22 Years In Storage: 1958 Volvo PV444

1958-volvo-444

Volvo had already established a reputation for building quality cars before the war, but their reach was limited. They kept at it though and ended up building the perfect car for the post-war economy. It was smaller and more affordable than their previous offerings, but the PV444 introduced the world to that now famous circle and arrow logo. This particular 1958 example has been in California storage since 1992 so there is little if any rust. Find it here on craigslist in North Fork, California for $6,500. Thanks goes to Barn Finds reader Nord B for the tip!

volvo-b16

It seems that everyone wants the later B18 equipped 544, but the B16 engine under the hood of this car is nothing to scoff at. It was built to the same high standard as later Volvo engines, but lacked two main bearings. It was still overbuilt though and with dual SU carbs, put out a decent amount of power (about 85hp). It really was a good mix of power, economy, and reliability. This one has not run in over 20 years, but as long as there is oil in there, I have no doubt that it will fire up with some new fuel and little spark.

1958-volvo-444-profile

The styling of the 444 may be an acquired taste, but I have grown to love these cars for what they are. The design was obviously influenced by American fashion, but Volvo was bold enough to keep it in use long after the fads had faded. The ownership experience was more about having a reliable form of transportation than making a statement anyway. Volvos were tough little workhorses that drove much better than their antiquated look would have led you to believe. They drove so well in fact that they ended up beating quite a few Alfas and Porsches at the track!

1958-volvo-444-interior

You wouldn’t believe that by looking at the interior either. Again lots of American influence here with a little bit of its own unique Swedish favor. The rubber floor coverings and long shifter are Volvo trademarks. The mats made sense during those long winters up north and the shifter was always close at hand. This particular car is not without its faults. The interior obviously needs lots of attention as do the brakes. All the consumable will need to be replaced before safe operation can be resumed.

1958-volvo-444-grill

Luckily, parts are a relatively affordable and most mechanical bits are still available. You could always swap in a B20 and 4-speed from a later car to transform this into a little hot rod, but I would encourage the next owner to keep the stock power plant in there. With only 41k miles on the clock and just one previous owner, it might be a good car to refurbish and keep. Just don’t touch that beautiful blue paint! Volvo had finally found a winning combination of practicality, simplicity, and toughness with the 444. It may not seem very advanced today, but this car went on the form the basis of everything Volvo produced for the next few decades. It’s one of my personal favorites and I hope this one goes to a good home!

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Jesse, I’m like you…that’s just a pretty shape! And I know they are tough, too. I love the vintage oil change sticker on the driver’s side A pillar!

  2. Jim McGill

    Drove a 544 in High School. This 444 really looks great. Tough to find them in this condition especially in Minnesota.

  3. DRV

    This is an excellent car in perfect driver condition. Replace the seat covers (192.00 each)and floor rubber (550.00) . I like the B16 for its quicker revving and originality. Drivability wasn’t a prob in my ’60 years ago.
    I now have a ’65 that I found 4years ago on EBay that I saw on this sight after I bought it.
    This blue and great condition would have me jumping on it if I didn’t already have mine, which is still and will always be original.

  4. Jesse Staff

    Please, someone buy this before I do. I love the color of this one and would really like to have a 444/544 to complete my Volvo collection!

    • Horse Radish

      do you already have a Bertone coupe and a 1800ES ?

      I think, must haves in a Volvo collection.

    • jim s

      go for it. this car would look good with numbers on the doors and some extra driving lights. also would look good parked next to your other volvos. great find

  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Do you honestly think anyone on this site is going to dissuade you from completing your collection, Jesse? :-) Go for it!

  6. DRV

    I can back you up on this one Jesse. E mail me with any questions if you want. Polish and interior easy pieces….the door cards are excellent, and this being the first American import year it is a good collector piece over the rest of the years except for the last, 1965. The bumpers are good and it’s all there for trim.
    Mechanicals are more simple than a riding mower….the steering wheel and dash are excellent. I believe the mileage . Tha hardest part are the king pins, but heat them up and grease them with the low miles they may be great!
    I like driving mine more than my Z3 M coupe!

  7. Dolphin Member

    This PV444 is in amazing shape. I’m not too fond of duct tape upholstery but this car shows that sometimes being laid up for decades isn’t a bad thing, especially when it’s in So Cal.

    My first Volvo was a ’59 PV544 back in the mid-’60s. It reminded me of those ’40s Ford sedans that inspired the 444 & 544’s shape, but when I drove it I found that the driving dynamics were terrific. It was then that I realized how these cars were so successful in rallying.

  8. Mark E

    ’47 Ford time!!

    I don’t think you (or your wife?) should count on anyone here persuading you NOT to buy a car… Just sayin. ^_^

  9. NickF

    Reminds me of the very first Volvo ( a grey P544 ) I ever saw rolling down the back roads of Nova Scotia. Even at a very young age I knew it was “different”. Someone told me that it was one of the cars they were building in a balloon (inflatable building) on Halifax harbor (Dartmouth actually).

    One could have confused the Nova Scotia plates of the time with the so called California black plates. A few years later my Dad bought what was rumored to be the last new 123GT “Canadian” built in BRG/tan.

  10. St. Ramone de V8

    These old Volvo’s take me way back! My Grandfather was a Volvo and Triumph dealer in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I remember my dad and uncles calling them Volvo sports? Never could understand why they called them that, especially when they had new TR’s on the lot. I was a kid, but I remember my dad telling me that they were like driving the old American cars, but way more fun. I like these things, but too many others do, so prices are getting up there. Nice car.

    • Jesse Staff

      Sports were fitted with dual carbs. That’s all we got here, but in other markets single carb base models were available.

  11. socaljoe

    Only thing I don’t like here is that the car flipper listed it before he even got it off the trailer.

  12. Ned Nobody

    Back in the late 60s a man here in Eugene had a hot rod 40 ford sedan and one of these Painted the same color. Neither car was stock and seeing them parked side by side in the driveway was interesting to say the least. Both were great looking cars.

  13. RickyM

    Love this car – hope it goes to a collector who will appreciate its greatness.

  14. Thomas Bengtsson

    Nice Car but it makes me a bit puzzled, the split front window, the small one-piece rear window and the small Lucas rearlights (in Sweden called “Maidens Breasts”) points it to be a 1957 model. On the other hand the grille is -58 and later, the front indicator lights are very strange, Lucas units but mounted where the -58 and later Bosch Units were mounted (the Lucas units were mounted more inboard (see added Picture). But any PV with a B16 Engine (1957-61) has better roadholding than the later B18 versions, I have driven both kinds on icetracks in my youth here in the North of Sweden and while the B16 principally went where you pointed it and just needed the slightest opposite steering to take it around the bends you had to use brute force, lots of wheelspin and mostly opposite lock to get around the bends…. BTW: I see that the big “V” emblem (gold in the front and chrome in the rear) was not installed on US-Spec cars for obvious reasons… :)

  15. Eric Hamerstrom

    I bought this car and and am going to fix any mechanical problems and some minimal interior work, then drive it as is. The previous owner went to the dealership with his father, who passed away recently, to pick up the car new in 1958. The 444 changed to the 544 in mid 1958, hence the mixture of parts. I had a ’65 544 in college and many 122’s later on and am thrilled to have this one. I think I still have a B18 motor in the garage just in case.

    • Jesse Staff

      Congrats Eric and thanks for the update! Please be sure to send in the occasional update so we can follow along with your progress.

    • NickF

      Congrats Eric! You sound like the perfect new owner for this one. It would seem you have both the experience and tempered passion and I wish you well.

    • Will

      Congrats, Eric! I was hoping to go take a look at it, but was hopelessly busy that week, and then — poof! — it was gone. So glad to hear it has gone to a good home and will be kept as a survivor.

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