Vintage R&T Review: 1978 Volvo 262C – “There Simply Is Not Enough Headroom”

Given today’s high beltlines and gunslit windows, the Volvo 262C doesn’t look all that odd. It was just forty years ahead of its time. But it raised eyebrows pretty consistently back in the day: what were they thinking? Which is a question that’s never been properly answered, and probably never will. Although I’m sure a few folks must have asked Jan Wilksgaard, Volvo’s then Chief of Design. But the answer came none.


The 262C was a halo car for Volvo, and Bertone was commissioned to build just 1200 per year, of which 1000 came to the US. And according to the R&T scribes, public reaction was very favorable wherever they went with it. But then Americans tend to have a thing for something new and different, until they tire of it. R&T’s staff had decidedly more mixed feelings on it, and the lack of headroom was undeniable.

The interior was high quality, with lots of black leather everywhere. At $15,000 ($60k adjusted) this was of course by far the priciest Volvo yet ever built. So a nice interior was to be expected.



The 125 hp 2.7L PRV 90° V6 acquitted itself well enough, although its uneven firing impulses could be heard. It was mated to Volvo’s venerable 4 speed manual and OD, which only some 10% of 262Cs would have. I rather assumed they were all automatic. Handling was ok, but hardly stellar. The 200 series chassis was not exactly the most sophisticated, so there was no way it was going to have the control, comfort and ride of a Mercedes or such.