Ten years’ worth of CC (over 16,500 posts), yet there are still quite a few gaps – especially regarding the non-American metal – in the impressive compendium of global automotive knowledge we’ve all been participating in all this time. I made my modest contributions towards this goal and hope to be able to find and write up more for 2021, but this post is most definitely not filling any kind of gap.
We’ve seen the Volvo 780 before. We have seen it plenty of times and in a lot of detail. Brendan Saur caught three and wrote two posts about them, including a desirable Turbo. Tom Klockau wrote a long post about the 780 as well. And there is a very good older COAL post, as well. (Links to all of these posts are at the end of the one you’re reading now, as per usual.)
So there’s nothing new here. This is a well-known quantity, a familiar face, a chip off the old cube. Move along, folks, just take a couple pictures if you must. Really, just a couple? Go on then, maybe just a few more.
The fact remains: only about 8000 of these were put together by Bertone between 1985 and 1990. This is an old, rare and highly collectible Volvo. And I had just found one – in utterly mint condition, as per usual – just sitting there, in the backlot of a local Volvo dealership, no less. You can see the bind I was in.
How could I pass up a Bertone-built classic coupé? It’s not like one just bumps into these on a daily basis anywhere, much less in Japan. No, there were no two ways about it. I was just going to have to bite the bullet, take the bull by the horn and grasp the nettle all in on go and write up a completely vacuous post.
There was nothing left to be said about these Volvos that wasn’t said and re-stated before, so one just had to accept that fact, put it behind and move on. Possibly even write an additional sentence in a futile attempt to make something vaguely paragraph-sized. It was a stretch, but the options were limited.
I had nothing to go on. No personal history or experience about these cars, no compelling story on how I came upon its discovery, no hint as to what engine lay within – like a blind man in an orgy, I was going to have to feel my way out.
The biggest issue, which is not usually such a problem, was that this damn car was photogenic as hell. I’m not generally too crazy about rectilinear ‘80s styling – I tend to think right angles were a wrong turn – but this one was not designed by a bunch of white-coated nerds using IBMs. This actually looks very nice, like a Maserati Biturbo that had corrective surgery and was then left out in the sun a bit too long.
So because I had all these nice photos of this relatively-rare-in-the-wild-but-not-on-CC 35-year-old Volvo, I was left with far more illustration than any text I could conceivable come up with. Makes things lopsided, and that’s just not good enough. But how lyrical can a guy wax about a square Volvo before going around in circles?
Even the interior, which looks so clean one could eat reindeer meatballs in lingonberry sauce right off it, is both impossible to dislike and hard to get excited about. It’s a strange combination, but one that Scandinavians have perfected to a fine art (and even finer literature). Norwegian Wood inlays are quite lovely, though.
Same story in the rear quarters – looks like a time-capsule straight from the Olof Palme era. Just as mysterious, too. How did this Volvo go through the years seemingly without a trace? Not the first time I’ve seen this phenomenon in Japan, but it never fails to amaze.
In summation (thank God), please accept my apologies if you thought this post would edify you in any shape of form about the Volvo 780. That particular wheel, as can be seen in the “related posts” section below, has been reinvented three times already. Nobody needs a full-size spare any more.
Curbside Classic: 1989 Volvo 780 – Rectilinear Luxury By Bertone, by Tom Klockau
COAL: 1988 Volvo 780 Bertone – The Italian Swede, by Chris M.