Swedish Sledgehammer: Volvo 262C V8 Swap


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At Barn Finds, we recognize the diversity of our audience means not everyone likes weird foreign makes, nor are we all fans of fire-breathing muscle cars. That’s why this 1978 Volvo 262C by Bertone here on craigslist is sort of like the UN of automobiles: it’s a Swedish car with an American 5.7L V8 conversion draped in an Italian-designed body. It also looks freaking kick-ass and like a ton of smiles per mile for $8,400. 


These rare Bertone coupes featured a chopped roof and unique doors, pillars and cowl to give the 262 a distinctly different look than anything else in the Volvo lineup. Although the powertrain was carried over from the ordinary 260, the dramatic styling was eye-catching enough to overlook the ho-hum PRV V6 engine – that is, until the Volvo enthusiast community realized you could shoehorn a Chevy 5.7L LT1 into the engine bay.


Other ways the Bertone stood out was with a decidedly luxurious interior, featuring acres of leather and heated seats, in addition to full power options and an optional automatic (which this car has). I’m glad to see the seller hasn’t messed with the insides too much, since this is an area where the standard-issue Bertone really shined. The woodgrain trim inlays in the doors add to the overall feeling of swankiness.


My favorite part of this conversion has to be the twin mufflers sticking out menacingly below the rear bumper, just letting the world know there’s a lot more going on under the hood than an anemic V6 with an antiquated oxygen sensor system. I don’t recall Volvo offering the Bertones in this shade of candy apple red paint, but who cares if it’s original? That’s not the point of this elegant sledgehammer, and my hat is off to the builder.

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  1. Tom Hall

    It’d be the only one on your block.

    Is there anything that escapes the conversion to the good ol’ small block chevy?

    Over 100,000,000 produced – 100 MILLION !!!! – over 65 years – that’s just simply amazing! Heck, they even put them in Volvos :)

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Too be perfectly accurate the LT and LS are not small block Chev engines.

      Common mistake the world over, but a useful tidbit to give you one over the other shade tree mechanics.

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  2. Dale W

    Very nice. ’78 was the first year of the 262C and had a different trunk lid and tail lights than subsequent years. I owned one in 1981. Beautiful and luxurious for a Volvo in that era.

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  3. dj

    A pic of the engine compartment would have been nice. But the seller forgot that.

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  4. Blindmarc

    Would like to see under the hood, but from the outside its sweet.

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  5. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Probably looks a little like this Swedie Sledge

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    • Wiley Robinson

      I’d like to see more of this car. Considering how the original engine was mounted, that must be one hell of a fab job.

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  6. RayT

    Back in the day, I had a friend who worked for Volvo in the States. He told me the popular conversion among those Volvo people who knew and worked with was the 289 Ford (and later, larger derivatives), which he claimed was easier to fit in. Less fuss, less cutting and welding.

    Since Volvo was, for a time, owned by Ford, I think I’d go that route too, and save SBCs for Chevettes….

    By the way: the roofline looks positively lovely when vinyl-free!

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  7. PaulG

    Great story how Paul Newman ordered a new Volvo wagon and proceeded to have a supercharged Ford w/ 5 speed installed. Story here:

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    • DolphinMember

      I was going to mention Paul Newman’s V8 Volvo wagons but you beat me to it.

      I have never seen a Volvo Bertone Coupe with this transplant but I like it. I am a big fan of Paul Newman and I would like to think that he’s looking down at this car, and smiling

      It’s amazing to me that a seller wouldn’t post a photo of this car’s engine bay when he’s selling what might be the only combination of this car and this engine in the known universe.

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    • moosie Craig

      Pretty sure that car was featured on Chasing Classic Cars with Wayne Carini a while back.

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      • PaulG

        The David Letterman connection to V-8 Volvo wagons is also mentioned in the above article, and on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in cars getting coffee Letterman episode. Worthwhile…

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      • Mike H. Mike H.

        Letterman tells Jerry that Paul Newman was asking how he’d like it built.

        “You want a ‘puffer” on it?” I get off the phone and ask, Does anyone know what a puffer is?

        Yeah, a Kenne Bell Supercharger. Check it at about 1:50.


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  8. Bob Hess

    Volvo realized the V6 was junk too and replaced it with a turbo 4 cylinder that was actually faster than the V6. Got to drive one on a race track one time at a BMW Club sponsored track day. The Volvo ran right up there with the 5 Series cars.

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  9. Dale W

    The PRV6 was adequate when mated to a manual transmission but was pretty lethargic with the auto. The engine appeared in a multitude of other vehicles, other than Volvos, in 2.7, 2.8 and 3L form. The Renault Alpine used it as did the Venturi Atlantique. Both were turbo’d and made reasonable power. While the 2.7L variation was a bit of a slug, the 2.8L was a decent engine.

    The photo of a Saab with a Ford engine is related…how? Other than the Saab is Swedish…

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    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      “The photo of a Saab with a Ford engine is related…how? Other than the Saab is Swedish…”

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      • Dale W

        The discussion is about a Volvo with a SB Chev engine and you post a photo of a Saab with a Ford SB and suggest it might look a little like that. You know what a Volvo looks like, right? The kind with actual fenders and a hood that opens from the front and wheels at the back are driven. I’m sure you can understand my bewilderment as to how it would look ANYTHING like that…

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    • dead_elvis

      Delorean used the PRV too!

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    • Mike K

      Please , there’s nothing like an older Volvo……come on.

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  10. Chad-O

    I have a friend that had a Volvo Bertone with one of these swaps. He struggled getting the bugs worked out of the transplant. And it took just the right weirdo to buy it.
    You gotta really be into these because the Bertone offends many of the classic Volvo fans like myself.

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  11. nessy

    I thought the first year Bertone coupe, which this car is, had the round headlights? Either way, it’s great.

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  12. Mike

    As stated by others The ONE thing for me that really makes this Volvo a potential purchase is THE ENGINE and there’s no “squares” of the engine swap!

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  13. Tom Driscoll

    Love the car, questionable if the motor/trans play nicely…the seats look more broughmy than sporty imo…

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  14. MikeK

    LOVE this car. But then I’ve always been a bit of a fan when it comes to sleepers.

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  15. Peter R

    posting has expired

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  16. chris

    Would the owner of this Bertone please contact me if this car is still available. I’d like to see if I can entice you with a really, really nice, super low mileage ’79 MG.

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  17. Doug

    The big problem with the PVR V-6 as used in the 262 was they would eat camshafts after about 140-160K due to cam oiling problems which seem to have been caused by oil passages that were just to small and would become clogged over time, while the 4-bangers would often go 300-400K.

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    • Richard

      Yes, exactly the problem, I owned a 1978 Bertone Coupe and replaced 3 cams (2 right, 1 left) over 5 years. Had the V6 removed and replaced with the reliable inline 4 cylinder.

      Like 0

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