VOLVO 262C
THE CAR FOR PEOPLE WHO SHRINK



By now, everyone and his grandmother knows the Volvo story. Volvos are tough, the Swedish winters and designed to outlast the next three administrations. They're so strong you can stack them six high. And they're roomy and economical too-obviously cars for people who think.

This marketing litany has become so familiar that people just about yawn when a Volvo drives by; over the years Volvo's have developed what has to be the most conservative reputation arond. And that's just why Volvo unleashed the 262 coupe on an unaspecting word last years. It's an image car, intended to spread the world that Volvos aren't really dull.

What people will ultimately come to think of Volvos, after exposure to the thousand or so 262C's that will be distributed here in 1979, is hard to gauge. But there can be no denying that those sensible Swedies have taken off in a new direction. Because the last thing in the world you'd ever call the 262C are rational, practical and staid.

First of all, the 262C's base price was $ 15,995. (1979) That's right, folks, a sixteen-grand Volvo. In case you haven't checked lately, that's two grand more than a new Eldorado or about the same price as a BMW 528i.

Aside from its cost, the 262C's exclusivity starts at the top-literally-because from the windows up, it's like no other Volvo. Bertone designed the 262C's roofline which is essentially the result of the top chop that would warm George Barris's Heart. Starting with the 242 body, the Bertone coachworks (which also builds the cars) lops off 2.4 inches of headroom in the name of the style. Function follows form in the 262C-which doesn't sound like preddictable old Volvo at all does it? Along with the revised roof, all 262C's are doled special paint-silver or gold-all-leather interiors, and every option in Volvo's parts bins, from air conditioning to cruise control to power windows.

Of course, any automobile is more tha just a simple inventory of its parts. It's how well the pieces are blended that detemines the worth of the finished product. In the case of the 262C, the proper ingredients have somehow resulted in a car that's surprisingly rough-edged and indecisive in nature. It's neither a land yacht in the T-Bird idiom nor an athletic cross-country sprinter in the Mercedes 280CE tradition-yet it seems to have large hunks of both there cars in its makeup.

No matter what your particular automotive bent, you're likely to be severly discouraged by the 262C's claim to flame: its new roofing job. With one sweep of Bertone's pen, Volvo has created the car for people who shrink. Because if you're a normal-sized adult, anability to magically shrink your torso is what's needed to fit inside without hitting your head on the lowered roof. Your other options are to slouch, or to take the seat back far enough to clear your head-wich puts the steering wheel and shifter uncomfortably far away.(Rear-seat passengers have no such choise; the must slouch.) Certainly no one will accuse this Volvo of being practical transportion.

Once you've adjusting to the seating impositions-and to looking out of the bunker-slit windows-you'll notice that the interior is as flawed as the roofline. Most of the right ingredients for luxary are there, bur the overalleffect-espially of the cream-colered pleated-leather door panals and seats-leaves the 262C looking as gauche as a Las vegas lounge. Two jarring notes are added by the standard, all-black Volvo dash and the wide band of naked black weatherstripping around each rear quarter-window. Some important details have slipped by Volvo interior designers.

The final obstacle to luxurious motoring is the drivetrain. Thougn the 2.7-liter V-6 engine has a wide torgue band, revs eagerly to 6000-rpm redline, and is dead quiet at low revs, it gets noisy over 3500 rpm and suffers from lazy throttle respons as well. Coupled with a notchy shifter, this makes you work harder than you should have to.

Such driver participation would be welcome were the 262C a driver's car but it's not guite up to serious motoring. The glitch here is the boulevard suspention, which is commendably resilient but too tippy for concentrated roadwork. If Volvo substituted something more akin to the 242GT's capable underspinning-to complement the already excellent power steering and strong brakes the satisfaction quotient would go up appreciably. Volvo, in fact, is supposedly considering the possibility of a non-luxo 262GT coupe with full headroom and that's something worth hoping for. But until this comes down the pipeline, Volvo's only V-6 coupe will remain neither fish nor flesh nor fowl just a very expensive car for people who shrink.


CAN262C


















Vehicle Type:       front -engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4 passenger, 2 door sedan.
Price as tested:    $ 16,566.10 ( base price: $ 15,995 )
Engine type:         V-6, water-cooled, aluminium block and heads, fuel injection.

Displacement.........................................................................162.5 cu in, 2664 cc
Power (SAE net)..................................................................127 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Transmission....................................................................4 speed with overdrive
Wheelbase................................................................................................104.3 in
Lenght.......................................................................................................192.5 in
Curb weight...............................................................................................3070 lbs
Acceleration, 0-60 mph.............................................................................11.4 sec
Standing -mile......................................................................18.6 sec @ 76 mph
Braking 70-0 mph.........................................................................................198 ft
Top speed.................................................................................................110 mph
EPA estimated fuel economy................................................17 mpg, city driving



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