One of the reasons to visit Gothenburg as an automobile enthusiast was to go to the hometown of Volvo, which is considered one of the premier automobile companies today. While the company has separate owners for its trucks and cars businesses, both owners jointly manage the museum located in the outskirts of Gothenburg. The museum is locatead near the factory and would be more convenient to get to with a car. However it is also accessible by public transport since residents do use the public transport in Sweden a lot. From the town centre, I took a tram to Eketrägatan where I dropped off to transfer to a bus from the nearby bus terminal. There is a short wait for the bus from the terminal but the light load on the bus ride meant it was a relaxing ride past the port and industrial area before alighting at Arendal Skans by the large car park amidst the corporate offices of Volvo.
From the bus stop it is a short walk to the direction of the harbour to get to the Volvo Museum. A row of dark blue flags with ‘Volvo’ emblazoned in the middle is difficult to pass by.
Once inside visitors can purchase a ticket to enter the museum. Cost to enter is 100SEK for adults and 223SEK for a family of 2 adults and 1 children. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and from 11am to 4pm on weekends. Due to the location of the museum, there was little visitors on the weekday that I visited.
Out front, by the reception, there was some truck exhibit and one of Volvo’s most famous historical car – the P1800 model that was used by Roger Moore in the movie ‘The Saint’.
After that the start of the exhibit revolves around the founding of the company and the main car exhibit starts on the 2nd floor of the museum. With a history dating back to 1927, the early cars were fairly unremarkable, with the top floor exhibit starting from the late 1930s. Some of the early cars that brought Volvo to prominence and established itself as a high-end or premium car manufacturer began with the Volvo PV36 “Carioca”.
Afterwards, cars like the PV444 broadened the company’s cars to the mass market giving it a foothold in the European auto sector. Many of these older heritage cars are beautifully restored in the museum and setup with dioramas and backdrops of Sweden in the corresponding era.
Aside from the family sedans versions, there was convertible models of the early cars along with modified truck and van versions that was used by commercial enterprises for work. The collection of cars from Volvo’s heritage was very good indeed, as cars of the same era was grouped together so as visitors move on to the next room, they are transported along with Volvo’s modernization.
The late 1950s to 1960s has perhaps one of Volvo’s sportiest models with the P1900 (or the Sport) and the P1800. Both models have curvy lines and sporty designs which totally is in contrast to the boxy designs that millennials probably associate Volvo with. In fact I think the P1800 might even classify as a great looking classic car. Needless to say, I find this section as one of the highlights of visiting the Volvo museum.
While in this section, do not miss the shooting brake version of the P1800 which is the P1800ES. Volvo certainly made some desirable cars in the late 1960s until 1970s.
Between the 1960s to the modern time, there was a special exhibition next to the windows showcasing the Volvo Duett which is probably one of the earliest examples of a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) since it was meant to serve various functions and nowhere is it shown more prominently in this museum. There was examples of the Duett becoming a fire truck, delivery van, army vehicle, and an airport shuttle van.
From the 1970s, Volvo shifted its design towards more luxurious and large passenger vehicles starting with the Volvo 164 and evolving into the Volvo 200 Series. The 200 Series even spawned a 262C coupe version that was built by Bertone in Turin, Italy. In the same era, Volvo expanded by acquiring the passenger car division of Dutch car brand DAF and this gave them the Volvo ‘DAF’ 66. These significant cars make up the bulk of the 1970s era collection.
Volvo’s acquisition of DAF also gave them additional factories in the Netherlands. This expanded Volvo’s small car line-up, allowing them to build cars like the 480 hatchback and even a 480ES coupe that tried to appeal to younger buyers.
However, in the 1980s era exhibits, what was prominent was the range of large 4-door cars that seems to signify what Volvo was competent in. Cars like the 760 sedan and 780 coupe designed by Bertone showed the strength of Volvo as a luxury brand. These cars seems to symbolize Volvo for me with its boxy styling.
It was only until a new owner in Ford that Volvo Cars had a more contemporary styling with cars like the S90 and C70 coupe. These cars could still be easily seen on the roads today and while not museum-worthy, I was glad they had them inside. Personally, I liked how Volvo moved towards these newer designs as they retained a certain link to the angular designs of the past yet made it look attractive enough for the modern era.
Past the modern cars exhibits, there was a small room that contained selected examples to showcase Volvo’s sporty models starting from the Volvo ÖV4 Hot Rod Jacob that was based on Volvo’s first passenger car. Other drop-top sports cars that have been based on Volvo cars includes the C70 ‘Caresto’, a special cabriolet customized off from the C70 model.
Moving on from this section, there was another room that had displays of Volvo cars that have won rallies and auto races. However from the limited number of cars on display here, it is obvious Volvo ain’t a racing car company. Instead the cars here does show reliability and durability with cars that have won African rallies and the British Touring Car Championships.
Aside from cars, there was a model of the RM8 engine that a division of Volvo Group built to power the Swedish Viggen fighter plane.
From this point onwards, there was a ramp leading back down to the first floor as that basically concludes an overview of all the passenger car division exhibits. However that is not before a showcase of the various concept cars and prototypes that Volvo has built. Some of the more prominent ones includes a more futuristic 1800ES prototype that was not chosen to the Volvo Safety Concept Car.
Even the newest S60 and XC60 concept was shown in the museum but that also marks the end of the passenger car exhibits since they really are starting to run out of space for the newer cars.
Back at the ground floor, the vast atrium space was dedicated to the notable Volvo trucks through the years including construction equipments and buses that the company produces. This section certainly shows that Volvo does not just produce cars but very useful trucks and buses that haul loads around the world.
Before exiting the museum, there is a cafeteria outside with more exhibits of the current Volvo line-up and a gift shop. In the gift shop, visitors can find several scale models for sale along with Volvo memorabilia and toys. However the selection available was somewhat lacking though I wonder if it is because not enough people visit this place to generate that sales. For a medium sized museum, the exhibits were plenty and there was an easy layout to move between exhibits. It might not be the easiest place of interest to get to in Gothenburg but a trip down here is a must if you are a Volvo fan or someone who wants to know more about Volvo. With a renewed car line-up, I certainly hope the Volvo museum could be refreshed in the future as I enjoyed my visit and do hope that I can come back again. Certainly I do wish for more selection of car models like the P1800ES and the Sport to be sold.