CC Capsule: 1986-87 Volvo 760 Turbo – Fast Brick

The Volvo 760 was introduced in 1982 to replace the 264 GLE. While the 760 GLE and its less expensive sibling the 740 were meant to replace the 240/260 series, both would be built concurrently for several years. Accounting for all redesigns and name changes, this car lasted all the way to 1998, as the straight six-powered S90/V90.

Like just about every Volvo since the 120/Amazon, the 760 was designed by Volvo’s in-house stylist, Jan Wilsgaard. He had clearly been smitten with rectilinear styling since the 140 was introduced in 1966, and the 760 was no exception. The square theme continued into the interior styling.

The 760 had a unitized body and was powered by the 2.8L B28 PRV V6, a joint-venture engine used by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, not to mention DeLorean. It produced 130 hp @ 5500 rpm and 153 lb ft of torque. It was not a particularly  sturdy engine, however. In 1984, the 760 Turbo was introduced. Instead of the V6, it had the turbocharged and intercooled B230FT ‘redblock’ engine, producing 160 hp @ 2900 rpm and 187 lb ft of torque. With this new powerplant, the 760 Turbo was a pretty speedy car in its day.

Contrary to Volvo’s usual practice of the second digit of the model name corresponding to the number of cylinders, the 760 Turbo had an inline four-cylinder. Other than more exterior chrome, different alloy wheels and a fancier interior with automatic climate control, it was much like the 740 Turbo, also introduced in 1984.

In 1986, wagons were added to the 740 and 760 line, and that included a 760 Turbo wagon. You might say it really hauled. By 1986, standard features included an electric sunroof, AM/FM stereo cassette with a five-band graphic equalizer and heated seats. 760s also had a unique Nivomat automatic leveling system. These cars were fully loaded right off the assembly line; you really didn’t need to add anything.

I found this gray 760 Turbo near Paul’s former place of residence of Iowa City, in Coralville. It looks to be in fair shape. This particular car has the 1986-89 740 Turbo alloy wheels, as the 760s used a multi-spoke wheel with a broader hub section, as seen in the brochure pictures above.

It reminds me of the ’88 740 Turbo my dad had. It was special-ordered at Lundahl Motors in Moline in bright red with tan leather and the optional wood trim kit. It was the first car we had with an airbag. Dad traded in a silver ’84 240 GL sedan for this car, and needless to say it was a lot faster. The alloys on these Turbos are my favorite style of Volvo wheel.

I remember this car well, as Dad took me to school in it every morning between 2nd and 5th grades. It was boxy but sharp, and I loved the color. It was hard for him to balance his morning coffee in the years before cupholders, though.

The 740 Turbo lasted in this form through 1989, while the 760 lasted through ’87. In 1988 the 760 GLE and Turbo received a new nose and instrument panel, and the last ones were built in 1990. These were solid, well built cars, and I really liked them. Dudley Moore probably said it best in Crazy People: “They’re boxy but they’re good.”