The Sculpture and the Sow : Part two

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.

A brand new taxi, it would seem. (c)

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.

A wartime veteran now pristine. (c) Wikipedia

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.

What pet name do you give a Sow? And set aside a perfect pasture. (c) Wikipedia

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, and naturally Wikipedia.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

6 thoughts on “The Sculpture and the Sow : Part two”

  1. I was waiting for the next instalment and here it is.
    Good stuff again Andrew 👍

  2. One interesting Volvo proposal that unfortunately never reached production would have to be the 1955 Wooden Rocket scale model, which was conceived as a potential replacement for the Volvo PV444 to compliment the Amazon with the scale model itself being astonishingly modern in style and was in fact far ahead of its time in its lines. In some respects it sort of resembles a mid-1950s Volvo precursor/challenger to the BMW 02.

    One wonders whether such a car would have carried over the wartime Volvo B4B unit from the PV444, made use of a de-bored B18 engine displacing 1.6-litres or a smaller B18-derived replacement engine displacing 1.3-1.6-litres had the car reached production.

    It also leads to the possibility of sub-Volvo 140 Series / 200 Series models years before the DAF 66-based Volvo 66 as well as a smaller Redblock derived engine.

    1. The B18 didn’t make it to market until late 1961 or the following summer in North America. It was a five main bearing engine, while the original B4B and subsequent B16 were three main bearing hoofers. Would have been hard to make a de-bored B18 in 1955 when it was just a dream on the horizon.

      My first car in 1967 was a secondhand 1960 544 with a B16B having twin 1 1/2 inch SUs and a six volt electrical system. It wasn’t actually much quicker than an Anglia Super sporting 48.5 bhp, but as a 20 year-old, I talked myself into believing its quoted 85 bhp was almost as much as the 90 bhp B18 with twin 1 3/4 inch SUs which both a friend and my mother had in their newer 544s, she having been the former owner of the Anglia Super. So I bought the old car and was rapidly disabused of the notion it had 85 bhp. Rugged beast though, just slow. And by then I was a dab hand at tuning twin SUs, because my friend and I used to rally his 1963 model with B18D. I was a Volvo nut then and knew all the specs.

      That interest in Volvos all vanished when the grandpa 140 series debuted weighing at least 200 kg more than the PV544. That was a perambulator for older solid family men who smoked a pipe and still wore hats. Not a shred of excitement there for the younger crowd. My former red-hot interest in Volvos vanished after a drive. Volvos were commonplace in my area because they assembled 122s, 544s and eventually 140 and 160 series in the Halifax area of Canada where I was an engineering student.

    2. Obviously the de-bored B18 or smaller B18-deirved engine would have eventually replaced the B4B units had the Wooden Rocket reached production in place of the PV544, however cannot see a production Wooden Rocket being limited to just 1.6-litres in the case of the former if the BMW 02 is anything to go by, nor for that matter see the Volvo being limited to just a 2-door saloon bodystyle over the course of its production run.

      What replaces it is another question altogether though would have certainly helped Volvo with sales. in place of the DAF-based 300 Series much later.

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