Volvo 245 Turbo

A Volvo 245 Turbo parked outside Harrods. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.

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A trusty – and spacious – Volvo has been the transport of choice for many an antiques dealer ever since the first estate was launched 70 years ago. The first Volve estate, the Volvo Duette, was launched on July 4 1953 with a number of models to follow that secured the firm's leadership of the premium estate car market.

The car's beginnings were not so much planned as born out necessity. Faced with stocks of 1,500 spare chassis, Volvo's co-founder Assar Gabrielson decided the solution would be the PV445 Duett – so called because the car was two in one; a delivery vehicle during the working week, and then a comfortable family car at the weekends. Volvo has sold more than six million estates worldwide, representing around a third of the total number of Volvos sold since the company's foundation in 1927.

5952 Volvo 245

The Volvo 245 estate, an icon from the 1970s. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.

The first Volvo estate to be exported to the UK was the 220 Amazon of 1962. When the popular 145 was introduced in 1967 Volvo estate cars became a familiar sight on British roads. It was replaced by the 240 series and 265 in the 1970s. Providing more than 2000 litres of boot space, the 245 with its cuboid shape had minimal lip to move objects over, enabling antiques dealers to load objects in and out with ease.

Volvo 245

Two Volvo 245 cars. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.

There was no better vehicle to shift brown furniture and other goodies around the country. By the 1980s there was even a version that was the first estate car to come with a turbocharged engine.

6277 Volvo 850 Racing BTCC

Boxy and boring? Think again. The Volvo estate was also a rather handy touring car for races. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.

In 1985 the Volvo 740 and 760 estate cars were launched. The 760 was designed as an estate car from the start – the saloon range came later. Other numbers and designs - 850, 940, 960, V90 and so on - followed in the subsequent years and decades but the heyday for antiques dealers and their Volvo estates was undoubtedly in the 1970s and 1980s.

ATG advert

An advert from Antiques Trade Gazette’s first issue in 1971 from Vannic International Limited.

A Volvo estate even featured in the very first issue of ATG. Delivery firm Vannic International marked its launch with a full-page advertisement in the newspaper showing a photograph of the staff members standing around a Volvo parked in a London side street. The headline read: ‘We don’t own a Bentley but…we do provide the finest couriers, finders, packers, documentation, despatch, delivery.’

Bath on the roof

Amid fond memories and a whiff of nostalgia, ATG has been collecting the thoughts of dealers as they heard the news. Antiques dealer Gerard Coles said: “My first dealer car (forgetting the Jag I took the back seats out of) was a metallic blue 240 with the ubiquitous full-length roof rack. It cost £250. I wish I still had it. “It was a long time ago but I remember coming back from Normandy with a cast-iron roll-top bath on the roof and a huge crucifix hanging out the boot!”

High mileage

Craig Finch of Finch & Co, said: “I had a 1990s blue 940 estate, ex demonstrator, with 9k miles on the clock (run in, the garage said). It looked like a bargain. “Sold six years later for £250, with 440,000 miles on the clock (before the internet, when dealers drove to the auctions). Fond memories and fond motoring hunting adventures. “I know other dealers had higher mileage and older Volvo work-horses. Looking forward to seeing if any topped a million miles?” Orange bears fruit


Simon Rastall’s father’s “rusty, cold and fuel thirsty” burnt orange Volvo.

Simon Rastall of Rastall Art said: “This is my father’s burnt orange Volvo [pictured]. He ran a gallery, craft shop with a few antiques thrown in and had three Volvo estates. I run an online art gallery and we have three Volvos including an estate. I bought it after having to tie a 4ft painting on to the roof rack of my old car!”

Not a thing of the past


Peter Petrou’s Volvo estate outside Christie’s.

Dealer Peter Petrou still owns his 30+ year-old Volvo 740 and had it rebuilt by Volvo around four years ago. He said: “It is not a thing of the past – I am still using it! I regard my Volvo as a working tool and it is driven everyday. “It now has over 400,000 London miles and they are a rare sight, especially in central London. Of course with the Congestion Charge and ULEZ my monthly bill to the London mayor is rather wounding.

“I have spent many months in Europe and over 30 years the car always started first time regardless of the weather. It just goes to show how these cars are indestructible and still on the road if you look after them. The car has been an absolute star for all of its 30 years, that’s why I decided to have it rebuilt to manufacturer’s specifications with no expense spared… Of course it made absolutely no financial sense but it was about the car not the money. Not a spot of rust after 30 years. It has been like a longterm marriage with no arguments!”

Petrou added: “Why would I want to keep a 35 year old Volvo on the road? As dealers we are custodians and in the business of persevering the past. “We upcycle, repair and restore, not recycle.The Volvo is perseving the past for future generations like the rest of the things that have surrounded our lives.”

6378 Volvo V90

A Volvo V90. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.

Auctions specialist Lucy Lawson-Paul said: “I have fond memories of various friends’ parents having these (in their many model variants) when my friends and I were small. I am sure my godmother’s husband used to pile up their estate to take books to trade fairs. “They were also wonderful for shopping, getting things to and from boarding school, and on many occasions, dogs of various breeds (usually Labradors and there was on occasion a faint canine smell when you were sitting in one). “They will be fondly remembered by all who have had them and have them still.”

6317 Volvo 850 T5 R

A Volvo 850 estate. Image: Volvo Car Group Gothenburg.