Swedish manufacturer Volvo, based in Gothenburg, has produced many great vehicles over the years. For nearly 100 years, the brand has focussed on producing vehicles that are safe and sustainable while also offering a premium driving and ownership experience. In 1959, one of Volvo's engineers, Nils Bohlin, invented the three-point safety belt we are so familiar with today. Volvo became the first manufacturer to make the belts standard on its vehicles. Instead of keeping the technology to themselves, Volvo opened up the patent allowing other manufacturers to replicate the restraints, saving the lives of many, many people,
With Volvo's plan to manufacture solely electric vehicles from 2030, and only electric and hybrids from 2025, now is a good time to look back over some of the best of its classic models. While many instantly think of boxy wagons, Volvo has actually produced almost every type of vehicle style over the years, from sleek coupes to SUVs.
One of the most compact offerings Volvo has ever produced, the 480 was also its first front-wheel-drive car. Released in 1986, the car was designed to appear sporty and desirable, whilst also being complementary to the existing lineup. The inclusion of pop-up headlights demonstrates Volvo's sporty aspirations with the 480.
The 480 was a lightweight model, weighing just under 1000 kg. Under the hood was the choice of a 1.7, 1.7 turbo, or a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine. The 1.7-liter turbo produced 120 hp, could reach 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds, and reach a top speed of just over 120 mph.
9 850 T-5R
With a Porsche tuned engine, the 850 T-5R is a really rapid wagon. In the engine bay is a 2.3-liter, turbocharged, 5-cylinder producing 237 hp. The 0-60 mph run takes just 6.9 seconds. Power is sent to the front wheels and the car's traction control system is left to manage it.
The car also had upgraded hydraulic dampers and anti-roll bars. It is still a great load-lugger and came with self-leveling suspension. Ride quality was quite hard, especially with the low-profile 17 inch Pirelli P Zero tires fitted.
8 Amazon P120
The P120, or Amazon as it was known in Sweden, entered production in 1957. The design was well-received and it was an aspirational-looking vehicle. There was a strong focus on safety, and the car even had a padded top half of the dashboard, to help protect occupants in the event of an accident. Similarly, there were front and rear seatbelts and a laminated windscreen.
Classic car buyers should thoroughly inspect the area around the windscreen, as this is prone to rust and can destroy the bulkhead. The cars are also prone to rusting around the headlights and under the floor mats, so these also need to be looked at before considering purchasing one.
The Boxy 240 fits the stereotypical load-lugging Volvo many of us know and love. Released in 1974 and produced until 1993, almost two decades later. The 240 was one model that really helped Volvo to develop its reputation of reliability.
Drivability was improved over its predecessor, the 140, by the inclusion of MacPherson front suspension and rack and pinion steering. It remains a very practical and usable vehicle to this day and is a great option for someone seeking a classic daily driver.
6 Amazon 220
Essentially a wagon version of the P120, the 220 was designed to act as a family-friendly transporter. The car was initially available with a 4-cylinder 1.8-liter engine, this could be chosen as either a 75, 90, or 95-hp unit. Later on, a 2.0-liter 90-hp unit was made available.
The 220 included a split tailgate option, aiding usability. Drivers could choose between a 4-speed manual or a 3 speed automatic.
The 262C was Volvo's first attempt at making a luxury coupe. The manufacturer produced over 6000 examples of the 262C between 1977 and 1981 These days it is exceptionally rare.
The 262C was built in collaboration with Italian coachbuilder Bertone, who manufactured certain parts and assembled the vehicles in full. The car was initially powered by a 2.7-liter V6, produced in collaboration between Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo (PRV), later a 2.8-liter was fitted.
Production of the P1800 began in 1961 and ran until 1972. Under the hood, a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder could be found, initially, this output was 100 hp, but over time, Volvo increased it in stages to 120 hp. In 1968, a 2.0-liter producing 118 bhp was released.
The stunning P1800 gained a lot of popularity following its appearance in the film "The Saint", which starred Roger Moore. As well as the sports car body, Volvo also produced a shooting brake named P1800 ES.
The P1900 was a very low-volume production sports car. Manufactured for just one year, between 1956 and 1957, just 67 cars had been produced. Many parts were shared with the PV444 to help keep costs down.
Interestingly, Volvo opted to construct the car's body from fiberglass-reinforced polyester. The car was powered by a 70-hp 4-cylinder 1.4-liter engine borrowed from the PV444.
The 940 is the last large, rear-wheel-drive car to have been produced by Volvo. It was manufactured between 1990 and 1998. The design was heavily based on its predecessor, the 740. Like all great Volvo wagons, the 940 had a vast 992-liter boot, ideal for family vacations.
The model was a big seller, with over 231,000 being produced.
Manufactured between 1947 and 1966, the car was actually sketched during World War 2. Due to the shortage of raw materials, Volvo decided a smaller vehicle could be the perfect solution to post-war transport demand.
There were a few different engine options available and either a 1.4-liter or a 1.6-liter unit could be specified. Particularly notable about this car is the fact that it was Volvo's first unibody car, whereby the body and chassis are fully integrated.