On 2 June 1954 the two-seater roadster, the Volvo Sport, and the company’s first sports car, made its debut. But a low weight and reliable Volvo technology were not enough – production was shut down after just 67 had been built. Or was it 68?
The name of the new car was short and sweet – Sport – and it had a short and plump body with a big grill that looked like a turbine. The wheelbase was 20 centimetres shorter than that of the Volvo PV 444, whose mechanics it otherwise shared. Under the hood there was a 1.4 litre tuned version of the PV 444 engine, with twin carburettors and 70 horsepower. The top speed was specified as 155 km/h.
The Volvo Sport was the direct result of the many reconnaissance trips made to the USA by the company’s founder and MD Assar Gabrielsson in the early 1950s. In his quest to learn as much as possible about the market before launching Volvo on the other side of the Atlantic, he met a lot of people in the car world. One company that he came into contact with was Glasspar in Montecito, California. Since 1951 they had been building hulls for boats and bodies for sports cars using the new material fibreglass.
Despite the failure of P1900 – as the car was known internally – Volvo still gained useful experience from the project. Shortly after the stop in production of the Volvo Sport, MD Gunnar Engellau commissioned a new sports car – made from steel. Four years later the Volvo P1800 was ready – and a significantly greater success for Volvo.