Cheap Thrills – 1960 Volvo 544

pv544 b20 vinage racerIt might look like an old Ford, but the 544 and the 444 before it were a little more than a ton of Swedish magnificence. The last of Volvo’s PV series of cars that dated back to the 1920s, the 544 was Volvo’s breakout success, and for many people it was their first encounter with the now adored Scandinavian carmaker. Volvo was able to sell thousands and thousands of the things, and because they were so simple to maintain and so methodically built, a surprising number of them are still on the road. This makes them cheap, easy classic cars to justify buying, and though the styling was antiquated even when it debuted (and positively ancient when discontinued in 1966), its performance wasn’t. It is slow by modern standards, but the 544 marked the introduction of Volvo’s fabulous B18 OHV straight-4 and an all-synchro four-speed, so it was competitive with cars of the time.

They were competitive enough, in fact, that plenty of people were encouraged to go out and compete with their 544’s. In rallies, the Volvo’s durability was an asset, and even in road racing the 544 was a fairly common sight, usually with one front wheel up in the air as it sailed through a corner.

Now that we’ve established the 544’s affordability (usually nothing more than dirt cheap), ease of maintenance and popularity in racing, it would make sense that one of these Nordic sedans could be a great entry into motorsports. And this car, located in Durand, Wisconsin, could certainly be that entry. It was vintage raced from the mid-’90s to the mid-’00s, and it needs a little sorting, but putting it straight likely won’t require anything overly complex and you could potentially be on track in no time.

This car has updated disc brakes all around, a later rear end, and a later B20 engine (the successor to the B18). These upgrades might not go over that well with some vintage clubs, but they will have probably improved the car drastically. Things to watch out for are sticky brake calipers and rust on the door bottoms and rockers, but if you wanted to freshen this thing up a bit the sale comes with a spare motor and a parts car of unspecified condition. Buying this car now and then straightening it out for next season would be a cool, straightforward winter project, and getting your way into vintage production car racing for this cheap is something else.

Check out the 1960 Volvo 544 here on eBay, where the “Buy It Now” price is set at $6,500 and the starting bid is $4,000.


  1. Terry Jacob says:

    With some of the parts available for the B20 engine this could easily be turned into a very competitive historic saloon/sedan . A really interesting project for someone .

  2. Where is the PV544 now?

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