Back in 2015 I purchased a 1988 Volvo 240 DL and enlisted the help of my buddy Ant to make sure the car was in semi-working order. As we ran it through a little summer beach community on Long Island I feel even more in love with this seafoam green beauty and named her “Vega” Latin for Star, and that she was!
There’s something to be said about a company built on innovations in manufacturing, safety and quality that drives the soul to fall in love. From patenting the ball barring in 1915 to the 3-point safety harness in 1959 that has saved the life of millions, to the number of driver safety innovations they are all about safety, quality and the brand experience.
After a 5 hour trek across the Swedish countryside, I had the pleasure of stepping back and forward in time with this great brand.
First was a tour of the Volvo Museum on their Gothenburg Campus then touring the Torslanda Factory and experiencing the production line first hand in their “blue car” tour.
The Museum was such an experience, from the first Volvo ÖV4 to roll off the line in 1927 to the number of iconic cars including prototype and Pulsar performance models. Like nothing I’ve seen before, the time and detail that was put into this exhibit was beyond my expectations.
Once I had my “Nerd” on I was ready for the production facility tour. Located alongside the Overseas Delivery facility, the tour takes you through 3 of the 4 stages a Volvo goes through. The Torslanda Factory is larger than the county of Monaco and the Vatican City. We loaded up in the “blue cars” tram to be shuttled through the factory.
Although there are videos and pictures of the Volvo Factory online, the tour has a strict no photography or video policy. I was able to snap my rental at home once again at its Factory just months after being delivered.
First we ventured into the stamping room, this is where the rolls of sheet metal are pressed into forms to product the body panels you see driving around today. From there they are sent to the fabrication line where the various puzzle pieces are put together, this was a sight to see, with humans working alongside machinery delicately combining the pixels to form the doors, roof, trunks and hoods. Volvo has reduced the amount of machines completing the process, instead training and fine tuning their employees to complete much of the process by hand. Next the pixels are sent off to the paint portion of their assembly, this was not visible from the tour as it must remain a dustless environment. Lastly, the ballet of piecing all the interior panels, exterior features and finally rolling the completed products was something out of a car lover’s fairytale.
Each vehicle is assigned a core number on a card that moves in synchronization with the production, this way all parts, interior and exterior details and decals are placed in perfect harmony. These beautiful examples of craftsmanship are individually tested to ensure the upmost quality.
Although I am content with my VW Passat, one day I’ll be back to collect my XC90 or whatever fabulous Sport Utility they are producing.
Maybe 2027, the 100 year anniversary!!
Stay tuned, stay curious!