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Rarest cars

HighLifeChannel June 20, 2018

Four decades ago, most Britons could instantly envisage the archetypal Volvo estate driver – either Margo Leadbetter from The Good Life or an antiques dealer who would have rather specialised in Crossroads memorabilia than have bought a lesser marque.

When the first Amazon station wagon made its debut in 1962, it instantly appealed to the sort of motorist who would have otherwise bought a Humber Hawk and by the 1970s a new 145 on your driveway denoted respectability, affluence and a working knowledge of fondue cookery.

Its successor, the 240, ended its 19-year production run as recently as 1993 and in 1975 the 265 became the company’s first six-cylinder production estate car.

Graeme Aiken came across his 1978-vintage survivor four years ago. He said: “It is true to say I hadn’t realised just how rare it is. Only one other is currently known on the road in the UK.”

Unlike many owners of such now-unusual cars, Aiken was not influenced by his family’s motoring tradition for the simple reason that “Dad would never have them – ‘Too expensive, waste of money’.

“Of course, the cars he did have, Renault 12s followed by a Datsun Bluebird and Toyota Cressidas, are now extinct due to rust. It was friends’ parents who had a 760, which was in maroon metallic with beige leather seats. I was smitten.”

Pre-1980 265s featured power from the 2.7-litre “Douvrin” V6 engine jointly developed by Volvo, Peugeot and Renault and Aiken’s car has fuel-injection, although this does not denote any sporting pretentions – an Autocar test of the time referred to “a stately load carrier that puts weight and strength before speed”.

One key export market for the 265 was the USA, where Volvo targeted corporate lawyers and senior accountants who demanded the social cachet of an “imported” wagon to drive to the country club at weekends.

In the UK a price tag of £7,477 for the GLE (standing for Grand Luxe Executive) was extremely steep by the standards of the day but, when contemplating a Volvo that was “built for the truly discerning motorist”, a mere GL variant would not suffice.

Aiken notes “ the luxury of the 265” and the air-conditioning, the hide-trimmed seats, the electric windows fore and aft, not to mention the famous heated front seats, were all entirely appropriate for a motorist who was en route for his/her first Range Rover.

The Volvo’s main rivals were the Citroen CX Safari and the Ford Granada Ghia Mk2 Estate, but neither quite had the 265’s formidable presence.

The final 260 Estates were built in 1985 and Aiken’s metallic green example now occupies a garage alongside an equally exclusive Volvo of the 1970s, a DAF-based Volvo 66.

Of the mighty station wagon, he says: “I’ve had him four years now and his appeal initially was the looks. I just love the understated styling of this big old lump of a car and it is really quite elegant for an estate.”

Or, as the brochure put it, it is a vehicle that was “designed for the individualist”.


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