Theme: Brochures – Volvo 740

Most of the brochure is just like all Volvo brochures from the late 80s. It’s horizontal, mostly white and assembled with extreme restraint.

circa 1990 Volvo 740 brochure

The best part of the story of the Volvo 740 (1982-1992) is that the car it should have replaced only went and outlasted it: the 240 (to 1993). Yet the 740 did a lot of things better and was probably a bit more pleasant to drive (Car even rated it as being better than a Granada and a 604 in 1983). It had more room, used less fuel and offered decent reliability. All this is well-known. What makes this brochure more interesting is the location for the photography: the wilds of Ireland, just a few short years before


a storm of unplanned development splattered the landscape with small white bungalows or mock-Georgian suburban homes. Better than that, for fans of trivia, is that the house the Volvo art-director selected is the same one used in the series Father Ted (1995-1998).

Ted Crilly´s parochial house circa 1995: Talkback Productions

For me the photograph has three layers of nostalgia: one, the lost landscape; two, the loss of the fine actor Dermot Morgan who played Ted; and three, the era of Volvos this car represented. Even when I try to abstract those personal feelings, the brochure is a touch melancholy, is it not? That lonely car, that lonely, cold house?

By 2005, the landcape of the 1920s was hard to see for the houses. When Ken Loach made his film about the Irish Civil War, the Wind That Shakes the Barley, it is evident he had difficulty with the long shots and panoramas. Notice how the panning shots are blurred or rapid: Loach leaves no time to let the satellite dishes and modern details distract. The film ends up being quite tightly framed (no wide shots) so it feels in part like theatre or at least small budget television.

What is striking is the sudden nature of the change. As recently as 1980 many villages would have looked very similar to ones from 1900. Then the rate of change accelerated with the deletion of old features (plastic shop signs were one bane) and the sudden addition of new ones such petrol stations and free-standing retail boxes with their own car parking. Even still large bits of the landscape in between towns stayed the same until about 1995 to 2005 when an explosion in building began.

The image of the Volvo 740 picking its way along the muddy lane was intended to place the car in a certain location, the timeless ancient Celtic landscape but now it places it in a landscape and time that is distinctly 20th century but may well have been 1890 as well.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “Theme: Brochures – Volvo 740”

  1. The restrained style with broad landscape photography and melancholy flair reminds me of some of the Citroën brochures my dad brought home in the early eighties. You could read actual informations about the cars in there.

  2. There’s a bit of “Four Seasons” in the Volvo though no petroleum gel on the lens nor much summer. It may have seemed more like an image of Volvo taking you away from it all rather than an escape to a spare, windswept landscape of deprivation.

  3. Well that brochure produced an elegiac moment. I spent a lot of the decade that the 740 was current traveling around Galway, Mayo and Clare as a passenger in a 740 estate. We still go fishing there but to quote Yeats, “All changed, changed utterly.” As you say the villages went first and the bungalows followed. There seemed to be no coherent planning policy in Ireland and had the bungalows been in a vernacular style and the mock Tudor/Georgian/Palladian houses been banned the landscape would be less diminished. There are still plenty of places where such a brochure could be shot and they are not far from Ted’s house. The Volvo I traveled in went on for almost 200,000 miles until the dogs ate the headlining and the rear seat upholstery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: