Volvo has always been focused on safety. They tend to produce relatively boring cars that almost guarantee complete safety in an accident. However in Volvo’s traditionally bland history, there have been a few cars that don’t exactly follow Volvo’s safety-first mentality. In the eighties, Volvo had the 240 Turbo, capable of a 0-60 sprint in just 6.8 seconds, an impressive time for the era. Later in the mid-nineties the Swedish automaker came out with the 850 R and 850 T5-R, both products of Volvo’s BTCC racing car. These street going versions saw a number of performance and aesthetic upgrades which could certainly turn some heads.
It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that Volvo would produce another performance model worthy of much attention. In 2004 Volvo released a new version of the V70 R. This car was special, and perhaps deserved more attention than it ever got. On the other hand, maybe slipping under the radar was more this new Volvo’s style.
The V70 R has all the makings of a very interesting power wagon. Volvo made subtle design cues to let you know that this wagon is different. The larger five-spoke Pegasus alloy-wheels with subtle R badges indented into the spokes. The chrome R badges on the grill and trunk lid. The new grill with wider mouth openings at the bottom designed to let in more air. The subtle roof spoiler at the back. It has all these small little hints that tell you this car may just surprise you.
Under the hood is where the V70 R really begins to shine. In typical Volvo fashion, the V70 R is fitted with a rather bizarre horizontally mounted 2.5-liter five cylinder turbo which makes an impressive 300 horsepower and a steady 296 lb-ft of torque. The Scandinavian wagon is able to hit 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds when fitted with the 6-speed manual transmission. This time is even more impressive when you think about the fact that this Volvo wagon weighs over 3,700 pounds.
A 5-speed automatic was also available, but power was lowered a tad thanks to the weaker gearbox. Continuing on past 60, the V70 R will hit a limited 155 mph. Perhaps best of all was the fact that this Volvo came with AWD.
The performance upgrades don’t stop at the drive train. At all four wheels, the V70 R was fitted with 4-piston Brembo calipers that would stop the 17-inch Pegasus wheels. The suspension could be adjusted for three different settings from within the car. These include comfort mode, sport mode, and advanced mode.
Comfort, as could be presumed, made the ride as soft as possible (although it was still quite firm). Stepping up to sport, the suspension would stiffen even more, revealing the performance beast underneath the unassuming Volvo badge. Advanced mode kept up the fashion of stiffening the suspension while also changing the shift points to be a bit more aggressive, along with quickening the pedal and steering response.
At this point it would be totally fair to think to yourself, “how is a Volvo wagon possibly a car worthy of being called a modern collectible?” We at TFLcar define a modern collectible as a car that has impressive performance and low production numbers. If the performance figures weren’t enough to convince you that this Swede is special, then maybe the production numbers will be. This generation of V70 R — being the last generation made — began production in 2004. However, the 2004 and 2005 models maintained the ugly black rubber strip down the sides of the car that we find to be rather off-putting. The 2006 and 2007 models had this piece of trim painted in body color, which looked much better.
Following are the production numbers for the V70 R from 2004 through 2007:
2005 = 674
2006 = 823
2007 = 345
In total, Volvo only made 3,407 of the majestic beasts and just 345 in 2007. Production numbers of this car are extremely low. And it shows, seeing one on the road is very difficult. Finding one to buy is perhaps even tougher. The production numbers above include both the stick-shift and automatic models.
Fortunately for us, the V70 R didn’t maintain its value like a Mercedes 300 SL. If you aren’t picky about your transmission, and assuming you can find one, a decent V70 R should only cost around $10,000-$15,000. But that is a big ‘if’. These cars have somewhat of a cult following and the owners seem to hang onto them for a little while.
The V70 R was a juxtaposition to what everyone thought Volvo was about. It was fast, aggressive, and a blast to drive. It seemed to go against everything the Swedish automaker is known for. The car wasn’t without its faults though. The V70 R has several glaring impracticalities. For one, there is not a lot of room in the back seat, especially considering it is a wagon. Because of the massive tires and brakes on the car, the turning radius feels like that of a small bus. The Haldex AWD system was not super responsive, and took a while before anything happened in the snow. The ride was incredibly harsh and in general the car was not super pleasant in a communte.
But despite all this, we still love it. The Volvo 70 R has so much character being what it is. You can pull up to a stoplight next to an unassuming 3-series and blow them out of the water. On a nice road, it was incredibly rewarding to drive, and it offered something that was very different from the sports car norm in the US. While maybe not technically a collector’s car yet, the V70 R is quite special. Given the opportunity to drive or own one, we highly suggest you give it a good long thought. There were hardly any to begin with, and there are even fewer good examples left now.
Built a few years before the V70 R, was another modern collectible: the 2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt based on a Mustang GT. The limited edition Bullitt added some special bits to make it drive and perform better, including high-flow mufflers, Tokico shocks, red brake calipers with the Mustang Logo, and a few engine tweaks aimed to enhance its performance. Watch this episode of Modern Collectibles to learn why this special Mustang has the potential to be a desirable collector car down the road.