Amid all the flashy paint in New York's Javits Convention Center is a boxy, dull blue car rotating atop a pedestal at the Volvo exhibit. It isn't new. In fact, it's the second vehicle the then young automotive group built under leader Oscar Gabrielson and Gustav Larson, a 1927 PV4. And it looks a little out of place as one of the ubiquitous auto-show "stand boys" polishes its chrome and meticulously wipes finger prints off its windows during press days.
The PV4, looking like a grandfatherly patriarch over the glossy, colorful, wheeled jelly-beans on the rest of the stand is part of a clandestine attempt by Volvo North America's to build a history for the brand in this country. It also represents the efforts of a small cadre of Volvo PR people just trying to have a little fun.
It all started in an effort to celebrate the Swedish firm's 70th anniversary in 1997, when a couple of Volvo workers found a 1958 "Suga" military off roader for sale on a Colorado used car lot. (Suga means "sow" in Swedish, which the car resembled.) Volvo bought it sight unseen and won't specify how much the company spent restoring the car before it drove on-stage at the 1999 Detroit auto show as a prelude to the company's first modern off-roader, the "CrossCountry" wagon.