Volvo For Life?

Dear Volvo,

I have been a loyal Volvo owner since I bought my first car almost ten years ago. I know ten years might seem short, but believe me, after I had my first ride in a Volvo, I knew there was no other car I would want to drive and safely get me from point A to point B. This is my Volvo story.

I grew up on a small Native American reservation in western New York. All of my parents’ friends drove Ford and GM cars and trucks. I had family that worked in a GM plant. My parents always told me that I should support our country and buy US made cars, and that these cars were superior to foreign cars. When I left my small community and went to college I began seeing more and more foreign cars, and particularly Volvos. I instantly fell in love with the classic “boxy” 240s that could be seen driven by Professors and students alike. As it turned out, one of my good friends owned a 1982 Volvo 240 – the first Volvo I would ever drive. By the time I had the pleasure of driving this car, it had made it completely across the US and back, had over 200,000 miles on it, and had been passed down through my friend’s family. Some of the interior plastic was faded and cracked, the leather was torn in spots, but the car was solid. I felt safer in that old Volvo than I did in any brand new car my parents had brought home from years past.

When it came time for me to buy my first car, there was only one make of car on my list to look at: Volvo. My parents took me out one Saturday to all the local car dealships. Volvo first…but they did not have any cheap older models, so it was off to another dealer, and another, and another. Finally, when I thought I was never going to find a suitable car, my mother made me stop and look at a Ford dealership. The sleezy Ford car salesman approached my father (of course) and asked him what he was looking for. Before my father had a chance to open his mouth, I said “Do you have any non-Fords here?” He pointed to a corner of a lot, where I found my first car: a 1986 760 GLE. The battery was dead, and it made an awful noise when it started (a new starter was needed, among other things) but I knew it was the right car for me.It was a proud moment for me. My parents warned me about the expenses involved with owning a foreign car, but I did not care. Volvo was a brand that meant quality and safety and I was more than happy with my 760 GLE.

Within a few months of my first Volvo purchase, the new Volvo S80 debuted and I fell in love with the first glance of the back tail lights. It was an amazing and breath taking automobile, but a little out of my price range. In fact, I quit my first job after six months because I knew my pay would never get me to the point, not even after 5 years, to afford a S80. When I told the HR representative that I was quitting my job to move to Chicago where I would be able to make more money, she lectured me on the cost of living. My comment to her before I walked out of her office: “A Volvo S80 costs the same here as it does in Chicago, and here, right now and even in five years I am not going ot be able to afford one here.” Out to Chicago I went…for new opportunities, and the prospect that I would soon make enough to buy a new Volvo.

Within one year of living in Chicago, I traded in my good friend, the Volvo 760 GLE for the Volvo S70. I wanted the S80, but it was still slightly out of my reach. I loved my S70, but it was never an S80 which I had wanted for years…so as soon as I had enough money…I traded the S70 in and finally got the car of my dreams: the Volvo S80 T6. I have driven this S80 countless times, and still each time I open the door and sit down, I think about how happy I am with my car, and how amazing it is.

With all of that said, I was Volvo’s dream of a customer and their slogan: “Volvo for Life”. I never thought twice about taking my Volvos to a non-Volvo dealer. I never thought I would be without a Volvo in my driveway (I did think about adding a Range Rover or a Saab at some point), but the S80 was going to be my car, and the car I would pass down to my kids for their first car. Volvo for life, was more than a company slogan for me, it was my personal slogan too.

The day that Ford announced it was buing Volvo, I still had my 1986 Volvo 760 GLE and I remember thinking about how upsetting that was. Was I going to have to take my car to a Ford dealer to get it serviced by sub-Jen/Volvo standard workers? Was Ford going to just use Volvo’s safety technology for their own line of cars and leave Volvo alone? At this point Ford had already purchased Jaguar, and the Jaguar line was doing ok. No signs of servicing Jags at Ford.

I thought it might be ok. Then the first sign of the Ford buyout appeared: the “entry level” Jaguar. Oh boy. Please. Take a look at that Jaguar and tell me it has distinctive lines of a classic, easy to spot Jaguar, pre-Ford. My eyses spotted something: it looks like a cheap ass Taurus. Soon after I picked up on that, the Volvo S40 was announced. The S40 in my mind was a mistake. Yes, I understand the entry level car concept, but this car was a disgrace to the line. I began to get nervous about the future of the Volvo line. A year or so later, Volvo released their SUV, the XC90. I thought ok, the S40 threw me off, perhaps the Volvo line will be ok, because I really like the XC90. A year or so goes by…and once again, I get nervous because Volvo announces the V50, which makes the S40 look good. The V50 is by far the most Ford-ish garbage design I have seen so far with the Volvo line. At this point the Jaguar line is completely destroyed. I keep the promise of the new Range Rover in my head though…I love that SUV and the new design was released under Ford. Perhaps there is hope?

Turns out I was living in a dream world for awhile…thinking that my next car would surely be another S80 because Ford would not ruin that design. Well, it was made clear to me last weekend, after visiting the Volvo dealer for an oil change. It is my own tradition that during an oil change, I always go to all the new Volvos in the showroom, check them out, sit in them, and find out what is new. As soon as I saw the S80, my heart sunk. It was no longer the S80 design I had fell in love with. It was now a cross between a Taurus, a Ford 500, and a bastardized S80. The tail light design was messed up, the trunk sat lower, and the sides of the car were lower as well. I stood and inspected this S80 for 20 minutes. Standing in the front and looking at the lines, standing at the sides, and a good 10 minutes staring at the back. If I won the lottery or came into some money tomorrow, I would not buy one. If I wanted a Taurus or a Ford 500, I would buy one. I love Volvos because of the Volvo style, design, and safety, not Ford’s lack of style, lack of design, and lack of safety. To further slap Volvo owners and Volvo lovers in the face: The Insurance Institute released their Top 10 safest car list. What car should be at the top? A Volvo. What car is at the top? The Ford 500. What???

What I despise most about the purchase of Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin, is that Ford cars are seeing a benefit. They (Ford) finally understands car safety. They finally are starting to pick up on design cues, and the concept of using quaility materials. All of this has a cost though. The high end makes and models (Jaguar, Volvo, etc) are seeing a decrease in quality.

I am hoping that the 2007 S80 redesign is a good one, but I am not counting on it. All I can hope is that my S80 lasts as long as possible…and that Ford backs off of Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover before they completely destroy the brands. Watch out Land Rover, the “entry level” model is out and it sucks as much as the Jaguar X-Type and the Volvo S40.

Volvo, my request to you is to please stick with what you know, what you do best, and please somehow…get Ford to back off. I buy Volvos because I love Volvos…not Fords. When I look at an S80, I want to see an S80, not a modified Ford. It might just be time to learn stick shift so I can keep my options open for me with Porsche.