Live Auctions

Gothenburg Drift: 1989 Volvo 780 Bertone Drift Car

In the movie Crazy People, Dudley Moore is an angry ad executive who, in the middle of a career and personal crisis, ends up in an insane asylum.  While there, his fellow inmates help him come up with insanely truthful advertising slogans for all sorts of products.  One example is an ad for United Airlines that states “Most of our passengers get there alive!”  My favorite was for Jaguar, but we can’t discuss that one here.  What we can discuss is his slogan for Volvo: “Boxy, but safe.”  To be honest, that was Volvo’s unspoken slogan throughout the seventies through at least the eighties, and there were few exceptions.  Two of these exceptions were Volvos that had their styling polished up by the famous Grupo Bertone styling house.  Most Bertone Volvos are cherished as collectibles, but we seem to have found the most abused of the bunch to share with our barn Finds Readers.  Take a sad and tearful look at this 1989 Volvo 780 Bertone on craigslist in Southern Indiana.  This stylish Swedish-Italian beauty has been converted into a drift car, and it can be yours for a mere $1500.

Of course, we try to understand such happenings, like how we ponder about the possibility of life on other planets, or wondering who eats sardines anymore.  Mysteries and puzzles such as this keep me up at night, and I will likely lose sleep tonight wondering how someone could butcher up such a beautiful car.  I know one of the the reasons it was converted into a drift car was that older, rear wheel drive Volvos are cheap to purchase compared to the usual drift car favorite: the Nissan 240SX.  Another reason is that the 2300 cc inline four cylinder turbocharged engine pumps out 175 horsepower, which should be enough to break the rear tires loose in a drift.  To add to that, the seller has added a manual boost controller, boost gauge, and a “LSD” rear end.  I assume that means a limited slip differential, but I am new to the practice of drifting and its terminology.  Topping off this masterpiece is a set of cut springs and a custom set of crash bars for the front and rear.  Oh, and the tires look to have a lot of Armor All layered on them to tie the whole thing together.

Inside, I am happy to see that much of the stylish wood grained dash remains in the otherwise gutted interior.  While the glove box seems to have an aftermarket lock holding it firmly closed, I am sad to see that the stereo system seems to have found its way to the curb along with much of the rest of the car.  On the bright side of things, the original driver’s seat is intact and still serving its original purpose, and the fuse block is much easier to access now that the console is at the dump.  Sadly, there is no mention of the air conditioning system’s status.  Considering that drifting is usually a summer sport, keeping cool might be important.  Even more so now that a lot of the insulation is now keeping rats at the landfill warm.

While it is tragic that the seller didn’t select a more common car to convert into a drift car, at least our hero selected a stylish steed to ride sideways into the sunset in.  While it has probably been beaten mercilessly since the conversion, perhaps the amazingly intact and undamaged body could form the basis of something even better.  Paul Newman had a couple of Volvos that were hot rodded into the ultimate sleepers.  He would prowl the streets looking for victims who mistakenly thought a Volvo would be easy pickings in a stop light drag race.  If you could put the original bumpers back on, swap the drivetrain with the V-8 of your choice, and put some dark tint on the windows to hide the stripped out interior, then this would make a fine sleeper.  Just slap a Newman’s Own sticker on the bumper and you’d be set.


  1. Steve

    It was expensive to keep the a/c working on these in the 90’s, yet alone after this “conversion to drift status” operation. Shame, these were nice cars back in the day.

    • SAM61

      You don’t need AC in Sweeeeden.

  2. AF

    drift it to junkyard. Go ahead and leave windows down once there.

  3. Whippeteer

    Boxy but Safe… I remember this commercial:

    Then the backlash when it turned out that the car was reinforced and that the other cars had been weakened to make sure the video turned out the way that they wanted. Both Volvo and the ad agency were fined by the FTC.

    • rapple

      The only mistake Volvo and their agency made was not putting a fine print disclaimer on the commercial to the effect of ” Recreation of an actual event” which in fact it was.
      There was an amateur video of this happening at an actual Monster truck event and Volvo recreated it in a controlled setting to produce a professional video the ad. The story behind the ad was true. Pretty small potatoes when you see some of the other special effects enhanced feats performed by vehicles in advertisements over the years.

  4. Heath M

    My uncle sent this to me because well, driftcars.. but from my experiences, AC is deleted seeing as it uses power. Drift cars in the summer are normally 100 degrees inside. I enjoy the bash bars and the stripped interior. If it were mine, the stock seat would not have enough support to hold me while sideways, and the steering wheel would have to be replaced for less bulk. The shifter looks automatic but that shouldn’t be a huge problem. This car is almost too clean to be a drift car. Probably drift inspired modifications but I would like to see how she handles a track.

    • Alex


    • Michael phelps

      I’ve linked an entire drift coarse in this car it’s really not bad for being auto and pretty stock other than a MBC, gutted interior, and cut springs lol

  5. Michael

    Looks like it was nice at one time. Drifting = yawn…yawn…zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  6. Steve R

    It’s more of a wannabe drifter than an actual drifter. I’d be surprised if it’s ever seen a drift course.

    Most if these guys start out with cheap worn out rear wheel drive beaters that are one phone call away from the wrecking yard. This car probably looks better in these pictures than it does in person.

    Steve R

    • Sam

      My friend, Jimmy and the guys at motorwerks owns this and is selling it. Those guys have 200 or so Volvos and just wanted to have fun. They’re an awesome group of guys and yes… it most certainly has seen a track.

    • Michael phelps

      As a matter of fact it has seen a drift coarse and it linked the entire coarse without straightening even once with an automatic trans and no ebrake and oh yea it was me that did it. I don’t understand why everyone is bashing this thing when it could be living it’s life rotting away in a field. Thanks for all the negativity this article is garbage.

  7. Classix Steel

    Nice hot pink bar! I bet this one picks up chicks possibly at the mortuary living or dead! :-0

  8. Claus Graf

    Hey I like sardines! (with Louisiana hot sauce)

  9. SAM61

    I don’t think there’s enough horsepower to make it drift. You’d have to coast it downhill on an icey street with bald tires.

    • rapple

      Don’t be fooled by that stock 175hp. With just a little boost adjustment that engine can crank out LOTS more hp and at around 3400 lbs (before stripping) it’s not as heavy as you might think. Not that drifting makes any sense whatsoever!

  10. Maestro1

    I always liked this model Volvo, and there are some around here on the Left Coast. I’m not making a big deal out of it but I’m still looking……..

  11. Steve

    The LSD rear end means it will give you a good trip, depending on how you drive it

  12. Alex

    This car actually has seen track time. It was bought in pretty rough shape for $300 by a couple friends of mine and they fixed it up just enough to abuse it some and have some fun. As far as not having enough power I have seen my buddy in an automatic non-turbo 940 slay harder than most wanna be drift kids in overbuilt 240sx’s. Side note, since when has “lsd” been some secret new hip term the kids are using these days? I would imagine anyone with knowledge just above casual enthusiest would recognise that term.

  13. Chad

    I still have all the interior and original bumpers from this car

  14. andrew

    I’m with Alex – its fun – why not – its an old beater that is now having a second lease on life …. get over it !! You fellas are damn serious bunch .

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