A couple of weeks ago, The Bishop was working on a post about a kind of Volvo David Bowie owned, a 262C, that strange but wonderful chop-top boxy Volvo personal luxury coupé that may be the only Swedish car to have come from the factory with a vinyl top. In his research, he came across some old press photos of the Volvo. He showed me a studio shot of a golden 262C, a picture that included one strange detail. A detail that you might miss at a glance, but once you see it, it’s unignorable. There, in the back seat, looking calmly out the back window, sits a huge-ass Great Dane. Why?
I mean, adding a dog to pretty much anything outside of an operating theater is a good move, but in this case, it’s kind of baffling. First, it’s not like anyone went out of their way to make the dog more visible; it’s just there in the seat, not really well-lit, the reflections on the glass making it less than optimally clear.
It’s not emphasized in any way, with no attempts made to highlight the dog’s presence there at all. He’s just sitting there, patiently, maybe even a little glumly. Was this the photographer’s dog?
It’s not like the other press photos had some overarching canine theme: there’s not dog one to be found in any of the other contemporary pictures on Volvo’s media site:
In fact, looking at these thumbnails, you don’t even see the dog at all. And, as I said, every other one is dogless, including this one of the same car in front of a lawn that would have been perfect for a dog to romp on:
But, alas, no dog. And, really, why should there be a dog? If you want to take a dog in a Volvo, the 262C is possibly the worst Volvo you could choose, save perhaps for the P1800/1800S sports car, though even that one had a later shooting brake variant that would actually be pretty good for a dog. In fact, Volvo showed just this use in one of their brochures for the 1800ES:
But the 262C? No way. Pretty much any other Volvo of that era, late 1970s to early 1980s, would have been a better choice for dogs.
The wagon, of course, would be the ideal, but even the sedan has a roomy back seat, and the two-door sedan has tons more headroom for a big dog like a Great Dane than the 262C did. The 262C just makes no sense as a dog car! Look how it was advertised:
It’s a classy, luxurious automobile experience! Look a those tufted leather seats, and that snug, low roofline! Do you really want to shove almost 200 pounds of smelly dog in there, scratching up those butterscotch-leather seats and soaking the carpets in drool? No, of course not, you’re too classy! Bertone designed this car, not freaking Boots and Barkley!
If we scour the Volvo press website for other times dogs have come up in Volvo official press photos, the results are pretty limited and very predictable:
A few photos of dogs in the back of Volvo wagons, sometimes trapped behind an accessory luggage compartment divider thing. That’s about it!
Finally, I reached out to Volvo themselves to see if they had any idea of what the story was behind this mystery dog. Russel Datz, Volvo’s National Media Relations Manager attempted to find out the story, and reached out to Volvo’s headquarters in Sweden to see what they could find. Here’s what he told me:
“We have no idea what’s up with the dog.”
I appreciate the attempt, but that doesn’t really help. Was it the photographer’s dog? Was the dog the proud owner of the car? Did the factory have a Great Dane infestation? Was it the security system?
Truth is, we just don’t know. The Great Dane in the Volvo 262C Bertone Press Photo remains a glorious mystery.