1970s / Bertone / Swedish / Volvo

A look at the Bertone-designed 1979 Volvo Tundra concept

volvo-tundra-concept-17Although Bertone is most often associated with Italian automakers like Alfa Romeo and Fiat, the Grugliasco-based styling house worked closely with Volvo in the 1970s to design and build a sleek two-door version of the 240-Series called 262 C. As its name implies, the 262 was a coupe that was powered by a 2.7-liter PRV V6 engine. It was billed as Volvo’s flagship and the company knew from the get-go that it would be a low-volume model both in Europe and in the United States.

Satisfied with the 262 C, Volvo knocked on Bertone’s door again in the late 1970s when it was brainstorming ways to build a car that would appeal to a larger target audience. The coachbuilder’s answer was the Tundra concept that was presented to the public for the first time in 1979.

The Tundra shared its basic platform with the 343 but it was slightly shorter and fitted with coil springs out back. Penned by Marcello Gandini, the Tundra intentionally broke nearly all ties with other members of the Volvo family and it featured a boxy-yet-aerodynamic look accented by pop-up headlights, a small radiator grille mounted on the left side of the bumper and thin pillars that created a floating roof. Out back, the tail lamps were connected by a light bar and the cargo compartment was accessed via a large glass hatch.

The Tundra was fitted with a delightfully simple dashboard dominated by wide, fully digital instrument cluster. The switchgear was kept to a minimum, the steering was commanded through a four-spoke wheel with a sizable “Tundra” emblem and the gears were selected using an elegant-looking shift knob that was adorned by a strip of real wood trim.

Power for the Tundra came from a Renault-derived 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generated about 69 horsepower and 80 lb-ft. of torque. Pulled from the 343 parts bin, the four-banger spun the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission and it propelled the Tundra on to a top speed of roughly 99 mph (160 km/h). Surprisingly, the concept was said to be fully functional.

The Tundra was relatively well received by the public and the press but it proved to be a little too progressive for Volvo’s management. Executives canceled the project and instead settled on giving the 300-Series several conservative facelifts over the course of the 1980s.

The story doesn’t end there. Citroën seemingly liked the Tundra’s design so it reportedly asked Gandini to incorporate some of the concept’s styling cues into the BX. Introduced at the 1982 edition of the Paris Motor Show, the BX was markedly inspired by the Tundra from the tip of the front bumper to the base of the windshield.

5 thoughts on “A look at the Bertone-designed 1979 Volvo Tundra concept

  1. without the roof overhanging the rear sidewindows and with a centered front grill this could have been the replacement for the p1800.

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