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Volvo Coupés 262C and 780: Insider tip for design lovers

K.H. Augustin
Volvo Coupés 262C and 780
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The crown makes the difference, the symbol of dignity, authority and elite also in aesthetic terms Respect. Sweden is a monarchy, and three crowns, “Tre Kronor”, ​​are, in addition to the blue and yellow flag, possible symbols in the vast country on the Baltic Sea. The crown adorns the two large Volvo coupés 262 C and 780 in this story on the C-pillar, an award for the exclusive Bertone flagships of the 200 and 700 series. On the 262 C, the crown also adorns the leather-covered baffle plate as a small inlay Steering wheel. Coupés are not only available at V olvo the culmination of the type range.

Bertone built both coupés

KH Augustin
Both coupés come from Bertone, but differentiate themselves completely differently from their sedan base.

Elegantly drawn, elegantly decorated bodies, paired with powerful, multi-cylinder engines, even volume models with profane sedan origins conjure up a touch of nobility in the well-formed sheet metal. In contrast to the 262C, for which Bertone only took over the production and final assembly, the 780 for a total work of art from a single source. No individual part of the body designed by Bertone in the style of a classic Gran Turismo is identical to the related 760 GLE sedan.

Volvo's budget for new developments has always been limited due to the medium-sized quantities at best, which is particularly evident in the long model cycles, but also in the creativity of cleverly modified niche models such as the 262C. So createdVolvo chief designer Jan Wilsgaard, who as a sculptor not only had a special flair for aesthetics, but also had an ingenious talent for improvisation, turned the last old-fashioned P 1800 into the cult station wagon 1800 ES. An early lifestyle car that became a bestseller, especially in the USA.

Volvo 'made in Italy'

It was also Wilsgaard who, for study purposes, took from a late 1974 version of the Top model 164 made a deliberately luxurious and stylistically provocative coupé version: the windshield sloped more, the roof six centimeters lower and covered with vinyl and the C-pillar heavily emphasized. 'Tre Kronor' was the name of the project, the prototype 162 C was created at Coggiola Carrozziere in Piedmont. It provided the blueprint for the extravagant 262 C, which was based on the successor model 264, which was only modified at the front and rear.

Premiere at the Geneva Motor Show 1977

KH Augustin
Its flat roof makes the 262C a coupé.

Die The first 262-C prototypes were derived from the 262 in 1976, a two-door sedan with the European V6 that was only built 3269 times and that did not exist in Germany. The proud new Volvo flagship, which cost 40,000 marks, was officially presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1977 and was particularly well received by the American public, Volvo's largest market. Almost all extras, from cruise control to automatic, were standard. The first version was only available in metallic silver with a black vinyl cover.

Bertone composed a very exclusive interior with gathered leather for seat covers and door panels for the flat roof, also pressed by Olofström in Sweden, on the delivered 242 body shells as well as burr walnut applications. A touch of Cadillac moved into the Volvo Coupé. The angular roof structure is also based on the Cadillac Seville, which the Americans liked very much and which was often perceived as bizarre in Europe. Three series were created by this eccentric, which was only built 6,622 times, they differ in the choice of available colors and in the design of the rear lights and bumpers. The most beautiful is the first edition up to 1978, it has filigree lights on the finely proportioned rear.

Unusual technology: rigid axle,90-degree V6

KH Augustin
The V6 engine surprises with its cylinder angle of 90 degrees and powerful torque.

The polarizing shape of the 262C still appeals to courageous avant-garde enthusiasts who cannot do anything with the ostensible elegance of a Mercedes 280 SLC or a BMW 630 CS. The technology of the exquisite Volvo is Far less spectacular, McPherson struts work at the front and a rigid axle at the rear springs on coil springs with double trailing arms and a Panhard rod. The last in the third series 155 hp 2.7-liter V6, a joint development of Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, which is why the abbreviation PRV is often used for the chain-driven light alloy engine with two camshafts, derives its astonishing torque of 230 Nm at tame 3000 rpm to a three-speed automatic converter from BorgWarner, there was also an optional four-speed manual transmission with overdrive. Despite its unfavorable cylinder angle of 90 degrees, the V6 engine runs quietly and with little vibration. A K-Jetronic injection ensures moderate consumption values ​​that rarely exceed 13 liters per 100 km. In this late 262 C, painted in light blue, the typical Volvo driving experience dominates once again, it is characterized by well-being, yes, even more, it is a feeling of security that comes with the first few kilometers. Only muted light falls through the narrow panes.

Performance as a side effect

K.H. Augustin
The furnishing style with the thick leather armchairs and the lush wood is reminiscent of a Cadillac.

The wide leather armchairs and the long, easy-to-grip automatic selector lever invite you to leisurely cruising, the six-cylinder feels powerful from 2000 rpm, its emphatic temperament can easily cope with the heavy car. In nominal terms, the roughly 150 hp of the two Volvo coupes are not exactly impressive, which also made them radical, individualistic outsiders of the competitive society. But it is enough for the connoisseur who values ​​understatement more than showing off. The rigid rear axle is only noticeable unpleasantly on very poor roads. The Volvo is neither a sedan nor a corner robber, it understeers too much for that. Driven fast, he really wants to be taken around the bend.

Volvo 780 with cultivated V6

KH Augustin
The 780 did not exist in Germany. It would have been too expensive.

The driving impression is in the light, bright, because lavishly glazed Volvo 780 not perceived fundamentally different. After all, the same V6 engine is on board the even more luxurious Bertone Coupé, which is especially decorated in the Italian style. As a sign of maturity, however, the aluminum engine is exhaust-gas cleaned and provided with a different crankshaft offset for an even ignition interval, which takes away the unkempt harshness of the typical V6 sound at high engine speeds. The 780, which was not available in Germany at the time because of its exorbitantly high price for the car class, is satisfied with a significantly lower speed level when driving thanks to the Aisin-Warner four-speed automatic transmission. The big car, painted in distinguished pearl blue, combined with vanilla-colored fine leather, makes every trip a pleasure. There is also enough space in the rear, the sonorous standard sound system provides entertainment, the front seats can be adjusted electrically, there is also a sliding roof and automatic air conditioning, and the cruise control is also a nice souvenir.The Volvo 780 is more than a car, it is a moving lounge that, in its precious opulence, is reminiscent of a Rolls-Royce Camargue.

KH Augustin
Noble interior with lots of leather and a great stereo system: the coupé looks really valuable inside.

The Volvo 780 was also available with a sporty 2.3-liter turbo engine that develops 165 hp, and with the tried-and-tested turbodiesel, an in-line six-cylinder from VAG, which is properly cooled with high-pressure charge air doped, comes on a solid 129 hp. This made the 780 the fastest diesel in the world. Without a doubt, the much more sophisticated European V6 goes much better with this fine Gran Turismo. From model year 1988 onwards, the coupé also benefited from the new, individually suspended multilink rear axle from Volvo. In the disciplines of driving comfort and road holding, it is superior to the previously used complex rigid axle construction with Watt linkage and emphasizes the inner values ​​of this insider tip for stylish individualists


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