Black Plate Driver: 1962 Volvo PV544

It seems that this 1962 Volvo PV544 doesn’t spend its entire life hidden away in the garage. The owner says it comes out every week for a jaunt to a Cars & Coffee, suggesting that this classic is about more than good looks. It is a mechanically sound classic that is at its best on the open road, and the next journey it makes could be to your garage. Located in Fair Oaks, California, the owner has listed the Volvo for sale here on Craigslist. If an affordable European classic is on your Wish List, the owner’s sale price of $8,500 should place the Volvo in the ballpark. I once again need to thank Barn Finder rex m who has demonstrated the ability to refer interesting survivors to us.

The overall presentation of this Volvo is pretty respectable for a survivor of this vintage. Its California White paint holds an impressive shine, but it isn’t clear whether it has received any restoration work during its life. The panels wear the occasional blemish, but these are minor and within keeping for a survivor-grade classic. One of the greatest strengths of these older Volvos is their ability to avoid significant rust problems. The company didn’t distinguish between vehicles destined for the domestic market and those headed to distant shores. All were built to withstand the rigors of the harsh Swedish winter, where ice and snow are legendary. That means that the lack of rust in this black-plate survivor is no surprise. The owner admits that he has patched the floor in one spot, but that seems to be the only issue that this car has ever suffered. The trim is in good order, although the red center section of the grille would probably benefit from a refresh. Otherwise, it all seems to hold a winning shine, and there’s no evidence of physical damage. In a similar vein, the glass is clear, with no signs of scratches, marks, or any other problems.

Lifting the Volvo’s hood reveals the 1,778cc B18D four-cylinder engine that should be producing 95hp and 105 ft/lbs of torque. That power finds its way to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. The power figure may not sound earth-shattering, but it’s enough to allow the car to romp through the ¼ mile in 18 seconds. However, outright acceleration is not this classic’s forte. That little four is a remarkably tractable unit that can pull strongly from low in the rev range. It is also close to bulletproof, which is why there are still examples of the PV544 competing with some success in Scandanavian domestic rallying. It seems that the owner is pretty protective of his Volvo and is happy to spend money to keep it in sound mechanical health. In the last year, he has replaced the clutch and had the flywheel machined. The brakes have received a complete set of wheel cylinders, he rebuilt the master cylinder, and the front drums were machined. He has rebuilt and tuned the carburetors, and an electronic distributor has found its way under the hood. It seems that it has been worth the effort because the owner gets this classic out of the garage weekly to cruise off to any Cars & Coffee that he can find.

It’s funny how one photo can virtually seal the deal with a classic car, and it was this one of the interior that achieved it for me. Apart from a few dirty marks on the White vinyl, this interior is in remarkable condition. We can’t underestimate the importance of this because interior refurbishments in older Volvos can be hideously expensive. Items like the headliner are affordable at around $200. From there, a trim kit leaves no change from $2,500, although the figure can top $3,000 if armrests or hard trim items are required. Those are all issues that the buyer can ignore because there is no significant wear or physical damage beyond a slight seam separation on the bottom corner of the driver’s door trim. The dash and pad are in good order, as is the wheel. It appears that the factory radio remains in situ, while an aftermarket gauge cluster helps to monitor the health of things under the hood.

Like so many people, I found that for many years older offerings from Volvo tended to slip under my classic car radar. I now regret that because these are wonderful and engaging cars to drive. They don’t possess massive amounts of power, but what they have, they will deliver willingly. The PV544 was one of the company’s greatest sales successes, with an impressive 444,000 examples rolling off the production line. The survival rate is pretty high because these cars are as tough as old boot leather. Our feature car is a bit of a gem that would seem to need nothing. Prices vary widely in the current market, but it is possible to find some tidy vehicles for around $10,000. When we consider this car’s overall condition and good mechanical health, I believe that the owner’s price of $8,500 is extremely competitive. Is it competitive enough to tempt you to park it in your driveway?


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  1. DRV

    This is a great one at a good price. Although not original in style, the interior is good. The most expensive thing in the interior is the floor rubber at 500.00 , the rest is the same as any other .Having had the same year with a B16, I would have it with either motor. The B16 gets a bad rap but I liked it as well as my current ’64 with a B18 for other traits. The trunk hinge bend is on every one of them from trying to close it without knowing how!

    Like 4
    • Slomoogee

      I agree with DRV this looks like a decent car and the price is right. Not exactly to my taste, the all white interior is a bit over the top for me, and the VOLVO door cards look like they belong somewhere else. Big pluses are the steering wheel, and the aux gauges hung under the dash. While I was cleaning the grill and mounting some fogs I would clean up the valve cover. A 544 I would be proud to own. This won’t last long.

      Like 8
  2. Will Fox

    I always thought of these as 7/8 scale `47 Fords.

    Like 9
    • Danny V. Johnson

      Will fox, I race one in the mid sixties. The hood (engine cover) was patterned after a ’37 Cord. I wanted wider wheels. Ford 15″ wheels fit and the off was right. The brake shoes didn’t have enough friction material. Studebaker shoes solve that. The B18 engine was bullet proof.

      Like 1
    • Danny V. Johnson

      As for your comment “’47 Ford” you’re spot on. At the end of WWII, a lot of Volvo’s designers and engineers were German. They didn’t come back to Volvo. Volvo had to a lot of retro engineering. The rear suspension is Oldsmobile lift chassis. The B14/B16 is Morris/Austin.

      Like 2
  3. Greg Millard

    Looks like a bargain to me

    Like 3
  4. oldsoldie

    I also loved these cause of their resemblance to 46 to 48 Fords…. but never got really into them cause I never knew anything about them. I did see one of these when I was in high school that one of that guys had stuffed a 401 nailhead under the hood. I never got to look under there as those guys were too cool for the likes of me, but it sure sounded bad ass

    Like 3
    • Danny V. Johnson

      I thought that I was a Carroll Shelby. I put a Buick 215CID aluminum V8 in mine. It was 210HP, stock with a two barrel carb. I use the Volvo trans and Dif. They never broke.

      Like 2
  5. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Wow, I don’t think I could stand seeing those 3″-4″ tall VOLVO callouts on the door cards every time I entered. I love the marque, many have been molested to create fat-fendered Ford wannabes. This was stands out as a great survivor, just so happens to match one already here on the East coast and registered in our car club for sale.

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