Press Releases

Fifty Years of Volvo Versatility



…Wagon Segment Leader Celebrates a Milestone

Irvine, CA (July 8, 2003) – This month fifty years ago, the first Volvo wagon rolled off the assembly line in Gothenburg, Sweden. Many of the Volvo wagons produced since that time have found their way to the United States. In fact, Volvo leads European imports and has literally become an icon for the segment.


Long before the SUV and many years preceding the Mini-Van, there was the station wagon. With its deep-seeded roots in utility, the wagon evolved into an essential vehicle for versatility, recreation and family fun. Along the way Volvo has been integral to the ride, and in many cases in the driver's seat, during fifty years of change.


"Even in Volvo's most advanced and stylistic models, the company remains true to its core beliefs," said Vic Doolan, president and CEO, Volvo Cars of North America. “Both the V70 wagon, and its go-anywhere cousin the XC70 all-wheel-drive Cross-Country variant, offer American car buyers exactly what our colleagues hoped to bring to the world market half-a-century ago." Doolan said.


Volvo's first wagon, a humble beginning indeed, resulted from an excess of chassis for the company's popular, PV444. Constructed of legendary Swedish steel, world renowned for its strength and durability, the frames were already in demand by companies that constructed rugged utility and delivery vans.


In 1953, with 1,500 chassis remaining after production plans of the PV444, the founders of Volvo's proclaimed, "we will build our own," and Volvo's concept of versatility was born: the Duett.


The Duett was named for its 'dual purpose' as a flexible, fast, yet durable van during working hours and a spacious, stylish, comfortable passenger car during leisure time. The Duett would be the platform from which all successive Volvo wagons would evolve. No other manufacturer can look back on such an experience in the building of practical influence like the Swedish marquee. And no other automobile company has received so many honors for its standards in versatility. Volvo versatility is in a class of it's own.


A modern station wagon, or sports or utility wagon is a versatile vehicle, offering load space, flexibility, comfort, driving fun and certainly an attractive design. Over the course of 50 years, Volvo has inexhaustibly established values and developed characteristics that separate the brand from its competitors.


Volvo design philosophy mirrors true Scandinavian design principles where ‘form and function’ are combined to create a wagon for all seasons. Volvo’s approach has been that the tire 'foot print' should help define how usable the interior space. In part, Volvo’s tall sides (boxy) delineate an interior that is maximized for storage / versatility.


Safety, value, and care for the environment are core characteristics that have been intrinsically woven into everything that Volvo does. From the first Duett with 44 horsepower to the hi-tech 300 horsepower of the 2004 V70R, Volvo has proven its commitment to maintaining the 'soul of the brand.'


A glance back at "Fifty Year of Volvo Versatility" reveals a continuum of innovations, utility, and safety:

  • With the P122 Wagon, or 'Amazon,' Volvo's consultation with doctors in the field of back pain led the way to the development of the most technologically ‘orthopedically designed ‘seats in the industry. (1962-1969)
  • The Volvo 145 was Volvo's first five-door wagon with a rear section that included a one-piece vertical tailgate. The design literally opened up vast horizons in terms of cargo space and is the basic characteristic for all future Volvo wagons. (1967-1974)
  • The Volvo 245 was produced for nineteen years and quickly elevated Volvo into the realm of cult car status. European men rated it as high as being able to spend an evening with a beautiful actress on their 'wish lists.' In the U.S., the 240 series was used in testing by the U.S. government to establish future safety standards (DOT/NHTSA) standards for safety. (1974-1993)


By this time, thousands of Volvo Amazons, 145s and 245s were being passed from original owners and parents to children now of driving age and other first-time Volvo drivers. In the process, Volvo’s image of remaining true to its core values was accepted by millions of American drivers. “By the 1970s Volvo had established an image of safety, security and responsibility. Unfortunately, we weren’t viewed as being much fun! And so, in 1985 Volvo designers convinced the engineers and safety experts that Volvo could be both responsible and sporty,”

  • In the mid-eighties, the 700 series wagon went into production with more of a focus on contemporary lifestyle and leisure. The Volvo 740 Turbo Wagon was the only wagon on the market that could reach 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds with top speed of about 121 mph, turn around in 34 feet, tow 3,300 lbs. and swallow 74.9 cubic feet of cargo - while offering luxury car comfort at the same time. (1985-1992)
  • With the production of the Volvo 850 Wagon, Volvo proved once again that there is no contradiction between a family wagon versatility and true driving pleasure. The Volvo 850 wagon created racing history by being the first wagon ever and Volvo’s first car entry in the prestigious BTCC, the British Touring Car Championship. The Volvo 850 was the first car in the world to offer side-impact airbags. (1993-1996)
  • Upon the introduction of the Volvo V40, the first Volvo to carry the designation of "V" for versatility was introduced. Slightly smaller than any Volvo wagon before it, the Volvo V40 is just as much fun to drive, just as comfortable and versatile and is perhaps the safest car in its market segment. (1995 - present)
  • For all the advancements and accolades received by the 850, nonetheless, there were more than 1,800 changes in the evolution to its successor – the V70. The V70 fulfils high environmental goals, equipped with a 'Prem-Air' catalytic system, which eradicates ozone near the ground level. Currently available in an R version, it's 300 horsepower / 295 ft-lb. of torque, three-position adjustable suspension and all-wheel-drive this is Volvo's most significant performance vehicle to date. (1996 - present)
  • The flagship of Volvo wagons is the V70 XC ("Cross Country"). Positioned as the SUV alternative, this rugged sport wagon, now named XC70 has garnered many awards, most recently "The Best All-Wheel Drive Wagon" by SmartMoney magazine. (2000 – present)


"The Volvo PV445 (Duett) delivered safety conscious automotive comfort and performance, suited to the world…at that time. Today, the Volvo wagon line upholds that heritage of commitment to social, transportation and economic values…quicker and a bit more stylishly than in 1953,” Vic Doolan concluded.


VCNA, part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Gothenburg, Sweden, provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to Volvo automobile retailers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.


The 2003/2004 Volvo automobile line includes the award-winning XC90, the sporty S60 sedan – including the award-winning performance sedan – S60 R, the flagship S80 luxury sedan, versatile V70 wagon and rugged XC70 (Cross Country), the C70 convertible, and the compact S40 and V40 models.


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For More Information:

Stephen R Bohannon


Volvo Cars of North America, LLC

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