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A short history of the Volvo 700

A short history of the Volvo 700

The Volvo 700 looked like a pastiche of a mid-eighties American town car, but underneath it was a solid, stylish load-carrier. 

The Volvo 700 range kicked off in 1982 with the upmarket 760. Designed as a luxury mid-size car (only in the US could this be considered ‘mid-sized’!) it was produced right up until 1990. Owners had a choice of a 2.8-litre V6 motor with 130-170hp, depending on model, a short-lived 2.4-litre Turbodiesel model (1982-1984) and a fiery 2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo (173-190hp)

If the 760 didn’t have quite enough panache for your lifestyle, there was also a Bertone-designed 780 Coupé, introduced in 1986, and if the standard sedan/saloon didn’t have the carrying capacity you needed, the 1985 station wagon/estate version extended the roofline right back to the rear fender to offer a huge load space.

The 760 was pitched at the more affluent driver, though, and in 1984 Volvo followed up with the cheaper 740. This came with a range of petrol and diesel engines, from a basic 2-litre petrol motor, through a 2.3-litre variant and a turbo version. Volvo dropped the Turbodiesel from the 760 in 1985, dropping it into the 740 instead in 1986.

Discover the history of the Volvo 700 in this handy infographic

In fact, the 740 soldiered on for another two years after the 760 was discontinued, ending production in 1992. By this time, Volvo was already making the newer, more rounded 900 model to replace the 760 – the 740 was replaced by the new Volvo 850.

This isn’t the only time a Volvo model carried on slightly longer than expected. The Volvo 700 was intended as a replacement for the rather dowdy 200 series, but this carried on in the form of the Volvo 240 and its variants, right up until 1992.

All were the work of Volvo design veteran Jan Wilsgaard. It’s true that the 700’s low waistline, rigidly rectilinear profile and brick-like bodywork look as much a part of the eighties as power suits and padded shoulders, but it has an undeniable ‘look’ that still turns heads today.

“It’s hip to be square,” sang Huey Lewis in 1986. He must have had a Volvo 760.

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