We covered Saab last week, so let's this week talk about that other great Scandanavian car company, Volvo.

So what does Volvo mean? ‘I roll’ in Latin, and that was originally a reference to ball bearings. One of the founders of Volvo, Assar Gabrielssom, was sales manager for SKF - a Swedish bearings company - and the idea was to build a Swedish car specifically to cope with the tough Scandinavian climate rather than relying on American-built imports. In more recent years, though, Volvo has gained a reputation for building hugely popular rectangular estates beloved of the British middle classes.

Volvo 120 Series Amazon

Seemingly created from a solid block of Scandinavian granite, here is the car that built the company’s reputation for reliability. The engine is utterly unburstable and will start in all weathers, and this cool, practical two-door estate will take a 1960s family around the world without missing a beat. The 123GT is the ‘hot’ one, with twin carbs and an overdrive gearbox. Later 122 versions with B18 engines and 12-volt electrics are easier to live with.

Volvo C30

Returning to the small car market it left behind with the old 400 Series, this was a much more agreeable proposition with style aplenty both inside and out. Maybe, though, it is a teeny bit too small with a less than adequate boot and not nearly enough legroom for the two rear passengers. It may not be a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, but that shouldn't matter as this is now a great value hatch which makes a change from all the regular offerings.