Volvo’s Unseen Off-Roader from the ’70s: A Glimpse into the Road Not Taken

Before the iconic XC90 hit the roads in 2003, Volvo was already toying with the idea of an SUV back in the 1970s. The sketches they unveiled recently showcase a two-door off-roader that, unfortunately, never made it to production.

A Blast from the Past: A Different Breed of Off-Roader

Had this unnamed SUV rolled off the production line, it could have been hailed as the spiritual successor to the XC90. However, the revealed sketches paint a distinctive picture. The front end, inspired by the design language of the 1974 200-Series, features an upright grille adorned with a diagonal “Volvo” emblem and rectangular headlights. While not a Jeep CJ look-alike, it exudes a raw simplicity that contrasts sharply with the polished XC90.

The sketches leave the back end to our imagination, revealing only wrap-around lights and an external spare wheel. With short overhangs, it hints at serious off-roading potential, promising high approach, break-over, and departure angles. Positioned higher than Volvo’s current SUV lineup, it even suggests a removable rear top. Perhaps Volvo aimed to retain a fixed B-pillar for safety reasons.

Pehr Gyllenhammar’s Vision: Crafting an SUV for the Wild and Untamed

The brain behind this off-road venture was Pehr Gyllenhammar, Volvo’s CEO from 1970 to 1994. He entrusted Gunnar Falck, the design manager at the time, with the task of creating a rugged vehicle tailored for Africa and developing countries. The resulting proportions reflect this directive, breaking away from the boxy shapes that defined most Volvo cars in the ’70s. The emphasis on flat and straight sheetmetal aimed at keeping production and repair costs in check.

The specifics of the SUV’s powertrain and the reasons behind its shelving remain a mystery. Volvo has yet to provide details, but we’re keeping our ears to the ground and will update you if more information surfaces.