Something Wicked This Way Comes

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.

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 Continue reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

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”

Braking With Tradition – 1986 Volvo 480 ES

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 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”

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

Continue reading “Economies of Scale”

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”

A Photo For Sunday: 1983 Volvo 240 GLE

A mid-career midliner from Sweden under the DTW microscope today.

image
1983 Volvo 240 GLE

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”

2017 Volvo S90 Review Review

The 2017 Volvo S90 has been tested by a few of the major magazines. What do they think?

Volvo's forthcoming S90 saloon. Image: turbo.fr
Volvo’s forthcoming S90 saloon. Image: turbo.fr

Car and Driver are impressed with the car despite its lack of a V6 let alone a V8. The car is up against this lot: ” the BMW 5-series and the Mercedes-Benz E-class—both of which are new for 2017. Other competitors (in order of sales for calendar year 2015) are the Hyundai Genesis, Lexus GS, Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Jaguar XF, Infiniti Q70, and Acura RLX.” They conclude that the S90 is “solid, comfortable, beautiful, and practical and should make Volvo a player in the mid-luxury segment for the first time in a long while”. Edmunds concludes “With sharp style, hallmark Swedish ergonomics and potentially a plug-in hybrid model, the 2017 Volvo S90 promises a compelling alternative to traditional German and Japanese luxury midsize sedans”. Continue reading “2017 Volvo S90 Review Review”

Great Concepts But Don’t Let the Designer Speak About Them, Please.

Thomas Ingenlath – dedicated follower of fashion. How disappointing.

2016 Volvo V40 concept car: source
2016 Volvo V40 concept car: source

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.

Continue reading “Great Concepts But Don’t Let the Designer Speak About Them, Please.”

Why Bother?

Today, Driven to write dons a metaphorical black armband as Volvo’s CrossCountry sales flop is quietly stuffed in a sack and drowned.

Someone thought this was a good idea. Image:indianinfoonline
Someone thought this was a good idea. Image:indianinfoonline

Spare a thought if you will for the unfortunate product planner, tasked with uncovering the next automotive sales sensation, while negotiating the myriad trapdoors luring the unwary and over-ambitious. Falling on their swords this week are those hapless individuals in Gothenburg who are having to make uncomfortable excuses to their superiors following the failure of the Volvo S60 CrossCountry, sales of which have been discontinued in the UK after only one year. Continue reading “Why Bother?”

A Photo For Sunday: 2002 Volvo S80

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.

Ruined: a Volvo S80 with matte black paint all over it. Everywhere.
Ruined: a Volvo S80 with matte black paint all over it. Everywhere.

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: Scandinavian Without the Drama

Volvo are re-emerging from the Northern wilderness and look set to upset the automotive establishment by offering something increasingly novel: a genuine alternative.

Image: speedcarz
The new face of Volvo. Image: speedcarz

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”

Volvo’s new S90 Revealed

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.

2016 Volvo S90: autocar.co.uk
2016 Volvo S90: autocar.co.uk

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.

Autocar reported this: “Our idea was to Continue reading “Volvo’s new S90 Revealed”

Volvo Museum, Part 2

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.

1977 Volvo 262
1977 Volvo 262

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”

The (Indoors) Volvo Museum, Part 1

Driven to Write took the opportunity when in Gothenburg to visit the Volvo Museum.

Volvo Musuem, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Volvo Musuem, Gothenburg, Sweden.

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”

A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year

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.  

1989 Volvo 780 ES:better parts.org
1989 Volvo 780 ES:better parts.org

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”

World of Interiors: 1997 Volvo S70

We were discussing the merits of various car interiors recently. Here’s an example of putting the passengers’ interests high on the priority list.

Plenty of legroom and velour for everyone: 1997 Volvo S70 2.4 litre 5 cylinder.
Plenty of legroom and velour for everyone: 1997 Volvo S70 2.4 litre 5 cylinder.

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”

Theme: Shutlines – Volvo Goes One Better

Here is the C-pillar of the Volvo 240.

1982 Volvo 240GL
1982 Volvo 240GL

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.

Looking Back: 2001 Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 appeared in 2000, replacing the S70 which had its roots in the 1991 850.

2001 Volvo S60 is sleek and cramped: www.autos.ca
2001 Volvo S60 is sleek and cramped: http://www.autos.ca

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”

More About Driverless Cars

Some news from Volvo prompts some DTW crystal ball gazing.

Paultan.org
Paultan.org

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: 1991 Volvo 960 Executive

Something Rotten in Denmark has turned up this curiosity. It’s the Volvo 960 Executive.

1991 Volvo 960 Executive
1991 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”

Cars I Can’t Write About – 2014 Volvo V40

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. 

A hatchback
A hatchback

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”

1986 Volvo 360 GLT Review

Pantomime Horses : Just how good is the 1986 Volvo 360 GLT?

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.

Continue reading “1986 Volvo 360 GLT Review”

1974 Volvo 244: Review

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

1974 Volvo 244 saloon
1974 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.

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”