Thursday, August 22, 2013

5k: 1991 Volvo 780 Bertone Turbo; 5-spd Manual Swap

Reader Andy L. sent us an email a few weeks back with a tip to a clean Volvo 780 Bertone Coupe, and started off with the following line: "Dear Staff at Daily Turismo, I think I have found some Scandinavian ground that is yet unexplored by DT." Andy is correct - somehow over the past year we have not featured even one of Volvo's late '80s Italian offspring. The car he tipped us about is gone from craigslist but we've had our eyes on the one below, a 1991 black car that looks to be in the top 90% for condition and has been given a 5-spd manual trans swap. Like the Subaru SVX this was a potentially entertaining 2-door that was only offered with a slushbox auto from the factory, so the manual swap is a welcome change and should be worth a bit more vs. an otherwise stock car to an enthusiast. Find this 1991 Volvo 780 Bertone Coupe listed here on the forums, located in Modesto, CA for $5000 or $4500 without the fancy rimz.

Like the seminal shooting brake 1800ES wagon in the '70s, Volvo only made around 8000 of these crisply styled coupes over the entire production run. And like the ES, even though it is a "rare" model we tend to see a lot of them for sale and still on the road here in CA, the state that allows old cars to live long past their prime. The earlier Bertone 262C was a weird looking oddity but the 780 has classically great proportions and in a stroke of brilliance, Bertone did the styling and Volvo built the cars in their factories - the right way to collaborate - vs. the Volvo design / Bertone build process for the 262C.

The 780 was offered with both the old PRV V6 and the B230FT turbo inine 4-cyl engines. Thankfully this one has the B230FT which was the final iteration in a long line of durable iron Volvo turbo mills. It has been upgraded with a rebuilt MHI turbocharger, ipd camshaft, higher-flowing injectors and a full 3" diameter exhaust system with a side-exit pipe. If there's anything turbocharged engines love it's minimal exhaust restriction, and at the 200 or so horsepower this one should be putting out, it will respond pretty quickly and without much lag. Working air conditioning is a big bonus especially in the Central Valley.

The later 780s like this one have a multilink independent rear suspension with self-leveling "Nivomat" hydropneumatic shock absorbers. The Nivos have been replaced with conventional shocks in this one, and the suspension has been firmed up with ipd lowering springs, anti-roll bars and Boge Turbo dampers. The 18" x 8" TSW Zandvoort wheels are a bit blingy but seem to fit well and are shod with 225-width tires. Personally we'd change the wheels out for something a bit more subtle. Bring your own and get a $500 discount...

The interior looks great in this one; all the wood and leather seems largely intact. These seats are not sporting whatsoever (unless an orthopedic sofa is your idea of a good time) but they sure will be comfy. The seller mentions only a few defects like some splitting seams on the rear seat, and faulty cruise control. The roof paint has apparently cooked off in the sun, so budget a few hundred bucks to get that resprayed unless you've got your own paint-huffing booth in the garage at home.

The front fake Swedish license plate matching the actual CA license number is a nice touch...and this car has a ton of potential for under $5k. Would it be a better Daily Turismo than yesterday's turquoise 142?

Find a better stickshift 2-door Volvo? Email us here:


  1. Another object of lust from my late teens, this is hella want material. 242gt at evil genius precludes me from calling the seller so if anyone here buys it, please keep it to yourself to avoid the torture you would inflict.

  2. Never knew about the Nivomat until now. Pretty cool.

  3. ~ love this unit, the true 5 speed M-47 is a great feature.

    here is a possible cheap alternative in StLouis.

    Volvo for life.

  4. ^^this one needs to find its way onto a racetrack. The Nivo is clearly shot and its missing the front fascia/spoiler, thus increasing the likelihood she could be obtained for a pittance...

  5. More photos are available on the car's garaget page:


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