The hood symbol for Volvo cars (which are now owned by Ford {insert pitiful sound here}) is the word "Volvo" over the symbol for male or Mars. However this symbol also represents iron. Volvo, meaning I roll is printed over the symbol for iron, meaning strength, together they mean "rolling strength."

I can attest to this, once when I was working on my 1976 245 DL, the door latch was being stubborn, so I hit the inside of the door with a wrench. The result was a dented wrench. My Volvo also could heal its self. When the bumper got pushed in, the car pushed it back out in about a week. Another time the reverse lights failed, after a few months with no reverse lights they just started working again. The car was built like a tank, the steel for the bumpers was as thick as the frame of a Land Cruiser; I measured. No one would screw with me on the road. For one thing I was in a '76 Volvo and they were usually some prick in a $60,000 Lexus with plastic bumpers. I think the air horns helped too.

The point is buy Volvo, you get utility, a car that cops look right through, good handeling and a feeling of security that is unmatched by any SUV.

Volvo (latin for "I roll") is a Swedish company, mainly known for building very safe cars. Founded in 1915 by economist Assar Gabrielsson and engineer Gustaf Larson with the basic idea of building a genuinely Swedish car (actual development and construction started in 1924), they now have their logo on literally millions of cars around the world. Naturally, those original Volvos (the first Volvo model was the ÖV4) have little in common with the modern wonders of technology which Volvo make today.

There are also parts of Volvo that make engines - boats all over the world use engines from Volvo Penta, and the first jet engine with an afterburner - the RM2B - was developed at Volvo Aero. Aero was in fact "Svenska Flygmotor AB" (Swedish Flight Engines Inc.), a company which Volvo bought, seeking to expand into new markets. One thing Volvo didn't buy, however, was their truck production, which started in 1928, and their marine engine production, which started in 1934. They have been very successful in both markets. However, Volvo didn't reach the United States until 1955, well after World War 2.

The first Volvo which has any similarity to the Volvos of today was the 140, introduced in 1966. The 140 was a small sedan with two doors, still without the characteristic Volvo radiator on the front - covering most of the surface area between the headlights and decorated with a diagonal line, Volvo logotype in the center. This symbol of Volvoness didn't appear until the 240 - a car owned by many, many people, even today. Production of the 240 was started in 1974, and it underwent many changes until production was finally ceased in 1993. The 240 is (or was) not only slow and ugly, it is also very safe, very sturdy, and relatively common - nearly 3 million have been produced, counting both the five-door 245 (van) and four-door (sedan) 244 models.

In 1982, a new Volvo series was pioneered - the 700 series, starting with the 760 sedan - basically a redesigned 244, but with many improvements, the main one being design. Basically speaking, the 700's look mean, especially the massively cool 740, which inherited many of the 240's advantages, including the overpowered heater and never-failing sturdiness. It's not an understatement to say that old Volvos are built like tanks, but then again, that's what it takes for Swedish roads. Lots and lots of 740's were sold, and most of them hold up pretty well today. However, due to the increased use of electronics and other fragile things, these cars sometimes break down in mysterious ways. They also come with a sometimes all too fragile gearbox, as I've discovered during voyages in my yellow 740 GL, built in 1988.

Later attempts to build more luxurious Volvos - the 900 series - largely failed, mainly because no-one who sought a comfortable car went to Volvo. No, they went to Mercedes or BMW. More recent efforts to build cozy cars - the S80 - have been slightly more successful. Still, the 940 and 960 were damn fine cars, although they came with automatic gearboxes, something I personally detest. You see a lot of these as limousines, however, and the 960 lived on for a while as the S90.

Another easily forgotten chapter of Volvo history is the 300/400 series - consisting of models 340, 460 and 480, attempts by Volvo to build small cars. However, these models were error-prone and neither was very good-looking. You see few of them on the roads today. There have been no attempts since by Volvo to build cars designed for fewer than four people, although some have been rumoured - the model P80, for example.

This pretty much brings us to where Volvo is at today - well, there was the 800 series, consisting of the 850 - basically yet another re-iteration and redesign of the 240, this time with more electronic goodies and a somewhat more modern design. The 850 was introduced in 1991 but was never as popular as the 740 before it, or the V70 after. That's right, Volvo changed their naming convention. Previously, they had used three-digit model numbers: the first digit as the series, the second being the cylinder count, the third optionally specifying the number of doors - a 740 van would be a 745, a sedan a 744. With the introduction of the new system, the initial digit was replaced by a letter specifying whether the car was a Sedan, Van, or Coupé. The new cars off the line were the V70 and S70 in 1996, followed by the S80 in 1998. Somewhere along the line there were also the V40, S40, S60 and C70. Some of these cars were quite different from each other, as you might learn if you check out some of those nodes - though I'm not sure how many of the Volvos have been noded yet.

Oh yeah, more recent Volvo models include the V70R, S60R, XC and, coming soon, the XC90. The first ones are basically souped-up versions of the V70 and S60, the latter is an AWD (or 4WD) V70 with lots of extras, and the last one - the XC90 - is an SUV. XC means Cross Country. More about those autos in another node, I guess.

Anyway, I hope you now know more about Volvo. Keep them in mind the next time you're shopping for a car - they're not as cool as BMW's, they're not as phat as Mercedes, but they get you where you want to go and make sure you get there in one piece. They're also relatively inexpensive as far as really good cars go.

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