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Customer Spotlight - Alan W. Ziff

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - Customer Alan W. Ziff

The Story of Blue - A 62’ Volvo 122S for 3 Generations

by Alan W. Ziff

On 6/20/1962 “Blue” came off the showroom floor of J.E. French on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue to join our family’s car history.  My former in laws were excited about the prospect. Dorothy bought accessories, seatbelts ($16.95 installed price) and mud flaps ($2.95) ahead of time and placed them under the Xmas Tree, before actually taking possession of BLJ767 in anticipation of the new car.  Little did they know the car would still be in the family 52 years later.  She would be the family car for 9 years until 1971, when she was given to the eldest daughter Cheryl. Cheryl was driving grandfather’s 55’ Ford when it petered out in her first year at college. We got “Blue” complete with original price sticker, paper temporary license plate and original owner’s manual and accessory book. Blue, as she came to be known (combination of the first 2 letters of the license plate and color), still runs great and looks good today. 

The car was with the next generation for the next 25 years as our main vehicle and later 2nd, finally 3rd car. We generally got our parts from IPD as they consistently had the best available in the country and always enjoyed the monthly newsletter (then mailed on paper). The only modifications were a fresh paint job (matched to original color), re-upholstery (matched to original), and a Weber carburetor to replace the finicky dual SU’s that came standard. At some point the odometer stopped working for a number of years until I located someone who had the parts to fix it years later. We guess there’s about 250,000 miles on the car by now. At one point we almost traded her for a vintage Martin guitar and antique pocket watch, but decided to keep her after all.

In 1995, when my daughter Alison turned 16, she took the wheel on her birthday to become the 3rd generation of drivers. The car then followed her to college at Occidental near Pasadena, California. Driving a very safe, but heavy car with the limited power 4 cylinder B18 engine and stick shift turned out to be a challenge. The Pasadena freeway, one of the first “freeways” in the nation, has no onramps but simply a stop sign, then immediate entrance to the freeway. A bit scary, even for today’s faster off the line cars.  So “Blue” migrated back to northern California, where she was used sparingly for the next few years until the clutch gave out. From this point in her life she sat in the garage until completely boxed in and covered with various items that end up in a garage over the years. About a year ago my former wife needed the space back in the garage and talked of selling the car. My daughter and I said “Don’t do it, we’ll figure something out”. So Dad paid for the clutch repair, new fluids, battery and wiper blades. Our mechanic was able to fire her up within the first 2 hours after over a decade of sitting forlornly in the garage!

Last Thanksgiving I rolled up in a freshly detailed ‘Blue’ blasting 60’s rock and roll music. After dinner and a couple of spins around the old neighborhood, I turned her back over to my daughter who proudly drove her home again to begin life again anew after 5 decades of service and more to come!  

Mom retains title, Dad handles repairs and maintenance, and the 3rd generation, Alison provides a nice garage and weekend outings to keep her running smooth and cool. The only recent modification is a new “Bluetooth” stereo capable of AM/FM radio (and skipping over 4 track, 8 track, cassette, DVD, and MP3) to streaming Pandora, and hands free phone use. This was our sole concession to modern driving. Nearly every time Blue hits the road someone honks, waves, or stops us at the gas station or parking lot and comments about the great condition, or their own history with Volvos. 

Who knows maybe there will one day be a forth generation driver of “Blue”. Unless that is, we’re driving hover cars or using transporters like on Star Trek……… 

-Alan W. Ziff





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