Journal: Celebrating 90 Years Of Volvo Cars

Celebrating 90 Years Of Volvo Cars

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
April 14, 2017
19 comments

Upon the utterance of those two goofy-friendly Scandinavian syllables “Vol-vo,” (which is actually Latin for “I roll,” though it does sound like the prefix to a lot of things that could be made by Ikea) anyone in earshot will be soon smiling at the thoughts that well up to greet the familiar word. That’s the thing about Volvo: seemingly everyone has owned one, or else knows someone who did. It’s a name attached to a lot of cars and the memories created by each of them.

Beyond the at times avant garde and other times staidly handsome Swedish styling, the reason that such a great amount of us have experience of some kind with a Volvo is because they just keep on rolling. So if the name lacks in Scandinavian authenticity, at least the translation is appropriate. I own and have put many miles on a 240 wagon, so I think I can attest to this capability in some part. All I know is that the only thing I do know about the mileage on my car is that it’s higher than the number that’s been frozen in the dials for at least the last 20,000 of whatever the grand total currently is. I also know that it hasn’t been aligned in likely five years at this point, yet will obediently hold a straight line if you need to let go of the wheel to look for a cassette that may or may not prove acceptable to the finicky aftermarket deck that mine came unfortunately burdened with.

Though the sounds from the exhaust aren’t anything to write anything about, you still won’t miss your music if it decides not to work that day. Why? Why is because having a manual gearbox 240 wagon is one of the more persuasive arguments for the “drive a slow car fast” camp. I’ve yet to have more fun than driving that car on the snowy roads in the barren nowhere of Connecticut, so I guess I don’t need much convincing, but still. Try a soft and comfortable car that accepts whatever you want to do with it, and preferably one that’s cheap and safe. It’s a good time.

That’s my, and I think a lot of people’s, experience with a Volvo; at least, it was probably a wagon of some 1, 2, 7, 8, or 9 variant, and it was either the kind of daily object that now occupies almost as much memory real estate as your childhood home, or else a first car of yours or your friend’s that gave you more freedom than you were likely responsibly equipped for. If those two cases don’t cover most of the ground, you’ll forgive me in leaving out an exhaustive list. And it would be exhaustive, because it just really does seem to be the case that everyone has an “old Volvo” story of some sort.

Lately though—no, this is not in any way sponsored, endorsed, or whatever term you’d like me to use, by Volvo—the cars and, really, SUVs have gone back to the ahead of the time styling that helped differentiate cars like the P1800 from the idea that Volvos had to be mature and reserved entirely. They don’t. And they really never were, at least not entirely, for that matter. For every mental image of a tired 840 wagon owned by someone who uses the cupholder as an ashtray as he or she smokes inside the dirty snow-encrusted car, there has always been a souped-up something or other produced in modest numbers with little flashiness or attitude to balance the scales.

There was the 242 GT for example, and the 240 Turbo—the racing variant of which won European and German touring car championships—as well as the lineage of the “R” sedans and, cooler yet, wagons. Plus of course the bright blue Polestar versions, which have in the past years helped to keep the idea of fast wagons a reality.

I’m leaving out a number of great cars—just take a look at the Bertone Volvos—but the point is that it’s a company that’s attained success in racing, in design, and most importantly so, in the constant pioneering of safety for the millions of people who own or ride in its vehicles. Whether it’s dealer-new and flawlessly futuristic or beyond “cleaning up” like mine, there’s a shared presence of the kind of thoughtful approach to car creation that has never really left the company (okay yeah some of the 2000s “S-series” cars really sucked). For almost a century now though, Volvo has been there, and often helping to show us where we’re headed next.

To all the memories made and yet to come, happy 90th birthday Volvo!

Photos courtesy of Volvo

Join the Conversation
Related

19
Leave a Reply

15 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
13 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
rizkisayetMichael FedunShakaFederico RoviraAnders Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
rizkisayet
rizkisayet

I like Toyota cars than Volvo because in my country, I was very hard to get spare parts from this car.

2019-Acura-ILX.jpg
Michael Fedun
Michael Fedun

I’ve owned a number of Volvos over the years – a couple of 142’s, a 245 wagon a 740 turbo wagon and a P1800E (which I wish I still had). Loved them all. I now have a Subaru Legacy wagon .

My p1800.jpg
Federico Rovira
Federico Rovira

I own a 2011 C30, also known as one of the most un-volvoish of all Volvos as it’s not very practical, roomy or family friendly. But I still love it. I tried to sell it twice, and I just couldn’t. The car is full of character and that p1800 styled rear door looks great.

Anders
Anders

I love my volvo pv with volvo 164 front and rear axle, 2,3l turbo engine and full rollcage. Before the volvo was known for bricks.

pv.jpg
Ненад Бањац

I love Volvo vehicles. This Company making most safeties cars in the world. Since I am a family man I prefer SUV models, and I think that new XC60 is the best SUV on the market.

Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves

Volvo driver here!

I have and drive a 1997 V70 T5 (manual) that has hust turned 20 this month!

She has 313.000 kms on the clock and is still going strong (and fast with 260 + hp on it)

Bohemianracer
Bohemianracer

I had a very rare 2005 S60 with a five speed manual non turbo, no leather seats or sunroof, which I absolutely loved. At about 150,000 miles my daughter totaled it. The car was not destroyed but it had suspension and body damage. It would have cost more money to fix than what the car was worth.

Erik Olson
Erik Olson

Agree that the Amazon has a good history, as does the PV series. Good early rally history for Volvo in those days as well. The 240 is probably what most people associate with the marque, but I also think the 850 has a good story as the first venture into FWD. That was a major shift for Volvo and started a pretty major platform change towards all the current models.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

I disliked Volvos (except for the P1800 ES) until mid 1997 when their first AWD hit the street in the US. My home and street requires at least one AWD vehicle to be able to get out after a snow storm. Previously I had Nissan Pathfinders (bulletproof but boring and hard seats) with the one Surburban thrown in the mix. I never liked any of them as I Do NOT like to sit high. Then as I checked into the nearby Volvo dealer I saw the magic letters “AWD” sitting on the hatch of the then all new V70XC. I… Read more »

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

This was my old 2004 V70R 6 speed manual with about 375 HP. she got out of her own way!

My old 2004 V70R best new left front .jpg
Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

You know … I’ve always regretted not owning a Volvo . Preferably a 240 Turbo Wagon or alternatively the ever so slightly … errr .. odd Bertone . Whats kept me from doing so was the weird quirk of classic Volvos . For a Swedish car its distinct lack of legroom for my 6’5″ 175 lb frame . Which is weird in light of the fact alt Sweden has among the tallest per capita population in the Western world . Sigh … But once Volvos became PAG and then Geely … well .. Volvo’s done lost their mojo completely in… Read more »

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Viva la Volvo! I love my ’91 5-speed 245.

Martin Philippo
Martin Philippo

A nice piece of writing, txs!

André Borges
André Borges

My favorite marque. Fantastic vehicles!

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

Volvo wagons RULE! I have no idea why Americans are turned off to wagons, so damn practical.
(My modded 07 V70 FWD)

2007 mine left side.JPG
Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

If I may be so bold . Americans .. me included have turned to the SUV/CUV because they are the essence of what a wagon once was . Whereas the majority of todays wagons/estates etc have sacrificed much of their utility .. not to mention unobstructed vision etc on the holy alter of style over substance . And when mpg etc are taken into account … heck … my Mercedes SUV ( in reality a CUV ) gets as good if not better mpg than 90% of the AWD ‘ wagons ‘ on offer with more storage .. better handling… Read more »

KillyBamp
KillyBamp

Not a single photo, or mention of the Amazon….

Shaka
Shaka

…or the 480… 🙁