Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Frankfurt Motor Show 2011

Ferrari 458 Spider

Well well well, the Frankfurt motor show opened its doors to much fanfare on Tuesday and I’m delighted to say that it appears to have on show some of the most interesting new models I’ve seen for years. There really is a plethora of eye-catching cars, not always for the right reasons but hey, it wouldn’t be a motor show without the weird and wonderful, would it?

‘All new’ Porsche 911 991

To name but a few of the headline grabbers on display, Porsche left us all dumbstruck with their, ahem, all new 911….wing mirrors.

Ferrari’s decided to take their styling cues from Renault these days by emulating the very clever folding hard top as previously seen on the Wind. Joking aside however, this is one of those very rare occasions when I’m prepared to admit that a car looks better in convertible guise than hard top.

Land Rover DC100 Concept

It was inevitable that this day would come eventually. Some poor soul at Land Rover has finally been tasked with replacing the iconic 67 year old design of the Defender. Re-inventing the wheel seems preferable to me as you’re only going to upset millions of purists, however good the replacement may look, drive or feel.

Ford Evos Concept

Having been brought up on a staple diet of Capris, I was very excited when Ford unveiled their latest design concept, the Evos. As usual, Ford were keen to deny that this would go into production and even more keen to distance themselves from the Capri name. Why Ford, why? Embrace this much loved icon and do us all a favour by dispelling the memory of, I can barely say it, the Cougar!

Jaguar CX-16

Undoubtedly the star of the show for many people, myself included is this car, the Jaguar C-X16. I know I keep saying it but the way Jaguar has been turned around of late is nothing short of staggering. If it performs anywhere near as well as it looks, I can honestly say that if I was in the market for a car of this genre, I would march straight past the Porsche 911’s in their showroom and place my order for one of these, and that’s saying something.

Bugatti Veyron L’Or Blanc

One for those of you who were reluctant to invest in a Veyron due to its abhorrent lack of porcelain, this one’s got it in abundance, inside and out. There you go, your prayers answered. I did say that not everything was in good taste!

By Ben Harrington

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History of Volvo

Volvo was originally founded as a subsidiary of Swedish engineering component manufacturers, SKF, its original purpose being to expand the parent company’s market into the US. Founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson also included the production of automobiles into Volvo’s original manifest although this was certainly never meant to be the sole aim of the company and it wasn’t until ten years after Volvo’s launch that a car bearing this moniker would seethe light of day.

Close up of Volvo grill badge

Volvo – Latin for ‘I roll’

The name Volvo comes from the Latin for ‘I roll’. It’s absolutely no coincidence that one of parent company SKF’s main products was ball bearings. The Volvo badge which is still familiar today is from the Swedish symbol for iron and has always been placed on a diagonal bar across the car’s radiator grille.

Volvo Jakob

Volvo Jakob

You could say that Volvo’s birthday was April 14th 1927 when their first car, the ŐV4 – nicknamed Jakob rolled off the production line in Gothenburg. The four cylinder ŐV4 and PV4 models were available in hard top and cabriolet guise and proved an instant success in Scandinavian countries as they were designed to be better equipped than competition from the US to withstand the harsh conditions of their winters.

Quality was a word that became rapidly synonymous with Volvo and this soon evolved into an association with making extremely safe cars. The following statement was made by the company’s founders:-

‘Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is and must remain, safety’, Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larsson, 1927.

1929 saw the introduction of Volvo’s first six cylinder model, the PV651. The success of this larger car financed the construction of Volvo’s first purpose built factory and the purchase of their engine supplier.

As was the case with many automotive manufacturers, World War Two saw the production of Volvo cars decimated as the factories were modified to produce military machinery. In stark contrast, 1944 saw the release of the PV444 model which combined American flair with European elegance. This model, along with the PV544 helped Volvo gain a foothold in the lucrative American market during the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The launch of the hugely popular Volvo Amazon (or 120 as it was known in the US) in 1959 again highlighted Volvo’s dedication to automotive safety as it was the first car to be sold with seatbelts as standard. This would later progress to being the first car with three point seatbelts.

Roger Moore as the Saint with his Volvo

The Saint

Moving into the 1960s, Volvo launched their first sports car, the P1800. This was later to become famous across the world as the car Roger Moore drove in ‘The Saint’. The ‘60s also saw Volvo’s new factory opening at Torslanda in 1964. This allowed annual car production to expand to 200,000 as Volvo’s worldwide appeal continued to grow, especially with their own niche market, the family car.  This demand for a safe, well made car was satisfied further in 1966 with the release of the 140 model, initially in saloon guise and latterly as an estate.

Volvo’s reputation for being market leaders in automotive safety was upheld further during the 1960s and ‘70s as they introduced the world to such safety features as crumple zones, collapsible steering columns and side impact protection systems. This list of innovations is by no means exhaustive.

The 1970’s saw Volvo successfully purchase the car manufacturing arm of Dutch company DAF. DAF’s existing models were simply rebadged as Volvos, a move that resulted in Volvo expanding their range yet further into the smaller car market.

Following the collapse in 1993 of a proposed merger with Renault during its latter stages, Volvo remained the world’s largest independent automotive manufacturers. This would remain the case until 1999 when Ford purchased the company for US $6.45 billion.

Ford placed their new acquisition in their Premier Automotive Group (PAG) along with Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover. Despite announcing losses year after year, Ford insisted on keeping Volvo when the rest of the PAG had been disbanded.

Today, Volvo are owned by Chinese automotive giant Geely following a successful buyout in 2010. Geely acquired the firm for US $1.8 billion following extremely complex negotiations. This is someway off the value Ford initially placed on the company of US $6 billion.

By Ben Harrington

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