NO RESERVE! 1990 Volvo 480 ES



﹒Low mileage
﹒Highly original
﹒Increasingly rare Volvo coupe


Back in the 1960s and 1970s Volvo had built itself a deserved reputation for solidity and safety, a builder of saloon and estate cars that were tough and dependable. There’s always an exception to a rule though, and in Volvo’s case this was the P1800 Coupe and the oh so stylish P1800 ES coupe come station wagon. 
When those cars ceased production Volvo returned to its sober-suited saloons and estates until the mid-1980s when it once again threw us a curved ball and launched the Volvo 480, a sporty compact car that certainly had shades of the earlier P1800 ES about its styling.
It was quite a departure for Volvo with sleek, wedge-shaped straight-edged styling and front wheel drive – the first non-rear-wheel drive car the company had produced. It was also the only Volvo to feature pop-up headlights. It was an unusual three-door design with a rear hatchback and four individual seats.
The Volvo 480 is becoming an increasingly rare sight on our roads and this 1990 480 ES model offers the next owner the possibility of owning a real head turning modern classic that’s unusual and a welcome break from the norm yet still practical enough to be used everyday.

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The current owner isn’t sure how many owners the Volvo has had but its low 44,646 milage is backed up by its MoT history. It was originally owned by someone from the Slough area and the car stayed there for at least the first decade of its life. The current owner bought it in 2017 and used it for the following 18 months for commuting and local trips. 
It is believed that at some point it was purchased as part of the estate of an older lady who had passed away and was then taken to France where it was taken off the road for some time. This would appear to be backed up by the MoT history which shows a gap from 2011 to 2017. The car has been SORN since 2019 when the current owner no longer required the use of a car.


The Volvo retains its original book pack ands a stamped service history for the first ten years of its life where it was serviced by the Volvo main agent in Slough. From that date on there is a service history to accompany the car along with some old MoTs and various invoices. 
Its online MoT history shows that bar a couple of minor issues such as worn tyres it has passed its annual MoT with very few advisories. As mentioned the 480 ES is currently SORN.


The interior of the Volvo is very original – it even retains its original Volvo autoreverse cassette deck and radio – and despite the rakish styling its a light and airy place to spend time. The seats are grey velour with coloured flecks to the centre of the seats and they present well with the only significant flaws being the driver’s seat headrest cover that has partially come adrift and the headlining which is sagging at the rear.
There has been some slight water ingress to the interior thanks to the electric windows which no longer operate correctly – they go down but won’t go up. A pair of replacement window motors come with the car. The Volvo 480 was quite advanced for its day in terms of its electrical equipment – it even has heated seats for those chilly winter mornings – but the owner does say that there are a couple of gremlins that have crept into the cars electrics. The windows and electric sunroof no longer work as they should and the fuel gauge no longer operates correctly.  
While a certain amount of fettling will be required to the interior, overall it exudes a wonderful period charm and exhibits traditional Volvo solidity with perhaps a dash more flair than you might expect from the Swedish maker.


The Volvo’s bodywork appears to be solid although a couple of older repairs do show a mismatched paint finish, but this should be easily remedied by a competent bodyshop. The wrap around black plastic bumpers have some light scratching to them and the rear light lenses have become discoloured.
Those all-important pop-up headlights work as they should and exhibit no damage and underneath the Volvo appears to be solid although we have not had an opportunity to examine the car on a ramp.
All the exterior trim is present and the glass sunroof is undamaged and we feel that with a little bit of TLC the Volvo could be brought up to scratch without too much effort.


As the Volvo is currently SORN we didn’t have the chance to drive the car but its owner reports that it drives nicely and the automatic gearbox swaps gears as it should. During our photoshoot it started and idled without fault although the owner does report that a radiator leak has in the past caused the engine to run hot.
The Volvo 480 used a Renault engine and the 1.8-litre four-cylinder has proved to be tough and durable with few common problems. Under the bonnet this example presents well but could well do with an oil change and a set of plugs and filters as it was last serviced in 2018. 


The Volvo 480 is an increasingly rare car and its sporty wedge-shaped looks are sure to turn heads for many years to come. The car here would make a brilliant starter classic for someone who would relish the challenge of tackling its few minor issues as a project car.
With its low mileage and original specification it represents the opportunity to own an unusual piece of Volvo’s history that’s old enough to be brimming with character and individuality yet modern enough to put up with the rigours of today’s roads.

** The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **

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Auction Details
  • Year 1990
  • Make Volvo
  • Model 480 ES
  • Colour White
  • Mileage 44,646 Miles
  • Engine size 1721
  • Seller Type Private
  • County London
  • Country United Kingdom
  • Auction ends
Bidding history
12 Bids from 7 bidders
  • AG•••• £1,200 09/03/21
  • AG•••• £1,100 09/03/21
  • pe•••• £1,000 09/03/21
  • AG•••• £900 09/03/21
  • pe•••• £800 09/03/21
  • AG•••• £700 08/03/21
  • as•••• £600 08/03/21
  • mb•••• £500 06/03/21
  • dt•••• £400 05/03/21
  • St•••• £300 04/03/21

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