The C70 coupe was one of the first models from Volvo's sexy new era. The severe shapes that characterised previous safe and sound models were softened and smoothed, and one of these models resulted in the 70 series that replaced the old 700s. There was a sedan and a wagon, but the standout was the C70 coupe.
The C70 was the same as its more family-focused siblings from the windscreen forward, but rear of the screen it was all new with sweeping curves, sculpted flanks and bulging wheel arches that combined for a strong powerful stance. Despite its coupe curves, the C70 was still reasonably roomy inside with ample accommodation in the rear for a couple of adults.
The new dash added to the softness of the 70 series, the squared-off lines that had become Volvo's calling card now flowed smoothly and the edges had been softened for a friendlier, more welcoming feel. Inside there was a luxury feel with leather-trimmed seats and woodgrain trim, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift knob.
Then there was the long list of standard features, which included a power sunroof, a superb 10-speaker sound system with CD player and Dolby Surround Pro-Logic, power seats, power windows, cruise, trip computer, airconditioning, dual airbags, side airbags, remote central locking and immobiliser.
Below the surface, Volvo had switched the drive from its traditional rear drive to the more modern front-wheel drive system. For power it used a turbocharged double overhead camshaft five-cylinder engine, which pumped out 176kW of peak power at 5100rpm and maximum torque of 330Nm. It was enough to have it reaching 100km/h in less than seven seconds, and reach a top speed, which was electronically limited to 250km/h.
Buyers could choose between a five-speed manual, which was quite a slick gearbox, or a four-speed auto, which was by far and away the preferred choice by Australians.
A wider rear track gave the coupe a more stable footprint than its sedan and wagon cousins, and along with some retuning of the suspension, helped make it quite well-balanced on the road after a little turn-in reluctance typical of front-wheel drive cars. Low profile sports tyres provided its grip, while the standard 17-inch alloy wheels finished off its sporty appearance.
IN THE SHOP
Many C70s will be in the hands of second and third owners, some of whom may not appreciate it as its first owner did. The consequences can be a lack of servicing, and with many approaching the 100,000km mark, they will be in need of a cam belt change.
Check the service record, particularly on any car that has passed the 120,000km mark and make sure the belt has been changed.
Inspect potential buys closely for damage to the body and wear inside on the leather trim and select the best available car. Body rattles are a fairly common find, and the plastic rollers in the window winder mechanisms were known to break.
Dual front and side airbags provide good secondary crash protection, while its agile chassis and powerful disc brakes are designed for crash avoidance. The annual survey of real life crashes showed the C70 to be better than average for occupant protection, but worse when it came to injuring those it hit.
BMW 328i 1997-1999 $24,000-$38,000
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Honda Prelude 1997-1998 $15,000-$22,000
16/20 Good-looking four-seater coupe featuring an impressive level of performance, as well as offering a roomy interior with heaps of comfort.