Thursday 25th August 1949
The 100,000th Volvo car – a black PV444 – came off the assembly line at the Lundby plant, Sweden. The PV444 was Volvo’s first uni-body car. Its body structure was influenced by the 1939 Hanomag 1,3 litre, which was purchased and studied by Volvo engineers. It was also the first Volvo in almost 20 years to come with a 4-cylinder engine. The first PV444s were powered by a 40 PS 1.4 L inline-four engine designated the B4B, with three main bearings, overhead valves, and a single downdraft carburettor. The power of this engine increased to 44 PS (32 kW) in October 1950, and to 51 PS (38 kW) in October 1955. US models, beginning to appear in the US in early 1956, received an uprated version called the B14A which was given twin side-draft 1½ in S.U. carburetors for a total of 70 hp. Most early US sales were limited to Texas and southern California. American customers also had the option of European delivery, in which case they could also get a cheaper model with the basic B4B engine.
By the 1957 model year, engine displacement was increased to 1.6 L and both single downdraft- B16A and twin side-draught carburetted B16B versions were offered. Fuel economy was quite above average for cars sold in the United States. The average American car gas mileage in 1957 according to SAE papers was 12 miles to the gallon. The Volvo PV444 averaged 25 miles to the gallon US and performance particularly with the twin carburetor configuration was brisk. The combination of performance and durability won over many two-seat sports car drivers, allowing them a pleasurable drive in the entire family’s company if desired.