Rare Rides: Bertone by Any Other Name, the 1979 Volvo 262C

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides bertone by any other name the 1979 volvo 262c

Today’s Rare Ride is an example of the first time Bertone added heaps of Italian build quality to an ordinary Volvo midsize. We’ve covered Bertone’s second effort ( the 780) long ago, so it’s past time we talk 262C.

Though Volvo fancies itself upscale today, the company was not a luxury manufacturer in the Seventies. The Swedish purveyor of boxy and practical was ready to step outside its traditional mold in 1979. That year, the company offered two (!) exciting new cars with only two doors. The more attainable two-door was the 242 GT we’ve covered previously, but that coupe was fairly spartan and focused slightly on performance. What about luxury? What about the grand touring businessman customer in America?

Volvo had previously not bothered with said luxury coupe customer, so what changed? Circa 1975 one Henry Ford II paid a visit to the Volvo factory in Sweden and shipped over a very Personal Luxury Lincoln Continental Mark IV to drive while he was there. Swedes in the local area and at the Volvo facility were most interested and intrigued by the enormous Lincoln. “Ett ögonblick” (one moment) said Volvo, as they set their designers to work on a Swedish take on the personal luxury coupe.

Volvo kept the new 262C’s work in-house: The two-door was penned by Jan Wilsgaard. Changes to the standard 262 two-door sedan included new pillars and roof, windshield surround, upper door frames, and cowl. Like the later 780, the 262C featured a chopped roof – nearly four inches lower than the standard car. 262C was not for fans of big hats.

The luxury coupe’s interior was much different from the 260 too, with standard equipment like central locking and power windows. There was air conditioning, cruise control, heated seats, and an interior swathed in button-tufted and ruched leather with luggage strap motifs. Unlike other Volvos, there were also big slabs of real wood inside. It was all very 1979. Most examples in ’79 and ’80 also had that special American touch: a vinyl roof. That option was removed for 1981.

Power carried over from the top end of the 260 and was provided either by 2.6- or 2.8-liter PRV V6 engines. A four-speed manual was the standard transmission, but most customers chose the three-speed automatic.

Volvo had no spare manufacturing capacity and handed the construction of the 262C over to Bertone. The Italians assembled the expensive coupes at their Turin factory. The majority of 262Cs were destined for the United States market, which was supposed to thoroughly appreciate an upscale coupe from Volvo. In North America, Volvo aimed directly at two established luxury coupe names: the Cadillac Eldorado and Mercedes 280CE. It did not go well, as the emeritus professors and practical people who purchased Volvos didn’t want such a garish coupe, and luxury customers respected a Cadillac or Mercedes badge far more than a Volvo one.

The 262C was canceled after the 1981 model year, with just 6,622 examples built. Afterward, Volvo took a break from luxury coupes for four years until the 780 arrived in ’86. Today’s 262C is a silver over black example from the early part of the model’s run. Yours for $24,000.

[Images: Volvo]

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  • Russycle Russycle on Oct 05, 2021

    I remember seeing a couple vinyl-topped specimens back in the day. Weird car. I actually kinda like it without the vinyl.

  • Bocatrip Bocatrip on Oct 05, 2021

    The weak link for this unique Volvo was the V6....troublesome. The proven 4 cylinder would be the way to go if the lack of power could be tolerated. Good looking Volvo.

  • Dukeisduke If these were built in the US, they'd probably be plagued with recalls, like everything else they make now. It's just as well they don't bring them here.I've owned one Ford, a '95 F-150 (drove it for 17 years and 214k miles) and it was fantastic. But you couldn't run fast enough to buy another Ford. Quality used to be Job 1; now it's an afterthought.
  • Dukeisduke "side-to-side taillights""Across-the-border" is the phrase you're looking for - it's what Ford called the taillights on the '67-'68 and '70-'71 Thunderbirds.
  • 28-Cars-Later Pretty sure its the next gen Fusion, which did manage 110K sales in 2020 USDM but that was roughly 66% less than 306K it sold in 2013. If 100K units is the expected high water mark I can understand why resources went elsewhere... though Mach-E can't even do half that and its hyped like the Second Coming so maybe there was a missed opportunity after all?
  • Kcflyer Laughing inside at the "300 mile range when it's warm" line. Can you imagine if ICE vehicles were this comprised? What a sick joke the green agenda is.
  • SPPPP I have owned multiple Ford vehicles in the past, but I don't want anything they make now. Ford's product planning shows they don't want my business, so I guess the breakup is mutual.