VOLVO OR NO?

GLENN TORRENS BECOMES STUCK IN A WEB OF INDECISION WITH HIS RARE VOLVO COUPE

WORDS & PHOTOS GLENN TORRENS

BEING A CAR perv – and I’ll have to admit, a bit of a Volvo fan since my grandfather bought one in the 1970s and Unique Cars’ own John Bowe raced one in the 80s - I knew what I’d spotted in the southern NSW town of Cooma: an ultra-rare Volvo 262C Coupe.

It was inspired by the ‘luxury personal coupe’ thing that was all the rage in the 1970s; think Holden LE, Ford Landau and all those ungainly barge-large US pimp mobiles. The Volvo was assembled in Italy by Bertone using the bottom part of Volvo’s conventional 2 Series two-door sedan with a bespoke choptop turret, upper door frames and glass by Bertone.

And I wanted one!

01 This is the day I shook hands on the Volvo in Cooma, NSW. Yes that is my ‘happy’ face!

02 I don’t like being sheepish… So a V8 transplant would give the Volvo Coupe some balls!

03 Soon after I re-commissioned the Volvo, fellow car-nutter Morley and I road-tripped it to Melbourne over the Snowies

04 Quad headlights (shared with US models) give Volvo’s premium coupe a … umm… distinctive appearance

Parked-in behind several other cars outside a mechanical workshop, this one seemed to be going no-where. I made enquiries and was eventually able to buy it.

My last girlfriend – an upholsterer/trimmer – and I talked gleefully about giving it a light restoration. Together, we’d freshen the exterior, re-do the disgracefully delightful pleated leather interior and laugh all the way to Cars & Coffee-type events with ABBA blasting from the stereo.

But that girlfriend is gone. And, it seems, so has my enthusiasm for the Volvo.

Right now, it’s parked outdoors and the small bubbles of rust apparent on the car when I bought it are slowly growing. I’ve been playing with my brown Commodore wagon lately and I haven’t driven the Volvo in five months.

My street-machiner alter-ego wants to drop in a V8; that was one of my loose ideas when I bought the car. These 2-series Volvos easily swallow a V8 – Chev, Holden or Ford; take your pick – and I’ve converted one before, with a Holden V8-powered MOTOR magazine project Volvo 242GT a decade ago.

I’m caught in a spider’s web of indecision.

Of the 100 sold in Australia, it seems fewer than 12 remain. Do I respect its rarity and heritage and restore it? Do I follow my dream of building an awesome retro-tech V8-powered luxury coupe? Do I put it in a box to Europe where Volvo’s stronger reputation and the 262C’s exclusivity means I’d sell for triple – or more – its value in Oz? For instance, late legendary musician David Bowie’s old 262C sold recently for more than $US200K. Crikey!

“THINK HOLDEN LE, FORD LANDAU AND ALL THOSE UNGAINLY BARGE-LARGE US PIMP MOBILES”

05 There have been challenging days… like when it wouldn’t start.

06 ”Wally was saying how much of a killing he made on a gold Volvo just like this.”

07 The 262C was a grand machine when new and still is. Notice the full width headlights.

What shall I do?

Right now, I dead-set could not be bothered. But for the dollars it owes me – and what I’d receive in its slightly dishevelled condition – it’s not much money to not have in the bank.

So maybe I’ll put it up the back of my garage, ignore it for a year or three and come back to it.

Or maybe I should let it go to another Volvo enthusiast… Who wants to buy a factory chop-top Volvo Bertone 262C?