Volvo has made all manner of vehicles over the course of its long history, including coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks, sedans, wagons and SUVs. But the vehicle that started it all was the PV444.
Or rather, we should say, the PV444 is what re-started it all. Because while it wasn’t Volvo’s first model, it was the first one it produced after the war. Monday, September 1, will mark 70 years since the PV444 first debuted at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm pictured above, where the company received 148,437 visitors.
That presentation there took place shortly before the end of World War II when the vehicle wasn’t even finished yet. A team of 40 engineers and designers were still fine-tuning the final version, but were eager to show the public what it would start building after the last bullet was fired and peace would return to Europe.
The exhibition garnered 2,300 pre-orders (though we doubt that’s what they were called seven decades ago and in Swedish). It would take Volvo another few years to begin delivery, but once it did, people got Gothenburg’s first small car, built on a monocoque chassis with an overhead-valve engine – all pioneering features at the time. That OHV engine displaced 1.4 liters and offered just 40 horsepower, and all those initial examples were painted black with green interiors.
The first examples delivered to the United States arrived in Los Angeles on August 15, 1955, and established Volvo’s presence in the North American market. Though Volvo had only made 2,000 cars at that point, it ambitiously set the production goal of 8,000 units for the PV444… and ended up building 200,000 of them by the time production ended in 1958. That total is 440,000 if you include the updated PV544 that followed until 1965. In short, it was a pivotal model for Volvo, and one worthy of celebrating.