Volvo ÖV4 (1927-1929)

Volvo ÖV4 (1927-1929)

Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson were the two men behind Volvo’s first automobile, the Volvo ÖV4. Gabrielsson was a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a businessman and began his career at SKF in Gothenburg. Gustaf Larson was an engineer and designer. He worked as an engineer at SKF. In the summer of 1924 Gabrielsson and Larson began seriously to discuss their plans for producing cars. They came to a verbal agreement in August and a start had already been made on the design work by September.

Larson, who did the design work alongside his normal job, gathered together a team of young engineers at his home in Stockholm. In July of 1926 the first chassis drawings were complete. It was Gabrielsson’s job to find the money for the project, but his attempts failed and they realised that it would probably be easier if they had some test vehicles to show prospective financiers. They therefore decided to produce a test series of ten vehicles, nine open and one covered. The first test vehicles were produced in nine months and this time Gabrielsson succeeded in obtaining the financial support. The prototypes built in 1926 were called Jakob, and therefore the Volvo ÖV4 is sometimes nicknamed Jakob.

Once there was some-thing concrete to be seen, SKF became interested. The company had been somewhat cautious to begin with, but it now provided guarantees and credit for an initial series of 1,000 vehicles, 500 open and 500 covered. SKF also provided the factory premises and the name, AB Volvo, which had been used in a previous business operation. Volvo is Latin and means “I roll”.

The first series-manufactured Volvo ÖV4 left the factory on Hisingen in Gothenburg on April 14th, 1927. The Volvo ÖV4 was based on an American design and had a powerful chassis and live axles with long leaf springs at the front and rear. The four-cylinder 2-litre engine developed 28 hp at 2000 rpm. Car had a 3-speed transmission. Top speed was 90 km/h, but Volvo recommended a cruising speed of 60 km/h. The car had 20″ artillery type wheels, with wooden spokes in their natural colour and detachable rims. The open 5-seater body had four doors and was covered in sheet steel on a frame of ash and copper beech. The upholstery was made of leather.

Volvo’s first saloon car, the PV4, was a covered version of the ÖV4. The Volvo PV4 appeared in the summer of 1927. The bodywork of the Volvo PV4 was based on the Weymann principle, with an insulated wooden frame without wood-to-wood contact between the components and covered with artificial leather instead of steel. The seats could be converted into a comfortable bed for two people. The Volvo Special was was an extended version of the PV4, with a longer bonnet, a more streamlined torpedo shape, narrower windscreen pillars, a rectangular rear screen and bumpers as standard equipment. Front wheel brakes were available at an additional charge of 200 Swedish kronor.

The Volvo ÖV4 cost 4,800 Swedish kronor, and the PV4 cost 5,800 Swedish kronor. Sales of the Volvo ÖV4 were slow bu interest in the covered PV4 model proved to be greater than expected. When production ended in 1929, a total of 275 Volvo ÖV4 and 694 Volvo PV4 had been manufactured.



  • open tourer, saloon, or as a chassis


  • In-line 4 cylinder with side valves
  • 1,944 cc
  • 75×110 mm


  • 28 bhp at 2000 rpm


  • 3-speed
  • non-synchromesh *

*A “synchromeshtransmission allows you to shift gears regardless of engine speed or load on engine.