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Volvo is Latin and means “I roll”.


Volvo was born on April 14, 1927, when the first car, ÖV4 (nicknamed Jakob) left the factory in Gothenburg.

The 1920s was the decade when cars made a real breakthrough, both in the USA and Europe. In Sweden, people’s interest in cars was seriously aroused in 1923 as the result of a jubilee exhibition in Gothenburg attended by 97 car exhibitors.

Quality was of paramount importance to the men who founded Volvo.
This basic concept, which was formulated back in 1926, still applies to Volvo’s way of making cars.

The PV655, built between 1933 and 1935. The hood was modified and a “grille” had been fitted in front of the radiator for the first time.

The PV36 was intended to be a relatively expensive luxury model. A series of just 500 cars was made. The PV36 nickname was Carioca, perhaps because the Carioca was a South-American dance fashion at the time.


The successor to the PV53-56 was the PV60, a larger car in American style.


The new, small car, christened the PV444, was introduced in the autumn of 1944. Even at this stage, Volvo knew that the car would be unique, as it combined American design with European size. This later proved to be a highly successful combination.


Taxis, ambulances and trucks where made in the 40’s and 50’s using the 800 model. Some of them had an “Americanized” front with five upright “teeth” between the front bars.


Volvo’s plans for a two-seater sports car came as a great surprise. After all, the Volvo was known as a good, sturdy car, albeit a little boring.

The Volvo Sport, also called P1900 was subjected to grueling tests in Sweden. The engine was a B14A with twin carburetors, which developed 70 hp, but the other components had been taken from the PV444. There was little demand for the Volvo Sport in Sweden; only 67 cars were produced and production ceased within one year.

The first Volvo Duett 445 (later called 210) was introduced. The name Duett symbolized Volvo’s idea of “two cars in one” one for work and one for leisure.


Volvo has been involved with manufacturing military vehicles and equipment for the Swedish Army through all the years and the 915 “Suggan” (the Sow) is just one of the many.


The Volvo management decided to make a whole-hearted commitment to internationalization. Introduction on the US market was incredibly important. Production of the 120 (called Amazon in Scandinavia) began in 1957, and a great deal of work had been put into its safety features. The top half of the dashboard was “padded”, and Volvo was the first car manufacturer in the world to equip its cars with three point safety belts as a standard fitting.


The P1800 went into production.

In “THE SAINT”, Roger Moore drove a white P1800 much to the annoyance of the British Automobile Industry.

P1800 received awards for its attractive design at the 1961 California State Fair, and at the 24-hour race at the Sebring track in the US, the P1800 was the official car of 1963 and 1964.

In April 24, 1964 the new Torslanda Plant was opened. Its estimated capacity was 110,000 cars.

A number of new features were presented. These included disc brakes at the front on all Amazon models and power assisted brakes on station wagons.

Volvo presented a new type of front seat, which had been developed in collaboration with medical experts, who maintained that sitting in the right position had an important effect on traffic safety.

In August of 1966 a new car model was presented. It was called the Volvo 144. In terms of safety, this car was extremely advanced. It had disc brakes all round, a split steering column and a new lock on the three-point safety belts. The body had energy-absorbing crumple zones at the front and rear. Even the door locks had a safety design.

The 144 also meant the introduction of a triangle-split dual-circuit brake system. The car had two brake circuits and, if one of them failed, 80% of braking effect was still available.

The Volvo 144 was also a success abroad. In USA, the 144 complied with the new safety regulations before they had even been made public.

The Volvo 145 was introduced later that year. Technically speaking, this car was virtually identical to the other 140 models. The tailgate was made in one piece and opened outwards with the hinges located in the roof. Volvo now had three estates in its range, the P210 Duett, the Amazon/221 Estate and the Volvo 145.


The most powerful standard car Volvo had ever produced, the Volvo 164 E, was presented. The engine had electronic fuel injection and developed 175 hp.

A new version of the P1800 was also introduced in 1971. The accentuated fastback profile underlined the sporty nature of the car. This model was known as the P1800 ES.


In 1972 Volvo presented a safety vehicle, the VESC (Volvo Experimental Safety Car), an experimental car but also one that looked towards the future.

New generations of Volvo cars was presented in 1975, the Volvo 240 with six different models and the Volvo 260 with two models.
These cars had a new front, inspired by the VESC, and the dashboard modified. The 240 Series was equipped with a new B21 engine with an overhead camshaft. The 260 Series also had a new engine, a V6. The new 6-cylinder engine was the first result of Volvo’s joint venture with Renault and Peugeot for the development of car engines.

The US traffic safety administration (NHTSA) purchased a number of Volvo 240s, which were used to set the safety standards against which all new cars on the US market were tested.
The Volvo 343 (later 440) from Holland made its appearance in 1976. This was a completely newly developed car from Volvo. With the 343, Volvo took up the gauntlet on the tough but growing market for mid-range cars. The first model was equipped with a 1.4-liter engine and continuously variable transmission.

Volvo celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1977 and commemorated the occasion with a limited edition 244 and 264 model, called Jubilee. Those cars had silver metallic paintwork with special black and gold decor moldings and blue velour/plush seats. The Volvo 262C Bertone was also presented during the year.


The first turbocharged car from the Volvo Car Corporation! The Volvo 240 Turbo with a B21 ET engine developing 155 hp was a true performance model with the sort of driving characteristics people expect of a sports car.

On February 25th, 1981, the one-millionth Volvo bound for North America left the assembly line at the plant in Gothenburg. This Jubilee car was a silver 240 Estate. Volvo was now the largest European car exporter to the US.

On February 1982, Volvo unveiled its new model, the Volvo 760 GLE.
The 760 was introduced with two different engines, the 6-cylinder B28E gas engine and a new turbocharged 6-cylinder diesel. With the Diesel engine, the Volvo 760 GLE accelerated from zero to 100 Km/h in 13 seconds, which made it one of the world’s fastest diesel-powered cars.

The Volvo 780, a new exclusive 2-door model developed in collaboration with Carrozzeria Bertone in Turin in Italy, was presented at the Geneva Motor Show.

Volvo Car B.V. from Holland introduced the Volvo 480 ES with sporty styling and the first front wheel driven Volvo.

In 1986, engines with catalytic converters and the Lambda Sond were introduced in a number of European countries (Volvos exported to US had had that since 1977).

In 1989, Nils Bohlin, designer of the three-point safety belt, was elected to the American Safety and Health Hall of Fame, and the mechanical safety belt tensioner earned the Prince Michael Road Safety Award.


In the autumn of 1990, Volvo presented the 940/960.

The Volvo 960 had a newly developed driveline with an in-line, six-cylinder, three-liter engine and an electronically controlled automatic transmission. The new engine meant that Volvo was able to advance its position in the high-performance sector. A unique and practical integrated child booster cushion was also presented as an alternative to the conventional armrest.

The Volvo Car Corporation received yet more distinctions for its work on safety, in the form of the Prince Michael Road Safety Award for the best technical innovation in the field of safety and the Auto car & Motor award for the best safety feature. Both awards were for the integrated child booster cushion in the Volvo 940/960.

In June 1991, the Volvo Car Corporation unveiled a completely new car, the Volvo 850 GLT, The Volvo 850 GLT represents Volvo’s greatest industrial project over the years. The Volvo 850 was also the first car in the world to be fitted with a side airbag to supplement the structural side-impact protection system (SIPS). Since its introduction in 1991, the Volvo 850 has earned more than 40 international awards. One of the most coveted ones in 1994 was the Good Design Grand Prize, presented by MITI (the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Japan).

The high safety level of Volvo cars was confirmed once again during the year. Two American surveys done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, cited Volvo as the safest car on the market.

Volvo’s most powerful car, the 850 T-5R with a five-cylinder, 250 Hp turbo engine was presented at the Geneva Car Show in 1994.

1996 brought a number of exciting new models as a result of Volvo’s dynamic product strategy, including the Volvo S70 sedan, the station wagon V70 and the Volvo 850 Bi-Fuel. It was fitted with twin fuel systems, allowing it to be driven on either petrol or methane gas. This meant that it already satisfied the California emission legislation for the year 2000.

Production of the Volvo S40 and V40 got fully under way but it would take several more years before the model found its way to America.

Sporty, elegant, exciting. All these words were used to describe the new luxury model, the Volvo C70 coupe when it was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The C70 was the first car to emerge from the joint venture with the British engineering firm TWR at Auto Nova’s Uddevalla Plant. An open version, the C70 convertible followed at the end of the year. This is the first open Volvo since the P1900 in 1956.

1997, the four-wheel drive Volvo V70R AWD (All Wheel Drive) was introduced, followed by the Volvo V70 XC (Cross Country)

The introduction of the new Volvo S80 at the end of May 1998 was without a doubt the climax of the year. In late spring and summer, the new challenger on the saloon market was driven by motor journalists from all over the world, and their reviews were very enthusiastic.

After one year, the new Volvo S80 had already earned a number of awards, including the Prince Michael Road Safety Award for the Inflatable Curtain. It was also acclaimed “the Most Beautiful Car in the World” by the Italian motoring organization and magazine Automobilia. These awards emphasize the fact that the Volvo S80 is a typical Volvo, particularly in terms of safety, quality, reliability and environmental awareness.

New inventions include the revolutionary Multiplex electrical system that uses two main cables, twenty or so computers and digital technology for its communications network. The result is less wiring, increased capacity, better reliability and easier retrofitting of extra equipment.

PremAir, a catalytic coating for car radiators that converts potentially harmful ozone in the air outside the car into oxygen.

The 8th of Mars 1999, a dark day for puritan Swedes but good for Volvo. The car company was sold to American Ford Motor Company.



The new millennium starts very well for Volvo Cars. In 2000, the company sells 422,100 vehicles, a record year, and Volvo S60 sees the light. The new sporty compact saloon model is extremely well received by both the press and car buyers.


Volvo has produced concept test platforms through the years and the VSCC (Volvo Safety Concept Car) of the new Century is one of them. Emphasizing on high visibility and safety, using see-through roof pillars and 4-point seat belts.



In 2002, the long awaited Volvo SUV XC90 is released in America.





PCC2 (Performance Concept Car) has a 300 hp, 2.4-litre turbo engine producing a mammoth 400 Nm of torque, with a 6 speed gearbox.


New concept luxury car from Volvo at the Geneva car show in 2003






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Disclaimer: Anders Johannesson and Swedecar are not affiliated with or in any way related to Saab or Volvo of North America, Saab or Volvo automobiles or any new car manufacturer.