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.
“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.
Like another much-loved ’80s C-sector stalwart, Volvo’s turn of the decade hatchback was aimed at two market sectors concurrently, satisfying neither. Driven to Write asks, was the 440-series Volvo’s Maestro?
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.
Occasionally I trawl randomly among the newsroom pages of various car manufacturers. What did I find this time?
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. ”
While DTW is far from perfect on the sub-editorial front (blame the sherry), we still like to hold others to suitably high-standards.
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.
Quiet and unassuming by day, the 262C saw the distinctly suburban 200-Series loosen its tie and show a slightly darker side to its personality.
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 Continue reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
One model has defined Volvo’s rebirth, but its backer deserves some of the credit as well.
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”
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
Long, thin lights make interesting reflections on car bodies. A malfunctioning restaurant sign made this Volvo panel especially fascinating.
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”
Volvo’s trailblazing glassback coupé marked a new beginning for Gothenberg, but a creative swansong for its Dutch subsidiary.
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 switch across the board to a front-wheel drive architecture. With the compact 300-series having been the responsibility of the former Daf subsidiary, Volvo’s team in Limburg were also tasked with developing a concept for its replacement. Continue reading “Braking With Tradition – 1986 Volvo 480 ES”
Different is good – right? Try telling that to Volvo.
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”
These usually mean big numbers. In Volvo’s case that means only 20,000 annual sales for the S90.
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
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.
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.
A mid-career midliner from Sweden under the DTW microscope today.
We should know this off pat: launched in 1974 and retired in 1993; was based on and replaced the 140 series and outlived the supposed successor, the 700-series of 1982-1992; both are the work of Jan Wilsgaard and you would not know unless someone told you. He evidently subsumed his personality into the project and only Swedish values come through. Let’s Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1983 Volvo 240 GLE”
Thomas Ingenlath – dedicated follower of fashion. How disappointing.
CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out.” So says Thomas Ingenlath (Senior VP Design) about the Concept 40 shown today by Volvo. When I turned my keyboard to this little bit of news I intended to do a short design review. Instead I saw the word “disruptive” thrown into the word salad Mr Ingenlath spouted in his attempts to sound modern, up-to-speed and edge-like (edgy?). Disruptive is a word used by futurologists and fans of Uber and Airbnb to dramatize technology that changes things.
Today, Driven to Write dons a metaphorical black armband as Volvo’s CrossCountry sales flop is quietly stuffed in a sack and drowned.
Spare a thought if you will for the unfortunate product planner, tasked with uncovering the next automotive sales sensation, all the while negotiating the myriad trapdoors luring the unwary and over ambitious. Falling on their swords this week are those hapless individuals in Gothenburg forced to Continue reading “Cross Purposes”
This is what it takes to turn one of the more handsome saloons of the past decade or so into an anonymous slab: matte black paint.
Volvo didn’t offer this car with the asphalt option. The owner actively decided they wanted to smear their lovely Swedish saloon with this drab coating. There’s a reason matte paint is not typically offered by OEMs. The highlights, worked over to the last 0.005 mm, disappear and the forms are flattended. Towards what end? Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 2002 Volvo S80”
Volvo are re-emerging from the Northern wilderness and look set to upset the automotive establishment by offering something increasingly novel: a genuine alternative.
Recently I was asked to cite which manufacturer impressed most over the past twelve months and I didn’t hesitate. It had to be Volvo. Having been a brand that previously earned my respect but little else, the sole remaining Swedish marque appears to be in the process of reinventing itself as perhaps the most viable alternative to the hegemony of the luxury car establishment, with a style and appeal that stands coolly apart from the self-aggrandizement of the mainstream prestige marques and their acolytes. Continue reading “Volvo: Scandinavian Without the Drama”
Here is it is, the replacement for the S80. It almost didn’t happen but Volvo reconsidered and now there is a meaningful alternative to BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes.
You’ll notice that the profile is markedly more elongated than the previous cars which themselves were not exactly slight cars. The bonnet has an almost horizontal angle and the surfacing is rather massive. It is out of the same mould as the XC90 meaning it’s going to look very imposing on the road and in the metal.
Recently we had a look at the concept cars on display at the Volvo museum in Gothenburg, Sweden. Now it’s time to investigate some of the production vehicles.
The first few rooms of the museum represent the early years of Volvo which don’t interest me that much. Thus I didn’t take any photos at all. I wanted to get to the 70s cars from where my interest in Volvo takes off. That means my interest begins at the 262 stand. This one (above) glows resplendently in a very late 70s gold metallic paint. That it was designed and built by Bertone is well-known. This one does Continue reading “Volvo Museum, Part 2”
Driven to Write took the opportunity when in Gothenburg to visit the Volvo Museum.
It was the first stop directly after getting off the ferry from Frederikshavn, Denmark. I paid about €12 to get in. In this instalment I take a look at the concept cars. I discovered in the following three days that most of the ’70s cars and onwards were still driving around Sweden, making it the world’s largest open air museum for Volvos. There was one notable exception, and it’s not the Bertone 262. Continue reading “The (Indoors) Volvo Museum, Part 1”
Murilee Martin used to post Down At The Junkyard at Jalopnik. Here’s a discovery from 2010, a 1989 Volvo 780 ES. Alas, there’s no commentary, which is puzzling.
The 780 ES was presented the 1985 Geneva motorshow, and went on sale in 1986. That means this is its 30th anniversary year. Skol!
There is a nice collection of photos here plus a little bit of history. What I didn’t know is that the 780 ES was not only sold with the 6-cylinder PRV engine. One could also have a 2.0 L turbo I4, a 2.0 L turbo dohc I4 ,2.3 L turbo I4 and 2.4 L I6 turbodiesel. They only made about 6000 of the things so some of those must have been made in very small numbers indeed. Continue reading “A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year”
We were discussing the merits of various car interiors recently. Here’s an example of putting the passengers’ interests high on the priority list.
In a way Volvo is or was Europe’s Buick, appealing to a certain type of middle-class buyer. The cars aren’t dynamic but are dependable and aim or aimed for comfort over style. Interestingly, Volvos as used cars never seem to end up as pimped wheels or to attract the same clientele as 15 year old BMWs and 20 year old mass-market saloons. They always remain firmly in the bosom of the bourgeoisie. Continue reading “World of Interiors: 1997 Volvo S70”
I imagine all that welding and pressing made it unimaginably strong at the very least. There is a sharp groove at the base of the C-pillar and furthermore another join up at the top of the C-pillar. This triangular patch is held on with a screw. Note the window has four rounded corners and is not bonded into place.
The Volvo S60 appeared in 2000, replacing the S70 which had its roots in the 1991 850.
About 1800 differences distinguished the rectilinear 850 from the less rectilinear S70. Between them about a million units were sold, which is creditable indeed. In the S60’s nine years it managed 631,000 units. According to the press commentary, Volvo aimed the S60 at drivers, tired perhaps of jibes about how dull their cars were. To express this intent Volvo threw out litres of headroom and interior space as a result of the new car’s more rakish profile. Indeed, it looked good then and does so now but my experience of the two cars is that the S60 is cramped while the S70 is perfect for long drives with a full complement of passengers and luggage. Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Volvo S60”
Some news from Volvoprompts some DTW crystal ball gazing.
Volvo will be getting together with Chalmers University to research driverless cars and sustainable mobility. The ‘Drive Me’ project – a unique public pilot with ordinary drivers behind the steering wheels of 100 self-driving Volvos – has been joined by a new prominent Swedish partner: Chalmers University of Technology,” writes Volvo at their PR portal. Continue reading “More About Driverless Cars”
Something Rotten in Denmark has turned up this curiosity. It’s the Volvo 960 Executive.
It’s labelled a Volvo S90, but sold as a 1991 960. And it has the c-pillar treatment of the Volvo stretch limousine but appears to be at best, just a long-wheelbase version of the car. I found this car for sale at Vallensæk Bil Centre, somewhere south of Copenhagen. It’s for sale without an MOT for 9,900 kr. I wrote to ask if it could Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Volvo 960 Executive”
In order to say why I can’t really write about this I had to do some research. It’s amazing what you don’t read in magazines.
The V40 was introduced in 2012 for 2013 and all I noticed about it since then is the daft crease in the bodyside which is supposed to evoque the P1800. The V40 is a hatchback though Volvo describe it as an estate, I suppose. Whilst the designer of the 2004 S40 is probably only named in Auto&Design magazine, the V40 can claim Peter Horbury as its creator (cited at Wikipedia). Continue reading “Cars I Can’t Write About – 2014 Volvo V40”
Pantomime Horses : Just how good is the 1986 Volvo 360 GLT?
by Roderick Darndon-Dramb. Photography by Bart Chappel. From “Autocarriage & Performance Drivercar” (March 1986).
The advertising says this is the Volvo that thinks it’s a Porsche. Clearly Volvo wants us to see this car as the driver’s choice. The people at Volvo have lost their minds. The 360’s aerodynamics remain submerged below the bottom of the league. The exterior is reminiscent of the Seagram Building rather than an F-40 jet. This is not a Porker.
“No mashed Swedes!” Archie Vicar on the Volvo 244 saloon.
Automotorist, September, 1974, pages 23-29. Photos by Ian Cambridgeshire. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.
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.