A Volvo Moment: It´s a long way to Monte Carlo

Published 12:00 AM, December 3 2015

Three men look earnestly into the camera one winter's day in 1949. They are Volvo dealer Hilding Ohlsson and his assistants Martin Carstedt and Stig Cederholm. No matter how things go for them, the trio are on their way to writing a little motorsport history. They are going to take part in the Monte Carlo Rally, and this is the first time a Volvo has been involved in this prestigious competition.

It's a long way to Monte Carlo

The PV444 they are going to drive looks completely standard. For example, the broad white tyre sides have nothing to do with motorsport. The car does have one rally attribute, however: on the cowl in front of the windscreen, there is a small, hand-operated searchlight. Three pairs of skis are secured to the roof. Had the team thought of going on a skiing holiday after the competition?

The real reason for this is quite different. Due to the stringent Swedish currency regulations that were introduced during the Second World War, the three only have a limited amount of cash with them. With the skis, however, they have something to sell if they need more money quickly.

In the rally, they finish in 100th place out of 166. The following year, Hilding Ohlsson and Martin Carstedt take part again. This time they finish in twelfth place overall!

A great many drivers and navigators have followed in their footsteps and competed in rallies in Volvo PV444s and 544s. Tom Trana won the Acropolis Rally in 1964, the RAC Rally in 1963 and 1964, and the Singh Brothers won the Safari Rally in 1965.

But at this moment it is a cold winter's day in Umeå, and three men are setting out on a 4,000 km journey. It is a moment in Volvo's history.