Okay, now this isn’t something you see every day. I mean, where else besides in a magazine or online have you seen a Volvo 780 Bertone Coupe? Maybe, but I could just as well have seen a ghost in the World War II tunnels beneath Dover Castle. Was I merely imagining a far-off figure in an airman’s uniform walking through a locked door at the end of a long corridor? Probably. Because the UK never officially imported 780 Coupes, examples are as uncommon as wraiths there. Only 8,518 were ever produced, and the license plate on this one indicates that it was originally from the United States. For around £8,000, it’s yours to keep. I mean, what do you think? Isn’t it cool?
Do you still have in mind the 262 C? The only reason something was stamped with the Bertone name was that Bertone constructed it. This item was not created by Bertone. The roof was chopped off in an ungainly fashion, giving the building about as much elegance as a Victorian terrace’s stone veneer. The 262 C was designed by Volvo’s in-house design demon, Jan Wilsgaard, who allegedly took 10mm off each of the A, B, and C pillars after Henry Ford II drove a Continental MkIV to the Volvo factory.
Although Wilsgaard did a good job of capturing the ugliness of the MkIV, the 262 C falls short of the Continental, which, like Las Vegas, manages to pull off cheap gaudiness with a cheeky sort of charm. All the correct notes are there, but they aren’t always in the right order, much like a Ferrari F40 kit car built on an MR2. I find it to be unattractive. There is no improvement on the inside, with its gleaming ruched leather seats, plated seatbelts, and MFI-grade veneers. So, tell me, what were they thinking? I don’t understand what possessed David Bowie to purchase one. Specifically, I would like to know what the individual who acquired Bowie’s automobile in 2016 for £160,000 was thinking.
If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again; there’s always a chance. Similarly, Volvo did the same thing four years later, but this time they outsourced the entire project to Bertone. Although Volvo’s 700 was already the more rakish of the two models, the 780’s ability to transform angles into works of art is quite an accomplishment. The updated model does not rely as heavily on a “cut a bit off here” and “shove some of that in there” mentality. There appears to be some kind of cohesive thought process at work here. Every one of the panels was brand spanking new. It’s elegant thanks to the slender support columns. Also, it has a decent amount of headroom and a glass roof, making it a wonderful place to relax in the sunshine.
The output from Turin wasn’t anything you’d expect from a high-volume factory. The automobiles were assembled by hand rather than by machine, and following the first problems with the 262 C’s build quality, the consensus was that the degree of fit and finish was quite high. Even though it wasn’t a sports coupe, the 780 drove with aplomb because of its solid suspension and responsive rack-and-pinion steering. MacPherson struts up front and a live axle out back was the suspension setup until 1987, when they were replaced by a more complex multi-link setup. The cruiser’s performance was adequate rather than spectacular, as was to be expected of an American-made vessel. The lineup of powertrains featured the PRV 2.8-liter V6 (147 horsepower), as well as turbocharged 2.0- and 2.3-liter four-cylinders (200 hp and 240 hp, respectively).
This one has a 2.3-liter engine, so it should be easier to maintain than a V6. On the same note, the 780 Coupe should be easier to maintain than many other low-volume models because it shares many mechanical and electrical components with the 700 series. I guess that the custom parts will be more difficult to locate. As a result, it is encouraging to observe that the exterior of this car, built in California, seems finished and square.
I think it looks great in champagne, and I tend to enjoy colors that make other people cringe. To put it simply, it’s a very stylish vehicle. The car’s silhouette from the side evokes earlier Maseratis and, maybe it’s my imagination, even an underlying Aston Martin Lagonda design. After years in the dry, West Coast climate, the leather upholstery in this automobile looks like it could use some professional attention, but other than that, it appears to need just minor maintenance. The ad claims that it has a valid MOT and all you have to do is register it in the UK to get rolling. Be prepared to explain this mystery to a curious and adoring crowd, though.
Engine:2,316cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission:4-speed auto, rear-wheel drive