A Volvo moment: A contorted streamlined form

Published 12:00 AM, February 2 2016

Crashed carioca

The year is 1936 and the first November rain is falling in the textile town of Fritsla in western Sweden, an hour's drive from the factory in Gothenburg. For fabricator Ignar Andén, the Latin meaning of the word Volvo – I roll – has taken on a new meaning. His Volvo PV36 Carioca has gone off the road and rolled over at least one full roll before landing in a ditch. Perhaps he was driving himself. Perhaps it was his driver who lost control of the car.

The mangled car is now up on blocks at the workshop of Borås Automobilförsäljning – who this very year became a Volvo dealer. It was less than five months ago the fabricator sat for the very first time in his new streamlined Volvo – one of the 500 built. Now, Ignar Andén will receive a payout from his insurance company, Fylgia, and will have to look for another car. It is highly likely that he will choose a Volvo again – even though the accident was pretty severe, the roof maintained its shape and was not pressed in.

The accident is not where the history of the Volvo PV36 with chassis number 284 ends. With the help of the Regional State Archives and the old registration number, P9104, we are able to find out that the car is purchased by driver Knut Thor from nearby Aplared in the following December. He has concrete plans – the solid chassis enables it to be “reborn” as a taxi. In May 1937, Thor registers that the car has been lengthened by 35 cm to a total of 530. We can only speculate on what it looks like. It's hard to imagine a harmonious extension of the Carioca body.

After sitting stationary during World War II, it continues its life as a taxi up until 1950, when it passes on into eternity. It says a lot about Volvo quality that a car that was written off as scrap metal in the 1930s could continue living strong as a taxi all the way up to the 1950s.