In memoriam of Jan Wilsgaard

Published 12:00 AM, August 25 2016

Jan Wilsgaard

Jan Wilsgaard, the designer behind four decades of Volvos, has passed away at the age of 86.

In 1950 – only 20 years old – Jan Wilsgaard was hand-picked by Volvo’s new design department, before finishing his design studies in Gothenburg. Previously, Volvo’s engineers had been responsible for design of the cars and CEO Assar Gabrielsson is said to have been in doubt about the need of educated designers. The technical director Gustaf Larson had some trouble remembering the name of the young new designer and just called him “the guy with the long hair”. However, Jan Wilsgaard quickly showed his skills. In 1953 he presented a design proposal for what three years later would become a classic model: the Volvo Amazon. It is still considered to be an iconic design all over the world. The young, longhaired Wilsgaard soon was appointed director of Volvo Design and would over the coming 40 years put his signature on many Volvo models: 140, 1800 ES, 240, 760 and the 850. As long as these cars roll on a road somewhere in the world, the designer heritage of Jan Wilsgaard will live on.