The LCP2000. It sounds like an advanced cyborg from one of the Terminator films, but it’s actually the name given to one of Volvo’s concept cars from the early 1980s. And seriously, how good does it look?
LCP stands for Light Component Project – which sounds incredibly uncool – with the 2000 signifying Volvo’s intent on making a lightweight, highly fuel efficient car by the year 2000 – which is incredibly cool.
So the Volvo LCP2000 was born in the spring of 1983 – exactly 30 years ago. The brief was simple – the car had to accommodate a minimum of two people, have a maximum weight of 700kg and achieve a minimum fuel consumption of 70mpg. A tricky brief in 2013 – a complete brain-ache in 1983.
Four cars were built and they were shown at an environmental seminar in Stockholm. Each one was slightly different, but they were built around the same principles – a wedge-shaped two-door hatchback with an upright rear-end and a plastic tailgate that doubled up as an entrance door into the rear seat.
This feature alone warrants special attention. Just imagine the playground kudos points associated with your dad arriving in an LCP2000. Only for the daddy-coolness levels to reach stratospheric levels when the rear hatch was opened.
And if those super-stylish rearward-facing seats weren’t enough, there was still room for some luggage. Man, I want it to be 1983 again and I want to buy a Volvo LCP2000.
The cars were equipped with a 3-cylinder, transverse turbo-diesel engine. There were two variations – one was a 1.3-litre, 50hp magnesium engine, whereas the other was a cast-iron 1.4-litre 90hp engine.
This latter engine was the clever clogs as it was heat-insulated without a cooling jacket in the cylinder head and used engine oil as coolant. It ran on any oil – such as rapeseed oil – giving it a distinct whiff of fish and chips as it drove past. See, I told you it was cool.
Rear-facing back seats, 70mpg, a plastic tailgate/door AND the smell of fish and chips. Can this car get any better?
For weight and recycling purposes, the Volvo LCP2000 was constructed using plastic, magnesium and aluminium. It was also one of the first cars to feature carbonfibre in its construction – with the then new and untried material used for the door frames.
The result is something that looks unmistakably like a Volvo should and yet completely different at the same time. Yes, there’s a dash of the Volvo 480 about it, but I – perhaps weirdly – see more of the Citroën BX than I do a Volvo of the early 1980s. But then, this was supposed to represent what we’d be driving in the year 2000…
Highlights include what appears to be a cat flap in lieu of a bonnet and a pair of futuristic keypad entry systems mounted to the B-pillars. Also check out the very Citroën-esque single wiper – LJK Setright would have approved of this particular feature.
Sadly, despite 1983 being the year of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the world wasn’t ready for the super-futuristic and forward-thinking Volvo LCP2000. So it was destined for a life in the Volvo Museum, Gothenburg.
Which is a shame, as much like the original Honda Insight, I find myself yearning to drive this car. The world may have not been ready for the Volvo LCP2000 in 1983, but if Volvo was to announce its arrival in 2013, I’d hazard a guess we’d be applauding its forward-thinking characteristics.
The best forward-thinking car with rearward-facing back seats? That’ll be the Volvo LCP2000.
Images © Volvo.