The estate car – eternal Volvo pedigree
If you ask car owners all over the world to choose a single word they associate most with an estate car, the answer is: Volvo. No other car manufacturer is as closely associated with this versatile car type.
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Originally an outright practical car, Volvo estate models have evolved into a multi-personality; spacious versatility, exclusive comfort and dynamic driving properties at the same level as luxurious sedan models.
Since the introduction of its first estate in 1953, Volvo has sold almost six million versatile family cars to customers around the globe. This is about a third of the total number of Volvo models produced since the company was founded 90 years ago.
Named after its practical purpose
It is not easy to find a uniform name for an iconic car model that has transformed from a practical workhorse to a sleek, versatile thoroughbred. It is called ‘estate car’ in British English, while the Americans prefer the word ‘wagon’. French drivers say ‘break’. In Spanish, it is ‘ranchera’ and Germans talk about their ‘kombis’.
The estate model appeared in the United States in the early 1900s. The name ‘station wagon’ expressed the need for a car with enough space for transporting passengers and their luggage between American train stations and hotels.
In the United Kingdom, a similar type of car was used by wealthy people with big estates to transport guests, luggage and goods. Hence the name ‘estate car’. The origin of the Spanish ‘ranchera’ is equally obvious.
If the car has space for a whole hunting party, including guns, provision baskets (and maybe some unfortunate animals on the return trip), it was called ‘shooting brake’. In modern days, however, this word is used to describe a crossover between estate car space and coupe panache.
Millions grew up in the rear seat of a Volvo estate
Although Volvo Cars did not invent the estate model, the Swedish premium car maker has popularized the segment. Volvo Cars is inherently linked to the estate segment by millions of people who grew up in the rear seat of iconic estate models, such as the Amazon, the 245 or the 850.
“We have a rich tradition in the segment,” says Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Cars. “In many people’s minds we are known as the ultimate estate brand. And while the modern Volvo brand stands for much more than just estates, we proudly carry this rich heritage into the future with the new V90.”
Here are some Volvo estates that made automotive history
Few people talked about lifestyle concepts when Volvo launched its first estate car, the Volvo Duett, in 1953. Yet, it was precisely the need for combining active leisure time with a practical professional life that inspired the Swedish car brand to create one of its most beloved models ever. The Duett was one of the first Volvo models exported to the United States. It was immortalised in 1997 by appearing on a Swedish stamp.
The sleek Volvo Amazon, which was named after the female warrior in Greek mythology, radiated significantly more elegance and refinement than the Duett. The S model, offering a full 115 hp, was a very sporty car by the standards of the 1960s. It is also interesting that the American-style, horizontally split boot door on the Amazon would return 40 years later on the first-generation Volvo XC90.
An extension of the Volvo 1800 sports coupe, driven by Roger Moore in the classic British television series ‘The Saint’, the 1800 ES became known as a shooting brake in the UK; a sporty estate with space for hunting gear or golf clubs in the back. Introduced in the autumn of 1971, the 1800 ES had a huge rear windscreen without bezel. With only some 8,000 cars built, it is one of the most soughtafter classic Volvos.
The archetype for a Volvo estate car was launched in 1974. The Volvo 245 remained in production for almost 20 years until 1993, and the model is still strongly associated with the Volvo brand. It was also available in a more exclusive edition. The Volvo 265 came with a V6 engine, while the 245 Turbo edition, the world’ first estate car with a turbo-charged engine, was launched in the 1980s.
The Volvo 960, which was developed from the earlier 700-series, became the final rear-wheel-drive estate car produced by Volvo Cars. Introduced in 1990, it featured a smoother design than its predecessor and a brand new 6-cylinder engine. In 1996, the badge changed to Volvo V90 – a name which, 20 years later, has made a successful comeback. The Volvo 960 is one of the most elegant estate cars in Volvo’s history.
Volvo 850 T5-R
With its distinctive yellow colour, 240 horsepower and acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, the Volvo 850 T5-R was an estate car like no other. Only available in a limited edition in model year 1994, it became an instant collector’s item. The same year, the 850 model also took Europe’s racing scene by storm as the first factory-entered racing estate in the prestigious British Touring Car Championship.
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