Gothenburg, Sweden – Volvo celebrates its 90th anniversary in April 2017 with a short heritage film showcasing nine decades of cars, tied to the music of each period – and a tiny glimpse into the future.
“The past 90 years have been exciting,” Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson said, “but the next 10 years until our centenary may be even more exciting as the focus shifts to autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity.”
From his position in the sales department at Swedish ball-bearing maker SKF, supplying bearings to the growing auto industry in Europe and the United States during the 1920s , Volvo founder Assar Gabrielsson realised that Sweden, with its readily accessible steel, cheap labour and skilled engineers, was ideally positioned as a base for a motor manufacturer.
He managed to convince SKF to invest in a spin-off car business called AB Volvo (from the Latin “I turn”) and the very first Volvo car left the factory on 14 April 1927.
Called the OV4, it was conventional American-style open four-seater with a 1940cc four-cylinder sidevalve engine rated for 21kW at 2000 revs and 100Nm, a manual three-speed and reverse gearbox and artillery wheels with wooden spokes.
It had a wood-framed body in ash and beech on a steel chassis, weighed 1179kg ready to go and had a top speed of 90km.
As with the Ford Model T, you could have any colour you wanted as long as it was blue with black fenders. Only 275 were built before it was succeeded in 1928 by the PV4 sedan, which was lot more practical in the Swedish climate.