Best 1990s Sleeper Ever: The 1996 Volvo 850R Sportswagon – Prove Us Wrong

Best 1990s Sleeper Ever: The 1996 Volvo 850R Sportswagon – Prove Us Wrong

Yeah, 20 years on and I still want one of these things. I remember chewing up every car magazine that came to my house when I was 16 years old and every single one of them lost their mind over this particular car. A turbocharged 5-cylinder engine and in the case of this review an automatic transmission made this car hustle well. It was the suspension that rally got people spun up. The whole chassis of the car was updated and upgraded in all the ways that we now expect with more aggressive spring rates, upgraded sway bars, nice 18″ wheels with high performance tires, etc.

The European market got a stick shift version that actually made more power because of the upgraded transmission and clutch that were used in that application. The USA only got the automatic but whatever, I still want one.

I think this car was the best sleeper of the 1990s because it was way out of left field. Volvos were the suburban mom-buggy of the upwardly mobile at that time and no one in their right freaking mind would have expected them to produce a high performance station wagon that (a) actually looked cool (b) actually had some guts and (c) could blow the doors off of a 454SS pickup truck at the strip and certainly in the twisties.

Personally, I think these cars have aged well and I’d love to find a relatively clean one and maybe even lean on it a little harder than they did from the factory. A little most boost and fuel and that sucker would make 300hp all day long and really be some fun to drive.

Am I crazy or just plain wrong? You tell me.

Press play to see this retro-review of the 1996 Volvo 850R Sportswagon

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4 thoughts on “Best 1990s Sleeper Ever: The 1996 Volvo 850R Sportswagon – Prove Us Wrong

  1. Danno

    Yeah it was cool and quick in the 90’s but it is dinosaur compared to modern cars. If I am going to go old school I would prefer to go all the way back to the late 60’s – early 70’s and get a well built restomod.

    1. HotRodPop

      You don’t get it. It’s not being compared to modern cars, it’s showing you the state of the union back then. If MotorWeek had been around in the sixties, well, it woulda been about muscle cars (but not restomods). Stick with apples or oranges. I mean, if it had been a bicycle, guess I’da rather had a car too. Book ’em, Danno!

  2. Patrick

    These cars beat Chevrolet’s factoryCamaro effort that year in showroom stock, lol.
    How embarrassing,
    We got beat by wagons

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