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Milestones: Volvo 445

Postwar chassis cab celebrates 60th anniversary.

by on Jun.22, 2009

A typical 445 van, designed for light goods delivery service in urban areas. This one delivered cakes.

A typical 445 van, designed for light goods delivery service in urban areas. This one delivered cakes.

Volvo, like most makers of its day, offered a chassis cab model, which could then be converted to a wide variety of custom uses. In Sweden this happened shortly after Volvo started making cars in 1927. These Volvo cars were still built on separate frames after Word War II, so the chassis versions were offered throughout the 1950s. But these were large, heavy vehicles.

The postwar PV444 sedan from Volvo was smaller and more fuel efficient due to its unit-body design, which presented a problem for converters. So a commercial version using the running gear but built with a separate frame debuted in the summer of 1949.

A pickup truck version of the 445, made by Klippan coachbuilding, circa 1949.

A pickup truck version of the 445, made by Klippan Coachbuilding, circa 1949.

In the U.S. at about the same time the Ford F100 pickup with the same payload was appearing as a dedicated, rather than converted vehicle.

The 445 was the equivalent of the PV444 in size and price. When it came to design, the front fenders and hood came straight from the 444, but the 445 was distinguished from the sedan by having a grille with five horizontal chrome bars instead of four – the more automotive marketing changes, the more it remains the same.

The mechanics and equipment were all PV444, except for the rear axle, which, in the time-tested traditions of truck design, was sprung by two semi-elliptic leaf springs, instead of the more comfort-oriented coil-spring suspension of the 444.

Payload was up to 1,100 pounds (500 kg), depending on the body version. A pickup was lighter and could carry more weight than a heavier panel van. Total weight was 1650 kg and the chassis counted for 725 kg. And, as found by all other companies, customers soon learned that over-loading was possible without ill effects.

The 445′s 1.4 liter, four-cylinder was rated at 40 horsepower, adequate for city use, and it proved durable. Hauling ability at this small output came from low gearing, which meant engine noise and rocketing fuel consumption at higher speeds.

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