1963 Volvo PV544 SportView vehicle description
First launched in 1958, the two-door Volvo PV544 was a development of the PV444 that had been unveiled 14 years before. The changes Volvo made were extensive and included a larger, one-piece convex windscreen, a padded dashboard for better passenger safety, and a more comfortable, bigger rear seat that could now seat three people.
The mechanical changes were just as comprehensive and included a choice of two engines (1583cc and 1778cc), a four-speed manual gearbox, and in 1961, the sporty P1800’s B18 engine and 12-volt electrics. In total, 243,990 units were built during its seven-year lifetime.
The PV544 was much more than a safe, strong family car though because the those same attributes also made it an effective rally car. In fact, it was one of the most successful rally cars of its generation, earning podium places throughout the 1950s and 60s.
This lovely old Volvo PV544 Sport is one of the most interesting cars to pass through our hands - and not just because of its rarity. The current owner bought it three years ago from a chap in Sweden who’d owned the vehicle since 1970.
His 45 years with the car were spent sensitively retro-modding it to create one of the most beautifully curated old cars we’ve ever seen; the care and attention to detail that went into building it is staggering, not least because every single modification was made using genuine Volvo parts.
That’s right, every single modification, alteration and upgrade - and there are an awful lot - comprises Volvo parts. Which is brilliantly bonkers but hugely reassuring; if you’re going to buy a modified old car, then you want some serious reassurance that the guy doing it knew his stuff - and it’s clear that few people know and understand old Volvos like the guy who built this beauty.
If you’ve the time and inclination, you really should come and see it in the flesh; it’s an extraordinary car that stands as a fitting testament to one man’s lifelong obsession.
On the Outside
All the exterior panels are steel; there are no nasty, aftermarket fibreglass front wings, for example. No, it’s all good solid, Swedish steel, just as Volvo intended.
Last painted in 1980, the finish is still shiny and nicely patinated, but it does have some blemishes. It’s certainly not scruffy and absolutely not rusty; and, let’s face it, if it’s still looking this good after so many years then it was obviously a quality job, wasn’t it? Besides, a spot of patination helps you to relax and enjoy the car in the knowledge that any further scuffs and stonechips are adding to its history rather than reducing its value.
The chromework is in good shape too, and two huge Bosch rally spotlights - a rare thing in themselves - dominate the bluff front end but add a purposeful air that we find irresistible. After all, if you had Volvo’s rallying pedigree, you’d flaunt it too, wouldn’t you?
The underside is as clean as the topside, we are told it has never required welding and there are no nasty corrosion issues to worry about, as the online MOT history attests; it was cars like this that helped develop Volvo’s reputation for indestructibility. That and, dare we say it, slightly obsessive ownership.
A towbar adds an element of practicality; how about using it to tow a period caravan along on your weekend historic motorsport jaunts?
On the Inside
The Volvo Rallye instruments are super-rare (and super-valuable) and sit superbly in a beautifully modified dashboard. The centre console, steering column and wheel are from a later Volvo too, probably a 240 or a 740, not that you’d know that to look at it because it has been done with the same care and attention to detail as everything else on the car. This care is evident when we are told that all the gauges work, and heating & fan controls in the console work as they should even though they are a combination of the old and the new(ish).
It also has a heated rear windscreen. Yep, that’s worth mentioning, because not many of them do have. Remember, this is a 55-year-old car and stuff like that just wasn’t as common as it is now.
The car also has a new perforated tan headlining, is carpeted throughout, and is fitted with reclining front seats, with headrests, and the rear seat from a Volvo 343 (Remember those?). It won’t surprise you to hear that even though they’re so much newer than the rest of the interior, they still match the door cards. The quality of the thought and execution means that it all seems natural at first glance.
The car also has front and rear inertia reel seatbelts and is fitted with a radio-cassette player. It even has the internal door handles and armrests from a later Volvo, which might not be the prettiest we’ve ever seen but would be worth their weight in gold if you're going to do long distance rallies in it.
All the electrics and dashboard instruments work and the only problem the owner has told us about is a cracked dash top, but these are, he tells us, readily available.
The two-litre B20 engine is a lovely upgrade to the original, endowing it with extra power and torque and making it a joy to drive. The car starts, runs and goes exactly as it should, even when it’s extremely cold outside thanks to an engine heater, which plugs into the mains and warms the engine before starting it. The engine bay itself is as neat and as clean as you’d expect.
Fitted with twin carbs and pancake air filters, it sends its power to the rear wheels via a four-speed (plus overdrive) gearbox from a Volvo 240. This means the car not only goes much better than a standard PV544, it also cruises more comfortably at speed - and it can go for longer thanks to a bigger fuel tank than standard. These modifications would really come into play if you planned to use the car for either touring or long-distance historic rallying. (Or both; a car like this would make an awesome daily driver as well as a fun toy to play with at the weekend…) We have the car with us, and to drive around, it’s a much more genuinely practical driving proposition than most of the 60s and 70s stuff we see.
The brakes have been modified to incorporate both a twin-hydraulic circuit (Volvo, naturally) and silicone brake fluid. The (brand new) wheels are 5.5 inches wide and are shod with matching, high-quality Nokian Hakka Green tyres. You’ll know our feelings on matching tyres by now, but suffice it to say that anyone who goes to the trouble and expense of fitting them can be trusted to care of the other less visible stuff, too.
The owner tells us that the car starts first time, and is a “genuinely nice car that is much faster than a regular 544.”
It comes with the original owners’ handbook (or ‘instruktionsbok’), a thick wad of old Swedish paperwork, some expired MOT certificates, and a British V5 registration document. It even comes with a booklet (in Swedish…) where the previous owner documented every journey he made in it.
The online MOT history shows absolutely nothing of concern. Yes, it did fail in 2016, but that was on headlamp aim and a brake pipe that was inadequately clipped in place. That we should all be so lucky when MOT-ing our 55-year-old cars…
Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been preserved and modified to the very highest standard.
What We Think
A genuine Volvo PV544 Sport is a rare old beast. Finding one in this condition is even rarer. But to find one that is as genuine, solid and sympathetically retro-modded as this is the equivalent of finding a hen’s tooth - and then winning the lottery on the same day. In fact, it would need to be a Swedish hen’s tooth and a Scandinavian lottery, as we doubt you’d be able to recreate it in the UK at all.
But it’s not going to be expensive because owning one is something of a niche pastime. We expect it to sell for between £11,000 and £15,000 which is a soul-destroyingly small sum to pay to own such a beautifully preserved and versatile classic car. And, of course, the reserve is even lower…
Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen at Patina HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.
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