The 1980’s represented a largely uninspiring age for the auto industry, with emissions and safety regulations undercutting the massive performance gains achieved in decades past. Even sporty offerings from Ferrari and Chevrolet had to compromise their mind-boggling torque and acceleration in favor of the environment. With the performance playing field mostly leveled, brands not traditionally associated with performance had an opportunity to take the automotive world by surprise, producing models that could rival Italian and American offerings. Volvo took this very approach with the 262C Bertone Coupe, a joint venture between Italian flair and Swedish practicality. Very few examples ever made it to American shores, and this particular example, for sale in Boulder, CO, represents a rare opportunity to own an important piece of Volvo history.
Based on the successful and reliable 262 GL Coupe that Volvo produced at the time, the 262C Bertone was an exotic, expensive, and limited-production GT car set to compete with other high-flying coupes. Volvo chief designer Jan Wilsgaard started with a traditional 262 GL Coupe and penned the famous low-slung roofline that would become the trademark of this “hot rod” Volvo. A smooth relationship soon developed between Volvo and Bertone in Turin, Italy–Volvo would ship the 262 chassis, drivetrain, and special decals to Turin, where Bertone would assemble the cars before installing a sumptuous leather interior. Elm veneers and a fully carpeted trunk complemented the car’s exclusive heated front seats. The 262C Bertone came with a host of premium standard features, including cruise control, power front mirrors, windows, and door locks, and air conditioning.
Though Volvo had intended the 262C Bertone to have an exclusive, extremely powerful engine, it received Volvo’s well-known 2.7-liter V6 producing 127 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque in 1979. After boring the engine to 2.8 liters for the 1980 model year, however, horsepower and torque each increased by three, to 130 and 153, respectively. Dynamically, the car was highly advanced–keeping in mind that driving pleasure was a main concern of potential 262 C buyers, the car was rear-wheel drive and offered a 4-speed manual transmission, an option that only 10% of 262 C buyers checked off (this example has the manual transmission). In addition, the Bertone used a very communicative rack-and-pinion steering rack that allowed its turning radius to be a small 32.1 feet, meaning that the driver would have no difficulty holding a line on corner entry. MacPherson strut independent front and rear suspension complemented a 19 mm anti-roll bar and 4-wheel disc brakes to make handling performance very impressive.
The Bertone’s relatively modest power ratings still allowed for respectable performance–o-60 mph came in 11.4 seconds, while the top speed was 110 mph. For reference, a 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB would do 0-60 in 8.1 seconds and costed significantly more.
The 262 C Coupe was an extremely low-production car, as Volvo wanted to maintain its exclusivity for years to come. 1978 saw only 1,670 examples roll off of the assembly line, with a the highest production (2,120) coming for the 1979 model year. A total of only 6,622 examples were built from 1978-1981. The example for sale in Boulder, being a model year 1981, is one of only 912 examples produced for the entire world, and is probably one of only a few hundred ever imported to the US. In addition, its manual transmission option (mentioned before) makes it unbelievably rare and one of the most desirable 262 C Bertones produced.
This particular example has been well cared for throughout its life. It is an original California car, so body and floor pan rust are minimal. Recent repair receipts total over $3,000, and the engine is partially rebuilt. The previous two owners have started the restoration process, providing a perfect candidate for a personal project car. Though the odometer has stopped working at 159,000 miles and there is a warm start issue, this 262 C is intact and has been very well-maintained.
The 262 C Bertone blends style, practicality, safety, and driving pleasure like few other cars. Its technologically-advanced design and understated performance make it the perfect sleeper sports car. And with an asking price of just $3600, this 262 C Bertone is a must-have for any Swedish car enthusiast.
If you would like to learn more about this week’s featured car, please follow the link below:
Please enjoy this TFLcar.com video review of the 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design.
Frank caught automotive fever early in life. Hailing from a long line of car fanatics, he was able to recite the year and model of every car that passed him by age five. His passion and love for the automobile have only grown since then. When not thinking about cars, he is reading, writing, learning, or dreaming about them. His area of expertise is in the realm of German and Italian cars, of which Porsche is a favorite. Frank currently resides in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family. He enjoys driving exotic cars in the beautiful Carolina weather.