The Volvo PV544 - often nicknamed ‘a cat's back’ - was introduced in 1958 as the semi-continuous successor to the post-war PV444. As an alternative to the Volvo Amazon, this car was produced until 1965 and underwent several changes, improvements and, even a sporty variant was introduced. Today, Volvo places a high emphasis on the safety of its vehicles, and the PV544 set the tone for that.
Volvo didn't have to look far for inspiration, choosing to build on the success of the PV444. Some adjustments were made to ensure a second bull’s eye hit. The PV544 had a 22% larger windshield that was designed by combining two separate PV444 windshields and making it a single, curved, one. Safety and visibility were even more enhanced with a 19% larger rear window, as well as significantly larger taillights, and narrower window frames.
A total of six different models were released, each with its own model name that was given depending on the engine, the engine displacement, the engine power, and year of manufacture. In 1958, the standard-version with the B16A engine with 60 hp that was manually operated with three speeds was introduced, there was also a B16B version with 76 hp, which was sportier, at least by modest Swedish standards. In 1961, Volvo decided to increase the engine displacement and power to 1.8 litres and 75 to 80 hp. This upgraded engine was called the B18A for the 75 hp version and B18D for the 80 hp version. The upgraded PV544 was equipped with an optional four-speed gearbox with a synchronized first gear, new seats, new upholstery, a five-bearing crankshaft, and two SU carburettors that provided a musical engine sound. Buyers were also given the choice of red hubcaps, which perfectly matched the colour of the since that year better-protected paint.
With the arrival of the PV544, the interior also received a fitting new look. The dashboard now included a speedometer and engine thermometer that were easy to read, the handbrake was given a more prominent position between the driver and front passenger, and the rear seat was widened by a few centimetres so that the PV544, as the name suggests, could now accommodate five people.
Initially, it was intended for the Amazon to replace the PV444. The Amazon was considered as ‘too expensive’ by many, which forced Volvo to provide an alternative: the PV544. During the production years of the PV544, Volvo released a simpler version of the Amazon, which eventually replaced the PV544 in 1965.
The Volvo PV544C is the third version in a series of six versions of the PV544. The C-series was produced from August 1961 to July 1962 and it was the first car ever with a B18-engine under the hood. Also, the steering system was revised, windshield washers were installed, and a 12V electrical system became standard. Visually, you can distinguish this car from earlier models by looking at the hubcaps: this model had hubcaps with a red Volvo logo in the middle, while previous models had simple metallic hubcaps.
Approximately 38.000 examples of the PV544C were built, and in August 1962, Volvo introduced the successor in series: the PV544D. Due to its Scandinavian Volvo reliability, its indestructability and striking design, this car is highly coveted by vintage car enthusiasts.