Volvo in the 1950's (US)

Volvo PV544
Volvo PV544

The decade Volvo made its entry onto the US market

Press Release

The 1950s - The decade Volvo made its entry onto the US market (the year, 1955). Volvo realized the importance of the US market - "the land of the motor car." Key safety features were introduced. The biggest of course, being the three-point safety belt, as a standard fitting.


In 1956, a prototype of a new passenger car from Volvo was presented. The car became known as the Amazon in Sweden and the 121 and 122S on the export market. The designation 122S was used for a version with a more powerful engine.

Production began in 1957 and this car was initially regarded as a larger model than the PV444. The fact that the 121/122 S was a 4-door model naturally contributed to this.

The styling was modern and this model was the first car from Volvo with a pontoon body. People found the car very attractive. The front was characterised by the two oval air intakes. The rear wings were extended and ended with a hint of a fin, a very popular design feature at the time.

The Amazon 121/122 S also had a very high safety level with features including a padded upper half of the dashboard, a laminated windscreen and seatbelt attachments both front and rear.

In the autumn of 1961, the P120 models included a number of relatively large changes. The previous 1.6-litre engine was replaced by the B18 with an output of 75 or 90 bhp, a 12-volt electrical system and a new grille, while the 90 bhp model featured disc brakes on the front wheels.

The 4-door model of the P120 was produced until the autumn of 1966, when it was replaced by an entirely new car, the Volvo 144.


  • Model: P 1200 / P 120 AMAZON, Sedan

  • Variants: P 1200 V

  • P 1200 H

  • P 121

  • P 122 S

  • Produced: 1956 -1967

  • Volume: 234208

  • Body: 4-door saloon

  • Engine: 4-cylinder, in-line, overhead valves, 1,583 cc, 79.37 x 80 mm, 60 bhp at 4,500 rpm or 85 bhp at 5,500 rpm. 1961: 1,778 cc , 84.14 x 80 mm, 75 bhp at 4,500 rpm or 90 bhp at 5,000 rpm, increased in 1965 to 95 bhp.

  • Transmission: 3- or 4-speed manual with or without overdrive, with floor-mounted gear lever (some cars delivered with gearshift mounted on the steering column). 3-speed automatic with gear lever on steering column.

  • Brakes: Hydraulic drums on all wheels. 1961: disc brakes on front wheels for S versions. 1964: disc brakes on front wheels for all versions.

  • Dimensions: Overall length 445 cm, wheelbase 2,600 mm.


As a herald of hope for peace and better times, in September 1944 Volvo presented the PV444 at the large Volvo exhibition in Stockholm. The price was very attractive - 4,800 Swedish kronor, the same that the ÖV4, Volvo's first car, cost in 1927.

American styling influenced the appearance of the 444. This car was the first Volvo to have a unitary body without a separate frame. It was also equipped with a laminated windscreen, an important new safety innovation. Interest was enormous and the original planned production figure of 8,000 cars became almost 200,000 before the PV444 became the PV544. The 444 was the first small Volvo car and the one that really set car production at Volvo moving.


  • Variants: A/AS




  • E/ES

  • H/HS/HE

  • K/KS/KE

  • L/LS

  • Produced: 1946 -1958

  • Volume: 196005

  • Body: 2-door saloon

  • Engine: In-line, 4-cylinder: 1,414 or 1,583 cc, 4085 bhp.

  • Transmission: 3-speed with floor-mounted gear lever.

  • Brakes: Hydraulic drums on all wheels.

  • Dimensions: Wheelbase 2,600 mm.


The PV445 was the chassis version of the PV444, which due to its unitary construction could not be supplied in bare-chassis form. Its mechanical design and frontal appearance, however, were identical to the PV444 except for an additional bar in the grille.

From 1949 to 1953, the PV445 formed the base for small lorries, vans, estate cars and a few beautiful drophead-coupé convertible) cars. None of these were built by Volvo, but by independent coachwork firms.

In 1953, the famous Duett (variant DH) was introduced, based on the PV445. This became legendary, and is the ancestor of today's exclusive, comfortable, safe and powerful Volvo estate cars.


  • Model: PV 445 / PV 445 Duett

  • Variants: PV 445 A, chassis

  • PV 445 B, chassis

  • PV 445 Van: DS, GS, LS, P-44505-1957, P-4405 M

  • PV 445 Estate: DH, GL, LL, P-44506-1957, P-44506 M

  • PV 445 Passenger estate: PH, GP, LP, P-44507-1957, P-44507 M

  • Produced: 1949 -1960

  • Volume: 29409

  • Body: Estate and delivery van

  • Engine: 4-cylinder, in-line, overhead valves; 1,414 cc; 75x80 mm; 40 85 bhp or 1,583 cc; 79.37x80 mm; 60 bhp at 4,500 rpm.

  • Transmission: 3-speed manual with floor-mounted gear lever.

  • Brakes: Hydraulic drums on all wheels.

  • Dimensions: Wheelbase 2,600 mm.

Source: Text & Photos courtesy of Volvo Cars
Published Aug 8th, 2006 10:51pm
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