Significance of the '71 Volvo 142E

1971 was the introductory year for the "E" model in the 140 series, sporting electronic fuel injection as the hallmark feature.  The Bosch D-Jet system was the first electronic fuel injection system ever and appeared at about the same time in selected Volvo, Mercedes, Porsche, and VW models.  It was a huge step forward in cold start, hot start, warm up, and normal running performance while at the same time improving fuel economy, horsepower, and emissions.  Other than frightening mechanics who didn't understand it, there was nothing to not like out it.

In it's introductory year of 1971 in the US, the 142 was the only model available with the "E" designation, and to punctuate it's introduction, the 142E included a number of luxury features as standard equipment.  These included leather seats, overdrive transmission, polished beauty rings and center caps on the wheels, radial tires, and thicker front brake disks.  And the car was only available in two colors; gold metallic, and blue metallic.  All these special features were only included in 1971, with subsequent years reverting to the same features as the "S" model, except of course for fuel injection.

1971 was a transition year in other ways for the 140 series.  The '71 picked up the three-piece black grill where previous years had a single piece polished aluminum grill.  The hood badge disappeared at the same time as well, and the interior door arm rests changed to the newer squared off style.  But the '71 retained the raised exterior door handles, and had a removable center arm rest, long shift lever, and no integrated center console.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure that the 142E was only available in the colors gold metallic and blue metallic? I own a 142E (ex california) in the color steel blue metallic(102). This color is also used on the 1800E and 123 GT

Peter Hayden said...

Well, I think so, but I'm going on the info in Volvo's "Engineering Features" publication which describes the newly introduced '71 142E. I can think of a few things that would explain your car.

- I'm not sure what the "blue metallic" color code is. It might well be your "Steel Blue Metallic (102)". Some more research might turn up the color code.

- Is your 142E a '71? After the intro year of '71, the E lost all the fancy standard features and they went back to being options. I wouldn't be surprised if the color choices opened up too.

- Was your 142E built for the US market? The brochure that I've based my info on is for the US market, and other markets could be very different.

What's your VIN? Have you do the decode on it?

Anonymous said...

Vin number is 142 4363 . The car is originally sold in the US. can you send me the Volvo's "Engineering Features" publication which describes the newly introduced '71 142E ? What do you mean by all the fancy standard features?

Peter Hayden said...

I've added a "contact me" form over on the right. Use that to send me your email address and I'll forward you the document. I'll also try to figure out how to post documents here as reference material.

Here's a page that's helpful for decoding your VIN.

Keep in mind that on these older cars there are a variety of numbers that make up the equivalent of today's standardized VIN. The 142 4363 that you gave me is the Type code. It indicated a 142, B20E engine, Export model, BW35 Automatic???, and Left hand drive for US/Canada. The BW35 part is interesting. Is the car an automatic? If so then maybe it was a special order car which could also explain the color.

After the Type code that you provided, there should be a single letter that designated the model year. It that present? If not, then you need to figure out the year based on the chassis number. Here's a link to a decoder for the model year based on chassis number

Let me know what you find.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the links Peter. Was able to figure out that the 142E I just bought was originally sold in Canada. Would like to find the upholstery decoder as this example has fabric instead of leather. That of course could be that it was replaced, as many accounts say the original leather cracked and weathered poorly. I certainly appreciate your aesthetic for "as built" older cars, but also understand that the main value my car has is to those who would want to modify it, especially as the example I bought has been repainted in a different color. Looking forward to seeing how your project goes.

Anonymous said...

You are correct as to the uniqueness of the 71E. It was the only year for the high performance B20E engine and was a totally different car that the S model. I am glad to see some people are starting to appreciate this rare car, I have a blue one that is stick (there were as many automatics as stick, I was told 1000 of each total were imported). I have owned my car from new and will keep it until I am no longer here, it is in fact the last new car I ever purchased, it has just over 100k miles and runs and looks almost as new.

Peter Hayden said...

Wow, and you are the original owner? I've been trying to figure out how many E models were built in '71, but haven't found any hard info. Your "1000 of each" is interesting. How credible a source do you think it was?

Where are you located? If possible, I'd love to get the cars side by side some time. Drop me a note using the "Contact Me"form over on the right.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Nice blog you have! I've got a 142 E aswell, which was sold when it was new in the USA. In the comments I read about the automatic transmission. My 142 had an automatic transmission when I bought it but I changed it for a gearbox with overdrive. The color of the car was gold ( 105 ) but I changed that to 103, which is actually a color that only was used on the 164. the serie number of my car is 247702, I wonder how many 142 there are between my and your 142.

Regards from the Netherlands,


Anonymous said...

I saw on ebay a Brochure of an red Volvo 142E, so, ther must have been more colors then only blue en gold metallic?

Anonymous said...

I was a dealership mechanic when these cars were new. Just as a note, I seem to remember that the 1971 142E had higher compression (something like 11:1) than the following years. I remember going out as one of the passengers in a new one and the car getting to over 100 mph with 4 people aboard. I do believe the specs on that engine were pretty much the same as the 1970 - 1971 P-1800E.

Peter Hayden said...

Do you know if the brochure on ebay was for the '71 model year? It was only the introductory year of '71, and only in North America where I think only two colors were offered. Most of my info is based off a sales training brochure that I have. I'll have to figure some way to post it so others can see it. It's a very informative piece.

As for the compression ratio, you are correct that the B20E was a high compression engine, and I think the highest of the B20s. Back then all the manufacturers were struggling to meet the newly introduces emissions standards in the US, and engine performance was typically the first compromise that got made. I think the compression ratio dropped in '72.

Anonymous said...

yes, compression ratio of a B20E engine is 10,5. B20F was 8,7.

Anonymous said...

My 71 142E was a silver color. Black leather and a 4 speed manual, with column mounted overdrive shifter. No air and a lot of electrical problems. Got rid of it in 1972.

Joel said...

I have had my silver (102) 71 142E since 76. Mine is now a modified Autocross beauty with 1/4 million miles on it.
I have a US dealer brochure for a red 71 142E.
In a forum in the 90’s there was info shared that indicated 4,500 total were imported to the USA. 1500 each of Gold, Silver and Red. Some had automatics, but most had the 4 speed overdrive with a street wicked 4:30 rear end that made it really quick on city streets with just a 4 banger. The B20E was also produced in the 70 &71 1800E cars.

Joel said...

4500 total. 1500 each of the red gold and silver. There were automatics, but most were a M41 with a 4:30 rear end. You could also have a limited slip installed too. I remember these guqures from a forum discussion, Someone that worked in the Volvo import office and had a hand on the info. I have a dealer brochure for a USAmarket red 1971 142E