60′s Volvo 544 Racer

Now there are cars that have slight flaws, design issues, ride quality problems, containing no quality materials, and are riddled with piss-poor engineering. And then there are cars that are notorious lemons. The Volvo 544 is both. Ok, ‘Lemon’ is too harsh a word. But let’s be completely honest, the 544 sorta kinda falls into almost all categories and that is where it’s major fault lies; it’s just spread too thin. It’s a coupe, it’s a wagon, it’s a beautifully designed car, it’s out of date, it’s heavy, and my god, when does it NOT smell like it’s leaking gasoline? The Volvo 544 was actually built quite well. It’s ad campaign, well, that was a different story.

What do you do when you know you’ve made a bunk car boring car and that you have pulled the wool over your adoring public’s eyes? you don’t know how to sell it? Most companies would go on selling the thing hoping that nobody notices (I’m looking at you Caliber). Volvo? Well they notoriously (and humorously self deprecatingly) decided to publicly say that they were sorry about the 544 and that they in fact do make better cars across their lineup. Unfortunately, self deprecation in advertising never got us anywhere (especially in college when you were trying to hit on the cute rock/goth chicks outside of the art department). Humor can be harmful in advertising. and so after their pitch, Volvo decided to just make better cars and move forward. Amen to that.

Have I even mentioned that this thing is totally decked out for the track? Fiberglass seat, roll cage, taped out headlights, gutted interior, wood shifter, and you know what? it’s just plain perfect… This is what I love about cars; I get to imagine what it’s like to get behind the wheel of each and every one. There is nothing more appealing than an authentic car that has seen some miles. This bad boy truly has a lot of stories to tell.

PS. If there is someone out there who would like to have their late 80′s early 90′s 240 GL wagon photographed, hit me up. And I’m dead serious. Downloadable photos can always be found here: Shiny Side Flickr

About Ian Merritt

Ian D. Merritt is a commercial, editorial, and automotive photographer and journalist living in Chicago.
This entry was posted in Automobiles, Daily Driver, Racer, Volvo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 60′s Volvo 544 Racer

  1. Poxpopuli says:


  2. Was this Volvo model also called Amazon ?

  3. Jesse says:

    I think you may be mistaken in your first paragraph. These were actually well built high quality cars in their day. The ads were run to apologize to customers because there were so many people that actually loved these cars that they didn’t want them to end production. You might want to do a little more research next time. Great photos though.

  4. Paulie says:

    Thank you. Jesse, for setting the record straight. In it’s day, pound for pound, the 544 was the most fun/practical/safe car on the road. I drove a ’63 Sport for 18 years….everytime I went to replace it I couldn’t find anything better. Ian should stick to editorializing on things he has actually experienced.

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