The first generation Volvo C70 was rolled out at the 1996 Paris Motor Show, with buyers able to choose between a handsome two-door coupe or a pretty four-seater cabriolet when the model line went on sale in 1997.
The C70 saw Volvo daringly abandon several generations of boxy cars for something altogether more rounded and sexy . . . and also create the first Volvo soft-top of modem times.
The C70 had been some time in the making, with a little help from British specialist Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Volvo design boss Peter Horbury was determined to create a stylish performance car that offered a faultless ride and perfect roadholding . . . and nearly succeeded. The C70 came with a choice of three engines, all turbocharged straight fives. There was an entry-level 2 litre, a high-pressure 2.3 litre and low-pressure 2.4 litre. Transmission was four- or five-speed automatic or five-speed manual.
It was apparent from Day One that the convertible was the star of the show, and the coupe was discontinued in 2002 whilst the convertible lived on. The latter had a natty powered top that opened and closed at the touch of a dashboard button, stowing neatly under a rigid tonneau cover when in open-top mode. This ultra-safe car featured a horseshoe-shaped safety cage, front and side airbags and boron-reinforced A-pillars.
But despite Volvo’s declared intentions, the C70 convertible wasn’t actually an incomparable drive — suffering from that endemic convertible fault whereby the less-rigid open-top body causes vibration and shuddering when the chassis flexes at speed.
The second generation C70 arrived in 2006 as something completely different — a clever two-door hardtop coupe, built in a joint venture with Pininfarina, that becomes a convertible in less than 30 seconds as a retractable three-piece hardtop vanishes when the moment is right for blue-sky motoring.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1,984 cc, 2,319 cc or 2,435 cc Straight Five Turbo
With 2.3 l engine – top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.3 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The launch of the C70 saw metallic saffron-orange cars introduced to the press, whilst Volvo’s marketing department cleverly placed a C70 in the 1997 film The Saint – harking nostalgically back to the 1960s TV series where Roger Moore as Simon Templar drove a Volvo P1800.