It would be reasonable to say that even though I generally know quite a fair bit of old cars, there are still some which slip through the cracks. Being able to find relatively unknown models within famous brands is refreshing, and my thoughts would invariably go "We have this here?" and "How is this still alive?" Seeing this 2001 Volvo S40 evoked the same reactions, especially when it was on campus!
The first S40 was developed and manufactured in collaboration with the Mitsubishi Carisma, an Europe-only model and was intended to replace the 440/460 series. Initially, Volvo wanted to call the cars 'S4' and 'F4' (for the wagon), but Audi had already claimed a trademark on the S4 name. As such, it had to rename them as S40 and V40 respectively, where the V stood for 'versatility'. Designed by Peter Horbury, it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1995 and many of them were produced at the Nedcar factory in Born, Netherlands. This also marked the last Volvos to be produced at the Born plant.
3 different engines (with 1.6 litre, 1.8 litre and 2 litre capacities) were available; Singapore received the 1.8 litre and 2 litre turbocharged (T4) variants, where the latter was used by the Traffic Police Expressway Patrol. In mid-2000, the S40 underwent a facelift and subsequent cars were called 'Phase 2'. Other than external changes such as larger headlights, modified front bumpers and front wings, there were technical improvements such as revised suspensions and larger tyres. Another update came in 2003 with chrome mouldings and a button on the tailgate. This S40 was powered by a 1783 cc B4184 S2 i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 200 km/h with an acceleration of 10.5 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4516 mm long and weighed 1255 kg, with a fuel consumption of 11.5 litres / 100 km.
Production of the 1st-generation S40 ended in 2004 where it was replaced by the 2nd generation, with a total of about 1 million made. This unit was an unexpected find as it first appeared in school out of nowhere. Gradually, I realised that the owner was apparently a student as well, although I never had a chance to find out more. It has been given an extended lease of life, although whether for 5 years or 10 years remains to be seen. A further check on this car also revealed that it used to be black, before being painted red some time in 2019. While I am hesitant to claim that this is the last one here, it would be prudent to maintain that the number of 1st-gen S40s remaining can be counted on 1 hand.
S40s were sold here by SM Motors, retailing at S$132,888 in 2000. While Volvo's reputation has been greatly boosted by the legendary 200/700/900 series, the S40 tends to be a 'forgotten child': the loss of its traditional boxy look could have been a factor. Not many would have been aware of its existence and it appears that others have faded out quietly as well. It may look so ordinary that you could have missed it out, but now that you have learnt about this, I would hope that you may be able to recognise it!