Volvo in the Twilight Zone

By Charles Krome

I’m not going to waste too much time (or bandwidth) on introductions, but here’s one important tidbit about life in the Krome lane: During my formative years in the early 1970s, my father had a passion for British roadsters, a sickness that culminated in his Lotus Elan.

Dad would drop the top on the bright-yellow Lotus—sporting a thick racing stripe down the hood in British Racing Green, of course—stuff my brother and me into the spaces behind the front seats and take to the highway. There, my bro and I would stand up and wave our arms around in the car’s slipstream while dad terrorized other motorists at 100 mph or so.

Needless to say, I had my hopes set pretty high during the long countdown to my 16th birthday. I was thinking MGB or maybe a Midget—but it turns out my father was thinking Volvo. A 1970-ish Volvo 142 to be exact.

I wasn’t quite spoiled enough to argue with any set of wheels that landed in our driveway back then, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I mean, that old Volvo didn’t exactly help my rep among the female of the species. Which is among the many reasons I find it so nutty that one of today’s hottest young romantic leads heats things up on-screen in a Volvo station wagon. Yes, it’s time for a trip to the Twilight zone.

On the odd chance there’s not a lot of overlap between Autosavant readers and Twilight fans, here’s the deal: The Twilight business started out as a series of vampire books aimed at young adult readers, especially girls. I don’t happen to fit that demographic, but with the books and movies combining to earn hundreds of millions of dollars—and me having three daughters—the phenomenon has been a bit hard to ignore. Even for Volvo.

The automaker has managed to cook up a partnership with the latest Twilight movie, including online contests, etc., around the fact that one of the main characters, vampire Edward Cullen, rocks the Volvo XC60 in the new film. Now, I understand that Cullen, played by the actor Robert Pattison, represents a kinder, gentler breed of vampire, one who is even too sensitive to nibble the neck of his mortal beloved.

But really? A Volvo XC60? I mean, the Cullen character at least had a Volvo S60R in the books (so Wikipedia tells me), and that was a nice bit of road machine, and the Volvo C30 he drove in the earlier films (so I’ve heard) is at least aimed at younger drivers. I have to wonder, though, who at Volvo—where the median age of buyers is about 50—thought a full-on promotional tie-in between the XC60 and one of the biggest teen movies in years was a good idea?

Don’t get me wrong; I do like the XC60 itself. It offers plenty of utility and a nice driving experience, and I certainly think station wagons make more sense from a practical standpoint than crossovers. It’s just that putting a vampire in a Volvo would be like selling the Swedish company to a Chinese automaker.

Oh, wait a minute …

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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  1. good read

  2. The real question is, Does Volvo maake a hearse, equipped with a vampire coffic? And maybe, after reading this, I might consider reading the book or seeing the movie. But, buying a Volvo? Not without Bela Lugosi lying in the coffin in the back.

  3. Very entertaining piece. I have to tell you though, I got caught up in the picture of you and your brother being driven around at 100 miles an hour in your father’s Lotus.


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