Over the years, Volvo has proven to be a popular automaker among Americans. The Swedish company’s unique Scandinavian designs, reputation for reliability, and legendary safety have combined to ensure a rich history in the United States. We’ve been lucky enough to have been a sales priority for Volvo, and have had the option of purchases most of the models released over the years.
There are, however, some notable exceptions. In the US, we’re certainly no strangers to being denied cool cars by overseas automakers, and even our friends at Volvo have deprived us of some of their more interesting models. These are just a few of the Volvo vehicles we’ve missed out on, but be prepared to drool!
5. Volvo ÖV 4
The ÖV 4 was Volvo’s first foray into the car market, and they certainly came out swinging. Introduced on April 14, 1927, the ÖV 4 was a minimally-styled, but handsome, open-carriage tourer. Built on a wood frame and skinned in sheet metal, the aesthetics (non-coincidentally) were reminiscent of late-model Ford Model T Touring cars.
Sporting a 1940 cc inline-4 putting out 28hp and 74ft-lbs of torque, the ÖV 4 was surprisingly spritely for the time. With a 3-speed manual transmission and weighing less than 2,600lbs, it was able to reach a blistering top speed of 56mph.
While only 275 of the Volvo ÖV 4 were produced (the design wasn’t exactly well-suited to the Swedish climate), it was an important first step for Volvo. Within a year, Volvo released the related PV4, which was a sedan that was better able to handle the Swedish weather. 694 PV4s were built, and Volvo was well on it’s way to becoming the company we know today.
4. Volvo 66
Beginning its life as the DAF 66, this beautiful little car became the Volvo 66 in 1975 after Volvo’s purchase of Dutch DAF a year prior. It’s not surprising that the 66’s styling is so unique among Volvo cars, as it was designed by the legendary Giovanni Michelotti for DAF. This is the same man who responsible for famously gorgeous cars like the Triumph GT6, BMW 2002, Maserati A6G/54, and Ferrari 250 (among many, many others).
The Volvo 66 was a unique car, featuring a RWD drivetrain connected to a CVT transmission. Two engines were available, both developed by Renault: the B110 1.1L inline-4 making 46hp, and the B130 1.3L making 56hp. While a coupe was available at DAF, once Volvo took over production only a 2-door sedan and a 3-door estate were available.
While it was only sold until 1980, at which point it was succeeded by the 300-series, the Volvo 66 stands out as one of Volvo’s most unique cars. And, in our opinion, one of the prettiest. Surprisingly though, the 66 was never popular in the UK (most were sold in mainland Europe), and only eight are known to be surviving there today.
3. Volvo 360 GLT
Notoriously hated by Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, the Volvo 360 GLT nonetheless stands out to us as something we wish we at least had the opportunity to hate too. Based on the 300-series that laid the 66 to rest, the 360 GLT was a sportier version of the 360 3-D or 5-D models, and was produced from 1983 to 1989.
While most certainly wouldn’t consider it a looker, the 360 GLT did possess the kind of unique styling that many of us love about Volvo. While it utilized a common (for the time) front-engine RWD layout, its gearbox was rear-mounted for better weight-distribution. This, in combination with a robust (if not necessarily powerful) I4 making up to 116hp, made the 360 GLT at least somewhat popular among enthusiasts looking for cheap thrills.
2. Volvo V40 Cross Country
The Volvo V40 Cross Country stands out in our list as the only model that is currently in production. While only available in India (and through Volvo Diplomat sales) at the moment, the V40 Cross Country is sure to interest buyers across the globe. The design is similar to vehicles like the Subaru Crosstrek — basically a lifted 4-door hatchback with AWD.
Of course, this is Volvo we’re talking about, so it has a premium design aesthetic and feel that exceeds what’s available on the Crosstrek. Diesel engine options are only available in FWD, but T4 and T5 gas engines let owners step up to AWD. Here in the US, we don’t even get the Volvo V40, so there is little hope that we’ll ever get V40 Cross Country. But, adventurous enthusiasts of small hatchbacks can certainly dream.
1. Volvo TP21 Sugga
Oh yes… how could this list be complete without the magnificent Volvo Tp21 “Sugga?” Deriving its enthusiast nickname “Sugga” from the Swedish military designation “Terräng-Sugga,” the TP21 was an off-road work horse produced from 1953 until 1958. Built on the PV800 series, the TP21 was the successor to the (also very cool) WWII Swedish military TPV.
This brute weighs in at more than 7,000 pounds, and was equipped with a 3.6L 90hp 159ft-lb inline-6 mated to a Volvo E9 gearbox. While less than 1,000 were produced, the TP21 has garnered a rabid group of enthusiasts. A handful have even been imported into the US.
The combination of military history and unusual off-road design makes the Volvo TP21 the coolest Volvo we never got in North America. Its predecessor the TPV, and its successor the TL22, were worthy contenders for the spot, but the sheer toughness of the TP21 has won us over.
Did we miss any really cool Volvos that weren’t available in North America? Let us know about your favorites in the comments!