Surely it was some kind of joke... The idea that anyone would choose to run an estate in the highly competitive world of the British Touring Car Championship seemed preposterous in the extreme. The fact that the late Tom Walkinshaw was behind Volvo's entry with the unconventional body shape 20 years ago only fuelled speculation that it was a wind-up.
The possibility that TWR would run an 850 estate was talked about the moment the stories of Volvo's return to top-flight touring car racing broke in October 1993.
The programme was launched with an estate show car - though there was also a saloon present around the back - at the Stockholm motor show in February 1994, and it was definitively stated at the Geneva show in March that the Swedish manufacturer would be racing the 'shooting brake'. Yet the most cynical of doubters still didn't believe that TWR wouldn't be racing a saloon when the first car rolled off the truck at the BTCC opener at Thruxton in April.
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Gary Watkins has, for reasons best known to himself, devoted all his working life to covering sportscar racing. This season is his 25th as a motorsport journalist, during which time he has reported on major long-distance events on four continents and approaching 60 24-hour races. He reckons a degree in political philosophy makes him well qualified for covering the sometimes Machiavellian world of international sportscars.
Gary, who also writes for RACER, Autoweek, Motor Sport, Autocourse and others, lives in Surbiton but spends more time on the road than at home for most of the year.