1974 Volvo 244: Review

“No mashed Swedes!” Archie Vicar on the Volvo 244 saloon.

Image: autoevolution

Auto Motorist, September 1974, pages 23-29. Photos by Ian Cambridgeshire. Owing to unexplained fermentation affecting processing of the original images, stock photography has been used. [Editor’s note: This transcript was first uploaded to DTW on 2 November 2013.]

The Swedish like eating tinned rotten fish. It’s an acquired taste, I am told by those with experience in such things. One is advised to open the tin can under water so as to contain the noxious aromas that would otherwise emanate. And one is also advised to drink plenty of schnapps to kill the taste. That’s really the only part of the whole palaver I can really see my way to agreeing with. I mention all of this by way of an introduction to Sweden’s other acquired taste, their Volvos.

And they have a new one on the way, the 244. It’s in the spirit of fellowship between our two great nations that I Continue reading “1974 Volvo 244: Review”

Swedish Iron (Part Three)

Concluding the story of Volvo’s long-running and successful 100/200 series.

Image: media.volvocars.com

After eight years and 1.25 million sales, the Volvo 100 series was heavily re-engineered and restyled to produce its successor. The budget for the research, development and updated production facilities for the new model was a relatively modest £60 million. The 200 series was launched in the autumn of 1974.

It retained the body of the 100 series from the A-pillar rearwards but was given a completely new front-end, inspired by the 1972 Volvo Experimental Safety Car. This was designed to improve passenger safety in a frontal collision and added a substantial 172mm (6¾”) to the overall length(1), which was now 4,823mm (189¾”) for the saloon and 4,844 mm (190¾”) for the estate. Unfortunately, the ‘shovel-nosed’ new front-end, again designed by Jan Wilsgaard, looked rather ungainly, and it unbalanced the proportions of the saloon(2) somewhat. Continue reading “Swedish Iron (Part Three)”

Swedish Iron (Part Two)

Continuing the story of Volvo’s long-running 100/200 series.

Image: Veikl

In July 1968, Volvo unveiled its new range-topping 164 saloon, based on the 144. As the model designation implies, the 164 featured a six-cylinder engine, making it the first Volvo for twenty years so powered. The new B30 engine was simply an six-cylinder version of the B20 inline-four and shared many common parts. It had a capacity of 2,979cc and, fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors, it produced maximum power of 145bhp (108kW).

The engine was mated to a four-speed manual gearbox or three-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission. An overdrive, which operated on top gear only, was an option with the manual gearbox. From the A-pillar rearwards, the 164’s body was identical to that of the 144. However, the longer engine required a 96mm (3¾”) extension in the wheelbase to 2,700mm (106¼”) while the overall length grew by 63mm (2½”) to 4,651mm (183”).

Volvo took the opportunity to Continue reading “Swedish Iron (Part Two)”

Training Day

To Daventry, Nimrod, and don’t spare the DERV.

Volvo’s Daventry Training Centre. All images: The Author

My Volvo S90 would be the perfect town and commuter car if not for the fact he runs on diesel. Both derrière and back are supported supremely but the engine and that particulate filter prefer the motorway dash to the monotonous urban grind. Having had little opportunity to head out anywhere other than the supermarket and workplace for seemingly an age, the opportunity to Continue reading “Training Day”

Swedish Iron (Part One)

Remembering Volvo’s long-running and highly successful 100/200 series.

Image: autoevolution.com

One of the near-constants of the automotive industry is the model replacement cycle. It typically works like this: a new model is introduced, given a facelift (for better or worse) after, say, four years, then is replaced by an all-new model after a further four years. Of course, ‘all-new’ is a term used pretty casually by automakers. Often, beneath the shiny new bodywork, many carry-over parts will be found.

A number of factors conspire to enforce this cycle. Ever tighter active and passive safety standards and regulations need to be incorporated. Likewise, developments in technology, both for the vehicle itself and the machinery used to build it, will, in the best of circumstances, allow the redesigned vehicle to Continue reading “Swedish Iron (Part One)”

Viking Italianate

Norse legend via Turin.

Image: archivioprototipi.it

Love affairs can be fickle. Within the car industry, bed hopping is almost as natural as tightening nuts. The longevity of such associations is often a factor of money as much as talent, for matters of taste do not necessarily equate to success. As we have seen in a previous instalment, Volvo had given Fissore and Zagato short shrift, only to seek out one of their lesser-known rivals, Coggiola. Whether Gothenburg had been influenced by the carrozzerias’s previous Exemplar concept is unknown, but more likely it was their work with Trollhattan natives, Saab[1].

Unveiled at the 1971 Paris auto salon, the Volvo ESC, also known as the Viking was a fully engineered concept. Described as ‘the successor to the 1800′, a sobriquet that may have been wide of the mark, even if the original Pelle Petterson design was by then widely considered something of an obsolete Viking itself. Something of a show pony, Coggiola worked expressly on the bodywork and interior, leaving the oily bits untouched.

With a styling theme broadly similar to that of the GM-based Exemplar, Coggiola was asked to Continue reading “Viking Italianate”

Swedish Cliffhangers

More lost prototypes from Volvo’s cutting room floor.

1952 Volvo Philip prototype. Image: Secret Classics

Measuring the strength of any influence can prove difficult. The film and TV industries revel in suspense, from those early monochrome Flash Gordon and Zorro weeklies to today’s greedy multi-franchised big-screen sequels. Leaving the audience wanting more invariably guarantees success, but do these eleventh hour on-screen nail-biting endings have much in common with those created within the car industry? More so than it might appear: that most conservative and safety-conscious of Swedish carmakers had several instances of the will they, won’t they?  cliffhanger, the first being named, of all things, Philip.

Whether Jan Wilsgaard was partial to Continue reading “Swedish Cliffhangers”

Mazda’s BMW

Mazda’s latest pitch for premium status.

New Mazda CX-60 (Source: Car Magazine)

Most long-established readers of this noble site will know that I am a bit of a Mazda fanboy. A few years ago, I wrote a series of long-term tests regarding my Mazda3 Fastback, and more recently I did a retrospective on the 1983 Mazda 626. I have admired the company’s innovation over the years, its independent spirit and, most recently, its ‘Kodo’ design language. Oh, and I still think that Soul Red Crystal is the still most beautiful paint colour on any mass-production car.

The current Mazda3 is somewhat divisive, mainly due to the arguably over-generously proportioned rear pillar on the 5-door hatch. However, the sophisticated surfacing, restrained detailing and beautifully assembled and finished interior really do rival or even exceed the design standards of premium marques such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. I don’t recall Mazda claiming full-blown ‘premium’ aspirations for the current 3, but much about the car is giving a vigorous nod in that direction. Continue reading “Mazda’s BMW”

One Beermat, a Coat and a Brass Key (Worn).

Words have an effect, according to an old saying.

Volvo 480 headlamp and bumper plus litter. Image: the author

Journalist Richard Bremner’s ‘Parting Shot’ article on the Volvo 480 in the September 1995 issue of Car magazine is worth another look. I am revisiting it following my sighting of this late example of the car when in Dublin recently. It’s not a car one sees often. Volvo made just shy of 80,000 of them during a nine-year production run, beginning in 1986. Whenever I observe a 480, I think of my first impressions of one I spotted outside the Shelbourne Hotel (good) and Bremner’s caustic words (less good).

The irritating fact is that Bremner’s flippant goodbye to the 480 cast an unwanted pall over what is really an interesting, appealing and notable bit of design work. Volvo considered the design good enough to remind customers they should Continue reading “One Beermat, a Coat and a Brass Key (Worn).”

Things Haven’t Worked Out As Expected

The author samples Volvo’s first EV-only model.

All images: The author

Thanks to the deep pockets of its parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Volvo’s transformation from ICE to electric vehicles is moving ahead at pace. The strategy was devised by outgoing Chief Executive, Håkan Samuelsson, and will be picked up by his successor, Jim Rowan, who takes over this month (March 2022). The days of the fossil-fuelled Swedish car are most definitely numbered.

Having been the proud owner of one of Gothenburg’s finest for the past eighteen months or so, I recently received an invitation to attend a (nationwide) event at my local Volvo dealership in order to sample the new C40 Recharge. This is the first Volvo to be powered solely by electricity, and it comes in a new shape as well, the currently uber-fashionable crossover-coupé. Continue reading “Things Haven’t Worked Out As Expected”

Confidence Might Be Z-Shaped but Knock-backs Wear Iron Marks

We take a brief dive into Volvo’s Italian coachbuilt past. 

Volvo GTZ Zagato. fijen.se

Turin based coachbuilder, Carrozeria Fissore had confidence aplenty. Founded in 1919 by the four brothers; Antonio, Bernardo, Giovanni, and Costanzo, the reins fell under Bernado’s control in 1936. Originally horse carriage experts then car repairers, by wartime the carrozzeria had moved on to manufacturing – mail cars, vans, even hearses after military service.

No prizes for guessing much of Fissore’s work lay within the Fiat purview. By the 1960s, Fissore may not have been the household name far outside the confines of their homeland but their reputation had grown. To the point that Motauto, the Italian import agent for Volvo believed the carrozzeria possessed the skills to Continue reading “Confidence Might Be Z-Shaped but Knock-backs Wear Iron Marks”

The Moon Under Water

A year with a Norse God. 

All images by the author.

If George Orwell wasn’t volunteering to fight in the Spanish civil war, he might just have been found causing literary chaos whilst craving a pint of stout in his perfect pub. A turbulent life ended aged just 46, Orwell spent many years inventing (and searching for) the Moon Under Water – his perfect, Londinium watering hole. 

In his (final) Saturday essay published in the Evening Standard, 9th February 1946, Orwell set out ten significant bullet points, eight of which he eventually found in one unnamed hostelry. In turn, this led to me thinking can similar attributes be used to Continue reading “The Moon Under Water”

Dirty Great Volvos – One Last Dash

Completing the 780 Trilogy.

The Volvo Bertone 780 coupé was dying. When North American dealers were given one to sell, it could sit idling for months as most customers were looking for wagons or heading to rival badges with bigger engines – not choosing an unorthodox coupé, however intriguing. Lead times also proved challenging. A customer could be made waiting twelve months to Continue reading “Dirty Great Volvos – One Last Dash”

Light Fogging

Dirty Great Volvos: Part Two – the 780 ES.

Image: carpixel

The success of the Bertone and Volvo partnership bred goodwill, long term relationships being established between manufacturer and carrozzeria, which maintained their longevity, thirty-plus years from their labours – enough to tip the scales in favour of a second attempt.

Once the final 262C had trundled off the forecourt early in 1981, the new project coupé was planned under the P202 code number. Lengthy concept briefings took place in both countries over a period of three years, the Torinese producing some typically flamboyant early renders.

Imagine the reaction. Nuccio Bertone himself being informed the initial drawings were “too aggressive.” Paolo Caccamo, Bertone chairman states, “Three designs were drawn. One too similar to the 760, one too sporting, the final of the scissor designs a compromise that both parties were happy with. It may not be innovative but it is elegant.” A further development saw the Italians Continue reading “Light Fogging”

Tre Kroner

Dirty Great Volvos: Part one – which deals with a mid-seventies international affair.

Volvo-Bertone 262C. (c) Volvo Cars

When Henry Ford II came to town, he got noticed. And when he showed up in Sweden with his entourage of executives to have a look-see at how they made cars in Gothenburg, he, along with his Yankee-Iron cavalcade, caused quite a stir, enough to inspire a new Volvo.

The Mk4 Lincoln Continental coupé was Henry’s weapon of choice – with that low roof, C-pillars you could Continue reading “Tre Kroner”

Betting the Farm – and Winning

The investment programme behind the 1991 Volvo 850 was the most important in the Swedish automaker’s history. Not only did it deliver an excellent car, it had a fundamental impact on the company’s future direction.

1997 Volvo 850 Estate (c) autocar.co.uk

Despite its conservative appearance, which looked like a scaled-down and smoothed off 940, the 1991 Volvo 850 was the fruit of the Swedish manufacturer’s largest and most expensive ever investment in new models, so it needed to be good.

It was not, however, Volvo’s first foray into front-wheel-drive. That honour rests rather heavily on the 400 Series. First to launch was the 480 coupé in 1986, followed a year later by the 440 five-door hatchback and 460 four-door saloon. The 400 replaced the 300 Series, which Volvo had inherited as a largely completed design (the DAF 77) when it took over DAF’s car-making business in 1975.

The 400 was, to put it bluntly, not great. Continue reading “Betting the Farm – and Winning”

Computer Says No

Technological breakdowns – there’s one Born every minute.

All Images: Author’s collection

This cringeworthy yet humorous phrase uttered regularly by the character Carol Breer in the TV show, Little Britain reminds us of the fact that while computers may have given us countless advantages and convenience in every field you can imagine, when they malfunction or are not programmed correctly they can cause immense frustration. Computerisation in cars can be a source of aggravation too, as today’s subject shows, although an iffy digital onboard diagnostics system was not the only thing impeding the Volvo 480’s market chances.

The genesis of the 480 was 1978, when an internal Volvo project named Galaxy was initiated. By the early eighties the main stylistic direction was established and unexpectedly neither the design by Volvo chief stylist Jan Wilsgaard nor the proposal by Bertone was chosen to Continue reading “Computer Says No”

In The Savage Pond Swims A Lone Prince

Turning the clock back to a millennial from Gothenburg. 

2000 Volvo S60. (c) The RAC

Twenty years have slipped by since Volvo entered the shark infested waters of the compact executive saloon market, leaving behind a broadly positive if somewhat small mark in that (now) ever-shallower pool. By the time Ford showed up with a very large cash bag ($6.45 billion) and placed the Swedish brand under their Premier Automotive Group umbrella in 1999, the S60 was all but ready for unveiling.

Commander in Chief was Volvo lifer Lars Erik Lundin, whose next project would be to Continue reading “In The Savage Pond Swims A Lone Prince”

Sinusoidal

In today’s instalment, Andrew gets up close and personal with his Nimrod.

All images – the author.

Waves arrive in many forms; tidal, sound, shock, metaphysical even. Relating to my recent motor purchase, all of these and more were felt, some stronger than others. All made an impact, some longer lasting than others. Ownership (counted in minutes ) can be compared to a stone’s impact in water. The ripple effect: having apart from thirty two years behind a steering wheel, hardly any road testing experience – no car swopping auto journalist am I.

Yet perched on sumptuous leather, the view of that long bonnet out front, the rear in another post code, I felt a swell inside. A comforting sense of justification, an encompassing sense of the surreal – a car detached from reality, in my grasp. Disturbing waves are calmed, replaced by mellifluous currents. And this merely driving away from the Lamborghini hard standing.

Electing to foreswear the entire journey home on motorways by heading off piste provided an opportunity to allow the inner Setright to Continue reading “Sinusoidal”

Scandinavian Flick

The DTW fleet gains a new entrant. 

All images: the author.

Humans: funny creatures with emotions, feelings and urges. What was the divining moment, the will to leap from a car I’ve known and enjoyed for nearly five years to one that could be respectfully called a Swedish Bentley? A feeling named ennui – my Octavia was perfectly fine – but that was then. Could it be vanity coming a’ calling, age related issues (knees, back) maybe, appealing to more sybaritic senses, or could it be boiled down to simply wanting a change?

Even with regular washing and polishing, the Škoda sparkle had waned. I’ve compared the feelings I underwent, for no-one forced this issue upon me, to that of a seasoned motor racing driver. Not necessarily a champion, but one in need of a new direction, a fresh challenge with an unfamiliar team, and, most importantly, a new steed. With change, different objectives could be sought out. The daily commute might remain constant but the excitement could be enhanced, surely?

The decision to Continue reading “Scandinavian Flick”

Cap 112 (180)

Sitting comfortably? Buckled in safe? Then we’ll begin…

(c) Drivingtorque.com

Since its inception in 1927, Volvo Cars has given the world a lot to think about. At least as safety-focused as Mercedes-Benz (but with added acronyms), 1959 saw the Torslanda-based car firm installing front seat three-point safety belts as standard, allowing free use to any other manufacturer, not that many took up the initiative.

A concerned friend of mine once amassed a comprehensive file of seat belt data, weighing up the pros and cons from dozens of firms back in the early 1960s. After weeks of cogitation, he spent a weekend fitting Irvine belts (initially a parachute manufacturer) to his Morris 1100, which gave sterling service. The file carried weight – influencing one of his employer’s directors to Continue reading “Cap 112 (180)”

Saving The World, Volvo Style

Forty years ago Gothenburg tried its hand at an eco-car. It didn’t catch on. 

(c) Popularmechanics

Large scale manufacturers have the ability to try new technologies, regardless of their commercial non-success. On these pages we have read of countless millions budgeted for a non-starting project or concept, at the time heralding new automotive beginnings, only to forever reside within the confines of a museum. A historical artefact from a less well informed period.

One such previously unsung example being Volvo’s LCP2000 project. The Light Component Project for the year 2000 started life in 1979. After an exemplary twenty five career with fellow Scandinavian carmaker, SAAB, where he had input with the Sonnet, in addition to rally-driving and engine development (tied with being an executive), the ever genial engineer, Rolf Mellde sought a new challenge at Volvo.

The simple brief being to Continue reading “Saving The World, Volvo Style”

“Muitos anos a virar frangos!!”

Hard to believe but I have seen more Buick Rivieras* than Volvo 300s in the last fifteen years. Here is maybe the third 300 I’ve seen in Denmark since 2006. I also saw one in Sweden, in a museum. That doesn’t count.

This model is the 1985 360 GLS, a more elaborately trimmed version of the 340 which had a smaller engine. While the 260 and 760 had six-cylinder engines, the 360 was  slyly trading on the name. It had a 2.0 litre petrol four, fuel injected (hence the “S” bit of the badge). What kind of car was it? For comparison, the asking for this car (in 1987) was within 200 quid of a 2.0 litre Ford Sierra LX or even a BMW 316. For about the same money one could also even go so far as to

Continue reading ““Muitos anos a virar frangos!!””

Small Faces

Andrew Miles enters the crystal maze.

volvo
(c) Autocar

Steve Marriott was lead singer and co-creator of 1960’s Mod four-piece, The Small Faces. In their 1968 track, Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass… Marriott alludes to wasting his days in idyllic fashion in a caravan at the seaside. Mind you, the band’s subject matter also included (and indubitably entertained) various substances; references being made to the breakfast cereal All-bran, tin soldiers jumping into fire and life affirming measures that only those of a certain age could possibly appreciate.

As a ‘70s child, blissfully innocent of free-love and mind expanding powders, for me the band produced consistent results, a little like some Swedish artisans cooking up glass, deep in Småland.*

Orrefors (end it with a shh) are producers of fine glassware and have been shaping crystals for many years. Building a smithy and forge by the river which flows into the lake Orrenas, the company’s name translates as the Iron Waterfall. The car connection appeared when Volvo asked them to Continue reading “Small Faces”

A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Volvo 240 GL Estate

The ever-popular PFS returns with a perennial favourite of DTW, the 240 GL, as seen yesterday.

There’s a potentially vivid discussion waiting to be kicked off with this image. Or two. Without any shadow of a doubt one can Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Volvo 240 GL Estate”

Express Yourself!

Just as the choice of car tells a lot about its owner, car advertising can say a great deal about its subject’s sensitivities.

Auto-Didakt

Here we have the BMW 3 series, hitherto known as the Dreier or 3er in its home market – before it was recently rechristened The 3, because nothing rolls off the German tongue with quite as much aplomb as a ‘TH’.

Like the car’s overstyled appearance, this tv spot tries hard to Continue reading “Express Yourself!”

The Sculpture and the Sow : Part two

Sliding then from the sculpture to the sow; Volvo’s Sugga, pronounced Soo-Ga is quite an exaggeration. And a world away from the Bilo.

A brand new taxi, it would seem. (c) Tekniksenvarld.se.

Made strong and robust, which may have been mentioned earlier, initially as a taxi cab. The chassis was given the nomenclature PV800 and being built like the proverbial out-house was adored by taxi drivers for its longevity. Perhaps some Germans were on holiday in Sweden at some point and liked the idea of a strong, forever lasting, easy maintenance taxi cab? Again, hardly an elegant car having an American style with Swedish slants.

Originally conceived in 1938, the Sugga had a twenty year production run with variations from encompassing a glass screen to separate passengers from the driver (PV801) and the version omitting the screen (PV802) which lent itself to be easily converted into an ambulance, the stretcher for the poor soul being fed in through the boot. Still, if this vehicle assisted in saving your life, you could happily and rightfully Continue reading “The Sculpture and the Sow : Part two”

The Sculpture and The Sow (Part one)

Andrew Miles casts his eye Northwards for a tale of marble and swine.

In historical terms, Volvo are similar to Citroen; both engineering driven, both regarded as extreme at times, both brimming with frisson and an inbuilt nature to excel and impress, even if looking a tad more internally than we might expect. This tale deals with the Swedes.

1933 was a pivotal year. Volvo was only seven years into producing vehicles, although were already seeking advancement and change. Gustaf Ericsson was an industrialist, noted for working in America and fiercely keen to Continue reading “The Sculpture and The Sow (Part one)”

Perfect Compromise

Dublin resident Mick reports on life with a Volvo C30. 

It really doesn’t look its age.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of love in these parts for the mark V Golf. Not so here. I had 4 of them. My favourite was the ’08 black 3 door. So much so I kept it for almost a decade. The TSI engine that was reputedly brittle brought me and my learner clients almost to the moon (well over 300,000 kms).

About 18 months ago it started to Continue reading “Perfect Compromise”

Munchin’ Miles With The Volvo V40

The final Ford-era car in the Swedish brand’s lineup cannot hope to match the more recent cars’ impact. And yet it still impresses.

IMG_9511.jpeg
Volvo is the warmest place to hide, photo (c) Driven To Write

“We’ve got something with a bit more oomph than usual – a Volvo V40 T3 R-line. Would that be fine with you?”

The friendly car rental agency clerk may have been slightly wrong about the power output of the car, but that point notwithstanding, the Volvo was very fine with me. After having sampled models from Volkswagen’s, Mazda’s and Ford’s respective ranges recently, this round of rental car roulette marked the opportunity to Continue reading “Munchin’ Miles With The Volvo V40”

An Impossible Future Reveals Itself

Today finds us back on the hunt for special fabrics in vehicle interiors. And I can tell you it has been an uphill struggle to harvest these meagre gleanings.

2015 Maserati QP Zegna edition: source

The truth is that I did not find nearly as much as I had wanted to. The most easily found items are well-known examples such as the Gucci Cadillac Seville, the Joseph Aboud Buick Regal and the Fila Ford Thunderbird  which have been discussed here before. I was really hoping to
Continue reading “An Impossible Future Reveals Itself”

Re-1998 Part 1: Volvo S80

I know we’ve talked about this car before but the theme is summer 1998 and around then, a worrying two-decades back, this car was fresh and  new.

1998 Volvo S80.

“Volvo S80 takes the fight to BMW,” roared What Car in 72 point lettering. “It may be unmistakably Volvo but the all-new S80 has enough style and appeal to give rival luxury saloons a fright. And it won’t cost the earth either,” they continued. This claim x or y car will frighten BMW et al is a constant.

Somewhere (I’ve lost it) I have a copy of Autocropley with a headline saying Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 1: Volvo S80”

Among The Humans The Lichen Stands Tall

This week Volvo showed off its new S60 saloon. We liked it. In 1997 Volvo put its S70 into the fray, up against the 528i SE and the Audi 2.8 3.0V.

1997 Volvo S70: source

Car magazine ran a giant test. Let’s  take a look back and see what’s the same and what’s different and see if we can Continue reading “Among The Humans The Lichen Stands Tall”

Smoking Quietly In The Opisthodomos

It’ll be hard to complain about this one. The people at Volvo unveiled the Volvo S60 saloon. You can read more about it here and here and here.

2019 Volvo S60: source

However, good and all as those websites are, not a single one of them will provide a close-up design analysis as you will find if you simply Continue reading “Smoking Quietly In The Opisthodomos”

The Born Identity

Like another much-loved ’80s C-sector stalwart, Volvo’s turn of the decade hatchback was aimed at two market sectors concurrently, satisfying neither. We ask, was the 440-series Volvo’s Maestro?

1988 Volvo 440. Image credit: (c) autoevolution

Volvo’s long-lived 300-series proved something of a mixed blessing for the Swedish car maker by the late 1980s. On one hand, a firm and remarkably consistent seller (a regular in the UK’s top ten), while on the other, something of an embarrassment given its age, hapless dynamics and the fact that it was a car Gothenburg engineers never had much appreciation for in the first place.

Volvo were understandably keen to Continue reading “The Born Identity”

An Amble On Akeman Street When The Sun Is Low

The 2018 Geneva auto show produced a fair number of thought-provoking cars. The new Volvo V60 is one of them.

New Volvo V60 exterior: autoblog

Automotive News has a list of hits and misses. They like the Volvo. I do as well. Volvo have made it look sufficiently like the S90 to make sense and have made it look sufficiently different so that you don’t mix the two cars up. Continue reading “An Amble On Akeman Street When The Sun Is Low”

European Car of the Year 2018 – The Winner Is…

Never mind the Oscars, today is ECotY time.

As is now a Driven to Write tradition, roving reporter Robertas Parazitas reports live from Geneva at the 2018 Car of the Year awards. Continue reading “European Car of the Year 2018 – The Winner Is…”

Breakfast In Bath

Occasionally I trawl randomly among the newsroom pages of various car manufacturers. What did I find this time?

2018 MG GS: MG Cars UK

The first marginally interesting snippet involves MG Cars. Despite it all, they are selling more and more cars albeit not many more cars.

“More than 4,440 new cars were registered by the iconic MG Motor UK brand in 2017, an increase of around 6% year-on-year, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released today (4th January 2018). In December alone, MG Motor UK achieved 100 additional unit sales over 2016 figures, thanks largely to the roll-out of the new MG ZS Compact-SUV. ”

Another thing I discovered was that Continue reading “Breakfast In Bath”

Micropost: Automotive Jargon

While DTW is far from perfect on the sub-editorial front (blame the sherry), we still like to hold others to suitably high-standards.

Image Source

In addition to the “front grille”, there is a new piece of automotive jargon to throw into your car-speak. It’s the “rear C-pillar”, a delightful formulation invented by the Irish Times. I feel like grabbing a driver’s steering wheel and heading off now. We will deal with the actual car in due course.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Quiet and unassuming by day, the 262C saw the distinctly suburban 200-Series loosen its collar and show a slightly darker side to its personality.

Image: boitierouge

Loved by owners, derided by the UK motoring press, the 200-series Volvo seemed even by mid-Seventies standards, something of an anachronism. Its upright and uncompromising appearance made few concessions to fashion, majoring on values of practicality, durability, comfort and occupant safety. Not that this prevented it from becoming a firm favourite and the model that cemented the Swedish carmaker’s reputation for solidly respectable middle-class transportation.

1977 saw Volvo celebrate its half-centenary and to celebrate, the car maker announced a number of Anniversary special editions of their 244/264 models. But a surprise announcement was that of a coupé variant, the Bertone-assembled 262C. The project is believed to have been initiated in 1974, when returning from a trip to the United States, Volvo President P.G. Gyllenhammer conceived the idea of a personal luxury coupé (based on existing hardware) as an image builder.

Volvo 262 prototype. Image: auto-zer

Shortly afterwards, a using a 164-based prototype was built by carozzerria Coggiola, using concept drawings from Volvo’s own design team, under Jan Wilsgaard. With an almost total US-market focus, European styling tastes were not given high priority.

A coupé in the dictionary sense of the term then, the canopy section was completely reworked above the beltline, featuring a more raked windscreen, a chopped roofline and thicker, more raked c-pillars. The fitment of a vinyl roof added to the car’s distinctively formal, Luxe appearance. Lacking the production facilities to build the car in-house, Bertone was contracted for build duty, the Swedes valuing the carrozzeria’s reputation for quality and craftmanship.

Image: Volvo Bertone Register

Not what anyone in their right mind would call conventionally attractive, the 262C did possess a certain appealing menace, there being something of the slammed American custom car about its low-profile roofline, although some critics derided it as being more akin to a Martello tower. Initially available only in silver with an all-black interior, its lavish leather and elm wood-lined cabin featured four separate seats upholstered in fine pleated Italian leather normally reserved for high-end furniture.

In launch specification, it married an appealingly loucheness with perhaps something of the ambience of a high-end fetish-club. Less adventurous US customers however, could choose from a small range of alternative exterior colours and the option of beige leather.

“Shiny shiny. Shiny seats of leather…” Image: autoanddesign

Launched at the 1977 Geneva motor show, the 262C was mechanically identical to its 264 saloon sibling. Simple and rugged then, with a well located live rear axle which allowed for generous roll angles and handling which the UK motoring press unanimously derided as ‘stodgy’. Power came from the familiar PRV 2664 cc V6 engine, with 140 bhp. Needless to say, the virulently anti-Volvo Car magazine, who had already dismissed the entire 200-Series as “mediocrity by the mile”, opined, “This is prestige?”

Produced from 1977 until 1981, changes to the car over its production run were relatively minor. Mechanically, an uprated 2.8 litre version of the V6 arrived in 1980, which added another 15 horses to supplement a power unit which in original form offered nothing in performance or refinement over Volvo’s own four cylinder 2.3 litre fuel-injected engine.

Visual changes during the car’s lifespan amounted to wrap-around tail lamps in 1979 and for the final year of production, a re-profiled nose, revised instruments and the deletion of the (so-Seventies it hurt) vinyl roof – which did soften the visuals somewhat. In all, 6622 were built, with over 75% of total production going to the United States.

Image: momentcar

With something of a split personality then, the 262C was a difficult car to for Europeans to comprehend, in addition to being a very expensive one to purchase. As a US-focused model however, it was probably a success, so to judge it on any other basis is probably both irrelevant and somewhat unfair. Furthermore, its existence, despite being an eccentric one, probably didn’t do Volvo’s image  a great deal of harm either.

It also led directly to the lovely (if equally rare) Bertone designed and built 780ES model in 1986, a car that a reasonably cogent argument could be made for being something rather wicked indeed.

Henry’s Bequest

One model has defined Volvo’s rebirth, but its backer deserves some of the credit as well.

‘Ford Gives You More’ – Volvo XC60. Image: Car and Driver

It’s customary for a new car line to hit its sales-stride within the second full year of production, before plateauing and gradually ebbing downwards. This fall is normally arrested by a mid-term facelift, before once again, the graph pitches inexorably Southwards as the model is run out and ultimately replaced. While I wouldn’t necessarily Continue reading “Henry’s Bequest”

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.

1998-volvo-740-cover
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

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Volvo 740”

Highlights of Last Night

Long, thin lights make interesting reflections on car bodies. A malfunctioning restaurant sign made this Volvo panel especially fascinating.

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These reflections show the contours of the front wing of a Volvo S60 from a sign. It had two strips running horizontally, one of which turned on and off at intervals. Image one shows the wing with one light illuminated. The second shows it with both strips illuminated.
Continue reading “Highlights of Last Night”

One You Can Buy: 1991 Volvo 480 Turbo

The cheapest running 480 on mobile.de is this for €599. There are just 13 on sale at the moment.

1991 Volvo 480 Turbo: source
1991 Volvo 480 Turbo: source

Autoscout has a further 68 though a few may be the same car advertised twice. The cheapest one is €600. Autotrader has one for £2,995. That one has 100,000 km and has had three owners. Continue reading “One You Can Buy: 1991 Volvo 480 Turbo”

Born Slippy

Volvo’s trailblazing glassback coupé marked a new beginning for Gothenberg, but a creative swansong for its Dutch subsidiary.

Image: car.revs.daily
Image: car revs daily

With a reputation for solid looking, robust and uncompromisingly functional saloons, the last thing anyone expected from Volvo in 1986 was a shooting brake style sports estate. Yet for those with long memories or a photo of a P1800 ES to hand, Volvo had been here or hereabouts before – around 1972 to be precise. The 480 came about as part of Volvo’s plans to Continue reading “Born Slippy”

A-Traktors

An A-traktor can only go at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour. They are used by Swedish drivers between the age of 16 and 18, before a full drivers license is permitted.

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These two are based on Volvo 700-series cars. On the black car note the very small load-bay, another requirement of the class. Continue reading “A-Traktors”

Point of (in)Difference – 2006 Volvo C30

Different is good – right? Try telling that to Volvo.

Image: sundaytimes
Image: Sunday Times

In the push for growth and profitability, conformity rules. The market isn’t habitually keen on niche cars and tends to reward bravery by studiously ignoring it in favour of something more conventional. Volvo played it safe with the C30, but not in terms of positioning, concept or indeed style. Continue reading “Point of (in)Difference – 2006 Volvo C30”

Economies of Scale

These usually mean big numbers. In Volvo’s case that means only 20,000 annual sales for the S90.

2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com
2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com

Automotive News mentioned this figure yesterday. There are another 40,000 units annually for the V90. Still, that’s quite modest really. The reviews so far have been good and my static inspection revealed a pleasingly high quality product. Is a figure of 60,000 enough for a firm without multiple brands to

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A photo for Sunday: Volvo 340 DL

Last week we considered the AMC Pacer: a car that is not known for inviting admiration. This week I take a quick look at another not-much-loved vehicle.

1988 Volvo 340
1988 Volvo 340 DL

I could very well have served the two up together as a provocation. When I saw the 340 I wondered what it was doing at the gathering of classics and not parked outside. Yet not far away the 1976 AMC Pacer parked at the same event. That car gathered curious glances and much detailed inspection while the 340 didn’t at all. Yet both cars were there because they had loving owners for whom their vehicles were a source of pride and joy.

Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: Volvo 340 DL”