Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bertone Restyles The Box: 1991 Volvo 780 Coupe

The Volvo 780 was a limited production (~8,500 examples built from '86-'90) 2-door coupe version of the popular 700-series sedan ('82-'92), of which 1.4 million were produced.  The unique body designed and built by Carrozzeria Bertone isn't unpleasing to the eye, and isn't covered with a vinyl top like the earlier 262C.  Find this 1991 Volvo 780 Coupe offered for $2,700 near Des Moines, IA via craigslist.  Tip from Zach.

The 780 Coupe was the Swedish response to big German & American luxobarges making hefty profit margins, and the guys at Volvo wanted in on this gravy train.  It was the last time that Volvo offered a rear-drive luxury flagship coupe, and the 780 cost more than $35k when new ($61k in 2015 money).

Powering the '91 Coupe is 2.3 liter B230FT turbocharged 4-banger that pushes out 188 horsepower (up a few from previous model years) into a 4-speed automatic.  You also got a multi-link rear end with a limited slip differential and big anti roll bars.

See another car that marked the end of the rear-drive era for an OEM?  tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. Obligatory LS1 transplant suggestion

  2. Obligatory LS1 transplant suggestion

  3. Obligatory LS1 transplant suggestion

    1. I think the ad is fake. NOBODY has a garage that empty and clean. Obviously staged and photoshopped.

  4. One of my favorite designs of the era, and yes, if I were going to do the usual 302 or SBC transplant into a volvo, it would be into one of this.

    Regarding the price...these were actually about $42k in the final year that this example is from, or about $73k in today's money. Ambitious for Volvo, then, OR now.

  5. ~ I got the opportunity to drive LT-1 powered 780 coupe recently. It seemed more nose-heavy than my 740 Converse 5.0L wagon. I have always liked my 2door RWD Volvos, but I hate the interior of the 780. I traded my own PVR-V6 Coupe for a compete interior installation on the Converse car.
    . A shooting brake 2door, wagon 7 series is a great 'what if..' fantasy.

  6. Nobody addressing the elephant(s) in the room? OK, I'll bite.
    1. Side exit exhaust? Really?
    2. These could be had with either PRV V6 or B230FT... I'd want to see an engine bay pic despite the seller's insistence on 4 cyl power.
    3. Either lowered in the back or the nivomats are sagging.

    Price is still decent, in my book, providing there isn't any rust hiding under that thick slab o'undercoating underneath.

    1. Good catch on the side exhaust--unusual to say the least.

      I'm inclined to believe the gen III turbo engine claim---it was the only engine offered in the final model year....hard to believe someone would have swapped it for the V6, although I've seen stranger.

    2. These final cars are indeed the ones to look for an catch a good one. RyanM is right on the money- if it is the dreadful PRV, pass, even though diehards swear later series motors were vastly improved.

      The Volvo Turbo 4cyl is a great engine, and with the 5spd manual a nice GT as the suspensions are a nice balance.

      These cars are subtle and nicely proportioned, especially in person. There are some naff whiffs to this car, and as always, an autobox is blah. But this transmission is a decent unit if you really lack the desire to enjoy the car one iota. Although it looks a great deal like the other 700 series boxes, there are no body panels that interchange. WTF they did that has always caused me some bewilderment for about 10 seconds. Stick car, decent, hoard it and I'll bet it brings $3000 in 10 years. :)

    3. "Gen III" doesn't really mean much... in fact as a member of the Volvo community since the mid-90's, I can count on one hand the amount of times I've seen that written by an enthusiast in a web posting or mentioned in conversation.

      Either way, here it likely means LH 2.4, possibly a round-tooth cam belt vs. the earlier square, late '92 build / early '93 cars have piston oil squirters so I don't think this one has them, 13mm connecting rods, axial bearing in #5 position a'la B23, round exh runners, T25 / TD04 turbo and Volvo's Turbo+ unit that eliminated (or unscrewed) the factory overboost cutout switch under the driver's dash and allowed for 14-ish PSI for a few seconds at WOT or on kickdown.

      I have a '94 B230FT in my race car, however I "downgraded" to an older style manifold after cracking two of the "90+" manifolds on the backside of the collector (common).

      The Volvo red block 5-speed, the M47 is fine for stock boost applications, as is the aluminum case M46 4 spd w/elec OD, however if you're wanting to put down enough power to keep up with a modern Accord V6 in traffic (and you require a manual trans), you'll need a T5 or if your pockets are deep and it absolutely MUST say "Volvo" on the gearbox, an M90.

      Anyway, looks like the passenger side nivomat is blown, but $2700 the price is totally good. And IPD makes a kit. So, you get IRS and a lightweight (by today's standards) RWD coupe.

    4. You're spot on Ryan....the Gen 3's were the 90+ B230FT's, with the biggest difference being the T25.

      I'm fuzzy on one fact.....wasn't the Turbo+ available on this coupes, but optional and not standard? I remember reading that back in the 90's but don't trust my memory enough to say one way or the other.

    5. FTB, I was under the impression that "if 190 HP then Turbo+" Everything else was ~160HP. I might be mistaken. The turbo+ unit was optional as far as I recall. I didn't know if they made it standard on the 780's. I used to just use a Saab APC on my non turbo+ cars before I was told of the magic that is the "grainger valve" MBC.

      Also, Volvo was in semi-dire straits in the 80's and 90's so equipment was a bit... inconsistent. Some 90+ cars had T25's, some had the TD04. Some TD04's used a modified leftover TD05 compressor housing with a straight-on mounted CBV, later TD04's had their own with an angular-mounted CBV... still later 1995-only B230FT's *may* have received a TD04 with a larger compressor wheel... it's kind of a crap-shoot.

      I've had ~10 of these things, all turbo, from a 1983 760 Turbodiesel sedan, through a 1994 940 Turbo wagon. My 1992 740 turbo wagon had a T25, my 1991 and 1990 740 turbo wagons had TD04s my 89 740 turbo wagon had a TD05, all of my pre-1988 cars had some manner of T3 including the '83.

      Phew, I think I have it all out of my system.

    6. Great info Ryan....thanks---you know your stuff! I also did some digging and found that the 780 came standard with a Turbo+ installed, but there was some sort of dealer installed Turbo+ available on top of that...check this out and see if it sounds right---from an old turbobricks post:

      "The turbo+ feature part# 8360301-9 was standard on the 89 780 w/ LH 2.2 management, while a turbo+ option part # 8630325 could be retro-fitted as a dealer option. At around $800. a pop the turbo+ did NOT fare well, while turbo bleeds were all the rage, and without the ign retard and timer of the turbo+.

      In 90 the 780 was equipped with a newer turbo+ feature part # 8360281 which has more management to include a new fuel control, which is not controlled w/the 89 and back turbo+ feature, this made the 90/91 780 turbos the most powerful B230fti powered RWD Volvos until the advent of the newer turbo powered 850 series. A retro-fitted turbo+ part #s 8360250 or 8360260 could be had as an option for the 90+ LH2.4 turbos. "

    7. FTB - I believe the difference in Turbo+ features across the model year break was due to Volvo switching from Bosch LH-Jetronic 2.2 over to LH2.4 for 1990. That would be consistent with what you read above. LH2.4 includes a few more features that 2.2 didn't have (like a crank position sensor and semi-standalone "EZK" ignition controller). LH2.4/EZ117K are both easily chippable. LH2.4 has a faster processor, more memory, and some other functions that allow finer resolution and control of the engine vs. 2.2.

    8. Ahhh, gotcha....thanks to you and Ryan. I only THOUGHT I knew about B230's until I got on here today---learned a lot...thanks!

    9. RyanM --"I've had ~10 of these things" --- 10. Wow. Let that sink in a for a minute. You are doing some good work!! -Vince

  7. I must be the lone oddball in not liking the styling on these (or the earlier 262C).

  8. Driving to the beach down here about 6 months ago I passed a small house on a side street that had one of these in the driveway. Naturally, I turned my car around, pulled into the driveway and got out to admire the 780. As I backed up from it to get a nice front 3/4 view, my leg bumped up against...a 262C, yellow in color.

    If I had only been driving the 1800es I would have asked whoever answered the door to take my picture with all three of them.

  9. Wait a minute, from the ad:
    "A cooler car popped up on craigslist that I'd like to buy so It's either sell this or miss out on the car I want."
    Wonder what the lust object is? Who knew that Des Moines was a hot bed of cool cars?!

    1. Des Moines story: A long time ago I lived there and saw an ad for a Talbot-Lago. I called the guy up, confessed I wasn't in the market, but just wanted to see such a cool car. He said come on over. I walked past the Bugatti to ring his bell and he invited me along to "his machinist" where he was to pick up a part. We picked up the part and he said: "Want to drive it back?" He showed me how to work the Wilson pre-selector gearbox and off we went. Amazing afternoon. So, yes, Des Moines just may be a hot bed of cool cars. Here's the model: http://www.rmsothebys.com/am11/amelia-island/lots/1947-talbot-lago-t-26-record-sedan/632347


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