A Volvo Moment: A Swedish triumph

Published 12:00 AM, January 15 2016
A Volvo Moment: A Swedish triumph

A signal red Volvo Amazon with white roof stands out in the crowd at one of the most famous interchanges in the world – Place de l’Etoile in Paris. This giant circus – where the traffic flows seemingly uncontrolled – is the hub from which 12 broad avenues radiate, including Champs Élysées. 

Spring is in the air and most signs suggest that it is 1957. That was the year that Volvo Amazon – or 120 as it was known in some markets – began delivering to its first buyers. The photographer – apparently at great peril – positioned the car almost directly under the Arc de Triomphe. Behind the Amazon, you catch a glimpse of some famous French cars, like Simca, Peugeot, Panhard and Renault, along with a few Fiats and a Skoda. Only one little Fiat 500 can compete with the Amazon in terms of colour.

The symbolism of the image is clear. With the new Amazon, the Swedish manufacturer now has a car that stands out on the international stage. With its light American-inspired bodywork, adorned with chrome and glossy trim, it speaks a completely different language than the brand's other passenger car, PV444.

With the Amazon, Volvo's exports will also begin in earnest – although it will be several years until the new model is sold and manufactured in larger numbers than the smaller and less expensive PV444. Amazon was in production until 1970, with 667,448 cars made. Over half were exported.

Footnote: In 1970, Place de l’Etoile was renamed Place Charles de Gaulle.