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Performance Specialists Since 1963

Volvo 780 Coupe Overview

2018-11-08 - IPD Staff


The Volvo 780 a 2-door Coupé was an unprecedented car.

It wasn't built to be very flashy nor fast, yet it still gave off this flair that no other car in the 700 series could. In 1985 the 780 made its debut at the International Auto show in Geneva, Switzerland. By '87 it was released to every other market. The 780 was another a joint car built by Volvo and Carrozzeria Bertone. Bertone having prior experience working on the Volvo 262C and 264TE made him a perfect candidate for working on the 780. What the two created was a vehicle unlike any other in its class. Besides the chassis and choice of the engine, there were no borrowed panels from its forerunners. It was built to be "...very comfortable, luxuriously appointed and loaded with all sorts of equipment and accessories as standard features." The 780 shined when cruising cross-country. 

If you ever get the chance to cruise in the beaut you'll come to understand the detail and effort that went into the design of the car. The 780 was made to have a distinctive shape but, still be recognizable as a Volvo. The hood, trunk, and roof lines were all lowered. Specifically, the roofline was lowered 1cm which unexpectedly created some additional headspace. The C-pillar was widened and had a more gradual decline down toward the trunk. 

Detailing the car was a black matte finish on window frames with chrome accent on the windows, door handles, bumpers, and side panels. Birch burl wood accents with a high-gloss finish highlighted the dashboard and door panels. The exterior features included a black cross-hatch grille, front and rear fog lamps, and 15-spoke alloy wheels. The 780 came in a variety of colors: black, white, red, blue, champagne, Lt. brown, beige, blue pearl, and red pearl metallic. 

The interior design had just as many colors with a unique twist in that they could be combined as well. This two-tone choice was only available to the 780 and the colors were: grey/black, blue/black, beige, and dark grey. The choice of single or two-tone color affected the full leather upholstery as well. The interior features were plentiful. For starters, included was a moonroof to make cruising that much better. The other additions include a stereo cassette (the '91 model came with an anti-theft system), air conditioning, electronic climate control (added in '87), cruise control, heated front seats with switches, turbo-boost gauge (780 turbo models), Tachometer, clock, engine coolant temp gauge, and voltmeter. 

In addition to the climate control system added in '87, Volvo also added their multi-link independent rear suspension w/self-leveling Nivomat shocks. With all its additions the 780 had a weight of about  3,400 lbs. The car's weight brought about concerns about performance. 

When concerns of performance started their attention shifted, the first engine in the 780 was the B280F V6 pumping out 145 hp. Originally there was only supposed to be one engine, the D24TIC I6  turbo diesel pushing out 127 hp. However, by '87 the V6 and 2.0-litre turbo B200ET (with an output of 153 hp) were included in their respective markets. The V6 engines in these cars were horrid; first equipped in the 262C (also from Bertone), were notorious for rounding camshafts out and the cars lost most of their power within a short period of time. The engine was updated a few times and the B280 had the issue fixed by then but the reputation of the engine had already been tarnished. Which lead to the introduction of the B230FT w/Turbo+ system in '89. The B230FT Turbo+ system increased output to 175 hp. Volvo wasn't done yet though, with the following year they introduced the B230FT Generation 3. The most notable change was the Turbo+ system options to Garrett T25 or Mitsubishi TD04H, which increased output to 188 hp. Taking it a step further introduced into the European market in 1990 was the B204GT/FT 16V. There were two versions available: The B204GT turbo which generated 200 hp and the B204FT with a catalytic converter which generated 185 hp. The B204 was one of the first  "redblock" engines and came standard equipped with oil squirters for piston cooling. This would be the last engine developed for the Volvo 780.

The 780's final production year was 1991 with only 400 cars being made. Fun fact: the 400 cars made have a "Nuncio Bertone" signature plate, celebrating the 780s final run. The final production total came out to be 8,518. During final production, the 780 was rebranded Coupé and only came in turbo semblance.