This 1993 Volvo 850 Sedan Is Hiding A Big Secret

Electric Vehicles / 1 Comment

It's one of only two to be built by Volvo.

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is seen by most as a company that builds safe, reasonable, and reliable vehicles, and these days the brand is pumping billions of dollars into battery development for its ever-expanding range of EVs, including the new C40 Recharge. Yes, there have been some quick Volvos in the past, and its Polestar-boosted models have delivered some tasty machines, but nothing can come close to this 1993 Volvo 850 that recently got sold on the Bonhams auction block. Instead of a tepid little four-cylinder under the hood, this Swedish Viking packs an ultra-rare gas turbine motor and is one of only two models to undergo this failed but brave 1990s experiment.

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We've covered our fair share of cars with airplane engines, and the concept of powering a vehicle via gas turbine isn't as crazy as it might sound; a decade ago, brands like Jaguar were still toying with the idea, but this Volvo is the last car you'd expect to be on the list. Before this 850 hybrid was born, Volvo had already been playing with gas turbine vehicles, its first being the 1978 Volvo 264.

Volvo soon realized that the best way to go would be to combine gas turbine power with a hybrid system. This led to a system where the gas turbine would run a high-speed generator that would send power to a set of batteries and electric motors. This exotic Volvo produced 95 horsepower and could sprint to 60 mph in 12.5 seconds. This Volvo even featured regenerative braking, nearly 30 years ago. Power was generated from either the gas turbine or the braking system, and was channeled into NiCd type batteries.

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According to Volvo, the car is a breeze to drive and features a rotary gear selector with the industry-standard P, R, N, D, and L positions, but unlike traditional automatic cars that creep forward when in drive or reverse, this 850 will only move once you touch the gas pedal. There are push-buttons for 'Electric', 'Hybrid' and 'Gas Turbine' driving modes. Electric mode offers instant torque from the word go without any need to select the level of power delivery, but Hybrid and Gas Turbine modes require the driver to select it as an option. Unfortunately, this system proved to be too inefficient and the project was canned by Volvo soon after this car was built. This model features around 2,485 miles on the odometer and recently sold for €62,100 (about $71,000).

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