The wraps came off the Volvo 760 GLE in February 1982, the new model being the successor to the popular Volvo 264 GLE
. Simply put, the 760 was a superb car - despite the love it or leave it looks of the now very angular but still boxy looks.
At release both the V6 and Turbo models were identically priced (at $34,500), the latter manual only iteration aimed squarely at the driving enthusiast. The new model boasted a modern profile with a low waistline and large glass areas. The car was extremely spacious and offered an exceptionally high standard of safety.
Under the bonnet of the 760 GLE was
Volvo's tried and proven fuel-injected V6 engine - which by 1982
had garnered a stellar reputation for both performance and reliability. The engine had been around for some time already, but during its tenure it had undergone many subtle refinements, reaching a high point of superb engineering technology by 1982.
On the road the 760 GLE was smooth, responsive and almost without vices. The new four speed over-drive automatic suited the car perfectly,
and the performance was much better than many had imagined possible for such a heavy car. Smooth and exceptionally quiet, owners soon discovered just how effortlessly the big Volvo could eat up the miles.
Inside both driver and passengers were cocconed in the safe, quiet and comfortable cabin, ensuring negligible driver fatigue. The power steering made the big Volvo a delight to handle, and in many respects it even encouraged enthusiastic driving - something few Volvo's had offered in the past.
The 760 was blessed with plenty of grip, being shod with Pirelli P6 low profile tires matched to Volvo's spoked alloy 15 inch wheels. Ventilated discs provided ample stopping power, and overall the car proved to be an above average handler, taking corners relatively flat with just a hint of understeer.
The instrumentation was comprehensive, while luxury fittings were in abundance, as was expected of any Volvo. The plushly upholstered seats even came with seat warmers for the front buckets (height adjustable for the driver), while the air-conditioning featured climate control.
Special mention should also be made of the wonderful stereo system, the AM/FM radio/cassette combo being coupled to a graphic equaliser and power amplifier. The graphic featured a spatial control which enabled you to produce concert hall sound from the rear shelf mounted three-way box speakers and quality slimline speakers mounted in the front door trims.
The Volvo 760 Turbo
Volvo's break into passenger car turbo-charging came after years of experience gained in the trucking industry - which was a very good thing at a time when mainstream turbo-fitment was in its infancy and unreliability issues were common.
The Volvo turbo was based on the 2.3 liter four cylinder engine of the 240 Series cars. The turbo featured an intercooler to lower the temperature of the in-going air, which in-turn meant that a smaller turbo-charger could be used, along with a higher compression ratio, which made the transition from non-boost to turbo almost undetectable.
The resultant increase in power across the range created a smooth, fast executive flyer - not the sharpest instrument to punt, but nevertheless one that would stir the loins better than most. It remained a docile town car (which was, after all, its intended purpose), but when unleashed on the open road it transformed into a fast and capable highway cruiser that also offered excellent fuel economy.
The turbo iteration was only available in manual form, which was a four speed with electric overdrive fifth. Around the twisty stuff the car demonstrated virtually no tendency to swing the tail, and in most respects handled like the V6 GLE, as only minor changes had been made to the suspension to improve road holding and ride. The 760 Turbo handled sealed and unsealed roads with aplomb, and even sudden applications of turbo-power in the middle of a corner would only tend to lift the inside back wheel slightly.
The power assisted rack and pinion steering gave the driver precise feel over the front wheels and, although mild understeer was experienced with a too fast entry to a corner, the big Volvo remained sure-footed and, if things started to get too much out of shape, the four-wheel disc brakes soon made the necessary corrections.
The 760 GLE received a substantial facelift for the 1988 model year, with an all-new front, a new instrument panel and a totally new, very advanced multilink rear axle.
The 760 was replaced in autumn 1990 by the Volvo 960.