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The first three decades of Volvo, ninety years of Swedish car manufacturer

ER Classics Desktop 2022

14 April 1927. It was a legendary day for the automotive industry and especially for Sweden. The very first Volvo - nicknamed Jacob - came ready. It was assembled by the modest number of 10 employees. The first car from Swedish soil was composed of parts that were produced by various Swedish companies. The ÖV4 was the first concrete result of Volvo as a car manufacturer and rolled off the tire at the Lungby plant. A three-year period preceded the construction of the first Volvo. 

In 1924, Swedish engineers Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson decided that the Scandinavian country was ripe for building cars. The low-capital technicians were able to produce ten prototypes. They did that with verve. The first prototype of 1926 was immediately deployed for a long distance from Stockholm to Gothenburg. The project caught the attention of SKF, with which the gentlemen were well acquainted. SKF provided a ready-made production facility. It had the name Volvo, which stood for "I roll". The rolling related to the function of the products manufactured by SKF: ball bearings.


Jacob. Born on April 14 1927

The ÖV4 was completed ninety years ago. The first Volvo was an open touring car, which was fitted with a frame and sheet steel constructed from ash and beech. The mounted power source was a four-cylinder side valve engine. The engine capacity was 1.944 cc. 4 models were built from the first Volvo ÖV205. The PV1928 appeared in 4, which was emphatically inspired by the rookie, but had a closed body. By the way, with the PV4 Special, Volvo won the Leningrad-Moscow-Leningrad race. The PV4 was the first Volvo to tap the number of cars produced from 1.000.

First Volvo six-cylinder

The first six-cylinder car from Volvo saw the light of day in 1929. It was the PV650, which was equipped with an 3.010 cc engine. This type was soon followed by the PV651 and PV652, which were fitted with hydraulic brakes and a synchronized gearbox, among other things. Various TR versions - which were used, among other things, as a taxi - were also given a place in the cautiously growing Volvo program.

The tirthies

In the 1930s, the Swedish manufacturer remained a major player in the taxi market. It also developed a number of new models, again with a six-cylinder engine of 3.266 cc and a gearbox with freewheel shift. Furthermore, the engines grew over the years, in addition, the models were more on American style. The small Volvo established its name as a manufacturer of large cars and came to 1935 with a completely new designed car: the Carioca.

Carioca. New design

The innovation was in the design. The Swedes opted for a streamline design in which the headlights were incorporated in the bodywork. The PV36 was the first car from the Swedish manufacturer to receive these design features. The body was made entirely of steel and the interior was known as comfortable. The PV50 series came in the second half of the 1930s. The PV51 and PV52 were inspired by the Carioca, albeit that equipment was easier and the Swedes opted for a more conventional front (which can be seen in the loose headlights, among other things). In 1938 the PV 53-57 series came on the scene. That was an upgraded and improved version of the first PV50 models.

WWII. Progress towards the future

In the Second World War, Volvo took over transmission supplier Köpings Mekaniska Verkstad AB. It also prepared the production of the PV60. It was a six-person sedan that made use of existing technology. It was also the first Volvo to receive an overdrive function on the transmission. The PV60 was built from 1946 to 1950 and was considered the last Volvo to have an American style from the makers. It was also the last Volvo with a six-cylinder engine until 1968. In the meantime, the Swedes had prepared for the post-war demand for cars. It developed the PV444, a car that was eventually produced for fourteen years and with a design that lasted until the 1960s (PV544). The post-war market required a different building style and production method, which primarily had to provide for efficient construction.

Basis for contemporary image

In the years of reconstruction, Volvo grew into a highly respected manufacturer that made cars that exhibited a high degree of sustainability and a high level of safety. And all in its own recognizable style. It made Volvo a unique place within the growing international car market and became one of the defining factors for the Swedish economy. Up to the present day.

All rights of the images rest with Volvocars

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