The S60 R (and its V70 R sibling) don't fit very conveniently into the fast Volvo story. They didn't enjoy the iconic status of the mid-90s 850s because touring car regulations had changed by that point, and nor do they enjoy the cachet of the later Polestar-fettled cars. And they were too early for that Yamaha V8...
In the case of the S60 it was not helped by the strength of competition upon launch in 2003. The BMW M3 was at the height of its E46 pomp, the Audi S4 packed that stonking 4.2-litre V8, and the rally replicas were still readily available for the ultimate in four-seat fun. In that sector, the 300hp S60 couldn't quite cut it - not as fast as the Germans, not as furious as the Japanese. It just wasn't quite good enough.
Still, time can be kind. More than 15 years later and the S60 R looks a rare, stylish, quick and eminently tunable old Swedish saloon. Being different only gets you so far in a fiercely competitive new market; secondhand, though, when purchases don't have to be so rational, some quirky traits can come to the fore.
Which is where this particular S60 R comes in, because it's in the very seldom seen launch specification of light green metallic paint with orange leather. Which sounds horrific, but we'd argue works pretty successfully. If nothing else it's more interesting than the usual blues, silvers and blacks that Volvos are often seen in.
Moreover, this must be one of the most cherished S60 Rs in existence. A right-hand drive import (presumably from Japan), it has covered only 32,000 miles and looks as pristine as you might hope for an average annual mileage of around 2k. That vivid leather isn't too far from factory fresh, the metallic paint sparkles and those handsome 18-inch wheels don't carry a blemish. For a design almost 20 years old, this era of S60 has aged remarkably well.
As perhaps the nicest S60 R available, this car is also the most expensive, at £7,450. Some will be put off by the automatic gearbox too, given its less than favourable reputation in period. With infrequent and considerate use though, and without the harsh light of close rivals to drive back to back, it's surely something that could be tolerated.
Manual cars are available, as are cheaper versions but the spec has us sold on this S60 R. It'll be a talking point at meets and in club gatherings, and has a welcome injection of character for something could never be called the most exciting of cars. And while it will never be as iconic as something like Gul Yellow on T5 850s, there's something about a fast Volvo that dares to be just a little different. You won't see another one anytime soon, that's for sure...
SPECIFICATION - VOLVO S60 R
Engine: 2,521cc, 5-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@5,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@1,950-5,250rpm
MPG: c. 28
First registered: 2003
Recorded mileage: 32,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £7,450