The Volvo 850 was a paradigm shift for Volvo. Five-cylinder engines placed transversely and front-wheel drive – in a large top model. In connection with the 30th anniversary celebrations, unique special models are on display at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg.
When the 90’s were young, Volvo changed. It was time for new engines, placed across. The biggest revolution, however, was that the power now, even on the brand’s large passenger car model, went to the front wheels.
Few cars sound as great as the Volvo 850 during full throttle acceleration. The roaring sound of the straight five-cylinder machine is filled with character. Angry, sporty and raw.
The prototype Volvo Galaxy G4 from 1980 became the basis for both the 400 series and the 850 series. Galaxy G4 is one of the cars on display at the 850 exhibition at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg.
That may not have been the first priority when the Galaxy project was implemented in 1978–1981. Yep, so early the first seed was sown to 850.
The Galaxy resulted in the prototype G4, a front-wheel drive car with a transverse four-cylinder engine. G4 eventually gave the projects G1, which became 440/460/480 and G2 as the rest of us know as 850.
This was followed by a number of different prototypes made by two different designers, Jan Wilsgaard and Håkan Malmgren. It was a tug-of-war between the two that drove the development.
For a long time, the designers worked with a hatchback as a complement to the given sedan model. It was not until January 1985 that Volvo’s management decided that it would be a sedan followed by a station wagon.
The five-cylinder engine was cross-mounted to take up less space and refined during 20 years of production.
At the same time, the engine developers in Skövde worked in its place. As early as 1984, the first five-cylinder prototype engine X-100 was completed.
In 1986, Håkan Malmgren was given responsibility for completing the exterior design. The work took about a year and included his brother Rolf Malmgren who came up with the idea for the characteristic standing taillights on the station wagon version.
We forgot to mention who was appointed head of the entire G2 project. At the top of the board was Peter Augustsson, the man who later became head of Saab Automobile. He was one of all the costumed gentlemen who applauded when the very first copy of the 850 rolled out of the factory in Ghent on April 11, 1991.
Volvo 850 GLT – success from the start in 1991
Volvo’s new midsize was launched on the market as 850 GLT in June of the same year and the model was built in three places: Ghent, Torslanda and Halifax in Canada.
Around the same time, Jan Wilsgaard ended his long and deserving job as design manager. Peter Horbury succeeded.
The five-cylinder 2.5-liter engine had double camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It delivered 170 horses. The car was fast too, topping over 200 km / h. And it drove on the front wheels. It was a lot of news at once for the customers.
The Volvo 850 GLT was launched in 1991 as a ’92 model year with five cylinders, four-valve technology and 170 horsepower.
Volvo boss PG Gyllenhammar always ordered his cars with a unique red interior, as did his 850 GLT. In the side compartment there was always a package of raspberry boats.
PG Gyllenhammar’s unique 850 GLT is one of several special versions on display at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg.
In 1992, the range was expanded by 850 GLE. Same engine but two valves per cylinder and 140 horsepower. The cars were still expensive, Volvo kept its system from the latest launches – the popular versions and combi had to wait a year or so.
The center seat became safer in 850 with a smoothly designed three-point belt and integrated child seat.
In February 1993, a test drive was finally held of the combi version for the press.
Not only increased load capacity was offered here. Here were all the safety systems from the sedan version plus a very innovative rear seat. They had succeeded in integrating all three seat belts into the backrest, which gave the best possible belt ergonomics.
Especially the center seat had previously had poor fastening solutions in the ceiling or the like. At the top of the backrest was also a roll with safety nets for luggage. The backrest was also foldable and divisible.
The 850 Turbo offered a new look and more power
After the summer, as the 1994 model year, came the 850 Turbo, which with 225 horses became Volvo’s strongest and fastest model to date. Värstingen’s rounder bumpers and narrower headlights did not become model-unique for long. Soon GLT and GLE looked basically the same. The low-cost version GL joined the family, but had to keep the old bumpers with small folds on the sides that brought to mind 740/760.
Volvo began to become a manufacturer of performance cars and motorsport became important again. When BTCC started the racing season in 1994, the audience did not believe their eyes. In the starting field, an 850 was seen in the combi version!
850 Bi-fuel should perhaps be called “T-Green”?
Before 850 was converted to S70 and V70 In 1997, Volvo introduced a wide range of versions
– Weaker model with 2.0-liter cylinder volume, 850 2,0
– Diesel is called 850 TDI with 144-horsepower engine from Audi
– Pointed sports version of 850 Turbo. First T-5R, popularly called “T-Yellow” and then 850R called “T-Red”.
– Four-wheel drive variant, 850 AWD.
– Green car with petrol and gas operation, 850 Bi-fuel
The Volvo 850 plug-in hybrid still stands today
Unfortunately, some exciting 850 models never saw the light of day in public. Volvo developed, among other things, a plug-in hybrid in 1995, Volvo 850 Electric Hybrid Concept HEV 98. It is now on display at the Volvo Museum.
This concept car was a rolling experimental workshop. Charging hybrid technology resulted in astonishingly low fuel consumption. “The figures look modern even after almost 30 years in the archives,” says Per-Ivar Sellergren, who was responsible for the project.
The Volvo 850 Charging Hybrid has a petrol hatch on the rear wing and a charging hatch on the front wing.
Volvo 850 Cabriolet and Limousine – with the help of Nilssons in Laholm
Yngve Nilssons Karosseri AB in Laholm has for several decades helped Volvo and their customers to manufacture special models in low volume. Today, the company is called Nilsson Special Vehicles and mainly makes ambulances, funeral cars and limousines from Volvo cars.
In the spring and winter of 1993, the Laholm company proposed that Volvo let them build a convertible version of 850. Although Volvo liked the concept, it already had its own plans to build a convertible version in its own factory in Uddevalla. A project that resulted in the Volvo C70 in 1997.
One was also produced 850 Limousine and Laholm.
Volvo turned down the 850 Cabriolet because they had already started creating the C70 Cabriolet together with Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) in the UK.
Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.
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