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Covering Sports cars & Supercars

The Design of Speed

Volvo P1800ES glass tailgate

📸: Photo courtesy

Cars that can barely crack 120 mph are not considered "fast," and as such, wouldn't normally be up for discussion here at The Design of Speed. But as we are still in our "Cool Designs" series, we're going to make an exception for this one: the 1972 - 73 Volvo P1800ES, an unlikely shooting brake from the company better known for safety than outright speed. And the design element that has captured our imagination is the ES' beautiful, all-glass, frameless tailgate. This version of the P1800 coupe was designed in-house by Volvo chief designer Jan Wilsgaard, based on what was then called the Beach Car concept.

📸: Photo courtesy

In our estimation, the big glass hatchback completely transforms what was a 12 year old design (the car actually has tailfins!) into something approaching modernity. It signals a willingness to be playful, both on the part of the manufacturer and the customer that buys it, because other than providing outstanding rear visibility, the glass tailgate offers little benefit and at least two drawbacks. Everyone in the carpark will know what you're toting around, and a minor rearend collision could be costly.

📸: Photo courtesy

Despite those quibbles, we remain fascinated by the big back window on this car. So apparently was Volvo, as they paid homage to it in their C30 sport hatchback, produced from 2007 to 2013.

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