Chuck Taylors with Your Bertone? The Bad Idea Mill Grinds On

volvo 780 bertone
I have a serious and vaguely irrational affection towards most of the misfit Gothenburg sleds, even the ones whose complexity and unreliability threaten to knock some of the Italian horrorshows off their Mount Olympian throne of awfulness. The Volvo 780 (by Bertone!) actually straddled this divide, rolling out of Bertone’s Turin assembly plant with some of the worst features of both worlds … a dreadful PRV, Bosch electronics, and Italian sheetmetal. You know what’d make it worth the hassle? Five liters of FoMoCo iron. Enter Ross Converse.

Tell me that isn’t pretty cool …
Converse’s creations tend to be converted 700-series wagons and sedans, for the primary reason that they’re cheap, available, and probably traumatized their previous owners into becoming enthusiastic sellers. Nonrunners tend to pile up in sideyards under a healthy and protective layer of lichen and regret. But the 780! That’s a fine collector machine, at least according to Muhammad at Quality Used Auto Sales and Bail Bonds down the street. How a “fine collector machine” came to be wholesaled to the shadiest dealer in a sea of slime is a mystery best left to Agatha Christie – let’s just say that 780s don’t hold value terribly well, and they’re definitely not collectible yet. So why not slap a V8 into one? It’ll look a ton better than a run-of-the-mill 740 of the period, as long as you stay vigilant for the inevitable rust. They handle well, and the V8 makes plenty of power even in California CARB trim. At least one enterprising 780 owner’s already done it! I’m sure you can pull a 5.0L from a junkyard for less than a grand. And tell me it wouldn’t be pretty awesome to shred some teenage punk’s ego in front of his be-noseringed gum-smacking arm candy when you spray molten rubber all over his Civic’s primered fiberglass nonfunctional hoodscoop with your Italian-Swedish-American hybrid!
Now don’t everyone jump up and do this at once …!
Head over to Converse Engineering if you are batshit mad interested in the Volv8 conversions.


    1. Hmm, by that convention the only true Volvos would be the ones with the motor lobotomized. Or would those be V0lvos?
      'Course, that that five-liter makes it a V.0lvo…

  1. The PRV isn't that bad, and is easily capable of taking upgrades. I am not saying that I am against a transplant, I just like the way those PRVs sound.

    1. If a PRV sends a rod through the block and no passenger's around to hear your teeth gnash, did you really make a sound?

  2. Better yet, put it in a 762 Bertone, where the vinyl roof will make it feel right at home.

      1. They are indeed; that's my Violet. Whereabouts are you from, if I may inquire? (My other car, a 745T, isn't badged as a Lolvo yet, but does have purple and orange hubcaps.)

        1. I travel MA-ME and back most days, when I'm not doing that route I hole up in Exeter. Do you frequent Portsmouth?
          Either way, if you've ever seen a black Outback sedan or, more recently, a new Civic in old-lady-maroon, being driven quickly by a beard, beanie and Ray Bans, that would be me. Throw up the secret Hooniverse hand symbol and we'll have a race.

          1. Nah, I've actually never made it that far east in my car – I'm within tourism distance of Mount Monadnock. Well, I've spent a fair amount of time in/around Lowell/Nashua and have made the journey south of Boston a few times, so you may have seen me there.

  3. Yeah, owning a 780 might be an impractical proposition, but I still think it's the handsomest Volvo since the demise of the 1800ES wagon. But is that really saying much?

  4. The 780 is too collectible, damn it, and Berton's tweaks on the styling really do make it the best 7-series Volvo offered. It's a beautiful car in the very serious and clean-line vein of, say, the Allante. Stately, even. I'd drive one in a second, though a later one with the turbo I4, thanks.
    Now, the 262c Bertone is a harder one to defend. But lay off the 780 suckas!

    1. In Bertone's defense, they didn't style the 262C – it was an in-house Volvo job. They just built the car under contract.

      1. I've heard you can see where the Bertone part of a 262C starts by looking for the line of rust.

    2. Yes. The 780 is a bit too pretty for this. Better a 5.0L in a 262c. After all, it already has the vinyl roof, pleated leather interior and solid rear axle.

    3. My neighbor had a couple of collectible 780s sitting in his driveway for years. I'm pretty sure they were collected by the scrap iron drive last year.

  5. The V8 brings the name that much closer to correct in the old logical Volvo nomenclature, but to finish it you gotta get your welder and make it a 0-door.

    1. And after that you'll have to paint it orange with the Swedish flag on the roof and get a horn that plays…er…uh…"Dancing Queen?"

  6. Up here in New England, we have been stuffing small block V-8's in (oxy-moron alert!!) trashed Volvo Diesels for decades.
    PRV was a great engine when compared to a first generation Vega 4 maybe. Or perhaps the early Porsche 928 engines perhaps. Then they put it in the Delorean…

  7. If you prefer a little more hell on your plate, combine an even-fire PRV with cylinder heads from a Dodge Monaco / Eagle Premier and turbocharge that.

  8. how about a Nissan VQ35 instead? It's a newer engine with more power stock and finding a wrecked Frontier or 350Z from copart shouldn't be too difficult. Plus, it would be different as v8 swapped bricks are fairly ordinary.

    1. I'm a little biased because I hate the VQ's exhaust note, but if we're going different, i'd prefer to try and find the Yamaha V8 out of an XC-90/S80.

    2. Oh don't send us down this road. You'll get us going on Gnome radial swaps, or NSU rotaries, or some such nonsense. It'll make your VQ35 suggestion seem as ubiquitous as a SBC.

      1. for a rotary, how about one out of a KGB Lada? (I so want a rotary Lada for my garage…) Then again, why don't we see more steam engine swaps? Get that puppy on superheat and you'll have amazing efficiency, especially if you engage the cutoff!

  9. Where is this video from? Just this year I spoke with a fellow student who had thrown a 5.0 in a remarkably similar looking Volvo wagon. My roommate and I had to stop and talk upon hearing it rev in the parking lot. The kid threw on a turbo with some homemade PVC intake bits. Not sure if it worked all that well but he did it on the cheap and it is certainly quicker.

  10. Mustang V8's aren't exactly thick on the ground down here, so I went with a 2JZGTE for my 740 wagon instead.
    I've got another 240 sedan out the back… I'm currently debating whether to go for a 1UZFE or BA Falcon 6.
    This is what I love about Volvos. Anything will fit in that engine bay. 🙂

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