1993, but they also had the choice of the 740, 940, 850, 960, V40, V90, and V70 station wagons—the latter even in Cross Country flavor—before the newer and curvier models arrived in the automaker’s ReVolvolution in 2000.

Volvo did wagons well, and that’s what buyers came to expect. And the marque still trades on that reputation even though buying a Volvo wagon these days can seem a little retro.

In many ways the 940 Turbo wagon seen here is among the last “old” Volvo wagons to marque enthusiasts, tracing its roots to the 700 series of the 1980s, even though the lineage itself soldiered on quite a bit further until the V90. The 850 and its later V70 and V70 Cross Country descendants always seemed to be treated less seriously by more orthodox enthusiasts, with the 960 and V90 closing out this long chapter in Volvo history in fine style.

Still, the 940 Turbo doesn’t feel all that old, thanks to many college students who got these as hand-me-downs through the end of the 1990s and beyond. And even by 2010 these seemed as solid as the 240s that preceded them. Now, however, a quarter of a century after they’ve left the scene, the 940 wagon isn’t all that easy to spot on the street.

It’s easy to forget that Volvo stations wagons of the 1990s competed against other, more niche models. The Eagle Medallion was still on the market, which started out in life as a Renault Medallion, while Peugeot still offered the 505 wagon and the newer, smaller 405.

Peugeot promptly picked up its cars and left, leaving Volvo to battle Saab, as well as the W124 E-Class and the E34 generation BMW 5-Series. On the domestic front, GM had plenty of full-size station wagons, as did Ford, but the roster of wagons shrank with each passing year, and by the end of the decade the pickings were slim indeed.

It’s easy to take this era for granted, because some older millennials still think of the ’90s as 10 years ago. In reality, the era of endless wagon variety is firmly behind us, just as Volvo itself has turned to crossovers. The fact is that Volvo offered more different wagon models in the 1990s than all of the other European brands combined do now, and their number is due to shrink even more in the coming decade as everything becomes a crossover of some kind.

That’s why the 940 Turbo wagon seen here is already an artifact from another time.

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