Swedish quality and Italian design - that's the magic of Volvo's first luxury coupe.

Volvo is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its rare and beautiful 262C. Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1977 as “perhaps the most unexpected model version,” the vehicle is regarded as the company’s first luxury coupe.

The story of this stylish coupe is quite interesting. Volvo wanted to have a luxury two-door model in its lineup, mainly because it wanted to attract new U.S. customers and to build a new image in the country, and the Swedish brand’s chief designer Jan Wilsgaard made sketches for the shapes of the car. The project was then taken to the Italian designer Sergio Coggiola’s company in Turin, where a four-door Volvo 164 was transformed into a two-door prototype with a lower roof. This concept is now part of the Volvo Musesum in Gothenburg.

The coupe was given a proper 2.7-litre V6 engine, delivering 140 horsepower – an engine developed together with Peugeot and Renault, and manufactured in Douvrin, France. During a facelift in 1980, the engine bore was increased resulting in slightly increased displacement.

Volvo 262C
Volvo 262C
Volvo 262C

Without any doubt, the standard equipment of the car is truly impressive, even by today’s standards. All models were fitted with power windows and mirrors, central locking, full leather interior, power mirrors, cruise control, air conditioning, heated front seats, alloy wheels, and electrically-powered radio antenna. Optionally available were a limited-slip differential, a choice of stereos, and a three-speed automatic transmission, replacing the standard four-speed manual at no cost.

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Hand built by Bertone, the 262C was aimed against the Cadillac Eldorado and Mercedes-Benz 280CE on the North American market, and the sales were surprisingly high. Volvo aimed to manufacture 800 units per year, but in the end a total of 6,622 examples were delivered between 1977 and 1981.

Interestingly, the 262C was the choice of Volvo’s CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar, who had a special example powered by a four-cylinder turbo as a company car. Additionally, five cabriolet units were also manufactured by independent firm Solaire on behalf of Volvo Cars of North America.

Source: Volvo

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