Boxy ’70s Volvo Off-Roader Is the Swedish Bronco II That Never Was

Facebook/Volvo Heritage

As die-hard enthusiasts of all things automotive, we do our fair share of diving into the heritage of all automakers. We’ve exhumed plenty of older concepts, rifled through scores of design sketches, and done our best to not only study the creations that didn’t see the light of day but also to hypothesize why they didn’t make it.

But occasionally, sketches of bygone ideas surface that stop us in our tracks. In a recent LinkedIn post, Hans Hedberg, manager of Volvo Heritage, did exactly that when he revealed drawings of an off-road concept drawn up in the 1970s that never made it to reality. (The Facebook version of the post is embedded below, in case LinkedIn ain’t your style.)

According to Hedberg, the sketches were penned by long-time Volvo design manager Gunnar Falck, who was asked by then-CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar to explore the idea of “a rugged vehicle for Africa and developing countries.”

Boxy 1970s Volvo Off-Roader design sketches side profile, quick sketch of front three quarter, and loose silhouette sketch
Facebook/Volvo Heritage

We love the idea of Volvo’s boxy styling set atop something engineered for rougher roads. With hoisted rocker panels, large wheel openings, and an outboard-mounted spare tire, this thing certainly looks ready to rumble. Is anyone else seeing a little bit of Bronco II in the massive windows aft of the doors, or are we crazy?

Above that black cladding running the length of the side profile, check out that bar protruding out above the window. Was that some sort of safety implement, or was Volvo way, way ahead of Subaru’s SVX when it came to oddball two-piece windows?

Boxy 1970s Volvo Off-Roader design sketches front end detail
Facebook/Volvo Heritage

That front fender line and swept windshield are very 240-esque. However, the 240 didn’t debut until the mid-1970s, and there’s no specific date tied to these sketches, so perhaps these boxy lines precede Volvo’s most iconic nameplate. (Squint a bit, and you can almost see some Malaise-era Lincoln or Cadillac in the lines of that front end; the one photo is even giving us Cadillac Allanté vibes.)

There were no specifics about powertrains noted with this concept, nor any type of internal project code or potential name, all of which leads us to think that these sketches, though striking, never got past the ink-on-paper stage.

Still, it’s hard not to tease the idea out into what could have been. Could Volvo have stumbled its way into a genuine G-Class competitor, backing in first through developing countries (read: with a relatively spartan interior) and then eventually heaping on the luxury fittings to create its own long-lived, antiquated product that sells for ludicrous sums of money?

Alas, it’s a true “who could say” situation. In the ’70s, SUVs were still relatively niche products. Cars and wagons still had the run of things in most markets, a theme that would continue for a few more decades. We’re not surprised Volvo nixed something of this ilk in favor of a product like the 240, which by all accounts was a smashing success over the entirety of its lifespan.

Mr. Falck, your genius was ahead of its time. Shame how often that sort of thing happens.




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