The Volvo 850: A Speedy, Secure, and Comfortable Ride in a Box

    The Volvo 850: A Testament to Innovation and Timeless Design

    The Volvo 850, launched in 1991, remains a shining example of Volvo’s dedication to innovation. Departing from traditional Volvo design, the 850 introduced groundbreaking technological features that set new standards in the automotive industry.

    Welcome to Timeless European Treasures, where we take a weekly look back at cars from the European market that defined a generation of motoring enthusiasts.

    Why do we love the Volvo 850? It’s because Volvo, known for its emphasis on safety, took a daring step with this model. The sleek and aerodynamic design of the 850 departed from the boxy aesthetics of its predecessors, significantly enhancing its overall appeal. Additionally, the car featured innovative advancements such as an advanced chassis design, new inline-five engines, and new safety systems.

    From today’s perspective, the 850 embodies everything we miss in modern cars. Take, for example, the 850 R – a large wagon with a five-cylinder turbo engine and ample space for all your travel needs. With its robust mechanicals, timeless design, and mid-class comfort, the 850 has everything we desire in a car.

    When was the car launched? The Volvo 850 was officially launched in 1991, succeeding the popular 240 model series. Production took place in Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The car remained on sale until 1996 when it was replaced by the even sleeker S70 and V70 models. Interestingly, the development of the 800 series, which eventually led to the 850, began as early as 1978. The project, known as Project Galaxy, introduced new manufacturing technologies, making it the most expensive industrial project in Sweden at the time.

    Where did it sit in the brand’s lineup? Positioned as a midsize executive car, the Volvo 850 bridged the gap between Volvo’s flagship 900 series and the more affordable S40 and V40 compact cars. It played a vital role in redefining Volvo’s brand image, showcasing its ability to cater to a broader audience without compromising its core values. When the 850 was introduced in the United States in 1992, it became the first front-wheel-drive model from Volvo available in the country. The car also featured a patented rear axle bushing system that provided passive rear steering.

    Two noteworthy innovations in the 850 were the integrated side impact protection system and the self-adjusting belt reel. The car was the world’s first production vehicle to have side airbags, earning it a high safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the United States.

    Now, let’s talk about the engines. One of the standout features of the 850 was its introduction of a transverse five-cylinder engine, departing from Volvo’s usual longitudinal engine configuration. This new engine layout allowed for improved space utilization and handling, paving the way for future engine designs. The 850 was available with a wide range of engines, including turbocharged variants that produced up to 250 horsepower. The 2.5-liter diesel engine, known for its durability, was highly regarded during that time.

    Did the Volvo 850 sell well? Absolutely. Over the course of its six-year production run, a total of 716,903 cars from the 850 series were sold. Interestingly, only 2,039 of those had all-wheel drive, with merely 309 units produced with the steering wheel on the right side. The sedan and wagon models had nearly equal shares of the sales.

    The Volvo 850 remains a beloved youngtimer in automotive history, celebrated for its sleek design and technological innovations. From its transverse five-cylinder engine to its commitment to safety, the 850 set new standards for Volvo. These standards were continually evolved and improved upon by the company in the following decades of car manufacturing.

    [Bit about Opel Ascona and Renault Twingo goes here]

    In conclusion, the Volvo 850 stands out as a testament to Volvo’s commitment to innovation and timeless design. Its departure from traditional Volvo aesthetics, groundbreaking technological features, and overall appeal make it a beloved classic in the automotive world. As we look back at the 850, we are reminded of Volvo’s continuous efforts to push boundaries and redefine what a car can be.

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