Today’s car is but a footnote in automotive history. Maybe even barely that. But arguably, that might be precisely what makes it amusing to write about now – 34 years after it first saw the light of day.
Our more devoted readers will know by now that I am out of a Volvo family. From infant and right until I finally attained my own driver’s license, I was transported everywhere in a Volvo of some description. I don’t really recall those first 140’s in the family, which perhaps only emphasises that first brown 242 and the pale blue 240 which later took its place. It was during the latter’s reign that Volvo introduced their new absolute top-of-the-range model: the Volvo 760 GLE from 1982. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it immediately became the dream car for every member of our family. I truly admired its design. Admitted, it wasn’t exactly a breath-taking beauty queen, but it was crisp and characterful with significantly more design considerations than the 242, 244 and 240 (both with and without the facelift) all combined.
Later the 700-series also came as an estate. Obviously – it is a Volvo after all. It was a fair way into the 700’s lifespan before my parents finally opted for this modern designer-Volvo: A 740 Classic estate with a low-pressure turbo engine. For me, the purchase came just a few years too late as I had left home by then (perhaps that was a deciding factor for my parents when deciding to splash out on their new Volvo?) and was therefore not to be found regularly behind the wheel. Still, I did manage a few kilometres in it.
Actually, a lovely automobile to be honest. Even if the estate wasn’t quite as homogeneous in its chiselled look as the saloon.
But whether a saloon or an estate, I’ve always valued the 700’s design. Clearly I don’t stand alone either as Volvo managed to sell more than 1.4 million of them during the models 10 year production run.
And then I encountered this variation of the 700-series at one of the German winter season exhibitions a couple of years ago. It was presented as the “Sven Jenssen Volvo”, while an accompanying sign explained that it was a prototype which had been developed from considerations which were initiated in 1984 and then brought to life on a new Volvo 740 in 1985.
Apparently, those considerations revolved around how the appeal of the 700-series could be further enhanced for the US-market. I can only assume that it they didn’t spend all of 1984 merely to come up with a spare wheel hump on the bootlid, the revised C-pillar and a two-tone paint scheme. The sign didn’t go in to that much detail though, so I suppose we will never know…
Why the prototype proposal came from Sven Jenssen, who despite the name wasn’t Swedish at all, but rather a German schlager singer (!) born in 1934, was also not explained on the sign next to the somewhat awkward Volvo saloon. You might recognise Sven Jenssen better from his “Eine Lederhose braucht keine Bügelfalten” duet with Peter Alexander which was a German hit in 1963? Then again, you might not. How about then from his participation in the German Eurovision contest in 1972? Nope, not that one either. Well, at least you now know him as the man responsible for the least spectacular and least sexy prototype the automotive world has ever had the misfortune of experiencing.
So there you have it – straight from ViaRETRO, the leading provider of old news about old cars. We believe it’ll become a success. At least more than the above Volvo did.