Classic Iron: Volvo 480ES Coupe

Volvo’s 480ES was launched in 1985, and played a hugely important role in defining Volvo design for the next thirty years (so far!). That’s because the 480ES was the first mass-produced front-wheel drive Volvo car.

That’s right- the transversely mounted, 4 cylinder, turbocharged engine and transmission layout that can be seen in even the latest brand-new Volvos sold today, was first seen in the Volvo 480ES.

The 480 was marketed under the designations 480ES, 480S, and 480 Turbo. The 480 was sporty coupe with four seats and profile that was heavily influenced by the classic P 1800 ES shooting brake of the early 1970s. The 480’s front appearance, however, was unique among Volvos as it was (and remains!) the only Volvo to be offered with pop-up headlights.

It’s a unique look, I think, that artfully blends the 1970’s “wedge” super car aesthetic with Volvo’s P 1800 heritage and a practical, hatch-back layout that was aerodynamic enough to serve as the basis for the 58 MPG Volvo LCP Coupe concept. That’s just me, though. I invite you to check out the Volvo 480ES photo gallery, below, then let me know what you think about the 480 in the comments section.

Volvo 480ES Photo Gallery

Sources | Images: Volvo Heritage, Various.


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