This car hates me, but it would die for me.
“I will give my life to protect my driver”
It seems to be the best phrase to describe a Volvo. All Volvos are engineered around safety. Like, the designers come up with this super-safe system of safety features, and then hand it off to the engineers and say “make it all fit in the chassis”. And they do an expert job of it. This car is a symphony of safety features, as are all Volvos. But, this is the R, which as experimental and horrifically unreliable as it is (the R series traded reliability for sheer performance as a way to say “fuck you other manufacturers, we can do performance too”, will still happily sacrifice itself to protect me in the event of an accident.
We all know Volvo invented the seat belt, but few people know about SIPS, the Side Impact Protection System, which features reinforced doors, seats that can slide sideways, curtain airbags, and a center console which is set up as a crumple zone. This is a vehicle that is designed to fail, but do so in all the right ways in an immensely precise manner, to ensure the safety of the occupants. This is a car that will happily give its life to protect me, and this story has been told hundreds of times, just google ‘my volvo saved my life’ and you will find a forum FULL of people describing the accidents they’ve had, and walked away from, that would have been devastating in any other vehicle.
But this is the S60R. And anyone who has owned this car, even for a brief period, knows how expensive it is to own. In a given year, this car can cost (if you are lucky) a thousand dollars in parts to maintain. If you are as unlucky as I am, you can expect to spend 5 THOUSAND dollars per year to keep it on the road. At this very moment, I am probably about 2 grand behind on repairs (every time you fix something, something else breaks), and hopefully nothing else breaks while I am scouring the internet for parts. And the internet really is your only option on a 10+year old car. When you walk into a Volvo dealership looking for parts, and tell them it’s for an S60, they will ask if its the T5, the 2.5T, or the 2.5T AWD. When you tell them ‘R’, they just laugh and say no.
I had the honor of befriending a real-life Daniel Jackson-type linguist named Roy Allen Wright, a man who spoke 33 languages, and took him for a drive one day. We discussed his love for Nordic and Scandinavian culture, and his fondness for Volvo. He told me all about his old 240 wagon, how it was a tank, how it could do anything, and how it would never let him down. He helped me to translate a phrase into ancient Icelandic, and again using Elder Futhark, with the intent of having it inscribed on my car. Of course, he quipped, the ancient vikings never used the word ‘driver’, so he suggested replacing it with the word for ‘steerer’ or ‘starman’, the person responsible for navigating or ‘driving’ ships back in the day. Unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse, and he passed away before I was able to paint the phrase on the car. It was completed a few months after he passed, and I added a memorandum to the phrase in his memory.
We miss you Roy.