When the subject of importing a car comes up, most people will probably picture a Nissan Skyline, BMW 745i, or maybe a Renault Twingo. But here’s another car you may want, and it checks basically all of 1980s car enthusiast boxes. This 1986 Volvo 480 ES preproduction car has pop-up headlights, a wedge shape, a glass tailgate and just 48 miles on its odometer.
The Volvo 480 was not just a radical hatch, but it was a daring step forward for Volvo itself. Blossomed out of Project Galaxy and targeted at younger buyers, the 480 ditched the bricks Volvo was known for at the time for a low-slung, aerodynamic profile. This little car was the first and the last Volvo to feature pop-up headlights, and it ushered in an era of smaller cars. Check out its fantastic shape:
Inside, you’re presented to an absolutely spotless cockpit featuring a five-speed manual transmission and bucket seats for everyone, including the backseat passengers.
Those seats have black inserts with red piping; a nice touch. The partly digital dashboard is just as impressively clean, showing no wear whatsoever. The odometer shows 77 kilometers, or just 48 miles.
I’ve seen new cars at dealerships that didn’t look this good.
Under the metal is Volvo’s first front-wheel-drive platform. It’s powered by a Renault 1.7-liter inline four making 109 HP. The car’s seller says it’s good for a top speed of about 118 mph.
Combined with the small body and a curb weight of 2,200 pounds, these cars were reportedly sporty, a departure from the slow family cars that Volvo was known for at the time.
But just because it’s sporty don’t think Volvo forgot about the safety. As Popular Science noted in 1987, these cars were built to U.S. standards. That meant ugly five-mph bumpers and crash testing at 35 mph rather than 30 mph.
It was slated to start at $13,000 in America, or $32,593 today, but its importation would never come. The market for such a car and the dollar exchange rate weren’t right. So Europeans got a car designed with America in mind.
Later models got ABS, headrests for the rear passengers and catalytic converters.
Aside from this 480 ES having low miles, the seller notes that the car is chassis number 184. Since customer production vehicles started with 364, this car is a preproduction example. It’s being offered by Collection by Vermant in Belgium for €22,450 or about $25,310. This may be the second time it has come up for sale in recent years, as what appears to be the same car was listed for $25,000 in 2018.
If you like the Volvo C30 but think it could be a good 20 years older, this might be up your alley. It’s certainly one of the more unique cars you could import for an ultimate dream collection.