As Volvo prepares for the February 18 unveiling of its newest station wagon, the V90, the Swedish car company celebrated its wagon-building history by showcasing its longtime wagon heritage.
“We have provenance in the estate (station wagon) segment,” Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive at Volvo Cars, said in a news release. “In many people’s minds, we are known as the definitive estate brand. While the Volvo brand stands for much more than just wagon, we will proudly carry forward this rich heritage with the V90.”
Volvo’s station-wagon heritage began with the Duett in 1953, which it claims was “the first car to meet the combined needs of drivers’ active leisure time and practical professional lives.”
Although wagons got a late start with Volvo, which started producing cars in 1927, wagons represent nearly one-third of all Volvos ever sold.
Here are what Volvo considers to be the highlights of its history with station wagons:
Launched in 1953, the Duett, which had its origins as a delivery van, went on to become one of the most loved models ever, was one of the first Volvos to be exported to the United States and it was immortalized in 1997 by getting its own Swedish postage stamp.
The Duett was followed in 1962 by the Amazon, or the 221 as it was officially known. The Amazon was more elegant and refined, and it offered more space in the cargo area. The S model, which offered 115 horsepower, was considered sporty in its day. The rear door was an American-style two-split version — a solution that would return 40 years later on the original XC90.
A refresh of the 1800 sports coupe, the 1800 ES was known in England as a shooting brake: a sporty wagon with space for hunting gear or golf clubs in the back. The 1800 ES was introduced in the autumn of 1971, its most exciting feature possibly being the huge rear windscreen that had no frame. Hinges and handles were fixed directly to the glass, which was very modern in the early 1970s. Since only a little over 8,000 1800 ES were built, it has become one of the most sought-after classic Volvo models.
In 1974, the archetypal Volvo wagon car was launched: the 245 — a car still strongly associated with the brand. It remained in production for almost 20 years, until 1993, and was also available in a more exclusive edition — the 265 with a V6 engine. The 1980s marked the launch of the 245 Turbo edition, the world’s first wagon with a turbocharged engine.
The Volvo 960 was the final rear-wheel-drive wagon produced by Volvo as a development of the 700 series from the ‘80s. It was introduced in 1990, featuring smoother body lines and a new 6-cylinder engine. In 1996, its name was changed to the V90 — a name that now returns exactly 20 years later. It was one of the most elegant wagons in Volvo’s history.
With its intense yellow paint job, 240 horsepower and acceleration of 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds, the Volvo 850 T5-R was a wagon like no other ever seen before. Launched as a limited edition, model year 1994-only version of the 850, the T5-R became an instant collector's item. The Volvo 850 also caught the eye on the race track. It took Europe’s racing scene by storm in 1994 when it debuted in the prestigious British Touring Car Championship as the first factory-entered racing wagon.