SAFE, SECURE & DEPENDABLE
It’s 60 years since Volvo launched its UK range. We look back at how it won over a generation of Brits
SWORDS The 1958 London Motor Show marked the debut of official Volvo imports into the UK, and when racing driver, Mike Hawthorn, tested a 122S he thought it was ‘a sensation of a car’.
When Jaguar spurned the chance to provide The Saint with a MkX in 1962, this resulted in the P1800 becoming a screen icon, and Hampshire Constabulary’s employment of the Amazon estate as a traffic car in 1965 further raised the brand’s profile.
By the early 1970s, it was increasingly common for buyers to opt for a car on the grounds of merit, not national origin and former Wolseley customers began to opt for 144s. The Good Life first aired in 1975, and the Leadbetters’ yellow 145 reflected middle-class automotive tastes of the day – ten years earlier Margo and Jerry might have bought a Humber Hawk Estate, but now the Volvo was the perfect suburban transport.
The Amazon’s design reflected the Swedish philosophy of ‘vackrare vardagsvara’, which roughly translates as ‘the desire for more beautiful everyday items’ and this ideal was reflected in all subsequent Volvos. There might be nods to some current stylistic tropes, but these were cars that represented the antithesis to Detroit’s practice of annual facelifts – smart, often low-key and above the vagaries of fashion.
Or, as Mr. Hawthorn put it, here was a car with a finish ‘as splendid as the Midnight Sun’.