Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Couple of Swedes

The Thoroughbred and the Half-Breed
 On a bike ride through Bed-Stuy the other day I rolled up on this hunched down Swede. From the chopped roof I knew EXACTLY what I'd discovered:
A 1981 Volvo 262C Coupé by Bertone!
This is one rare car indeed, as under 6,500 were made total over a span of 4 years. Obviously the years have not been kind to our feature Swedish/Italian model, but the tags are current and some mechanic saw fit to hand the owner an inspection sticker, so all isn't lost just yet.
 The story goes that the Volvo designers of the era were smitten with older American hot rods and wanted to give their very practical design the Kustom treatment. However they realized it would be financially impossible to do the job in-house, so they mentioned it to the Italian designer/coachbuilders at Bertone who agreed to do the work. Bertone stamped new metal for the roof and outfitted the interiors in classy custom leather.
The result was a seriously pricy for the time ($19,550) departure from the staid and safe Volvo identity. Look at the crown they affixed to the rear pillar!
Bertone and Volvo joined forces again to produce the 780 series between 1985-1991. However these original factory-customized 262Cs are now desirable and getting more rare by the year.
From this angle you can almost see how low-slung and fierce this ride was when it left Bertone with it's sweet wheels, shiny black paint, and chopped roofline. Take a good look because you may not see another soon in any condition!

As luck would have it on the same day I encountered this pleasant cousin of the aforementioned Coupé:
A 1979 Volvo 244DL. The 2nd "4" in 244 means it's a 4-door, and the "DL" stands for Deluxe trim. The chrome side mirrors mean it's earlier than 1980,
 and the newer-style taillights say that it's after 1978, so there you have it. The color looks to be the very sunny and inviting Medium Yellow.
The 200 series of Volvo was so popular that to this day it's easy to look past them on the street. How many other cars from 35 years ago in rust-free beautiful condition seem invisible to the passerby? The ultimate honor for this vehicle is that it has served so faithfully that the world takes it's existence for granted. The VW Beetle managed the same achievement of anonymity through reliability, as have the Ford F-Series Truck and the classic Jeep, but few others.
Ready for another 500,000 miles!

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