Volvo finally entered the SUV market in the early 2000s with the launch of the original XC90, but the automaker was designing SUVs at least as far back as the 1970s.

Shortly after Land Rover launched its first Range Rover and before Mercedes-Benz launched its first civilian G-Class, Volvo designed a boxy two-door SUV.

Official design sketches of the SUV were recently posted to the Facebook page of the Volvo Heritage department along with some information about their original purpose.

According to Hans Hedberg, the manager of Volvo Heritage, the design sketches were penned by Volvo's design manager at the time, Gunnar Falck, and represent the early concept styling stage of development. He started sketching ideas for an SUV at the suggestion of Volvo's CEO at the time, Pehr Gyllenhammar, for a vehicle that could be sold in developing regions, in particular African countries.

Volvo SUV designs from the 1970s

Volvo SUV designs from the 1970s

The design blends the boxy look of Volvo's sedans with short overhangs and square wheel arches typical of SUVs. Any production version may have resembled the XJ-generation Jeep Cherokee of the 1980s.

Volvo eventually abandoned the idea for an SUV for the next couple decades but would revive it with the Adventure Concept Car that debuted in 2001 and previewed the first XC90 that would arrive a couple years later.

Volvo fans can look forward to more content from Volvo's archives, like these design sketches, as the Volvo Heritage department said it plans to release more of its hidden gems.