Walk through the Wonderful World of Volvo with Us

by Nik Berg
12 April 2024 4 min read
Walk through the Wonderful World of Volvo with Us

Volvo is celebrating its 97th birthday with the opening of a breathtaking building in the heart of its home town. World of Volvo is an architectural wonder, an event space, conference facility, community center, motor museum and landmark in the center of Gothenburg, Sweden.

“This is home,” explains Roger Alm, Exective Vice President of the Volvo Group and President of Volvo Trucks. Unlike traditional museums, World of Volvo isn’t solely focused on history, but a showcase for the present and the future, too.

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As a hub for the people of Gothenburg, World of Volvo is free to enter, although Volvo hopes that visitors will reach into their pockets. That might be just for fika (coffee and cake), but it could be for a fine dining experience at one of the two restaurants run by Michelin-starred chef Stefan Karlsson. In the near future it may be to attend a concert in the 600-seat auditorium or perhaps to go to a meeting in one of the many conference suites.

Soon, customers wishing to take delivery of their new car and take a Scandinavian first drive will be able to head to World of Volvo as part of the company’s Overseas Delivery program. Surprisingly, this offer also extends to buyers of trucks.

Right now, though, the main event is an engaging, interactive, multi-level exhibition that brings together the Volvo Group and Volvo Cars under one eco-friendly moss-covered roof, and all for around £15. It’s the biggest collaboration between the two since they separated in 1999 when Ford acquired the car division for its Premium Auto Group.

That means you’ll find cars, trucks, mechanical diggers, military vehicles and even boats as you wander through the spectacular concrete, glass, and wood structure.

World of Volvo 7

The Building

From the outside, it looks like a transparent UFO has landed next to the 100-year-old Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg’s city center. Yet inside there’s a warmth that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from such a massive building. That’s because the interior is designed around three huge tree-like wooden columns whose branches curve up and out to create the structure of the roof. In total there’s more than 2800 tons of timber in the construction, and all of it is on show.

On the ground floor is the main event space, along with a display area that will be used to hand over cars and trucks to customers. The first level features the public Ceno restaurant and entry to the main exhibition area that spirals up inside. The top floors, meanwhile, are dedicated to conference facilities, including a second restaurant for corporate guests.

World of Volvo 8

The Exhibition

The main exhibition takes visitors on a journey that starts with Volvo’s focus on people. It’s all very hands-on, with interactive artworks and simulators to show the dangers of distracted driving and how speed impacts driver reaction time. It’s Volvo, so safety is the key message throughout, but it’s never delivered like a lecture. Key innovations such as the three-point seatbelt, which has saved more than a million lives, and the lambda sensor which cleaned up emissions are highlighted along the way, before you arrive at the vehicles themselves (see below). Other fun stuff includes the chance to operate a digger or dock a boat in virtual reality, showing the breadth of the Volvo brand.

Our Favourite Cars

King of Sweden's Volvo

The King’s Carriage

The first car you see in the World of Volvo is actually in the main lobby area and it belongs to none other than the King of Sweden. The 1946 PV60 is the same age as H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and was given to him by Volvo and the people of Sweden for his 50th birthday. Although currently parked, it does get used every other year on the King’s Rally where His Royal Highness joins hundreds of other enthusiasts to hoon around the island of Öland.

Volvo OV4

The First Volvo

On April 14 1927 the ÖV4 open tourer was the first Volvo to leave the Gothenburg factory. The Öppen Vagn 4 cylindrar was powered by 1.9-litre inline four mated to a three-speed transmission. Like most cars of the day the body was built on an ash frame. Ten pre-production cars were assembled but this is the only one that remains.

The Record Breaker

Irv Gordon’s 1966 P1800 still holds the Guinness World Record as having covered the most miles on a one-person owned car. Before he passed away in 2018, Irv had driven an amazing 3,260,257 miles. If you ever needed proof of Volvo’s durability, it’s sitting right here.

The Craziest Concept

There are several show cars on display, but it’s the VESC (Volvo Experimental Safety Car) from 1972 that stands out. Partly that’s because of its lurid orange paint and comically-long front bumper, but mostly because of just how far ahead of its time the VESC really was. It had airbags, anti-lock brakes and even a rear-view camera. The Mitsubishi television took up most of the dash and the camera itself must have eaten up a chunk of boot space, but talk about forward-thinking.

Volvo 850R

The Wild One

When the 850 T5-R was launched in 1996 I was dispatched to Gothenburg to drive one of the first out the factory to the British Motor Show in Birmingham. It was a wild ride. Our convoy featured the sedan you see here along with a wagon and when we hit the German autobahn we hit it hard, flying across the countryside in a 150 mph bright yellow blur. For that reason alone it’s at the top of my list.

That’s just a small selection of what’s on show – if you want more then you’ll need to pay a visit yourself.

Via Hagerty US.

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