Volvo Pitched a Boxy Off-Roader in the ’70s That Was Like a Swedish K5

The world would’ve been a much brighter place had Volvo made this three-door SUV a reality.

byNico DeMattia|


Somewhere in a wood-paneled office in 1970s Gothenburg, Sweden, a likely bespectacled man in a perfectly fitting suit, smoking a cigarette, vetoed Volvo's idea for a rugged, go-anywhere SUV and had no idea what he'd taken from us. Had the top brass at Volvo in the '70s had enough courage, they could have given the world a Swedish Mercedes G-Class competitor that would potentially still be on sale today, as the brand was considering this awesome looking SUV for Africa and other developing countries at the time.

Volvo's heritage manager Hans Hedberg posted these concept sketches to LinkedIn, showing off what should have been. Today, it's as awesome to see as it is infuriating to know what the world missed out on.

The rugged SUV sketch was drawn up by longtime Volvo designer Gunnar Falck and, had it ever made production, it would've ranked among the coolest looking Volvos of all time. As with many of the brand's finest designs, it's shaped as if it was formed with a mason's chisel—all wedges and right angles. It looks like it has the aerodynamics of a Dorito, and I love it.


Fantastically boxy proportions aside, this unnamed proposal also has two really neat features. One of which is its three-door design, which wasn't unheard of for the time, but also likely would've resulted in just one row of seating. The other neat feature is the door glass that seemingly extended below the belt line, something that absolutely would not fly today given modern side-impact safety regulations.

Hedberg didn't mention any specifics, such as its internal project name or potential engine options, which leads me to believe it didn't get very far along the concept phase. (The Drive reached out to Volvo for more information.) It was likely an out-of-left-field idea from Falck that never made it past this drawing. However, if it ever came to be, it's easy to believe it would've earned many more generations and still be in production today. Look at the aforementioned G-Class, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover Defender, and Toyota Land Cruiser: customers love rugged SUVs with comfy interiors and stylish designs. Volvo would be right there with them, adding its Scandinavian aesthetic and industry-leading safety to the mix. What a world it would have been.

Although, what's stopping Volvo from making it now?

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