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What are the reasons for someone to buy such an old and ugly vehicle? Ok, uglyness is in the eye of the beholder, the owners like their Volvo C303 or C304 like shown below a lot. A lot of swedisch men have one, because since their time in the army they wanted to have one. A lot of norwegian men have one, because they enveyed the swedisch. And some americans have one, because it is reputed to be what the hummvee should have been...
In every case you catch attention with this car. The pedestrians turn their heads, the chops fall off, their views follow you. And that is not because of the noise or the stink, the 6-cylinder petrol engine is much more quiet than normal UTE with diesel engine.
The Volvo C303 is a real oldtimer meanwhile. By the year 2005 the first two vintages become older than 30 years, that means to have the possibility to get the tax priveleged oldtimer status in germany. It was never produced in big numbers, but the installed technology is solid and so precious, that the swedish army invested a lot of care in these cars and from the beginning 90th most of them got new bodys from aluminium and zinced steel. Can the civil models of Volvo C303 compete with that?
An actual aquired army model that was renewed in the 90th often isn't an optical goody, a lot of odds and ends need care and renovation. But the techincal basis is very stable and everything is screwed together for easy maintenance. The most complicated electronical part is the regulator for the alternator.
The Volvo C303 is reputed to be such an thoroughgoing offroader, that it is no fun to drive it on a normal street. I believe that is overstated, with a little calmness and foresight you can move in the traffic quite confident. But a trip to the terrain is something special.
The really big wheels with a diameter of 90 cm shrink the roughness. Just turn off from the road, across the ditch, up the slope, down again, throug a swampy meadow - that is easy going, you even don't need the limited slip differential. The engine positioned behind the front axle is the reason for a good load sharing, bogging with one axle is nearly impossible.
Obstacles like big stones, snags or deep tracks are nearly dissapeared with the minimum of 38 cm ground clearence. Normal supporting stands, used by other people to jack up and repair their cars, can be left fully extended and you can drive across with the C303 without touching.
The compact dimensions of the Volvo C303 are perfect for shipping. You eventualy only need to dismount the roof load and the car fits into a standard 20-feet freight container without any other work to do.
Despite of its technical advantages the Volvo C303 is usable for a long expedition only if you are perfectly common with its technlogy. In a worldwide comparison it is an exotic car, even if the supply with parts can be managed by the worldwide net of volvotrucks garages. So you need to take the service manuals and parts list allways with you.
Born in the northern europe the Volvo C303 needs some extras to get comfortable with hot climate. A guy from Australia mounted a big additional oil cooler to his Volvo C303 to keep the engine temperature in acceptable limits. An other weak point is the need of high octan petrol. Just in africa that may be a problem. A conversion to Diesel with an engine from an Nissan Patrom may be a chance.
Offside the formula and rally sport a szene of offroad trial driving is developing for many years and already present on tv. The local groups often organize events in gravel pits and strip mines.
Sometimes Volvo C303 are seen here and compete well in the mud. These cars are well renovated and stocked up with roll cages, sport seats and other safety equipment. If you want to engage here a Volvo C303 may be a good investment.
Who supposes to get clear with an modern SUV doesn't need a Volvo C303 - just for pulling out...
Anyhow there is only one direct competitior with the austrian Pinzgauer, but the Pinzi for me is disqualified by the noisy air cooled engine - the ones with Diesel engine allso did not have the most convincing engine. In addition they are more expensive than the Volvos.
With a nice hut on the back axle for better load sharing there is the opportunity with a smal Unimog. But the dimensions and weight of this car reach an other class - above of 3.5 tons there are some legal disadvantages at least in Germany. The fuel consumption and prices are higher, too.