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