By the time this fish wrapper hits the streets, the odometer on my trusty '85 Volvo wagon will have turned over to 300,000 miles. I started celebrating prematurely last summer when I applied the first bumper sticker to ever appear on her pristine behind: "Honk if You Love Black Sabbath." Of course, several weeks later she was totaled when some c*#t ran a stop sign on Belmont. I was heartbroken... until Mitch Wilson and Dennis Dillon (along with dreamy Kevin at Straight Line Body & Paint) came to my rescue and patched her up as good as new. Mitch and Dennis have been pampering Volvos for over 70 years combined. They opened Alamo in 2001, and are the kindest, most wonderful mechanics/ersatz dads any Volvo freak could hope to meet. Whether we love these cars cuz they saved our lives on one or more occasion (check!), have never ever broken down in spite of having well over a quarter of a million miles on 'em (check!), or are just SO DARN CUTE (check!), Volvo fanatics are legendary. A Volvo mechanic of equal fanaticism is not hard to find, but Mitch and Dennis are the best in the West! Although both these guys have earned the "Employee of the Week" accolade, Mitch is more the talking type, so we chatted him up about all things Volvo.
How did you get into Volvos?
MITCH WILSON: I got one for my 16th birthday. I figured out they were pretty good cars, even if they were funny looking.
What's your favorite model?
My 1987 245. I've been driving it forever. I put 375,000 miles on it and it still looks and drives like it did when it was new.
Is there a golden era for Volvos?
We like 'em all, but we like the 240s best. Anything from '76 to '93. They were Volvo's flagship for years, and were built to last. Newer Volvos are more stylish, according to some people, but they break a lot more and they cost a lot more to fix. We have customers with over a half million miles on their cars who can get in their car and go anywhere, and we have customers with newer ones that have 60,000 miles on them and they have trepidation about going from here to Salem.Are these people fanatics? These folks with 500,000 miles on their Volvos?
They're Volvo drivers. Of course they're fanatics!
Are the newer Volvo drivers fanatical as well?
Not so much. New Volvos don't seem to have the soul the old ones do, in my opinion.
What is the key to Volvo maintenance if you've got an old one?
Change your oil religiously, and do routine service on it. Timing belts every 50,000 miles, tune-ups every 30,000.