They’re rare, rugged and eminently usable, so why aren’t we importing PVs in droves?
Ever seen a right-hand drive PV544? Probably not. Volvo never originally sold its PV models in the UK and only ever produced the car in left-hand drive format, so there’s no point looking for right-hand drive versions in countries such as South Africa or Australia – usually good for sourcing RHD classics overseas.
A few can be found in today’s classifieds in the USA, where Volvo sold twin-carb variants only, while offering a choice of single- or twincarb cars in Europe. Nevertheless, the PV’s popularity Stateside was not spectacular, its styling being more redolent of the wartime 1940s than glitzy, big-finned 1960s America, and the hardy four-pot engines failed to satisfy our cousins’ predilection for throatier V8s. In fact, both the PV544 and its predecessor the PV444 have become rare curiosities the world over, despite 440,000 examples being made during an 18-year production run. Survivors are often those with the famously durable five-bearing 1.8-litre B18 engine (post-1962), sought out for use at historic motorsport events and treated to varying degrees of modification according to the sport and the country. Expect some wellused examples to have been ‘played with’ by very keen enthusiasts.
Whether you’re after a project car, a trailer queen or a sporting veteran, your best bet is to keep an eye on the classifieds in the car’s home market of Sweden. So says Guy Brace, proprietor of Volvo specialist Classic Swede (classicswede.co.uk, 07824 887160). Bringing them into the UK is not a common occurrence simply due to low demand, says Guy, ‘ but you can buy them in pretty good shape over there, and it’s where most of the PV544s in the UK have come from.’ By the way, if you’re thinking of driving one home, Stockholm is 1200 miles from London by road.