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In Memoriam: Gunnar Andersson

The rally champion of Volvo enters the final record book.

by on Jun.24, 2009

An airborne Gunnar Andersson in his PV during the 1958 Midnight Sun Rally, which he won. For marketing reasons Volvo retouched this photo, making a PV544 out of the 444 which Gunnar actually drove.

An airborne Gunnar Andersson in his PV during the 1958 Midnight Sun Rally, which he won. For marketing reasons Volvo retouched this photo, making a PV544 out of the 444 that he actually drove.

Gunnar Andersson was born in the Swedish province of Dalsland, on 17 April 1927, three days after the first Volvo car left the factory in Gothenburg. When Andersson was 10, his family moved to Gothenburg and after school, he joined the Air Force, training to be an aircraft technician. He also began to repair and sell cars in a nearby rented garage.

Andersson passed away earlier this month.  

In 2001, Gunnar Andersson gave an interview on the eve of Volvo’s, and Gunnar’s, 75th anniversary. Our thanks to Volvo for supplying it to us.

“In 1953, I came by a Jaguar XK120,” Andersson said, “and decided to enter an open driving skills competition in central Gothenburg. There were over a thousand entries, who had to complete ten different tests in a given time. Of those who passed the first nine, the winner was the driver who was fastest in the tenth. “The tenth test was to reverse through an obstacle course. Since the Jaguar was fast also in reverse and since I had a clear view with the top down, I was the overall winner.”

This gave him a taste for more racing and he entered a famous hill-climbing race where he was clocked driving so fast that the organizers queried their own timing. Seizing the chance, the rest of the field entered a protest and the run was abandoned. Then, Gunnar finished only 3rd overall. Gunnar Andersson, age 26, knew that he was a top-rank driver and his rally career was launched. Gunnar had joined the Volvo Service School to support his growing racing habit.

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