After seven years absent from any form of motorsport activity, Volvo had decided it was time to get back into racing. The British Touring Car Championship was decided on as the ideal place to showcase Volvo’s new 850, which aimed to be more of a driver’s car with sportier handling than previous models. Initially, the saloon version of the car was supposed to be raced by the factory team, but by the time engineers from Steffansson Automotive arrived at Volvo to pick up the bodyshells only the wagon versions were ready. With the start of the season closing in fast, and after some reassuring wind tunnel testing, the wagon was cleared for racing. Its long flat roof actually provided excellent downforce without the use of a spoiler, and the car was nicely composed in long sweeping bends. Sharper corners proved trickier for the 850 as its odd weight distribution caused it handling problems at slower speeds. This didn’t stop it’s pilots, Jan Lammers and Rickard Rydell, from cornering hard and often on two wheels. The cars performed reasonably well, qualifying and finishing in the upper middle of the pack, but a rule change the following season saw the wagon body style outlawed by the BTCC. Volvo was back the next year with saloon versions of the 850 which performed better and won six races over the course of the 1995 season.
Posted @whippstagram on Instagram, Nov 23rd 2015.