Let me Start by congratulating Volvo on 90 years in the car business!, over the years Volvo have been able to bring us top class safety standards and some pretty awesome cars along the way, anything from the PV’s of the 50’s to the XC90’s and S/V90’s of today.
On this day (14/4/2017) 90 years ago Volvo Cars was started up by two men called Assar Gabrielsson & Gustav Larson, these two men both worked at SKF which is a Ball Bearing Making company founded in Gothenburg. Their Vision was to build a tough, well built Swedish car which could withstand the weather and harshness of Sweden’s country roads. The name Volvo was originally a subsidiary of SKF which was intended to be used as a new series of SKF Ball Bearings.
Assar Gabrielsson, who was an SKF Sales Manager & Gustav Larson, a KTH Royal Institute of Technology Educated Engineer were both unhappy with the cars in Sweden at the time as they just couldn’t cope with the harshness or weather Sweden was used to. they both met in a Cafe in Gothenburg and started talking about how bad the cars were and how they could be improved to be able to cope with the Swedish roads & Weather, after talking for a while they decided to join up as a team to build the Swedish people a well built, tough car which would be able to cope – Volvo Cars Was Born!
Manufacturing started on the 10th August 1926 where they built up to ten prototypes of their first car called the OV4, otherwise known as Jakob, it was a 4 door convertible car with a 2.0 4 cylinder engine and was made between 1927-1929. In 1928 Volvo started to build Trucks, (soon to become Volvo Trucks) as well as cars which became a huge success, in 1930 Volvo sold 639 cars and started to export trucks to the rest of Europe soon afterwards, it was not until after WW2 that Volvo started to become well known.
In 1935 Volvo acquired the company Pentaverken, who had been providing Volvo with engines, this provided a secure supply of engines and entry into marine engines.
In 1934 Volvo launched their first ever Bus, called the B1, which then turned into Volvo Buses, in the early 1940’s Aircraft engines were added into the ever growing range of products, at the same time Volvo had released the PV Series of cars.
This was a small family car which had a lot of styling cues of American cars at the time, with curves never seen on Volvo’s before, the PV was also the first Volvo to come with their new safety feature, The Laminated Front Windscreen, essentially two pieces of glass stuck to a piece of plastic in the middle, this made crashes safer as customers weren’t cut with glass if involved in a crash, in 1959 however, Volvo was about to change the rule book forever and take a huge step in safety standards.
After doing numerous tests on car accidents and what caused them and what caused injuries or sometimes death, Volvo decided to bring out a new piece of safety equipment we now take for granted, the simple Three Point Safety Belt. It was invented as we know it by a chap named Nils Bohlin who introduced it in 1959 as standard equipment, in addition to inventing it he showed off his new creation by running different tests in front of Journalists around the world, unbelted occupants suffered horrific injuries while the occupants who were buckled up in the new three point belt came away unscathed.
Also bought out in the PV and Following Volvo’s afterwards was a safety cage which would stop the roof from caving in if involved in a rollover.
in 1956, Volvo introduced the Amazon, it was a mid size car which could fit a family of four quite easily, it was built in 4 door saloon, two door saloon and as a five door estate, it shared the wheelbase with the PV as well as the tall posture and H-Pointing seating too, Volvo sold over 667,791 Amazons from 1956-1970 making it the most popular Volvo ever made.
in 1961, Volvo launched the P1800 Coupe as their own take on the forever popular GT Segment of the car industry, it produced 100bhp from it’s 1.8 4 cylinder engine,it was designed by Pietro Frua who was one of the leading coach builders and car designers during the 50’s and 60’s, a P1800 owned by Irv Gordon has the Guinness World Record for Highest Mileage on a car with over 3 million miles. That wasn’t the best bit however as it became popular as the main car in a TV Show called The Saint which starred none other than Roger Moore himself, That’s right, Roger More who played James Bond through the 70’s played Simon Templar and drove a Volvo – Cool or What! as a matter of fact he actually owned one of the Cars from The Saint as his run around.
In 1966 Volvo launched the 144 and then eventually the 164, these came in two and four door saloon models (142, 144) as well as a five door wagon (145), it was produced from 1966-1974 before being replaced with the most well known Volvo ever made, the 200 series.
These were a range of executive cars produced from 1974 to 1993, the 200 series cars were well known for being as tough as old boots and became the first Volvo to ever be referenced as a Tank due to it’s build quality and it’s ruggedness. they came in two door sedan, 4 door sedan, 5 door wagon and a 2 door Coupe (known as the 262c Bertone) they came in different flavours, with anything from grocery getters to Group A. Race cars competing in the World Touring Car Championship during the eighties, it was the safest car when launched and was used as a reference point for other manufactures, it also was the cleanest car emissions wise when launched in California. it even out lasted production a year after it’s predecessor the 700 series stopped production.
During the Nineties & Noughties Volvo became synonymous with adding performance to their cars with thanks to their Modular family of engines, these were consisting of 4 cylinders, 5 cylinders and 6 cylinder units which lasted from 1993 till 2014, they were put into cars from 850R’s to XC90 SUV’s, from C70’s to the big V70 Estates.
The best engine out the lot was the T5’s, they showed people that Volvo could provide a powerful car with a very good driving experience, this was helped by the UK Police having 850 T5’s during the nineties and Volvo and TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) racing some 850’s in the BTCC from 1994 to 1996 before getting replaced by the S40 Super Touring Car.
These Days Volvo have changed for the better, they’re new cars are now even more luxurious than even with their lineup winning Car of The Year all over the place, the Modular engine was dropped in favour for 2.0 4 cylinder units which provide decent power with better fuel economy which was a downside of the older engines. for those who still want Performance from their Volvo’s you can always go to Polestar which was recently bought by Volvo themselves as an in house tuning company similar to AMG and Mercedes-Benz.
So Here’s to Many more years Volvo, long may it continue!
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson