Boasting a production run from 1947 to 1965, the Volvo PV is generally a referral to two nearly identical automobile models, the PV444 and PV544. Volvo held a reputation for manufacturing dependable, fine automobiles since their beginning in 1927, but the defining moment for solid durable vehicles really began with the PV444's introduction.
Knowing that delivering a smaller, more economical vehicle to the public, would ensure the company's future during the World War II's early stages, Volvo began working on a model to satisfy the car hungry public. The shortage of raw materials only heightened this decision, during the war, complications arose with Volvo's ability to mass-produce the product, but persistence weighed out. When the vehicle was introduced to the public in 1944, the response was overwhelming and orders pouring in from the Swedish market. Three years later, production was finally made available in 1947.
The PV was Volvo's first unitary body design, as well as the first four-cylinder engined automobile in nearly 20 years. The original PV444s came with a three main bearing, overhead valve, and a 1.4 liter engine. Induction was made possible with a single downdraft carburetor, the B4B, which remained in models until 1955 when it was updated to twin side-draft carburetors. Designated B14A, this brief engine production run was fed by a pair of British manufacture SU's carburetors that each had 1.5 inch bores. The engine displacement was increased to 1.6 liters by the 1957 model year, and was available in both single downdraft (B16A) and twin side-draft carburetor (B16B) versions. The combination of both performance and durability won over numerous two-seat sports car drivers.
The PV444's production was winding down in 1958, while the PV544 was just embarking on its own journey. An updated, more modern version of the PV444, the PV544 was introduced in August of 1958. With a larger rear window and convex windscreen, the new model was a newly adapted version with improved visibility and interior safety. Featuring a new dashboard with an upper half that was padded, the rear seat was also remodeled to improve the comfort level inside the vehicle. Other updated features included a speedometer that was the ‘thermometer' type, with a red strip that showed the speed. Available for the first time, the PV544 featured a second version of an engine alternative, a 4-speed manual gearbox. (The PV444 was only available with one engine alternative.)
Not a completely new car, during the late fifties people speculated on whether Volvo would replace or even retire the old-fashioned PV 444, the PV 544 was eventually released a modernized and tuned up 444. Subtle differences held the two vehicles apart, now the 444 was available with larger windows that went all around the vehicle, it also had an entire curved one-piece windshield that replaced the original two panes of flat glass. The interior was updated with a new padded dashboard with a ‘modern' ribbon type speedometer, and safety steering wheel. The back seat was now enlarged and able to seat three persons comfortably. Similar in appearance to the sole of a shoe, the rear lights were much bigger. Mounted between the seats, the handbrake lever was placed in a much convenient area. Chassis number 207866 models were sold with much larger and more adequate brakes. A 4-speed manual transmission now supplanted the original 3-speed manual transmission. The 544A, by far the most produced PV from August 1950 to August 1960, was manufactured in four versions in the Swedish automotive market, the 54403 Standard, 54404 Special II (the most luxurious), 54405 Special I and the 54406 Sport, which was the sportiest version. Both the Special and the Sport had four-speed transmission while the Sport came with a B16B engine, the other 3 models came with the B16A engine. In the US market, the vehicle was called 54408, with both the B16B engine and 4-speed, and the 54409 which had the B16B engine and three-speed transmission.
Not very dissimilar from the A-model, the PV 544 B was produced from August 1960 until 1961 in 34600 ex. The B-model received an entirely new upholstery along with new sides in the back-seat. The newest model also came with near, all-synchronized gearboxed. The M30 model had 3-speed while the M40 came with 4-speed. Now available in only three versions in Sweden, the PV544 C came in the Favorit, Special and Sport models. The C-model was a much more modernized version on various levels, most importantly, the installation of the brand new B18 engine.
The major update, the retirement of the B16 engine family occurred in 1962. Introduced the previous year, the new engine that was initially developed for the P1800 sport car, was now fitted in the vehicle. Firmly establishing the reputation for durability, the 1.8 litre engine was newly constructed with five bearings. Both single (B18A) and twin carburetor (B18D) versions were offered. The standard version was 75hp, and the sport version 90hp. The electric system was now updated to 12 volt electrics rather than 6-volt, and the headlights were made asymmetrical when the front blinkers were placed further out on the fenders. Receiving new red 'B18' emblems in both the grill and on the trunk-lid, the hood-hinges were also updated while the net in the grill was placed not as close as earlier models. The speedometer was now able to reach 180km/h due to the scale, and the interior door-handles were replaced with new gadgets.
Commonly referred to as 'Duetts', versions of this vehicle produced as either estate or wagon models were known initially as a P445, and later as a P210.
The Volvo PV 544 D was released with very few changes, with the exception of new hubcaps with a red circular area in the middle with a V inside that area. Built in 27100 ex., with the D-model, Volvo now began to spray the body with oil to prevent corrosion.
Built in 24200 ex., the Volvo PV E-model had non-reusable air-filter, and new valve-cap with the oil-cap placed in the front rather than the middle like earlier models. Receiving new plastic, and inner roof, the E-model also received bigger control-lights as well as green lights on the instruments. The tire-dimension was also updated from 5.90-15' to 6.00-15'.
The PV 544 F was built in 17300 ex., and received new silver-colored wheels with oval cooling-holes. The 'B18' emblems were removed, and new emblems were placed on the grill, sides and back. The F-model also received new hub-caps with a black field in the middle with a 'V'. This model had no cooling-curtain.
The final PV model, the 544 G had a Sport engine that now had 95hp while the Sport model received radial tires with a dimension of 165-15'. A minor trim change was featured for its final year of production. A total of 440,000 units had been built and produced during the 18-year run of the 544.
Now standing at the Volvo museum in Gothenburg, the final Black Sport model built left the factory Ion on October 20th, 1965, and was saved by Volvo.
Due to the Duett's undeniable utility, the wagon's production continued throughout the 1969 model year. It was eventually replaced by a high-roofed version of the latest estate model that was classified as a Volvo 145. Referred to as an Express, the high roofed version was not considered by widely public opinion to be an adequate enough substitution for the beloved Duett.By Jessica Donaldson