Rare Rides: The Volvo 480 of 1993, Which Doesn't Look Like a Volvo

rare rides the volvo 480 of 1993 which doesnt look like a volvo

Occasionally on the vast and wondrous expanse of the Internet of Cars, I’ll run across one of these uniquely shaped little Volvos. In past instances they were either not for sale, were lacking in condition, or had few available photos.

All that changed the other day, when I sought out a photo of the 480 to make a point on Twitter. Let’s check out this charcoal-colored box, shall we?

The North American market became intimately acquainted with front-drive Volvos starting with the 850 model, introduced for the 1993 model year as a replacement for the ancient and lovable 240. In every other market, though, Volvo offered a front-drive car for some time. The 480 was said car, and was in fact the first ever front-drive vehicle from the Swedish brand.

Europeans could buy the 480 starting in 1987, where it was advertised as a sporty coupe. Volvo planned to sell the 2+2 480 to North Americans in late ’87 as a “sports wagon,” in the same vein and style as Nissan’s contemporary Pulsar Sportbak. Currency valuations had other ideas for Volvo, as the weak U.S. dollar meant importing the Netherlands-built 480 was not financially viable.

Known as the spiritual successor to the classic P1800 hatchback, the 480’s targeted buyer was the young and educated consumer. Said consumers (yuppies) wanted a sporty and stylish vehicle with advanced electronics — something Volvo hadn’t offered in prior models. Sticking to the mission, the 480 appeared more Japanese than perhaps it should (pop-up headlamps!), and certainly wasn’t Volvo-like.

Leave your cardigan at home, this Volvo’s for fun people!

Throughout the long production of the 480, Volvo made incremental changes — adding a turbo, revising interior features, and offering new color schemes. Special editions like the TwoTone (self-explanatory) and limited Celebration model rounded out the 480’s life, as production wrapped up near the end of 1995. Volvo would try this same formula again about a decade later, when the small, premium hatchback C30 hit dealer lots.

Today’s 1993 example is suitably located in Växjö, Sweden, at the southern tip of the country. In Turbo trim, the 2.0 inline-four makes 120 horsepower, and shifts through a five-speed manual. This one seems well equipped, with a two-tone leather interior in serviceable condition. Interesting that the safety-conscious Swedes still sold cars in other markets without airbags, even in 1993.

The 480 is yours for a little over $4,600, and is old enough to qualify for importation.

[Images: seller]

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  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.
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