The scrap man keeping the UK’s aging Volvos alive

Coppen reckons the average age of his Volvos is 12 years, but I’ve seen many around the place that are much older. He removes their lights, door mirrors, radios and parcel shelves for storage and resale.

“They’re my biggest sellers,” he says. “If I left them on the cars, they’d be stolen.” He stocks rows upon rows of lights, none of them labelled, since he says he knows which model each of them fits.

We head outside to inspect the wrecks. I’m keen to locate the oldest, a 1973 144 that he’s had for 30 years and claims to still be selling bits from.

However, picking our way through the twisted metal is heavy going (Coppen isn’t in the best of health) and so it eludes us. No worries: it’s enough simply to stumble among the remains of his magnificent 960s and 940s and the occasional 850 estate. Is that a 480 ES over there? Over there, a 580, and next to it a C702.

Coppen has huge respect for the cars. “The old Volvos could do 300,000 miles with ease. I once took in a 770 with 525,000 miles on the clock. The only reason many of them ended up here is when the cambelt went and it took the engine with it.”

Loppen won t mind me saying he isn t exactly in the hrst tlush of youth. Why not just sell up and retire? “My customers need me,” he replies.

“Few people know old Volvos as well as I do.” I’m willing to bet a stack of old headlights on that.


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