By Jennie Zeitler
Volvos have been receiving skillful repair at the hand of Redge Lambrecht near Long Prairie since about 1980.
Redge and his son, Josh, believe classic Volvos are a good solid economic way to get around.
“We believe that for a lot of people, driving an old Volvo is a good way to reduce their impact on the environment,” said Josh. “Volvos were meant to be reused.”
This applies to any Volvo automobile that was produced prior to the mid 1990s. Although Volvo had been using assembly lines, it was in 1995 that the lines were automated, taking away the reliability of hand-assembly.
“The design of newer Volvos is not user-friendly,” said Redge. “Volvo changed to front-wheel drive in 1993 and that was the beginning of the end.”
In 1979, Redge had a Volkswagen (air-cooled) and his neighbor had a 1964 Volvo. Temperatures were down around 25 degrees below zero when Redge hitched a ride to town with his neighbor. He was astonished to be warm.
“I got in his car with all the winter stuff I owned, just like I needed in my car,” he said. “Within a mile I was throwing it off.”
That sold Redge on Volvos and the rest, as they say, is history.
Classic Volvos are sturdy vehicles. They are Swedish, produced in a country where 70 percent of the roads were still not paved in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Volvos were made so that the average farmer could use them,” Josh said. “Up to the late 1980s and early 1990s they were still built by hand like a Ferrari or a Porsche.”
By 1980, people were asking Redge questions about his Volvo. He already had plenty of experience repairing cars while growing up, something many farm boys learn. He grew up near Mound, but spent summers on his uncle’s dairy farm in Todd County.
Redge first replaced a water pump in an older Volvo, and it grew from there. By 1983, he was repairing two to three cars a month. “Volvos Resurrected” was born.
Although he repairs about the same number of vehicles now, the repairs tend to be bigger.
The shop is not widely advertised, but the repair services are known in the area.
“When people show up at garages with older Volvos, they get sent here,” Josh said. “A farmer from New York Mills appeared in the yard at 10:30 p.m. one night.”
One of their customers recently purchased a Volvo station wagon with 350,000 miles on it.
“It should run another 20 years or 200,000 miles,” said Josh. “It’s not driven in the winter.”
One of the cars being repaired now only needed a wiring harness at a cost of $250.
“The car has 250,000 miles on it and gets the driver all over at 30 miles per gallon,” said Redge. “The owner has a rustier car to drive in the salt.”
The Lambrechts have shipped half a dozen cars back to Sweden through the Volvo Club of America.
“The corrosion problem is even worse there than in Minnesota with the salt ocean air as well as salt on the roads,” Redge said.
“We have a passion for setting things right,” Redge said. “It has nothing to do with the money.”
“People who are into Volvos are pretty passionate about it,” said Josh’s wife, Heather. “They have had some customers for decades because of the integrity of the cars.”
Josh plans to continue repairing Volvos as long as the need exists.
“I appreciate working with a quality product,” he said. “It challenges me to continue learning and to provide quality service. Any Volvo that’s 20 years old is a new car; there is that much integrity in them.”
For more information, call (320) 732-3460.