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Elk Taxi


Florian Melcher sent us this beautiful report about his Volvo 940 Elk Taxi. In his richly illustrated story, he tells us how he came to own a Volvo. Enjoy the read!

The real car love to my #Elchtaxi


Admittedly, if you're into old Volvos, you're more often looked at sceptically and asked what's so great about these "hearses". After all, they are absolutely angular, unsporty and conservative. In the meantime, the circle of lovers of these "bricks" is growing and it has been explained very often why an old Volvo estate is the best car in the world.

But if you also have an affinity for the colour light ivory (RAL 1015 / "taxi colour"), then there must be something seriously wrong with you. Was it the wrong friends, a poor education, ex-partners, or even the wife? No, as is so often the case with disorders or psychological impairments, the root of all evil lies in the parental home and in childhood.

I saw the light of day in 1986, on that day everything was still good and as far as I can remember also the following days. But then the inevitable happened and I came home with my mother.

Having just come into the world, I was blessed with a father who was passionate about cars and together with my mother they ran a small taxi business. As usual, the first "taxis" were Mercedes W123s, but this suddenly changed: a Volvo 244 with an in-line six-cylinder diesel engine and an outstanding 79 hp was bought second-hand to replace the last W123.

The car did so well that a second replacement car was purchased, followed by the first "brand new" Volvo 744 as a taxi. So far, so good, that was 1989, so nothing that could have touched me greatly.

Unfortunately, the 744 was involuntarily taken out of service just a few months after it had been put into service and a new Volvo was ordered that was to leave its mark on me.

In May 1990, the car was delivered, my father is beaming as proud as a peacock and the surplus legs, which you can see to his right behind the driver's door, are mine. Until 1997, this car covered more than 700,000 km in taxi service and was an absolute rarity on Solingen's roads. The sound of the six-cylinder engine stood out among the Mercedes W124s, VW Passats, Audis and Opels, and it probably happened more often that passengers chose this exotic car. In 1997, unfortunately, it was no longer viable and I was deeply saddened when it left us. It was not only a "company car", no, we also went on holiday with it, did errands and always had a good time. It was as if a family member had left us. It was deregistered and no longer drivable, but it was still parked on our property for some time, then the day came when it was collected by a recycler from the Aachen area. Our taxi desperately fought against its fate by means of blocked rear axle brakes, but nothing helped. Although it was replaced again by a Volvo (V70 I and then V70 II), it never became the same again.

Well, now I was definitely hooked and if it had been up to me, such a brick would also have been my first car, but it had to be the obligatory Golf. And a second one. With the third car, however, I had the power of decision myself and surprised my mother with an impulse purchase of such a Volvo, but unfortunately dressed in civilian grey.

But one thing was certain: at some point I would have to get a former Volvotaxi (#Elchtaxi). However, this wish was extremely difficult to realise, as taxis rarely survive their service and are usually exported at some point. In addition, Volvo taxis were sold extremely rarely, especially in comparison to Mercedes and the other usual suspects.

Still in my apprenticeship in November 2010, I found an interesting beige elk by chance in Stuttgart: a Volvo 244 from 1987. Still suffering from pneumonia, I took the train to save this car from the Used car dealers. It wasn't/isn't a taxi, but the colour was getting there....

I fixed it up and put a taxi sign on the roof for fun. The photo caught the attention of Minichamps in about 2017 and they made a 1/18th scale model, which went on sale. Almost countless Volvos followed, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, including former taxis of newer Volvo generations, but so far the feeling I had with the 745 from 1990 never came up again. But then! Suddenly one day a small ad appeared, an acquaintance forwarded it to me...

Is it what it looks like?
Quick check:
Colour? - Fits.
Mileage? - High, so it fits (808,000 km).
Taxi-specific equipment? - Yep.
Worst signs of wear? - Not even that.
Sliding roof? - Nah, bummer!
Driveable? - Possibly.
Price? - Well...
Location? - yikes: 350 km one way, I can't even get there.

After thinking about it for a while, I called the salesman and made an appointment at lunchtime. I didn't want him to know that I would be travelling 350 km for this "can".

On time "Highnoon" and after 350 km I reached my destination. The car was advertised by "Private" in a non-commercial profile. Based on my experience, I was not very surprised that my sat nav had guided me to a commercial used car dealer based on the address. In rainy Goslar, I quickly parked up and tried to sight the object of my desire and sure enough: parked between a discarded Smart and a Citroen C3 (?), it stood there and immediately reminded me of our old 745.

It wasn't exactly the same model, but the very similar successor, a 945 from 1991. This car had the advantage over my old "favourite taxi" that it had a turbo diesel engine with a hefty 116 hp and also had automatic air conditioning from the factory - and that was back in 1991!

After a short back and forth, we agreed on the advertised price, which was not utopian, but not really cheap either. The dealer emphasised that he was selling the car for his "elderly neighbour" who had given up driving. The mileage was not around 800,000 km, but half that, because the speedometer had been broken once and therefore this speedometer was installed. Ah well, I thought to myself... A deposit was paid, I gave him the promise to pick up the car within ten days and set off on my way back with a proud chest. Man, was that a nice drive back: another 350 km through rain, storms, road works and traffic jams, but I had finally found *MY* taxi.

No sooner said than done: a few days later, I set off with a friend to pick up the car, and of course the #Elk sign for the #ElkTaxi came with us!

As is always the case with such old cars, you have to be long-suffering and show a certain willingness to take risks. I was completely unfamiliar with the car and it had over 800,000 km on the clock. Test drive? - What for, if you are so euphoric.

Together with my friend, we decided to take a leisurely road trip through the Harz mountains, including an overnight stay. After all the fluids had been checked and the six-cylinder engine was humming along loudly but harmoniously, we decided to set off.

On the first few kilometres, however, my friend who was following me had to suffer a lot, as it seemed that my old taxi was spewing the coarse dust particles of the last few years mercilessly out of the rust-brown patinated tailpipe, possibly causing one or two "stone chips" on the bonnet. As if an old Volvo taxi wasn't conspicuous enough. Just an old diesel!

Shortly before arriving at the hotel, the instrument lighting became weaker and some of the displays also failed. All right, great... we're sitting in the Harz mountains and now, of all times, the generator is on strike. But the problem was then postponed to the next day due to several cold beers. Luckily it was only the carbon brushes, which were even in stock somewhere. We were able to pick them up quickly, put them in and so we made our way back.

After catching up on various "maintenance backlogs", the question arose as to which car we would use for the upcoming annual holiday. My wife was more in favour of one of the more modern cars, but I really wanted to take a taxi to Denmark. What can I say, the 4,000 km were covered without any problems and I was even able to convince my other half to visit an old taxi meeting in the Harz mountains at the end of the holiday.

In a quiet moment, I took the time to research the history of my taxi. Thanks to two (!) old service booklets and even the original vehicle registration certificate, I was able to name and search for all three previous owners.

The original taxi owner was happy to answer my questions by phone. He had used the car from 1991 to 1995 and then retired it with approx. 400 - 500,000 km. One of his employed drivers then took over the car.

Unfortunately, I was unable to contact this previous owner, but I was able to contact the third and last owner before me.

He was the father-in-law of the second owner, so that this knowledge gap could be filled in the best possible way. He was also able to guarantee me that the speedometer reading was genuine, i.e. that the speedometer had never been changed or stopped. The contacts were all very friendly, but there is only one piece of information that buyers of such a car, which they have been looking for for years, do not really want to know, and that is the amount that the last owner received for "my dream". The friendly reseller had given the "old man" 50,- € (fifty!!!) and both sides were happy with that. I probably don't need to mention that I had to pay many times that amount for my taxi.

But in the end, what's the point of worrying about it? It's no use at all, I'd much rather enjoy the comfortable gliding along with the sonorous diesel hail and the insane comfort of the ZF 4-speed automatic.

So long, take care and stay healthy!

Kind regards

Text and images courtesy of Florian Melcher

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