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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Feb 24: Volvo - where art thou?

Remember when Volvo stressed the safety of their cars in almost every ad? Safety was their big thing, after all, they were one of the first (if not the first) to have crush zones built into their cars. This pic shows exactly what that means. The front and rear crumple to absorb the energy, before it reaches the passenger compartment. Good idea, now all the cars are built that way (thank you, thank you, thank you).

A friend of mine drove his Volvo, until it was failing apart and probably not safe, but he kept it on the road, in case he got into an accident. Finally got written off, when a truck backed into it at a gas station. Anticlimatic ending.

Volvo's designers styled most of their cars like boxes. Hey, where safety is concerned, folks don't care about good looks (don't be so sure about that). But things have changed over the years. Volvo still talks about safety, but so does everyone else, so there has to be more on the table. After years of nondesigns, many of us, figured Volvo was in a terminal free fall. It was questionable, whether this company would last very far into the 2000's. Well, the jury is still out, but their new Chinese owners are doing their best to breath some life back into the brand. Take for example, the soon to be released, new XC90......

But if you check out Volvo's history, they sure have been all over the map. I'm going to walk you thru a few of Volvo's unusual misses and oddities. Let's start at one of their lowest points. Years ago, Volvo bought into DAF, a Dutch car company........

The DAF was basically a Europe only car and had a marginal market present. Volvo had a better idea.......how about making an entry level car and have DAF build it?

See the resemblance? Volvo got heat for simply putting their name plate on another car. What happened to their safety ethic in this case? Neither the Volvo 340 or the DAF lasted much longer.

Or how about the Saint's favorite ride (look it up, if you don't remember). Who would ever have figured Volvo would introduce a sports car into their line. The P1800 was a reasonable success, but that TV show sure didn't hurt. The ad above shows you the longest running example. This New Yorker has basically lived in his P1800 since it bought it new. When I saw it at a car show three years ago, he was still sitting in it. Probably hated being parked.

There was a time when Volvo sought to add style to their boxes and along came Italian design house Bertone to their aid........

Let's take a box, add a chopped formal roof and watch folks fill our showrooms to see it. Not the best seller, but I actually liked the look. This was a time, when Volvo started to see the writing on the wall. Safe boxes were not necessarily going to sustain this company until the end of time.

Not too many years ago, they figured that a hot hatch, Mini competitor, would be a smart move and a great additional to their showrooms. Hence the C30........

The customer was conflicted. What exactly did Volvo stand for? Not enough of them figured that Volvo stood for sporty coupes, so this model was quietly discontinued.

This staid old Swedish company has struggled. Their old box like designs............

........gave way to nicely styled sedans in the early 2000's, but nothing seemed to work for them except, their suv's and suv type models. Sales plummeted and that talk of them not surviving made the rounds. Enter Geely, a Chinese car company with deep pockets. They have moved production to China in the hopes of a great revival. How great? Well, you've seen the new XC90 above, now how about this model set to come out in the near future......

This high end luxury sedan will be built to compete again the Mercedes S Class, Audi A8 and the BMW 7 Series. I'll believe it, when the sale figures come in. It might be a China only model. Volvo's higher end model, the S80 hasn't worked so far and it sure didn't compete with these benchmark cars, so don't hold your breath.

But for all their trials and tribulations, Volvo has now made an surprising, historic first. This formerly Scandinavian safety icon, will end up being the very first Chinese built car sold in the US or Canada. Who would ever have thought?

Until next time.......


  1. Volvo definitely lost the race when it came to styling. I'm sure that the car in the ad looked better than it did before. I wasn't aware that Volvo had sold. That doesn't put a good taste in my mouth, but that's just my opinion.

  2. These days George, it's sometimes hard to keep track of who owns who. Bentley and Rolls to German companies, Land Rover and Jaguar to an Indian firm, Skoda to VW. Makes one dizzy.