Home » Volvo Needs A Modern Electric Version Of The Super-Rare ‘262C’ Luxury Coupe (Like The One David Bowie Owned)

Volvo Needs A Modern Electric Version Of The Super-Rare ‘262C’ Luxury Coupe (Like The One David Bowie Owned)

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I’ve never wanted to be That Parent. You know the one? The mom or dad who argues with baseball coaches, complains about junior’s grades, or does other antics that undermine their hard working coaches and educators. However, the other day I did have those feeling when my kid told me that his School Of Rock class was learning to play I Was Made For Lovin’You by the band KISS. “It’s a really terrible song, Daddy, and I don’t know why a rock group was doing disco.” He’s ten years old, but he’s right. I told him that many musicians in the late seventies were doing dance songs to try to capitalize on the then-current trend, and it’s true that the band that made “Detroit Rock City” had no business making something you could possibly dance to.

Some car companies fell into the same trap during the malaise era, and the results were often just as befuddling. You’d never expect Volvo to make a Lincoln Mark III-style personal luxury coupe, would you? Neither would I, but for whatever reason the carmaker appears to have fallen in the same trap as KISS’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and given us a Swedish car built largely in Italy with highly American styling.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

The 1978 to 1981 262C Bertone was a real thing, and it even found a famous celebrity owner. Could such a formula work again today? (Euro versions got the big brick headlights that were illegal in the U.S.; see below).

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Volvo Cars USA Newsroom
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This Is Not America

Volvo was becoming an aspirational brand by the late seventies, and with the discontinuation of the P1800 series of sports cars it had no real “halo” coupe in the lineup. During the disco era, a flagship car was typically a fancy coupe, so you would think that Volvo would look to cars like the Jaguar XJS as inspiration (especially since the character on the television show The Saint switched from a Volvo P1800 to that Jag coupe for The Saint Returns).

You would never, ever think that the designers in Gotenburg would try to make such a luxury coupe out of one of their existing cars, and the brand certainly wouldn’t look to the gilded coupes from Detroit for ideas, but it did.

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Screenshot (1194)
Volvo Cars USA Newsroom

 

For whatever reason, Sweden has always had a love affair with American cars, and the number of fans of giant tailfinned classics is often seen as disproportionally high compared to other European countries. This is the only reason I can think of that caused designer Jan Wilsgaard to try to chop the roof down on a standard 262 coupe and add thick “C” pillars with chrome badges; that and the fact that the U.S. market was the main target for this thing. The end result looks a bit like something you would see me create with Photoshop as a joke.

You’d probably question how lowering the roof like that would affect headroom; the answer is, despite lowering the seats, “not positively.” Actually, the prototype (below) was based on the earlier 100 Series six-cylinder model with the Mercedes-looking front clip, and for whatever reason the nose of that car seems to better suit the chopped roof, and it looks more convincingly like a big Lincoln coupe. (The pic below shows the prototype 262C and the Lincoln Mark III, which is what most people think the 262C was trying to emulate).

From the front at least, it makes a rather convincing personal luxury coupe, or at least more so than with brick-shaped front lamps of the production model.

Two Coupes
Wikipedia /Lotsofmagnets ,Classic Auto Mall

Why is there a “Bertone” name on a car that looks absolutely nothing like a product of this famous Turin firm in the late seventies? Bertone was known for sleek, angular cars like the Lamborghini Countach, not what appeared to be a George Barris conversion of a boxy sedan. As with most large firms, Volvo outsourced smaller projects to boutique makers; the British company Jensen initially made bodies for the P1800, so it shouldn’t surprise you that Volvo shipped stock cars for Bertone to modify in Italy. The surprise to me was that Bertone actually put their name on the thing.

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Inside, the 262C did offer a nicely upgraded interior with wood veneers and braided details on the special leather seats, but the buying public understandably didn’t know what to think about this thing. In some ways it’s amazing that 6,622 units actually did find owners before Volvo discontinued the car in 1981. You rarely hear about these cars today, with the possible exception of the one below that sold at auction in 2013 for a whopping $216,000. This example was purchased new and registered to a certain David Robert Jones, which is the real name of Ziggy Stardust / Labyrinth actor David Bowie.

Bowie
Oldtimer Galerie Auction House

 

Seemingly undeterred by the disappointing sales, Volvo proceeded to make a replacement for the 262C 1986 called the 780. Based on the 700 series model, this Bertone creation was now designed as well as produce by the coachbuilder. Taking a different approach, the 780 was a far more “normal” looking coupe than the 262C, which turned out to be a double-edged sword.

Despite having body panels different from any other Volvo car the end result looks surprisingly like the stock 740 sedan it’s based on; it’s more handsome for sure, but for a car approaching $40,000 in late eighties dollars ($7500 more than the next most expensive Volvo) it seemed to be lacking that panache needed to match the price point. Interior finish and materials were once again nicely upgraded, but the 780 was just a big of a sales dud as the 262C with only 8,518 cars sold from 1986 to 1991.

780
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Been So Long (So Long, So Long)

Would Volvo do something like this for a third time? I think that the perceived need for a car like this back in the seventies still exists today. Volvo continues to make good cars, but the lineup is no more exciting now than it was fifty years ago. They have no “halo” car whatsoever to attract attention (good or bad). In fact, as of right now, they have no cars (i.e. not SUVs) at all to sell, with the S90 sedan being discontinued last June.

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One thing that has changed since the seventies is that those Volvo sedans like that last S90 were some damn good-looking cars (and that ultra-hot V90 wagon, which would have replaced my departed BMW 530xi estate if the NVH control on the Volvo wasn’t so lacking). Volvo is supposed to release some new electric sedans in the coming years, and honestly the excitement level for this launch could certainly use a boost. If some recent concept cars and upcoming production vehicles are any indication, coupes appear to be coming back. Would an EV coupe introduced ahead of these four doors spike some interest? What would it look like?

For our C90EV Coupe, we’ll base the design on these new sedans Volvo is promising. We don’t know exactly what they’ll look like, but I would imagine they’ll be somewhere between the styling of the outgoing S90 and the design language of the electric SUVs Volvo is banking on now. We’ll get a flat grille, signature headlights, and a slightly more angular interpretation of the previous sedan. There are no Lincoln coupes available now for Volvo to ape like they did with the 262C, but there are fastback Bentley and Rolls Royce two doors that scream money and class. Why not interpret this kind of roofline for our new coupe?

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Volvo

Note that our Coupe eschews the wraparound lights of current Volvos for sharp flanks, and in back the sloping tail tapers to a detent on the trunk lid and recess for the license plate. Wheels mimic the old Volvo turbine-style alloys.

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Volvo

What You Like Is In The Limo

Inside, I’m inspired by the version of the S90 called the Excellence, specifically designed to be a chauffeur driven car. The lavish features of the Excellence included folding trays and refrigerator between the rear seat passengers.

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Volvo

Volvo went so far as to remove the front passenger seat and replace it with a giant screen.

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Volvo

 

We won’t do that with our Coupe, but I have something similar in mind. There are tracks in the floor of the coupe. Opening the passenger door, you hit the ACCESS button to slide the front passenger seat all the way forward (almost under the dashboad) and to slide the right side rear seat forward. This system allows unparalleled ease of entry to that back seat (even better than the swivel seats in a seventies Monte Carlo?). Once seated the rear passenger electrically slides back to the original position of the seat. If there’s no front passenger, you can leave the seat there to give right rear passenger an absurd amount ot legroom; enough, in fact, to recline their seat and pop up a Lay Z Boy-style footrest. Even if you do have two people up front, rear legroom will still be as good as the sedan so there’s no compromises with usability over the more stately four door.

2023 Volvo S90 Lateral View Carbuzz 918297 1600
Volvo

If the Thin White Duke were still alive today, would he consider an C90EV Coupe to replace his old Bertone? I think he’d find this replacement alluring for the same reasons that the 262C appealed to him. It’s a high quality, ultra-comfortable European car that’s attractive and different, but not nearly as flashy as a Rolls Royce or Bentley; a celebrity artist like Bowie would possibly find such ostentation to be crass and drawing too much attention. Maybe there’s other relatively well-to-do buyers out there that think the same way.

You don’t need a car with a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament to show your worth. Is it any wonder you’re too cool to fool?

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Pieter Vancampo
Pieter Vancampo
8 months ago

Can you expand on the NVH issues on the V90?
I’ve just started thinking about replacing my car with a plugin hybrid and so far my eye is on the V90 or the Audi A7.
I’d like comfort and silence, no SUVs allowed.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
8 months ago

I dunno, that coupe looks pretty good to me. Especially the yellow one at the top.

The 780 looks like a Lancia with a weak chin.

KISS is just a suppurating boil on music’s perineum.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
8 months ago

I’ll just leave this here…

https://youtu.be/uMQb9LCNGxs?si=3j4T0j-c9gBxy_v5

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
8 months ago

*Puts on flame suit*

I always found the 262C to be the worst looking 200-series. I tried really hard to like it for years, until I finally came to terms with the fact that I just don’t. Kinda crazy because I’m not that picky when it comes to old cars. But there is something about the 262C that I can’t get past and I just don’t like how it looks.

The 780? Now we’re talking. That’s a superb looking car from every angle.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

^ This person gets it. Easily the worst looking 200 series.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
8 months ago

Yeah, the 242 kinda works but still it’s pretty aparent that the 200 series sedan design doesn’t lend itself too well to 2-door configurations (I think the many 2-seat 245s out there could’ve definitely looked better as 3-door station wagons though); the 262 has the added visual weight of the thick C-pillar messing it up even more. Again, it’s not like I haven’t tried to like it, because I will fawn over virtually any old car (and I’m sure I’d love to see a 262C in the flesh, which I haven’t), but it’s one of those cars that I wouldn’t buy if I had infinite money.

Last edited 8 months ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Scott
Scott
8 months ago

I’ll respectfully disagree with Opa: I enjoyed this article and the imaginative speculation contained within. It helps perhaps that I’ve been a fan of the 262-based Bertone/Volvo coupe, ever since seeing one a neighbor had (I kick myself for not talking w/him about it so that he might have called me before he sold it). I don’t think I even knew about the 740-based one before this article, and that one I really like (I had a 780 years ago, which I enjoyed). And of course, I’m a fan of the S90 in both sedan and wagon form and on the rare occasion that I see one in person here in LA, I’m still struck by how nice-looking a car it is every single time regardless of color or trim level.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not likely to ever buy a new Volvo (I daily an early XC90 in addition to that 780 I used to have) but like a lot of Autopians, I still keep an eye on new cars that I’m unlikely to buy just to have the info buried in my noggin when these new cars eventually hit the used market. I really was excited about the EX30, but even w/o the unavoidable dealer markups, $35K + TTR comes to at least about $40K and I just don’t see myself writing that kind of check in the near future.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
8 months ago

The essence of this article is that the author doesn’t like a Volvo coupe. I see several variations presented to support his premise, several of which I find perfectly acceptable. This proves one thing. Mr. Bishop and I have different tastes, which in turn proves absolutely nothing.

Educational = nope. Entertaining = nope. Shouldn’t have bothered.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
8 months ago

That 780 does it for me, man. The tall greenhouse, those fat sidewalls promising a civilized ride, the big, squishy seats. I would like one of those with a Paul Newman-style V8 conversion, please. I’m also smitten by the Peugeot 604 so it’s clear I have a sickness.

Myk El
Myk El
8 months ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

I gave the 780 a LOT of thought as a possible collector car. I might still at some point.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
8 months ago

Loving that front 3/4 rendering of the new Volvo Coupe
The blade-fenders and slab sides with the bodyline that divides the upper and lower slab sides while running over the wheel openings – So Toronado/Lincoln!
However the rear 3/4 – Not so good. The rear of the greenhouse shouldn’t taper at all – it needs to follow straight along the sides for a Volvo as well as for interior comfort. However a Frenched backlite would not only be cool – it would echo the Polestar 5 that eliminated the rear window completely – and it also eliminates excess weight and solar gain from wider glass that’s blocked by rear headrests anyway. Place solar panels, taillamps & turn signals in the roof where the larger backlight would otherwise be rather than on the trunk – and place slim reflectors, small marker lights, backup lights & cameras at the extreme edges of the rear fenders that terminate in a reference to a bladed edge, like the front.

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
8 months ago

The side profile is giving me serious Maserati vibes. Just swap out the crown for a trident.

T Mill
T Mill
8 months ago

This thread needs someone to bring up the P80-era C70 coupe available from ’96 – ’02, – the FHC-version of the C70 soft top convertible.

https://www.ipdusa.com/Media/5686/Narrative/5686.jpg

William Domer
William Domer
8 months ago

The seats in the older versions look like heaven on earth for those of us over 6′. Wonder if a junkyard has any and they could be retrofitted into an old Lexus

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
8 months ago

The end result looks a bit like something you would see me create with Photoshop as a joke.

When I was a teenager in the late ’70s, there were a couple of 262Cs in our neighborhood (one family had one of these and an 1800ES hatch at the same time). Even then, I thought they were shockingly badly proportioned. They literally look like someone took a chainsaw to a 242’s roof. A car for someone named “Squinty”.

Now, the 780 was a different story. I always thought those were a huge improvement over the 740 series. If they had offered a 780 with the turbo redblock and a manual transmission with OD, I think it would have been a winner. Instead, they went for the dog PRV V6 with the automatic. (Edit: the linked Wikipedia article says the T4/manual powertrain was actually offered but I’ve never heard of one in North America).

Last edited 8 months ago by Mr. Canoehead
Nic Periton
Nic Periton
8 months ago

“It’s a high quality, ultra-comfortable European car that’s attractive and different, but not nearly as flashy as a Rolls Royce or Bentley; a celebrity artist like Bowie would possibly find such ostentation to be crass and drawing too much attention.”

This is the same David Bowie that owned a Mercedes 600 Landaulet?

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
8 months ago

They did do something like this a it a third time, it was called the C70 Coupe.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
8 months ago

I’m sorry but isn’t the Polestar 1 exactly this? It’s basically a C90

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Were you supposed to sit in the back of the 262c? I thought they’re all 2+2s

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

I suppose, I’d say it’s a stretch but that’s ok I’m still a fan, you should find yourself a C70

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago

Man, make the doors gullwings and let’s go back in time!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

I kind of liked David Bowie at the time but I never really appreciated him until I heard this story:

A new David Bowie was born on a beach near Hastings in the summer of 1980. Bowie was on location filming the video for Ashes To Ashes, the song that would become his second No.1 single, when something happened that, he said, profoundly changed him.

Director David Mallet was filming Bowie as he walked up the beach dressed in the pierrot outfit he wore on the cover of Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), when an old man and his dog walked into shot. The director and crew yelled at the guy, asking him to get out of the way. The man was unfazed: “Screw you,” he said, “this is my beach”.

So Bowie takes a seat next to the director and waits for it to blow over. Eventually the old guy walks past and Mallet says to him, “Do you know who this is?”

The old guy looks Bowie up and down. “Of course I do,” he says. “It’s some cunt in a clown suit.”

Bowie thought it was hilarious (“That was a huge moment for me,” he said later. “It put me back in my place and made me realise, yes, I’m just a cunt in a clown suit”) but it had a wider impact. When he told the story years later, Bowie said the incident “profoundly changed” him. The “whole facade”, he said, “came crumbling down”.

https://www.loudersound.com/features/david-bowie-nile-rodgersmaking-of-lets-dance

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
8 months ago

We could be heros.

CivoLee
CivoLee
8 months ago

Bishop, I see some of your creations in the thumbnail, then get disappointed that they aren’t real. This is one of them.

But, as a musician in a rock band that has a danceable side and a fan of rock/dance crossover music (the Rapture deserved better and I actually liked Finger Eleven’s “Paralyzer” until I heard it every hour on the hour) I have to take exception at your comment about rock bands not being allowed to make disco. After all, we wouldn’t have gotten one of Queen’s best songs (“Another One Bites the Dust”) if not for the rock/disco crossover era. The problem with disco wasn’t the music; it was its over saturation of popular culture (and the other “problems” with disco weren’t actually problems for anyone but the worst people).

10001010
10001010
8 months ago

You remind me of the babe

Clark B
Clark B
8 months ago
Reply to  10001010

What babe?

10001010
10001010
8 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

Babe with the power

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago
Reply to  10001010

What power?

Clark B
Clark B
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

The power of voodoo

10001010
10001010
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Power of voodoo

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
8 months ago

I haven’t read much yet- I’m sure I will enjoy, but just off the title… isn’t that kinda what the Polestar 1 is/was?

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

have you sat in a Polestar 1 though? It’s as luxurious as an S90 inside, every halo car now a days needs a million hp but otherwise it’s exactly what you’re describing

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
8 months ago

exactly. it has power and performance because you couldn’t sell a 100k car today if it wasn’t at least faster than most non-supercars, but it’s very much a luxury car. also, buyers expect more today. we didn’t have the tech back then to make supercar fast family SUVs, but if we did, they would have existed.

Last edited 8 months ago by Glutton for Piëch
The World of Vee
The World of Vee
8 months ago

yeah the main argument against the PS1 being the back seat size is a bit weak imo but hey to each their own

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
8 months ago

For sure, but I also don’t think that matters. How often are Conti GT and Wraith owners putting anyone but their pint-sized Beverly Hills babies in the back anyway?

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
8 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Ok I read it.. I understand what you’re saying, but I also don’t think anyone would get in the Polestar and think “aw shit I took the geo on accident”. From what I recall of contemporary reviews, they were kinda gunning for Bentley and S Coupe/8 series buyers. Obviously not a Rolls Wraith (thank God I’m so tired of RR), but still very much personal luxury coupes. I also think lux buyers tastes have changed. Of course there will always be people who want a Rolls, but people buying Lincolns were never that market. The sad truth is personal luxury coupes today are.. *holds in vomit* the X6s and GLE coupes…

I still like the idea and would much rather things like this exist than say, a BMW XM vanity project, but I don’t know. I guess I just think we shouldn’t give Volvo too much shit, they still had the balls to make a lux coupe (as Volvo of all OEMs) in this world.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

The 262C doesn’t look right, even in-person, from a proportion perspective.

The Volvo 262C, Aston Martin Lagonda, Triumph TR7/TR8… they all need to be destroyed and forgotten. They are all the same level of styling as a Dodge Dynasty.

(Puts flame suit on, I guess)

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
8 months ago

On the other hand, no.

The 262C in black is not bad, at least in photos. Maybe it’s a dog in person, but I like David Bowie’s taste in several other regards. The Lagonda is delightfully weird — the designers went all in on stretching every surface, and I like their commitment.

I respectfully, hardily and perhaps even resentfully disagree with your assessment of the TR7 and TR8. The cars may write checks they can’t cash from performance and reliability perspectives, but to my eyes they still look good 40 years on.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
8 months ago

As Mr. Garison would respectfully say…

“YOU GO TO HELL!!! YOU GO TO HELL AND DIE!!!!”

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

Seems that I’ve offended the same group of people who love Murano Convertibles.

Because they must have the same sense of taste, and might not understand that rare doesn’t equal beautiful/valuable.

(PUTS ON 10 MORE FLAME SUITS) 🙂

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
8 months ago

Take back what you said, or else! ╾━╤デ╦︻(˙ ͜ʟ˙ )

😉

Maymar
Maymar
8 months ago

Considering early ABBA was pretty inspired by Glam Rock (drawing things back to Bowie), and KISS could be seen as taking Glam in a more metal direction (to say nothing of disco’s funk and soul origins, coming from not such a different space as rock), KISS doing a disco song isn’t *that* weird.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Also, it was the era, disco was getting air play and selling records, kind of an either join ’em or get left behind thing

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

The Clash would like to have a word with you…

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
8 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Big Audio Dynamite would like to apologize for being so rude with that word.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
8 months ago

I really like the S90. I may in fact sell my Mercedes and get one. Very sleek.

Why can’t Buick get back its mojo and compete in this space?

SMDH

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