The first Volvo car left the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden on 14 April, 1927.
Volvo is Latin for "I roll", and the company was founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson as a spin-off from ball-bearing manufacturer SKF. The logo is a Swedish symbol for iron attached to a diagonal piece if metal on the front grille.
Initially Volvo produced closed top and cabriolet versions of its four-cylinder OV4 and PV4 Jakob models, which sold well as they were constructed to better withstand the harsh Swedish climate than US imports.
In 1929 a six-cylinder PV651 model was introduced. Its success helped the company raise funds to buy its engine supplier and its first factory.
The PV 51, a cheaper model, was introduced in 1936, similar to the more expensive PV36 in design, but smaller in size and less well equipped.
Towards the end of the Second World War the PV444 was introduced. It was an instant success, and joined by successes including the 120/Amazon gained Volvo a market in the USA.
In 1959 the Amazon and PV544 were equipped with three-point safety belts – a world first.
Volvo’s first sports car was the P1800, unveiled in 1960, and found fame in The Saint TV series with Roger Moore behind the wheel.
Cementing Volvo's position in the family market, in 1964 it launched the Volvo 140, firstly as a saloon and later as an estate.
Other innovations in safety and environmental care were also standout features of the company. These included crumple zones, rear facing child seats, collapsible steering columns, side collision protection and the three-way catalytic converter.
The Volvo 240 and smaller Volvo 340 were highlights of the 1970s, while in 1982 the Volvo 700 moved the brand upmarket, a reputation which grew with cars such as the 340, which wa slaunched at the end of the decade.
In mid 1991 the Volvo 850 was launched. It was Volvo’s first front wheel drive executive car, with a transverse, five-cylinder engine.
A proposed merger with Renault fell through in its final stages in 1993 leaving Volvo as one of the few remaining independent car manufacturers. Key products in the 1990s were the S40, V40, S80 and V80 and C70 coupe and convertible.
Ford bought Volvo in 1999, but profits were always moderate, and the company had slipped into debt in every year since 2005.