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A Short History of the Volvo 700

A Short History of the Volvo 700

The Volvo 700 looked like the box that a rounder car had been shipped in, but it was a dependable hauler of people and cargo

The Volvo 700 range kicked off in 1982 with the upmarket 760, and was produced up until 1992. The 760 was designed as a luxury mid-size car, and what it lacked in styling it made up for in dependability and interior space. Owners had a choice of a 2.8-liter V6 motor with 130-170hp, depending on model, a short-lived 2.4-liter turbo diesel model (1982-1984), and a fiery 2.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo (173-190hp) that would get the kids to school in a hurry.

If the 760 didn’t have quite enough panache for your lifestyle, there was also a Bertone-designed 780 Coupé, introduced in 1986, with a slightly lower roof line to compliment the 2-door body style. And if you just needed more room inside, the station wagon introduced in 1985 extended the roof line right back to the rear fender to offer a huge cargo space.

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 are as much a part of the eighties as power suits and padded shoulders, but it has an undeniable ‘look’ that still turns heads today.

Discover the history of the Volvo 700 in this handy infographic

The Volvo 760 was meant for the more affluent driver, and in 1984 Volvo followed up with the cheaper 740 powered by a range of 4-cylinder engines. The standard motor was a basic 2-liter, with a 2.3-liter variant, and a hotter turbo version available. When Volvo dropped the turbo diesel from the 760, it showed up in the 740 instead in 1986.

Being late to the party, 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.

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