Bertone Rarity: 1981 Volvo 262C

I don’t know which I enjoy more: breathing in the majestic beauty of this Bertone-designed Volvo coupe, or reading about it in the seller’s very enthusiastic description. The Bertone coupe was one of the stranger attempts at courting luxury buyers into the showrooms of a company more commonly associated with life-saving technology rather than real elm wood veneers, but there’s no denying its place in the history of weird and wonderful special editions. Find the rare Volvo Bertone Coupe listed here on craigslist with under 60,000 original miles and an asking price of $5,250.

Now, we have to give credit where credit is due: Volvo could have just stuffed this thing with a bunch of leather and wood trim, thrown on some special wheels and badges, and called it a day. But they actually chopped the roof when creating this limited production oddball, which is a shocking distance to go for a company that wasn’t exactly a power player when it came to building one-offs. While the resulting product may not have been resoundingly beautiful, it was distinctive – and certainly one of the more memorable Volvos produced up until that point. This example looks quite well preserved, with its original badges, mudflaps, and wheels all still bolted on.

The seller’s description is certainly over the top, and I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not. The line, “…Swedish technology… made in Italy. For Kings, Counts and heads of state,” really got me chuckling. For all I know, there was a diplomat or someone else loosely associated with perceived royalty that drove one of these things, but I can’t imagine for very long. The good news is, regardless of the seller’s hyperbole, this does look like a nicely kept barn find, as the seller calls it, certainly better than most cars locked away for years in less than desirable storage arrangements. The original radio remains installed, and overall, I see no major deviations from factory condition.

The Bertone badge is still a bit jarring to see on the side of a Volvo, as we most typically see such a logo affixed to the sides of an Alfa Romeo or Lamborghini. Still, it carries significant weight in terms of acknowledging that Volvo went pretty far when it came time to creating a vehicle that would look like no other among the typical rosters of boxy sedans and coupes Volvo went head-to-head with. Which begs the question: who did Volvo hope to dethrone with this creation? I’m not sure, but this rare Bertone-bodied coupe looks like one of the more highly-preserved examples we’ve seen in recent memory.

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  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    The v6’s are hand grenades

    Like 3
    • Gary Miles Thompson

      Have owned two of these..The v6 was junk – and believe it was a French engine, also used in the Delorea..,In my second Bertone – I installed a Chevy V8.You could buy a kit for installation…Rocket!!

      Like 5
      • alphasud Member

        PRV stood for Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo. A very unsuccessful joint venture. I think the biggest issue was cylinder sleeve sealing issues. They had a wet sleeve design and the problem was compounded by lack of coolant service. My family had a 78. 265 wagon and I believe that engine also suffered from cam failure. Definitely not built to the reliability standards that Volvo customers were used to. The lid B30 engine that preceded the PRV was much more reliable. Saab fell victim to V6 woes with the GM, Opel 2.5l engines on the new 900. Another boat anchor!

  2. Spudoo

    I think “Rainbow Larry” is a poet in his own right.

    For a car with wires hanging from below the dash and the fuse box cover clearly off (what evil lies within?), $5000 is probably the high end of what one could get for this. Very high end.

    Let’s just say that these things have a following, but they’re far from “rare”. Rust, PRV engines, and just general weirdness conspire to make them an acquired taste. Then again, David Bowie had one (google it). So there’s that, Major Tom.

    Like 5
  3. Fahrvergnugen Farhvergnugen Member

    I wonder what Gen. Colin Powell is driving nowadays. He used to insist upon these, wherever he went.

    Like 4
  4. JCA

    It’s boxy but it’s good

    Like 2
    • CCFisher

      In this context, I would prefer a Jaguar.

  5. healeydays

    I always loved the chop top Volvos. Yes, the 6 cylinder was a lump, but this car would be perfect as a Newman swap…

    Like 6
  6. SMS

    The motor is problematic and low on power. Even the one that the designer had used a turbo 4. The wiring harness failed often. At 6 foot my head hits the ceiling. Still is one of my bucket list cars. Love the look of the chopped top and the interior is as boxy as the exterior.

  7. BA

    Anything that purrs like a sexy kitten should be a joy to drive but why is it on a engine stand?

  8. Steve Clinton

    I always thought the greenhouse was out of proportion to the rest of the car. Just sayin’.

  9. peter k

    I had a 264 Volvo from the same era. When It ran, it ran great. When the engine quit, It was a total pain in the ass that nobody wanted to work on and it was way too expensive. My advice to any would be buyer on this car would be to yank that V6 out and replace it with a Chevy 350 motor. Then you’ll have a reliable and cool looking vehicle that will scare the pants off any corvette owner in the 1/4 mile traffic light racing….

  10. David Yando

    I had a 262 in college – not a Bertone, the plain 262, which I was told only 700 or so were built, so far rarer than this.
    1st night of ownership, the headlight switch caught fire under the dash. Fixed that, drove it for a year or so until the cams failed, common on the first-year PRV engines. After that, it was never reliable – it would just cut off when driving, without warning.
    We lived between Nashville and Chattanooga, and seemingly every weekend it was off to one or the other dealerships for repairs. Nashville was convinced it was electrical, while Chattanooga was convinced it was fuel. Pretty much everything from the battery to the ignition switch was replaced in Nashville, while Chattanooga replaced everything from the fuel tank to the injectors. Nothing seemed to make a difference – it would still fail at random. I kept a can of air duster to cool off the fuel pump relay under the dash, which sometimes, but not always, got it going again.
    We ended up selling it for scrap – could not, in good conscience, sell it to anyone as transportation. Found out years later it had been a flood car out of NOLA, which probably had something to do with it.
    When it ran, though, I loved it, FWIW!

  11. Robert Morris

    Knew a guy who bought a Bertone Coupe in a gold color, very sharp. I think it was a 1983 model. The troubles he had were “self-inflicted”. A few months after his purchase he went to TJ for a “booze run”. Returning, he crossed the border at TJ OK. He got north of San Diego and had to go through a border check inspection. All the booze he bought was in the back seat because he had forgotten the trunk key! Border agent ordered him to open the trunk. Said he couldn’t! A 3″ auger opened a nice hole around the trunk key slot! That took awhile to get repaired. Then one night 6 months later he was followed by a sheriff who he thought was a tail-gatter. He slamed on the brakes, damage was extensive! The Bertone Coupe was “totaled” by his insurance company as repairs were too expensive. This man was a former pilot in WW II, became a flight instructor at Yale, then came to CA. He was 70 when he did this! Those who knew him could only laugh.

  12. Quidditas

    If I lived in the USA, I would have no hesitation in buying it and then transplanting the old V6 with a newer, 2003~2007, PSA V6 which a very dependable unit and capable of some 160 kWs as used in the Renault Espace/Peugeot 407/ Citroen C5 in Europe.

    Would maintain the pedigree and performance would be greatly enhanced. This is a bry cooooool car in my opinion.

  13. Bill Sparks

    The V6 PRV engine is an automobile petrol V6 engine that was developed jointly by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo Cars – and sold from 1974 to 1998. It was gradually replaced after 1994 by another joint PSA-Renault design, known as the ES engine at PSA and the L engine at Renault. Wikipedia

  14. T. Mann

    I like it…
    Even better with a trusty small Ford or Chevy V8.

  15. chrlsful

    called a flying brick 4 a reason, IPD was invented for the wolwo. Local (unaffiliated) dealer had one. He moved out from the city (Boston/Camb?) an exotic car place (sold ’em? well, certainly wrked on: Lambo, Porsche, Rollls, Maseratti, etc) w/one of these. The flying 1/2 of the title came frm folks puttin a sb cheb/ford in any wolwo. I think he put the ford in one of these. I liked it. Weather right up against another wolwo or just a buncha other makes its good looking (a few amenities inside too if IRC…

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