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Meatballs, IKEA and boxy Volvo’s just aren’t particularly sexy. But as always, there is an exception. In this case, Bertone is to thank for this Swedish exception, which will be competing in our ongoing comparison of classic Grand Tourers which can become yours without breaking the bank.

We have thus far visited five different countries in our quest to find the ultimate big coupé. I would happily own either one of those five, but before deciding on one, let’s give the Swedes a fair fighting chance too. So what exactly are they bringing to the table? Well it’s a Swedish car, designed and built by the Italians, with an engine developed in conjunction with the French, all of which was aimed at appealing to the Americans. A real potpourri one could say, but somehow it all adds up to be strangely delicious.

Volvo wanted an upmarket coupé to take on especially the US market, but just didn’t have the internal capacity to take on such a low-volume project. Instead they asked the help of Bertone, who not only thoroughly redesigned the big, boxy 264 saloon, but also built 6622 examples in Turin between 1978 and early 1981.While Claus recently wrote this amusing piece on the use and misuse of the coupé moniker, where he even used the Volvo 242 to make his point, the 262C was indeed a proper coupé, as Bertone had utterly reworked the upper half of the body, which resulted in a more raked windscreen, a 10cm lower roofline, and a unique glasshousing. It all added up to a real coupé which oozed a very different and much more upmarket vibe than the basic 240-series upon which was of course still based.

Mechanically however, the coupé was identical with the 264 saloon which had been launched in late 1974. This obviously meant using the PRV Douvrin V6 engine which was developed together with Peugeot and Renault, and which of course also powered the elegant Peugeot 504 Coupé, which was our French contender for the throne when we featured it as Prime Find of the Week only two weeks ago. It was clear that Volvo was pitching the 262C for the very top, and they specced it accordingly. You got all the luxury of full leather interior, air conditioning, cruise control, central locking and not least electric windows, mirrors and antenna. The only options consisted of a limited slip differential and a non-cost option between the manual 4-speed gearbox with overdrive or a 3-speed automatic.

In the short production span only few things changed, but in 1979 the rear was given a redesign leading to wrap-around rear lights and an altered bootlid. The next year, the engine was bored out and increased in capacity from 2,664cc to 2,849cc, and the 262C also received the front spoiler from the 242GT. Then for the final year of production, the vinyl roof was discontinued.

The 262C we’ve found is from 1980, and thereby sans vinyl roof. There’s an automatic gearbox to accompany the luxurious cruiser character, and the whole package seems to present very original and tidy with a mere 152,000 km on the clock, equating to 94,000 miles. The dealer claims the car is totally rustfree, and the gold metallic paintwork looks great in the pictures and really suits the chunky lines of the big coupé. The leather seats do have a fair amount of patina, but I reckon you would get far with amble amounts of leather cleaner and conditioner.
Here are a selection of pictures borrowed from the sales advert:

The Volvo apparently used to be French, but is now for sale with a Dutch dealer. The full advert can be seen here:

They are asking Euro 18,900 which currently equates to roughly £ 16,700 making it the most expensive of the six Grand Touring Coupés we have now compared. Is the Volvo 262C a valid competitor for those other coupés we’ve looked at? I personally am not in any doubt whatsoever that it is. But is it also worthy of being the most expensive of the lot? There will probably be as many answers to that question as there are readers on ViaRETRO! I have my doubts though, but it obviously all depends on personal taste and whether you value outright power, badge-snobbery, rarity or maybe build quality…
Which of these six Grand Coupés would you prefer to have in your garage?



With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to

3 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld

    Interesting. Very interesting.

    I’d say the Volvo 262 has it’s fan base amongst people who are already dyed in Volvoism. Or safety-crazed. Which is the same thing, really.

    But as a stand alone offer competing against the real heavyweights in the classic coupé segment it doesn’t stand a chance. The sales figures in period confirm this, I’d say.

    Today as a classic that inflates the values as rarity comes with a premium. And if rarity is what you want, the 262 is a fair bet. However the Fiat 130 Coupé is even rarer AND also came with some pretty lurid interiors. Enough said.

  2. Anders Bilidt

    But Claus, you contradict yourself. When the Volvo didn’t sell in large numbers, you want it to prove that it wasn’t a valid contender in this segment. Yet when the Fiat sold in even fewer numbers (despite being in production for longer), you instead want it to be a positive thing as rarity is something we all like. You must make up your mind…

    All that said, I do actually largely agree with you. Of the six Grand Tourer Coupés we have looked at over these past six weeks, I think the Volvo would also be my last choice. That’s not to say that I don’t like it. Because I do! I just like the other five coupés more. ;-)

    But as I finished the this Prime Find of the Week off writing, it is of course all a matter of taste. As such, there is no right and wrong.

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    I can very much relate to this:

    “That’s not to say that I don’t like it. Because I do! I just like the other five coupés more. ?”

    And I totally agree that regarding the Fiat its low production numbers also earn it a place in the category “commercial failures”, even more so than the Volvo. I never understood why, really, as it is such a beautiful car and quite a good one as well. Which today when viewed as classic cars combines (in my mind at least) to make it an easy choice over the Volvo.


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