- Volvo PV 445 Duett – the first lifestyle station wagon
- "We have to build our own transporter"
- Available in three variants
- Still very popular with craftsmen
Volvo PV 445 Duett – the first lifestyle station wagon
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Two in one: With the Volvo PV 445 Duett, the Swedish manufacturer made a name for itself for the first time with a spacious station wagon, the beginning of a long tradition.
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The name Duett came about when Volvo claimed in its advertising that the car was actually two cars in one (Bilen som ar två) – work equipment during the day and and in the evening… family car at the weekend.
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The duo was technically based on the Volvo PV 444, the famous humpback Volvo that was built from 1947 to 1958.
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In contrast to the humpback Volvo, the body of the Duett was not self-supporting, instead it was on a very robust frame that could withstand high payloads.
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The genesis of the first Volvo station wagon is bizarre: Since so many vehicle frames had accumulated at Volvo over the years, the then boss of the sch…Swedish car brand to get rid of stock and build their own van.
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In the summer of 1952, a station wagon was presented with the front design of the PV 444 sedan, but with an independent rear design.
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While the car was a fix for a fix, it became a huge success. It was available in three different versions: As a puristic panel van without rear side windows, a…As a delivery van with a simple rear seat and rear windows and as a station wagon with up to two fold-down rows of rear seats and fully glazed sides.
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The car was not only very popular with craftsmen, the PV 445 Duett was also very popular with families.
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This was of course due to the loading quality on the one hand, but also to the chic two-tone paintwork, which was not available as an extra for the humpback Volvo.
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The Volvo PV 445 Duett was the first lifestyle station wagon.
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The developers had thought of everything: The scratching of the load compartment floor with boxes or boxes prevented additional wooden strips.
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The initial 44 hp became 51 hp and eventually even 68 hp. The Volvo Duett was almost as fast on the road as the humpback limousine.
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In the summer of 1960, the Duett PV 445 series mutated into the Duett P 210, because the basic PV 444 car was further developed into the PV 544. There was also a small visual change: De…The Duett P 210 had an undivided windshield.
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The production of the duet was stopped on February 19, 1969, because the car no longer meets the Swedish safety requirements for new registrations.
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A total of 101,492 units of the Volvo Duett were produced. And you can still sometimes see the once so popular station wagon in Sweden today.
The PV 445 Duett established Volvo’s long tradition of station wagons in 1953. Derived from the legendary humpback Volvo, it combined the talents of large panel vans with powerful engines and looked really good doing it.
E.lche, lakes and lovers with an old Volvo duo. To this day, these are apparently essential components of Swedish romanticism in German television films. Quite different in Nordic cinema: Here the duo serves as a supposedly indestructible loadmaster or as a brightly painted pickup conversion for young people.
All this four decades after the end of production of the first of all Sweden station wagons. In fact, the versatile and talented Volvo Duett achieved a unique career that in this country is at best comparable to that of the Volkswagen Transporter.
At about the same time, Volvo and Volkswagen combined the loading capacities of a small van with the variability of family and leisure vehicles and have since become an integral part of the car landscapes in their home countries. While the VW "Bulli" eventually became a model for vans, the Volvo Duett is considered to be the forefather of the Scandinavian station wagon movement. The variable brother of the humpback Volvo PV 444 was initially created as a solution to the problem.
In the spring of 1952, Assar Gabrielsson, one of the two founding fathers of Volvo, was annoyed about a large inventory of 1500 running gears with motors. These parts were manufactured for the type PV 445, which Volvo had been supplying as a chassis to various body shops in Sweden, Finland, Brazil and North America since 1949. There, the bodybuilders constructed tailor-made bodies for their respective customers, so there was the Volvo PV 445 as a bulky panel van, practical pick-up, station wagon with windows and even as an extravagant convertible.
"We have to build our own transporter"
This was made possible by a robust, conservative chassis design. Because while the sedan PV 444 in the American-inspired fastback design with pioneering front independent wheel suspension and self-supporting body had started a bestseller career, the PV 445 derived from it was supposed to be able to transport high payloads and large volumes in particular.
That is why Volvo decided on a chassis with a light frame, rigid rear axle and leaf springs for the packhorse. However, when the aforementioned inventory of the motorized PV 445 chassis had accumulated, Assar Gabrielsson made a far-reaching decision.
“We have to get rid of them somehow. We just have to build our own transporter, ”was his instruction to the development department. Gabrielsson granted his chief engineer Erik Skoog only twelve months instead of the two to three years of development time that was customary at the time for the new Volvo.
Skoog outdid himself. In the summer of 1952, he presented a station wagon with the then iconic front design of the PV 444 sedan, but with an independent rear design. However, Skoog was based on the already known PV-445 designs of the bodybuilder.
Gabrielsson took over the first production vehicle in a ceremony punctually on July 4, 1953. The first station wagon or panel van built entirely by Volvo dominated the newspaper headlines precisely for the Swedish summer holidays. The name Duett, invented by Head of Advertising Sven Sundberg, for the new Volvo with the dual function of work tool and family vehicle turned out to be downright ingenious.
Available in three variants
The Volvo easily handled loads of up to a ton, even if the official maximum payload was well below it. The global demand for the practical Sweden quickly exceeded production capacities, resulting in long delivery times. At times, the prices for young used Duett were even higher than new car prices. In North America, too, young families were enthusiastic about the compact station wagon with an exterior length of just 4.40 meters but an interior in the format of the full-size sedans of the time.
The Volvo was available in three versions: as a panel van without rear side windows, as a delivery van with a simple rear seat and rear windows, and as a revolutionary station wagon with up to two foldable rows of rear seats and fully glazed sides. At that time, Volvo achieved an extraordinarily good insulation of driving noises through the noble-looking wooden cladding of the luggage compartment.
The scratching of the cargo space floor by boxes or boxes also prevented wooden strips in the form of rails. Practical details that hardly any competitor had thought of until then. Not to forget the comparatively powerful engines.
Still very popular with craftsmen
The initial 44 hp became 51 hp and eventually even 68 hp. The Volvo Duett was almost as fast on the road as the humpback limousine, but could easily take on the European station wagon competition, which initially included the Opel Olympia Rekord Caravan, Ford Taunus 12 M Tournament or Peugeot 203 Break. However, the duo had a unique position in terms of the loading space height, which was in real commercial vehicle and mobile home format and was intended to give it an almost eternal life.
Hardly anything was too big or bulky for the Volvo Duett, which is why the Swedish Post Office created a special memorial for it in 1997 with its own special postage stamp. It can be seen on it: Whether it’s a steamer trunk or craft materials, the Volvo Duett holds everything through the wide-opening rear portal doors or on a huge roof rack. There was even a tent structure for the roof rack in the accessories catalog.
The only important design modification of the Duett in 1960 was the undivided windshield and the renaming to Volvo P 210. Two years later, the B-18 engine of the PV 544 provided a touch more dynamism, so enough of the changes.
Neither the presentation of the excitingly drawn Volvo Amazon station wagon in 1962 nor the presentation of the boxy Volvo 145 station wagon in 1967 led to the production of the Volvo Duett being discontinued. While the humpback limousine was saying goodbye in 1965, craft and telecommunications companies in particular did not want to do without the boxy classic P 210.
What the designated successors failed to do, the Swedish approval authorities alone managed to do. On January 1st, new security laws came into force that sealed the end of the long seller. On February 19, 1969, duet number 101,492 rolled off the assembly line, officially still a 1968 model year car.
Now the third life of the duet began: as a well-groomed and beloved youngtimer, but also as a battered, tireless everyday classic that bears bumps and rust like medals.
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