The Volvo Estate: Design Icon & Faithful Companion by Ashley Hollebone – Review


The Volvo Estate: Design Icon & Faithful Companion by Ashley Hollebone

Book Review

by Richard Barnett

It was – and still is – a Swedish totem much loved by the British. And it managed to shake off an image landed on it courtesy of motoring journalists with much to prove.

Step forward the Volvo estate, once referred to as ‘antique cars for antique dealers’, but in that jibe was the hidden acknowledgement to a respectability Britain’s middle- and upper-classes sought in their estate cars.

Author Ashley Hollebone takes us back to Volvo’s earliest days when it offered saloons but no estate derivatives, although by the mid- to late-1920s vans, based on the car chassis, were available.

volvo estate car book review coverIn 1953 the first Duett station wagon was offered, based on the hump-backed PV444 model: Its sturdy, unpretentious character paved the way for later Volvo load-luggers but it was its successor, the Amazon, that really broke the British market.

“Appeals to both the enthusiast and the casual observer”

Throughout the 1960s the Amazon proved popular with British buyers who had little to choose when it came to domestic products, most of which were dull, some worthy and some just a little bit too flash. There were few offerings from the rest of Europe bar the Citroen ID and DS and an American estate was something only for those in the business that is show.

Outside its homeland the Brits took to subsequent models, the 100-series and 200-series offering an alternative to large estates from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Citroen, a contrast to the late-1980s to early-1990s market were estates were yet to be usurped by people carriers and SUVs.

This is a first-rate book that achieves something unusual with a motoring title, in that it appeals to both the enthusiast and the casual observer. It reads well, is pleasingly laid out, has plenty of illustrations and is good value. And at a time when far too many car buyers are obsessed with ‘brand’ and associated perceptions over quality, Volvo successfully ploughs its own furrow, and this title rightfully celebrates that.

Highly recommended.

‘The Volvo Estate: Design Icon & Faithful Companion’ by Ashley Hollebone is published by Veloce, £19.99, ISBN: 978-1-787110-75-5


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