Volvo 700/900 series – The right-angled folk home favorite turns 40

In 2022, it will be 40 years since Volvo’s large family car 700 series – the “sauce container” – premiered, first in the form of the prestige car 760, while the folk home’s very own favorite Volvo 740 came two years later. Of course, it must be noted!

This article was first published on Vänsterfilen.se


It was an enchanted Sweden who met Volvo’s new luxury car 760 GLE in February 1982. The management of our Swedish heli brand had already in the mid-70s come to the conclusion that they needed a more modern and prestigious car in the big car class to survive, to meet an increasingly competitive future.

The 240 series was hardly modern even before the 70s ended, nor did it give a real sense of luxury to the discerning customers in the upper middle class who were the target group for Volvo sales, at least abroad.

Because the United States of course was the most important market, the new car would also suit the taste and requirements that were there and then we Swedes simply had to swallow it. But it is unlikely to have been a problem given our cultural proximity to the superpower in the West.

The project thus resulted in a strongly wedge-shaped, almost ruler-drawn four-door trolley crowned with a real, chrome-filled dollar grin in the front.

Now the 760 was hardly particularly remarkable as a construction and with the rather mediocre so-called PRV six under the hood. It was about the 2.8-liter large V6 engine in aluminum that was co-designed with Peugeot and Renault, and which can hardly be considered the most reliable in engine history.

Furthermore, there was rear-wheel drive and a rigid rear axle in typically conservative Volvo style. But a quiet, long-distance comfortable and very safe prestige car was the new Volvo 760 anyway.

Volvo 740 in its right element – among Swedish middle-class families.

As I said, the Volvo 760 was a luxury car that was relatively rare, so it was hardly a secret that a cheaper folk variant would appear. And it appeared two years after 760.

To make people’s car out of luxury car Volvo’s old B23 engine was installed, a four-cylinder 2.3-liter unit, aluminum top and simple overhead camshaft. The B23 was a straightforward and very reliable design that can be traced back to 1975 and the Volvo 240.

The first 740 variant was the 740 GLE, which meant fuel injection and a peak power of 129 hp. The following year, a cheaper variant was offered with a carburettor and 112 hp, 740 GL, which by a margin became the volume model in the 700 series. It had simpler upholstery and lacked central locking and the electric transmission from GLE.

With the 740, the chrome that framed the glittery 760 had also been saved, and inside, much of the luxury equipment that was in the more expensive car was missing, especially in the 740 GL.

1985 came 740 Turbo which had been gifted with turbochargers and as many as 182 horsepower. The same engine was also in the more luxurious 760 Turbo (which thus did not have the six-cylinder engine from the 760 GLE). The 740 Turbo gave a sporty image to Volvo, which did particularly well in the United States.

It made a sensation in the station wagon version because it was unparalleled in the car market, and in the advertising, the turbocharged Volvo was compared to the Lamborghini and Porsche. The motor press also loved it and overall gave it further boost to the sales figures.

Volvo 745, the Swedish people’s absolute favorite!

Despite their simple gender The Volvo 740 was a rather expensive car, just as all new Volvo models had been considered to be when they shocked the Swedish population with their provocative purchase price, from PV 444 and Amazon to 140 and 240.

But as usual, the Swede could afford the new wonder too quickly, as our roads were filled with thousands of right-angled Volvo 740 cars. Everyone wanted one and its somewhat boastful revelation quickly gave it the nickname “the sauce container” (!).

The one in the Volvo world completely mandatory The station wagon model – manor car called by Volvo themselves – came in 1985 and now sales started in earnest. Of course, the 745 became most Swedish (and a lot of American) families’ dream car number one and a box-shaped expression of what Volvo stood for.

Volvo 745 – elegant in all its angularity!

The 700 series was the main reason why Volvo broke sales records in the US in the 80’s, levels that have never been reached since. The success also gave the brand the wealth that would secure the future and the development of the all-new and light year modern Volvo 850 at Early 90s.

The 700 series was drawn just like so many other Volvo cars by Jan Wilsgaard, Volvo’s legendary chief designer between 1950 and 1990. In 760 he had created an impressive shape that would take the mark to the prestige class where Mercedes and BMW played.

However, the construction was simple without any technical adventures and this was part of the high quality requirements for the new car. A Volvo 740 would be a genuine quality product that befitted the brand; it would be reliable, dependable and economical to maintain.

The clear, ergonomic and very Volvo-typical interior of the 760 GLE. Identical to the simpler 740 which, however, had simpler upholstery and fewer buttons to play with.

The proven, robust driveline and the simple wheel suspensions with the rigid rear axle in cast iron also provided excellent conditions for it. Of course, the new car would be a world leader in safety and perhaps the 740 was the world’s safest car at the time, possibly in competition with the Mercedes and Saab 9000.

With the simple technical specifications, the 740 was hardly a lucky pill to steer, but it was probably a really nice long-distance car with relatively soft suspension, steady and quiet gait, excellent ergonomics and good steering.

Rear-wheel drive and the light rear trailer, however, made the driving characteristics of winter road conditions somewhat adventurous, in fact a little ill-fitting with the car’s high safety ambitions. And here the new Saab 9000 would prove superior.

The two Swedish big cars would inexorably compete for first place on the Swedish sales list and the two traditional camps of Saab and Volvo people came to be further nurtured in Swedish culture thanks to 740/9000. It was about driving or riding, about a more forward-looking, modern car buyer (Saab) versus a more conservative buyer group (Volvo).

Brochure image of the interior of a Volvo 740 GLE. Here, the more luxurious velor upholstery and the electric transmission appear. Propert!

The Saab 9000 was modernly built with front-wheel drive and transverse engine that gave a space-efficient body and absolutely excellent road properties. The Volvo 740, on the other hand, due to its rear-wheel drive and longitudinally mounted engine, provided poorer interior space and a fairly high air resistance due to its slightly Americanized, conservative design.

Instead, it won in branches such as quality, reliability and cost of ownership. The differences between the cars were also reflected in the engine technology – fashionable 16 valves and double overhead camshafts in Saab and single camshaft and only two valves per cylinder in Volvo, with outdated carburetor in the entry-level model as well.

Propra lines at Volvo 740 estate car. Here you can see the new softer front that was introduced during the facelift in 1990.

In 1987, the 760 received a major facelift with a trimmed front and rear, a new split rear axle and a completely new instrument panel, measures that did wonders for the car’s ride comfort and sense of luxury. The 740 was also developed with detailed changes in principle annually.

The 700 series was built as the six-cylinder 760 1982-90 and as the 740 1984-92. Despite its unflattering nicknames, the simple mechanics and the almost caricatured, ruler-drawn body shape, the Volvo 740 has meant a lot to both Volvo and Sweden.

In addition to all income the one brought in also nurtured Volvo’s brand as a safe quality car, core values ​​that are still lived on today. So it’s not time now to stop laughing at the nice old forty-seven now ?!


Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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