This guide has been written for Volvo 242 GT enthusiasts, and attempts to collate all the history, information and specifications for the Volvo 242 GT from several sources in one convenient reference point. If you feel there is any information missing or something that can be improved or corrected, please click the contact author button above, or email us directly: classicregister@gmail.com.

The 242 GT was a special edition (sports oriented) version of the 240 series, available only in 2-door sedan in limited markets from 1978 through to 1981. It is suggested that the car was originally designed to compete with the BMW 323i, but there were plenty of other relevant competitors in this sector such as high spec versions of the Opel Commodore C, Ford Cortina and of course its home grown competitor, the Saab 99 Turbo. In any event, the aim of the 242 GT was to shake Volvo's "safe and boring" image, and to achieve that on a small budget. The 242 GT ended up being the start of greater things to come - including the GLT, GLT Turbo and the 240 Turbo Evolution. These later developments of the 242 chassis led to great success in touring car racing globally, with victory for the 240 Turbo in the 1985 European Touring Car Championship in 1985. So we shouldn't forget that this later success of racing bricks really did start with the 242 GT.

Throughout this guide, we have referred to "Series 1" and "Series 2" cars. This is a reference to the facelift that occurred across the 200 Series Volvos in 1979, with the most prominent change in the form of a redesigned rear end and tail lights. Further specific details of the Series 1 and 2 cars are identified in each section of this page.

Production:

The 242 GT proved a very popular special edition Volvo, and has a strong international following in the markets to which it was offered, despite estimates suggesting only 5,000 units were built. The Volvo 242 GT was first introduced and promoted to the public in late 1977, but did not officially go on sale until the Spring of 1978 in some markets. We have not yet been able to determine the specific plant where the GTs were built. Volvo built 240 series cars in a number of global factories, so if anyone has further information about the production location, please let us know.

Precise production data has not been found. However, assuming we are interpreting the translation correctly, volvo242gt.se suggests that 5,000 units were built (but it is unclear whether that statement is a reference to the later Series II cars alone). However, even if production numbers were higher, the 242 GT is a super-minority out of the nearly 250,000 2-door 240 series cars built globally, and a very rare classic today. The following list of production information has been gathered from numerous forums and online sources which (may) give some insight into the 242 GT production figures:

  • Sweden, despite being the country of origin, only received a total of 670 242 GTs (265 units in 1978 and 405 units in 1979 according to volvo242gt.se). No 242 GT was offered after 1979.
  • Volvo242.se suggests Australia received 630 units delivered new. This is approximately consistent with discussion on Australian Volvo forums which suggest a figure around 600 being delivered.
  • Series 2 cars were delivered to Swedish customers (as 79 year models) from as early as November 1978.
  • NZ is estimated to have received only 20 cars (and subsequently some Australian cars have been imported to NZ). We have spotted only 2-3 NZ 242 GTs for sale over the last decade, so this is consistent with a very low number having been sold there.
  • 200 242 GTs painted black were cars were sold in Canada from 1980. We presume this figure of 200 is on top of the deliery of standard silver Mystic Silver Metallic 242 GTs.
  • We have not been able to find any numbers otherwise for the US and Canada. Presumably this would have been the largest market outside of Europe.
  • The 242 GT was never sold in the UK. The 242 GT also does not appear in Dutch brochures.
  • 242 GT does appear in German, Australian, Canadian and US brochures

1. Exterior features: Volvo 242 GT

This section of the guide outlines the distinct exterior features and specifications of the Volvo 242 GT throughout its short production run. References to "Series 1" cars is a reference to the earlier vehicles built in 1978.. A ferefernce to "Series 2" cars is a reference to the facelifted 242 GTs built from 1979 (or late 1978 according to volvo242gt.se) through to the last 242 GTs of 1981.

  • The 242 GT was available in 2-doior sedan only (no wagon or sedan was offered).
  • Unlike the other models in the 240 range, the 242 GT had the majority of chrome finishes removed, with black anodised finishes in place of the chrome. Most prominently, this included door mirrors (on Series 1 cars), matte black window and door frames, tail light frames and the dress trim at the top of the C-pillar. The only chrome features remaining on the car were the door handles, the lock barrels and the frames for the side rear parker lights (which were applied in some matkets only on Series 1 cars). Those frames were replaced by black frames during the model year.
  • The grille applied to the 242 GT was unique. The grille and headlight surround panels have a silver finish, with a thin black surround / border which continues around the outside of the headlight surrounds. This is distinct from other models in the 200 series range.
  • Two Bosch fog lights were integrated into the grille, and all 242 GTs featured single round 180mm Bosch front headlamps. In some markets, the grille mounted foglights were high beam lamps, and in other markets they were strictly fog lights (depending on regulation), according to volvo242gt.se.
  • Red/black stripe decals were applied, and were unique to the 242 GT. The stripes were applied the full length of the side of the car, and also applied to the trunk and hood lids (following the panel creases on top of the panels). Stripes were also applied to the lower edge of the front air dam (lip spoiler). Stripes differed slightly between Series 1 and Series 2 cars (see below "Series 1 and Series 2 differences")
  • Depending on the market, 242s integrated a clear lens parking light with the front side indicator. This was the case in Australia for example. while in some other markets the indicator lens was entirely amber (orange).
  • The 242 GT was available in two colours:
    • Mystic Silver Metallic (paint code #130); and
    • Black (paint code #19). This colour was only available in the Canadian market, and only applied to 200 vehicles.
  • Two alloy wheel options were availeble:
    • 20-spoke 14 inch alloy wheels, fitted with Pirelli Cinturato CN36 tyres (applied to earlier cars1978-79, both Series 1 and 2); and
    • 5-spoke 15 x 6 inch Virgo alloy wheels fitted with 195/60R15 low-profile tyres (later cars: 1979-81).
  • Two types of front chin spoiler / splitter were applied:
    • Cars built in 1978 and up to late1979 received a spoiler that contained two rectangular air intake vents (located approximately below the inner edge of the car's headlamps). This early design followed closely the contour of the bumper bar, and had a vairly vertical plane with only a slight flare / lip to the front. 
    • Cars from late 1979 onward had a revised spoiler that was far more flared at the front (making a more distincy 'chin' at the front of the car). This later design had a large central vent made up of four rectangular vents (as opposed to the two separate smaller rectangular vents on the earlier design). The vent was slightly off-centre (extending to the front right of the car where the tow hook was located).
  • There are differences between the rear trunk lid badges. 1978 - 1978 cars cars have a smaller silver text badge reading "Volvo 242 GT", which sits on a black background that connects the letters together. Cars from 1980 - 1981 had larger text, with the "GT" letters in red. Examples of the differences are shown in the image gallery.
  • A sunroof was optional from the factory, and was a relatively popular accessory on the 242 GT.
  • Most 242 GT's large black bumpers had a silver insert running through the middle (the same silver as the car's paint). However, we have sighted a large number of cars that do not have this silver insert stripe applied. Therefore, we conclude that the silver insert was not always applied to the 242 GT.
  • Some 242 GTs have wipers mounted on the headlamps.It is believed that this was only an option in some European markets.
  • Plastic Headlight covers were available as an option in most markets (the same as applied to all 200 series cars).
  • The factory glass applied has "Volvo Sunex" stamped/printed in the corner of each window. The side and rear glass was tinted as standard.
  • According to volvo242.se, the last 30 Volvo 242 GTs sold in Australia were equipped with the duel headlamp front end (US lights),and thus had no fog lights in the grille.Those cars also had the Volvo 244 Turbo's rear tail lights a. An example of one of those cars (repainted black) sold at a Shannons Auction for just $7,500  in Sydney during 2015 - as shown at the following link. We have also included images of another silver example.
  • A towbar was a surprisingly common accessory on these cars. volvo242gt.se suggests that 200 of the 670 Swedish cars sold were fitted with tow bars.

 

Series 1 and Series 2 differences:

  • Series 1 cars had a different rear end design to later cars (which followed the standard facelift accross the 200 series range). On Series 1 cars, the end of the trunk has a distinct crease and a recessed area on the rear vertical face, and flat tail light lenses. Many series 1 cars also have red or amber parking lights on the rear mudguards. We believe ths may be a market specific feature, as there are many Series 1 examples that are not fitted with these side lamps.
  • Series 2 cars (introduced in 1979) had a revised trunk lid without the recessed edge, along with wrap around tail lamps (removing the need for the side parker lamps). The body side moulding was also revised to continue around the rear of the trunk lid (previously, it stopped on the edge of the rear guard).
  • The stripe applied to the Series 1 trunk is thinner where it wraps up over the trunk edge compared to the Series 2 cars. The Series 2 cars had a thicker stripe in that location where the stripe wraps up over the trunk lid.
  • Series 1 side mirrors were anodised black metal. Series 2 cars received updated black plastic mirrors.
  • A unique badge was applied to the rear of the front mudguard (just before the door). For Series 1 cars the badge reads "242 GT 2.1", and has black text on a silver background. For Series 2 cars it reads "242 GT 2.3", with black text on a gold background. However, review of late vehicles (1980-81) suggests that volvo may have done away with this specific badging. Three 1980 Australian vehicles have only a "Volvo" badge in the position of the engine size badge, as do several 1980-81 US vehicles.
  • Note, the US vehicles always had the 2.1l engine, and therefore would not have received the 2.3l badge as described in the previous point.
2. Interior features: Volvo 242 GT

This section of the guide details the interior features and specifications of the Volvo 242 GT.

  • All seats were trimmed with black velour cloth (corduroy style), with a vinyl Orange/Red racing stripe applied running through the centre of the seat. The seats also had red piping trim around the boarder.This trim was applied to both the front and rear seats.
  • The black-red theme continued with the door cards and dashboard. The front door cards were finished in black vinyl, with a velour cloth insert (the same as the seat trim) and the same vinyl orange/red stripe running the length of the front door. The red stripe continued part way onto the rear trim cards (but did not continue the full length of the card).
  • Most cars received a continuation of the orange/red stripe across the waistline of the dashboard, linking with the door card line. However, from our observation, not all cars received this tripe. In particular, we have sighted several cars from NZ and Australia that have not had this applied. (Here are several links to examples of cars without the stripe applied to the dashboard: 242 GT 1, 242 GT 2 and 242 GT 3). Also, there are advertisements (one from Australia in particular) where no stripe has been applied. See the documentation section of this guide below for images.
  • Black roof lining, carpets and all door aperture trims were applied to all 242 GTs.
  • Two types of leather padded 14-inch steering wheel were applied to the 242 GT:
    • Early wheel: The centre pad on this wheel had a bright red verticle rectangular "GT" badge in the centre. Each of the 4-spokes were integrated with the centre pad by  "dogleg" shaped mould which connected the top and bottom spokes on each side. This wheel was fitted to most early cars (the time of cutoff is uncertain, but presumably some time in 1979 or 1980). See the image in the gallery labeled "Early Wheel".
    • Later wheel: The rim and spokes on this wheel were very different, and overall it was less sporty than the earlier wheel in its appearance. The centre pad on this wheel had a large square badge area with a horizontal rectagle "GT" badge in the centre. The background of the GT badge was white, and the text was red, with a black underline (in compliance with the exterior stripes of the car and the trim theme). The Centre pad had two verticle horn buttons, which integrated with the lower spokes of the wheel, which connected to the rim very vertically. See the image in the gallery labeled "Later Wheel"
  • A fog lamp button was mounted next to the rear demist button on the cetre dash (green buttons).
  • According to volvo242.se, the 1978 cars had a shorter gear lever, which was made of ox leather.
  • Volvo242gt.se suggests that early model cars (up to but excludingthe 1980 cars), did not have a tub for the space wheel. Instead, a special inflatable spare wheel (space saver) was fitted, which was limited to 80 km/h). The spare wheel was normally stored without air on the left side of the luggage compartment and in the event of a puncture, the tire was filled with air using a small 12 Volt compressor that was provided with the car. This original design was intended of course to save space in the luggage compartment, and the tyre fitted to the space saver was of a very low profile. From some point in 1980, a larger wheel storage tub was installed integrated with the guard, and a full size, wheel and tyre was included. The fitting of a space saver and full size wheel from 1980, although referred to in factory documents, should not be taken as a strict rule. We have sighted several early cars with full size spare wheels, inflated in the side tub. Either way, the spare wheel in the trunk is a standard steel rim - not an alloy, and is painted black or silver.
  • Early cars and later cars had different instrument clusters.
    • Early dashboard: Based on our observations, the vast majority of cars had a dashbord that contained (from left to right) a speedometer, a centrally mounted RPM timer, followed by the temperature and fuel level gauges. This dashboard was further recessed into the dash compared with the later design noted below. See the image in the gallery labeled "Early instruments" for ease of reference.
    • Later vehicles: (Several sighted from the 1980 year), had a dashboard panel that was slightly closer to the driver. It read (from left to right) Oil pressure, temperature, RPM, Speedometer, fuel and amperage. See the image in the gallery labeled "Later Instruments" for ease of reference.
  • The 242 GT was fitted with electric windows and air conditioning in all markets (as far as we can ascertain).
  • A sunroof was a very common option on the 242 GT, and in some brochures it is noted as a standard feature.
3. Mechanical specs and evolution: Volvo 242 GT

In this section of the guide, we outline the mechanical and performance specifications of the Volvo 242 GT. This is split into first and second series cars, as there were several significant differences between them. Please contact us if you have any further information you think could benefit this section of the guide.

SERIES 1 VOLVO 242 GT MECHANICAL AND PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine and driveline:

Early 242 GTs had the B21E and B21F engines, with the following specifications (most of which were taken from an early 1979 Australian issue of Wheels Magazine). Note, US exported cars were equipped with the lambda probe and catalytic converter B21F engine. Our understanding is that the B21 engine was fitted to all US cars up to 1981. Please note, some power specifications noted below are specific to the US models (where noted). This may have also been applied to other markets where the Lambda Prove cat system was fitted.

  • Bore and stroke: 92.0mm x 8.00mm
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Capacity: 2,127cc
  • Claimed Power: 90kw / 120 hp @ 5,500 RPM (US cars were 101hp @ 5,200 RPM)
  • Claimed Torque: 170NM @ 3,500 RPM (US cars: 111lb-ft @ 2,500 RPM).
  • Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
  • Aspiration: Bosch K-Jetronic electronic fuel injection
  • Power to weight: 42.31

 

Transmission:

M46 4-speed manual with hydraulic overdrive. Gear ratio's are as follows:

First 3.71
Second 2.16
Third 1.37
Fourth 1.00
Fourth overdrive 0.80
Final drive ratio (diff ratio) 3.91

 

Performance:

  • Fuel consumption: Between 8.1 and 9.6 km/litre (22.9 - 27.1 mpg)
  • Standing 400m: 18.6 seconds
  • 0-110km/kr: 16.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 170 km/hr
  • Braking from 100km/hr:

 

Handling:

  • Suspension:
    • Firmer "DeCarbon" gas shock absorbers were fitted to the rear of the car. Standard oil shock absorbers were fitted to the front. 
    • Front: Indeoendent mcpherson Struts with 21mm anti roll bar. All springs were at least 30% stiffer than the standard DL/GL/GLE 200 series cars.
    • Rear: Live axle with trailing arms with coil springs and panhard rod (the same as the DL/GL/GLE 200 series cars). volvoadventures.com and several articles suggest the series 1 GT was fitted with a 21mm anti roll bar at the rear (which later increased to 23mm for 1979). Volvo242GT.se suggests that the rear roll bar on early cars was 25mm, and that in the US market it was 18mm).
    • 5mm thick reinforcement plates mounted to the front shock strut towers.
  • Wheels and tyres: 5.5JX14 fitted with 185/70HRX14 Pirelli Cinturato CN36 tyres. No full size spare was provided (instead, a deflated space saver was applied).
  • Steering: Rack and pinion (power steering as standard)
  • Brakes: Front: 263mm ventilated discs. Rear: 281mm solid discs.

 

Dimensions and weight:

  • Wheelbase: 2,640mm
  • Front track: 1,400mm
  • Rear track: 1,350mm
  • Length: 4,900mm
  • Width: 1,710mm
  • Height: 1,440mm
  • Ground clearance: 140mm
  • Kerb weight: 1,360kg
  • Fuel tank capacity: 60L

 

SERIES 2 VOLVO 242 GT MECHANICAL AND PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Later 242 GTs were fitted with the more powerful B23 engine, with the following specifications (most of which were taken from from the Driveline Magazine, 1979). The below specifications do not take into account any specifie pollution controlled marketsnsuch as the US.

Engine and driveline:

  • Bore and stroke: 96.0 x 80.0 mm
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Capacity: 2,316cc
  • Claimed Power: Bosch fuel injection
  • Claimed Torque: 10.0:1
  • Compression Ratio: 104kw @ 5,750 RPM (some sources claim 105kw)
  • Aspiration: 191 NM @ 4,500 RPM
  • Power to weight: 13.1kg/kw
  • Specific power output: 44.9kw/litre

 

Performance:

  • Fuel consumption: 12.9l/100km
  • Standing 400m: 17 seconds
  • 0-100km/kr: 11.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 180km/hr
  • Braking from 100km/hr: 41m

 

Transmission and driveline:

M46 4-speed manual with hydraulic overdrive. Gear ratio's are as follows:

First 3.71
Second 2.16
Third 1.37
Fourth 1.00
Fourth overdrive 0.80
Final drive ratio 3.73

Note, it is documented among enthusiasts that some of the Australian delivered 242 GTs were converted to an automatic transmission by a local volvo engineering company, but all were originally 4-speed manual cars as per the M46 specifications above.

 

Handling:

  • Suspension:
    • Gas filled high pressure shock absorbers were fitted all round
    • Front: Indeoendent mcpherson Struts with 21mm anti roll bar. The front springs were 30% stiffer than the standard DL/GL/GLE 200 series cars.
    • Rear: Live axle with trailing arms with coil springs and panhard rod (the same as the DL/GL/GLE 200 series cars). However, the GT was fitted with a 23mm anti roll bar in the 1979 year, but went to a 21mm bar for the 1980/81 years.
  • Wheels: 5.5JX14 20 spoke light alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli 185/70HRX14 or 5 spoke Virgo light alloy wheels witted with 195/60HR15 Pirelli tyres.
  • Steering: Rack and pinion (power steering as standard).
  • Brakes: Front: 263mm ventilated discs. Rear: 281mm solid discs.

 

Dimensions and weight:

  • Wheelbase: 2,640mm
  • Front track: 1,400mm
  • Rear track: 1,350mm
  • Length: 4,900mm
  • Width: 1,710mm
  • Height: 1,440mm
  • Ground clearance: 140mm
  • Kerb weight: 1,360kg
  • Fuel tank capacity: 60L
4. Literature and documentation: Volvo 242 GT

Attached is a small collection of articles, excerpts and documentation found on the internet, covering the specifications and reviews of tvhe Volvo 242 GT. If you have any original material which you think would be of use to this section, please contact the author of this article.

Classic Register discloses that it does not own any intellectual property rights with respect to the attached images of documentation, and is providing this information for historical and educational purposes only.

5. Engine number and VIN number: Volvo 242 GT

More info coming soon..

VIN number on US cars appears to be printed on the dashboard begind the glass - this may however be unique to the US cars.

The Volvo 242 GT was mainly exported, first and foremost to the USA and Canada, where they also had their own chassis number series with the letter C at the beginning

6. References: Volvo 242 GT

1. http://www.volvoadventures.com/242GT.html

2. https://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_volvo_242_gt

3. https://www.volvoclub.org.uk/paint_colour_codes.shtml

4. http://www.volvo242gt.se/