It was 32 years ago that our Concept 780 first rolled out the door of Bertone in Turin, Italy. After crossing the Atlantic, Volvo sent the car by truck to Detroit where ASC (American Sunroof Corp) was known for designing and building one-off show cars. It took more than six months working with Volvo to design and build this show car with its unique body and wheels, among other upgrades.
A decade passed and after sitting in a Volvo warehouse in Rockleigh, NJ the car was sold to the general public. After four owners and a lot of wear and tear, the car limped out of an impound yard in Sacramento with body panels missing and cracks on the outside, and entire door panels and interior trim elements missing.
The obvious missing interior part was the driver’s door panel. This was relatively easy to replace thanks to one of our sacrificial 780 donor cars (the same one that lost its entire roof to replace the outer metal that was rusted away on the concept car). We also had to source all new and refurbished wood panels since each set is unique to each car. We couldn’t just replace one of the doors. We pulled a beautiful set of matching interior burled elm wood from a 1989 780 donor car in Phoenix, Arizona in a parts yard. In addition to the restoration, the RG team (www.rebuilding generations.com) was able to make some important and period-correct improvements.
Thanks to a talented team (including Mason our 18-year-old 3D designer and the folks at Stratsys who used an industrial printer to make the door body kit in 2 pieces rather than six to eight on a consumer-level unit), we were able to recreate the missing outside body kit door as well as the rear trunk spoiler.
While Volvo focused more on the exterior, we wanted to bring some of the engine and interior up to the best of the 780 standards. The 1991 780 was the last year and the best year given technical and build improvements…so we added:
– The limited edition “Nuccio Bertone” signature plate on the center console, which was only put on the super limited 1991 780 (only 363 cars ever made it to the US that final year).
-We added a rear sway bar like the 1991 models but opted to go with a set made just for this car by our friend Larry Rembolt who had worked for IPD back in the day and was able to build a set for the unique multi-link rear suspension.
-The engine that was stock in the 1989 car was the well-loved red block B230FT but it was a K model engine with an older style 13C Turbo. We opted for an L engine from a 1993 940. Exactly the same look, but with stronger internal elements including piston oil squirters. As the engine was being fully machined, we opted to add oversized pistons, IPD performance cam and took advantage of the improved distributor and stock 1991 780 “Generation 3” Turbo, and was paired with the Volvo “Turbo Plus Kit”. That upgrade kit was stock on the 780 but available to other buyers with 7 or 9 series cars as a 25 plus horsepower upgrade. Turbo Plus was one of the reasons the concept car was made to begin with as a promoter of the model and this dealer option.
–All wiring is from another 1990 780 donor car that came with the improved Bosch LH2.4 engine management system, rather than the stock 1989 LH2.2
-The transmission was upgraded from the stock AW71 to a period-correct M46 manual transmission that would have been in most 780s in Europe at the time. This required another donor car – a 1990 740 Turbo sedan. Some of the engine wiring was also used from this car with the same B230FT Bosch LH2.4 system.
-We also made an upgrade radio to the CR-814 with remote factory CD player, also stock on the 1991 780s. We kept the stock front and rear amplifiers and of course, we replaced all the stock speakers with new JBL speakers to pair to the original Alpine-made sound system that now rivals a premium sound system in modern cars.
-Upgraded the steering wheel from the rubber wheel to the Italian leather-wrapped wheel of 1990 and 1991.
It is remarkable to functionally have a brand new 780. Unique and new. We are so thankful for the team at Rebuilding Generations. Be sure to check out our many sponsors who made this restoration possible! We hope everyone reading this will get to see the car in person!