Most Volvos are discreet. Most Volvos are square. Most Volvos are hardly noticeable among parallel-parked cars. But most Volvos aren’t Suggas.
Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where we highlight fascinating cars we found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York. London, England.
The Volvo Sugga, officially known as the TP21, was essentially a PV831 sedan body and motor mated to a truck chassis complete with four-wheel-drive and lockable differentials. The cars were built for military service and were typically used as radio vehicles. Over 700 of the things were built between 1953 and 1958, according to this pretty comprehensive write-up over at Hemmings.
I came across this car while on a short layover in London earlier this month, before travel became impossible. When I’m in London, I like to spend a little time walking around the absurdly wealthy areas of Kensington, Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Fitzrovia etc. so I can see some of the cars I normally only see online. Despite the dreary weather and the general atmosphere of doom the initial stages of the pandemic, there were still a bunch of interesting things to see, this Volvo among them.
I’m particularly impressed with the fact that this Sugga is parallel-parked. I can’t imagine having to manoeuvre something with these sightlines and blindspots and an unsynchronized gearbox into a spot like this one, no matter how far away the cars might be on either side.
I guess the fact that this thing still really is just a 1950s Volvo sedan does make it a little more livable than your average mid-century military truck, levers and handles in the console aside. I mean look at this dashboard. Look at that typeface! It looks a lot more suited to West Gothenburg than war games. But maybe that’s just how the Swedes liked it.