Rare Rides: A Serious All-terrain Truck From Volvo - the 1979 C202 Laplander

rare rides a serious all terrain truck from volvo the 1979 c202 laplander

Today’s Rare Ride fits squarely in the I Didn’t Know About This file. It’s a military-grade Volvo from the 1950s, which the company transformed into a civilian vehicle nearly three decades later.

Presenting the C202 Laplander.

The Laplander range of vehicles began development in the early part of the 1950s. The Swedish Army, in need of new transportation, turned to Volvo trucks with their government contract money. By decade’s end, the first of the Laplander vehicles were ready. The initial test run of product was the L2304 model, and 90 were produced.

Those initial examples were made between 1959 and 1961, at which point the army had a few suggestions for Volvo.

Improvements took a while, but the new L3314 model was ready in 1963. Production was in full swing at that point, with several body styles rolling off the line (as per military request). The army could order the stylish Laplander in either tin or soft-top varieties, and there was even one with a place to mount anti-tank weapons.

By the 1970s, the old ’50s box was growing a bit stale. Volvo again upgraded the Laplander, changing its name from L3304 to C303. Around the same time, Volvo decided civilians might be interested in their own personal Laplander to drive about town. The civilian-spec C202 became available starting in 1977 at Volvo dealers around Europe.

Regular consumers were limited to one body style — the hardtop wagon. Fitted as standard was the larger engine option in the Laplander range, the B20 inline-four. Said power mill was introduced for military use in 1969. With two liters of displacement, the B20A had a single carb and produced 82 horsepower. Paired with the relative lack of power, the axles were weaker on civilian Laplanders, and there was no brake for the differential.

Volvo produced the Laplander here and there for civilian use, and eventually cancelled the model. But that didn’t mean consumer demand vanished, and Volvo restarted production (which moved to Hungary from Sweden) in a joint venture with Csepel Auto, at their factory. A trickle of new C202s continued until 1981, with around 3,000 total civilian examples produced.

Today’s C202 is located in San Diego and would be the perfect urban California vehicle. The condition is a bit rough, however, and the ask with 38,000 kilometers on the dial is $18,000. Potential purchasers should remember that all Laplanders run on 93 octane leaded fuel. Have fun with that.

[Images: Seller]

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  • Gtem Gtem on Nov 29, 2018

    Very similar in concept and execution to the Russian UAZ-452, which you incidentally can still buy brand new from the Ulyanovsk factory with a few nods to modernization like seat belts and the latest version of the OHC fuel injected 2.7L 4cyl. They're substantially cheaper than $18k new, actually about half that using the current exchange rate www.uaz-torgmash.ru/cars/kommercheskie-avtomobili/buhanka/ These are comically-poorly assembled, notable worse than the worst of malaise-era US stuff, and depends on the new owner to get things up to snuff (forget about taking it to the dealer for warranty claims).

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    • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 02, 2018

      I love them, they're adorable. Thank you for sending me down the YouTube rabbit hole. All the YouTube reviews are in Russian of course, with hilariously inaccurate auto-translated closed captions: the one thing I'm picking up is that everyone calls these things the "loaf." Here's my favorite review: it's of the luxury anniversary passenger van model. They take it deep into the forest, where they see dinosaurs born around the same time as the first loaf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT9420c6yrY

  • Bking12762 Bking12762 on Nov 29, 2018

    As a person of Norwegian Lapland heritage, I am now offended by the Laplander moniker,.....not. I truly did not know that Laplander was a derogatory term. My deceased Norwegian mother would be thoroughly amused. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A1pmi

  • 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.