Love ’em or hate ’em, you cannot deny that the Twilight series and its ensuing movie franchise inhabited our collective conscious for a good handful of years. Worldwide, the movies grossed $3.3 billion. But sparkly vampires and strange, interpersonal themes aside, perhaps the biggest sin The Twilight Saga film series committed concerned Edward Cullen’s car.
I’m probably not the first to say it, but the Twilight book series matched its main characters with their cars reasonably well. Bella Swan, the series’ main protagonist and decidedly un-flashy, practical person, drove a 1953 Chevy pickup. Rosalie Hale, the self-absorbed beauty queen vampire, drove a red BMW M3 convertible. (Seeing as the first book was written in 2005, we can safely assume it was the E46 generation, too, as the E93 M3 had yet to come out.) Jacob Black, the shape-shifter of the Quileute tribe, owned a 1986 Volkswagen Rabbit that he was constantly restoring.
Edward Cullen, the series’ Hot Vampire-In-Chief is described as driving a “shiny” and “silver” Volvo. In the 17 times the car is mentioned in the first book, no model is designated. Later on, the internet decided he drove an S60 R—an admirable choice because those are dope—but within Stephenie Meyer’s original text itself, I was unable to find mention of any S60 R. Which is fine! I was just stoked on seeing an S60 R on the big screen when the first Twilight movie came out in 2008.
The S60 R actually fit Edward quite well, as he was described as constantly trying to downplay his family’s massive wealth in the small, humble town of Forks, Washington. But he also liked to drive fast, so the 300 horsepower from a four-door Volvo made for the perfect sleeper car. Plus, Edward’s decision to drive this car as opposed to something German suggested that he knew good Scandanavian shit when he saw it. In this regard, he was one of us.
You can imagine my disappointment when, instead of an S60 R, a Volvo C30 showed up onscreen.
But you know what? That was fine, too. The C30 was a cool and spunky little car, a weirdo hatchback that completely departed from anything and everything Volvo was making at the time. It was a bold move. Who am I to dunk on a traditionally conservative automaker’s bold move? And, as Ronan Glon wrote just this past week in his very excellent C40 Recharge review, “The C-prefix denotes a car that breaks from the status quo in a bid to lure younger buyers to the [Volvo] brand.”
Furthermore, by the time Twilight came out, the S60 R was no longer being made, as this Volvo press release from 2010 pointed out: “In the novels, the hero Edward Cullen drives a Volvo S60 R—the previous S60 model. However, when the time came to make the films, Volvo was no longer producing the S60 R so a Volvo C30 was used in the first film.”
So the C30 was cool. It was cool when Edward drove it and it was cool when he went and saved Bella in it.
But then, when The Twilight Saga: New Moon sequel came out in 2009, the C30 was gone, appallingly. In its place was the Volvo XC60… crossover. Uncool.
Look, here’s Edward with his new crossover, which he cannot even be bothered to park properly. Deeply, deeply uncool.
What happened? How did Edward Cullen go from driving a plucky Swedish hatchback to a globby grocery-getter? I have nothing against crossovers—they serve their purpose for the people who buy them—but this is Edward Cullen, man! He’s a 108-year-old vampire who’s stuck at 17 years old. High-school teenagers, if they had all the resources and money that the Cullen family does, would not be driving an XC60.
Edward likes speed. He likes running fast and driving fast cars. I understand the need to blend in, but there is no driving fast in that XC60. You could argue that he made the switch between Twilight and New Moon because he was concerned for Bella’s safety when riding with him. But that explanation doesn’t exactly hold water when you consider the fact that his vampire reflexes are quicker than light and he’s basically indestructible. In addition to his mind-reading abilities, Edward would be able to protect Bella from literally any traffic collision that could ever happen. They could ride unicycles to school and still be perfectly safe.
Furthermore, the vehicle swap isn’t addressed at all. Even if you didn’t know cars, you’d still notice if a main character’s car suddenly went from a small silver thing to a large, dark gray thing.
Why the switch? Marketing. That’s why.
In the same 2010 press release, Volvo said, “Volvo’s appearance in the first film in the franchise… led to increased sales of the Volvo C30 at several Volvo dealers, particularly in the U.S. market.” So someone at Volvo—a for-profit car company—put two and two together, and saw this to be an excellent opportunity to profit. So instead of the funky C30 hatchback, the more expensive XC60 mainstream crossover appeared in New Moon. Families aren’t going to buy C30s. Families will buy XC60s, though.
And it worked.
“After the release of… New Moon, dealers reported increased interest in the Volvo XC60 and noted that customers came to showrooms to photograph their children in the ‘Twilight car,'” the release went on. “Volvo is being increasingly perceived by youngsters as ‘cool,’ and moms of teenagers are showing increasing interest, thanks to the enthusiasm of their kids.”
Volvo PR man, Oliver Engling, weighed in and said, “Above all, of course, we are really pleased that the image of the Volvo brand has changed among many of the young people who in a few years’ time will be our potential customers. They perceive the brand as attractive and one that stands out from the crowd.”
A for-profit car company will do what all for-profit car companies do: attempt to sell more cars in any way that it can. This isn’t news. But what sucked about this situation, looking back now in 2021, is that Edward drove something legitimately interesting. You could get the C30 with either a four- or five-cylinder engine and it came with an optional manual transmission. It didn’t really look like anything else on the road. And it represented one of the rare times that Volvo broke out of its box to deliver on something different.
But I suppose that even in fantasy vampire land, we’ll all be trading fun for crossovers one day.
Edward’s car was thankfully swapped out yet again in the franchise’s fourth installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 for a Volvo S60 R-Design, but frankly, by this point, the damage had been done. I just couldn’t really come back from the monstrous leap between a C30 to an XC60. No amount of S60 helped, R-Design or not. It should have been an S60 R all along, but if not, then they should at least have stuck with the C30.
And if you’re Edward Cullen and you’re trying not to draw untoward attention to yourself and your family, what screams for attention more than owning three brand-new Volvos over the course of four years in high school?
You can be mad that the vampires glittered. I’m over here still fuming over the XC60.
You agree, right? Hit me up at [email protected]
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