One Family Owned: 1964 Volvo PV544

We’ve seen a few older classics in recent times here at Barn Finds that have been part of the same family since new. The trend continues with this 1964 Volvo PV544. The seller has listed it on behalf of his mother-in-law. It seems that she and her husband loved the car and used it as a daily driver. Sadly, he passed away, and the Volvo has been languishing in this shed for a decade. It appears to be complete, and while some areas of the car show the passage of time, there are no signs that it has deteriorated beyond the point of no return. The seller hopes to find someone willing and able to return it to its former glory, so he has listed it for sale here on eBay. The PV544 is located in Lyons Falls, New York, and three bids have seen the price crawl to $1,675 in what appears to be a No Reserve auction.

Apart from some minor styling upgrades, the 1964 Volvo PV544 can trace its appearance back to the PV444 that the company introduced into production in 1947. It is a 2-door fastback body that received few changes during eighteen years of production. Our feature car wears black paint, and since the seller doesn’t mention any restoration work, the paint could be original. It sports a significant coating of dust, but what hides below this looks pretty positive. There are a few marks and chips but no apparent dings or dents. I get the feeling that if the buyer treats the car to a wash and buff, it might present quite well. The seller makes no mention of rust in the listing, and the vehicle may remain rust-free. When it came to the question of build quality and rustproofing, Volvo did not differentiate between cars destined for its domestic market and those that would find their way onto foreign shores. The Swedish winter can be harsh and unforgiving, and vehicles built for use on those roads needed to be capable of coping with snow and other undesirable substances without crumbling to dust. Volvo had this down to a fine art, which is why a surprising number of their older models remain in good condition today. If our feature car does prove to be structurally sound, I won’t be surprised.

It is interesting to reflect upon the very different approaches between American and European manufacturers during the 1960s when it came to the question of performance. While it wasn’t a bad thing, companies like Ford, GM, and Chrysler subscribed to the philosophy that there was no substitute for cubic inches. The V8 was the unquestioned king and has remained so in varying forms ever since. Companies like Volvo followed a different line of thinking, extracting surprising performance from engines that often had a capacity of less than ⅓ of many American motors. The B18D four-cylinder unit that we find occupying this Volvo’s engine bay may only have a capacity of 1,778cc, but thanks to the addition of a pair of HS6 SU carburetors, it punched out a respectable 95hp. Those horses found their way to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, allowing the car to cover the ¼ mile in 18 seconds. That might not sound earth-shattering, but it is interesting to consider a few comparisons. If a buyer in 1964 bypassed the Volvo and selected a new Mustang with a six hiding under the hood and a four-speed transmission, that car would arrive at the end of the ¼ mile more than a second after the PV544. Buyers had to step up to a 260-equipped Mustang with more than double the capacity of the B18D if they wanted to better the Volvo. Even then, it was only by a few tenths of a second. That is what makes cars like the PV544 worth a closer look. It seems that our feature car served as a daily driver for many years before its now deceased owner drove it into this shed more than a decade ago. It hasn’t moved since, and its mechanical condition is unclear. However, these engines tend to be as tough as old nails, and reviving it may be possible if it turns freely. The buyer will undoubtedly have to flush the fuel system and change the fluids, but it is possible that returning it to a roadworthy state may be an affordable and easy exercise.

The news with this Volvo isn’t as positive when we open the doors and examine its interior. It appears that the upholstered surfaces have deteriorated to the point where things are splitting, while pieces like the door trims have been relegated to the trunk. The floormat looks okay, as does the dash. The upholstered surfaces may cause the buyer some issues because while it is easy to find a headliner for under $200, seatcovers and other upholstered items are rare. That leaves the buyer with a few options to consider. The door trims are flat surfaces, so a competent upholsterer should be able to retrim them to an acceptable standard. The seatcovers could potentially be approached the same way. Alternatively, the buyer could search for a local company that can supply a trim kit, but my experience has shown that these can be pretty expensive. In that case, they might have more luck finding an overseas supplier willing to ship internationally. The final option would be to patch this one up with some slipcovers and patiently wait for good secondhand parts to appear on online auction sites. This would be the most affordable approach, but it could take a while for the right pieces to surface.

The Volvo PV544 is a quirky European classic, but it is one that sold in respectable numbers. Between it and its lower capacity PV444 sibling, Volvo sold an incredible 444,000 vehicles during its production run. A surprising number survive today because the company strongly emphasized bulletproof engineering and excellent build quality. Our feature car looks to be a solid classic, and returning it to active service may not be a major undertaking. If nothing else, this car probably represents one of the cheapest European project cars available on the market today. Those factors make this a car that is worthy of more than a passing glance.

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Comments

  1. Slomoogee

    This car looks totally restorable, and with 3 days left in the auction will be interesting to watch. These 544s are starting to get harder and harder to find in this condition. They are either parts cars or over restored show pieces that are well over 10,000. They are fun cars to drive and most parts aren’t to expensive or hard to find. This one looks like it’s had some love over the years, and a VCOA decal is present. I would start there when researching it’s history. This one deserves a thoughtful owner and caretaker.

    Like 3
  2. DRV

    I bought the exact brother to this car on barnfinds11 years ago! I drove it today as found except for a buffing and fluids and tuneup. The interior is original and very good.Every part can be had for this interior.
    If it’s not rusty( easiest spot to tell is the spare we’ll) it’s worth getting to a driver condition. This one still has the pull shade for over the radiator. I too would say it was well loved.

    Like 1
  3. Rich Nepon

    Back in the first gas crunch days I used to pull these out of scrap yards. I’d put retreads on them, new shocks, new brakes and sell them out of a closed gas station using their phone booth as my office. I sold them for $500-$700 back then. I couldn’t get enough to satisfy demand.

  4. Kurt Member

    Very interesting. Wish it was closer to the Left Coast.

    • Mike

      It is interesting. Wish it was closer to a better light source.

      Like 2

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