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A Volvo for true believers - of the Red Sox persuasion

Email|Print| Text size + By Bill Griffith
Globe Correspondent / March 4, 2008

The Boston Red Sox have chauffeured fans down the road to happiness with pennant drives ending in two World Series Championships over the last four seasons. Now Volvo, the team's official car, has drummed up a promotion that gives the faithful a chance to pilot their own joy rides - the carmaker is introducing a Red Sox special edition of its popular C30 two-door hatchback.

Only 107 of the cars will be available, one to commemorate each of the team's victories during the 2007 championship run. The first 106 will be sold through selected New England Volvo dealers starting March 12. Number 107 will be set aside for a fund-raising raffle for the Red Sox Foundation.

The sticker price for the special edition is $29,465, about the same as a regular C30. It's color, "Passion Red," is a close match with Sox red. Each car comes with a dash plaque authenticated by Major League Baseball and a certificate of authenticity signed by Anne Bélec, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars of North America, and Larry Lucchino, president and chief executive of the Red Sox.

Automotive special editions have been used as marketing tools for a long time. They are aimed at creating buzz about the brand, and - ultimately, of course - generating sales.

"We do want to draw attention to Volvo, to show we're not a professor's car any longer, and that safety can be fun with unique Scandinavian styling," said Dan Johnston, a spokesman for Volvo North America. "We've been associated with the Red Sox since the 2002 season and this is a fun way to show our support of their achievements."

The New York Times Co., which owns The Boston Globe, has a 17 percent ownership stake in the Red Sox.

In past years, Honda had success with its 25th anniversary edition Accord, and Ford has hyped New England Patriots editions of its F-150 pickup and national editions - like King Ranch, Eddie Bauer, and Harley-Davidson - that have sold well enough to become annual offerings. "For the Ford brand, partnering with other recognized brands gives us an opportunity to connect with our customers to an even greater degree," said Tara Martin of Ford's Northeast office in New York.

The special edition Volvo C30 has customized outside molding and trim, plus fog lights, heated front seats, a blue-face instrument cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum inlays, sport pedals, sport shifter, soft load cover, cruise control, and a Dynaudio sound system with Sirius satellite radio. It also has a small Red Sox logo badge on each front fender, special floor mats embossed with a Sox "B," and a large transparent Sox logo decal in the rear window.

The car is powered by a turbocharged T5 5-cylinder engine that produces 227-horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. A five-speed automatic Geartronic transmission is standard.

The C30's main competitors are the Audi A3, Mini Cooper (including the new Clubman version), and Volkswagen R32.

Given the heated Boston-New York rivalry, perhaps one of those manufacturers will consider offering a special Yankees edition vehicle.

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