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]

Join the conversation
3 of 55 comments
  • Master Baiter The D-bag elites like Al Gore demanding that we all switch to EVs are the type of people who don't actually drive. They get chauffeured around in black Yukon Denalis. Tesla does have a good charging network--maybe someday they will produce a car that doesn't suck.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird As a Challenger GT awd owner I lIke it’s heritage inspired styling a lot. There’s a lot of 66-67 as well as 68-70 Charger in there. It’s refreshing that it doesn’t look like a blob like Tesla, Volt/Bolt, Mach-e BMW I whatever etc. The fact that it’s a hatch makes it even better as a everyday driver thus eliminating the need for a CUV. If it’s well built and has a reliable track record I can see trading up to it in a few years.
  • Jbawden I thought sedans were dead? Coupes even more so. The core Charger/Challenger buyer is in it for the Hemi. To whom is this and the presumed EV Camaro marketed to? The ICE versions of these cars have a LOT of shortcomings, but rear drive, a V8, and a Tremec 6 speed made all that disappear. If you're forcing me into a 1,000hp appliance, then give me some visibility and practicality while your at it. And for the love of all things holy, please allow me to maintain a little dignity by leaving off the ridiculous space jam sound effects. What out of touch focus group think approved that? It's almost as embarrassing as the guy who signed off on the Pontiac Aztec.
  • Jalop1991 The simple fact is, America and Americans excel at building complex things (bridges, for example) but absolutely SUCK at maintaining them. We're too busy moving on to the next new shiny thing that a politician can get good airtime for. Fixing the bridge? Not sexy. Cutting the ribbon at a new EV charge site? Photo-op worthy. Demanding that the owner of said charging site be accountable and not let his site become the EV equivalent of a slum? Hard and not a newsworthy event.I have a PHEV and once tried some sort of public charging, just to see what happens. Failed miserably. We'd all be riding horses today if gas stations performed like EV charge stations do.
  • SCE to AUX Apps like PlugShare prove a few points:[list][*]Tesla's charging network is the best, almost always earning a 10/10.[/*][*]Dealer chargers are the worst, often blocked (ICE'd) or inaccessible behind a locked gate.[/*][*]Electrify America chargers aren't bad; my few experiences with them have been quite good. But they are also very new.[/*][*]Calling the help line is nearly useless.[/*][*]There are still charging gaps in high-travel flyover areas, which coincidentally have a lot of "Trump" flags waving in them.[/*][/list]As an EV driver and engineer, I don't understand how public chargers get so screwed up. They are simple devices. My home charger is 10 years old and has never missed a beat, but it only gets one cycle a day and lives indoors.