Sliding then from the sculpture to the sow; Volvo’s Sugga, pronounced Soo-Ga is quite an exaggeration. And a world away from the Bilo.
Made strong and robust, which may have been mentioned earlier, initially as a taxi cab. The chassis was given the nomenclature PV800 and being built like the proverbial out-house was adored by taxi drivers for its longevity. Perhaps some Germans were on holiday in Sweden at some point and liked the idea of a strong, forever lasting, easy maintenance taxi cab? Again, hardly an elegant car having an American style with Swedish slants.
Originally conceived in 1938, the Sugga had a twenty year production run with variations from encompassing a glass screen to separate passengers from the driver (PV801) and the version omitting the screen (PV802) which lent itself to be easily converted into an ambulance, the stretcher for the poor soul being fed in through the boot. Still, if this vehicle assisted in saving your life, you could happily and rightfully boast about being saved by a pig. Engines were still in-line sixes but uprated now to 3.6 litres. The gearbox remained the same as that in the Bilo.
Whilst in no way comparable to the one-off Bilo, the Sugga was more commercially viable with approximately 1,800 chassis’ manufactured. Still sporting suicide doors, not to mention the drop-away rear end, this vehicle screams “Taxi!” as well as an easy conversion to something even more robust; that of a four wheel drive vehicle for the army.
Border threats being abundant, the Swedish armed forces asked Volvo for something strong, capable of off-road driving and easily converted from say a staff car, to a radio car, to rapid attack vehicle. Volvo obliged with the Terrängpersonvagn; an amalgamation of Volvo truck chassis and running gear with the Sow body. The army not being renowned for aesthetics, this TPV version does have rugged good looks and borders on handsome in some lights; dark occurring in the northern hemisphere often.
With hostilities over, the Sow could be re-introduced with the PV821 & 822, again with or without glass partitions. Engine’s power was slightly higher and the gearbox was now column mounted. Probably due to wartime restrictions still taking hold, only a few hundred were made. 1948 witnessed the PV831 & 832, now with stronger engines and gearboxes and some 6,000 models were made to the end of 1958.
Time was not on the Sow’s side however; whilst still admired by the taxi fleets, people wanted more sophistication, comfort and better looking cars. The Amazon proved this but was too small for taxi usage. It would take the Volvo 144 to redress that and a wholly different story.
Not that this bothered the army one jot; the Sow lived on but in ever more gratuitous behavioural manifestations. Seven hundred type TP21’s were made and are now highly sought; Red Bull has one for advertising purposes.
With excellent advice in its technical manual such as “Never rev the engine just after a cold start” and “never drive hard before the engine is hot” this could apply to squaddie as much as taxi-driver and no doubt ignored by both.
For the soldier, more excellent advice is metered out with “Never drive faster than the mission requires. Use two wheel drive on streets. Four wheel drive is for the slippery field or arduous country. Engage rear diff lock first, front diff lock in desperate conditions only as the vehicle will be VERY difficult to drive.”
My favourite piece being the “vindr” handle to assist with de-misting the windscreen. Should one request heat, turn the “Heat” switch on but only if the fresh air intake has been opened previously.
From Sow to something resembling an Old Gloucester Spot, the last army Terrängpersonvagn’s were still on active service until 1999. In-line six cylinder side valve engines, 4.7 metres in length and weighing in at nearly three tons, ah, we seem to have come full circle.
From the glorious white elephant Venus Bilo to the pig-ugly brute the Sow became; the former is now a mythical beast, while the latter has become a media darling with an enthusiastic following. Heard of either from the now Chinese owned maker of robust, daringly different cars?
Sources of information being volvosugga.org, volvovenusbilo.com and naturally Wikipedia.