Danish Delights #2: 1960 Volvo Special


So this looks like a Volvo Amazon (or 120 series) at first, right? Especially from the front, but it is actually not that simple. It is based on the frame of a lowered and shortened Volvo PV 445 commercial van. The front end is off a Volvo Amazon but the windscreen is the rear window from an Amazon and the rear window is the rear window off a Jaguar XK 150. Once you look closer, you start to see more details.


The rear end, which I personally like, is somewhat reminiscent of contemporary Maseratis and Alfa Romeos, and that is just never a bad thing. The overall vibe says Italian grand tourer to me.


The engine is a Volvo B16. And at this point I have still not got to what it really is. First let me give you a brief introduction to the man behind it, Ole Sommer. Ole Sommer (born 1932) is quite a character. He went to England to learn about car building as part of his master’s degree in automotive engineering. He is also the son of Erik Sommer whom we met in the last installment of this series. Erik Sommer died during car testing in northern Germany in 1952 but before he did, he had managed to pass on his passion for cars and car building to his son, Ole. Ole Sommer took over the family business in 1952 and started importing Jaguars and later Volvos.


An automotive engineer by trade Ole Sommer has always been interested in ways to optimize automotive technology. At this point, he has retired and he now has his own museum north of Copenhagen. That is where these photos are taken. The museum is home to quite a few beautiful exotics and is well worth a visit, if you are in the area. It is only open between 2 and 5 PM on Sunday, so plan ahead.

Our featured car was sold off when new, but he bought it back in late 1968 at quite an (undisclosed) premium.


Ole Sommer’s idea for this car was inspired by Volvo’s failed first attempt at selling a sports car to the public: the P1900, which was only made in 67 copies (the featured car is from Sommer’s museum as well). Sommer believed there was indeed a market for such a car and that it was the execution, not the concept, which was the issue, so he had a go at building one himself. Volvo apparently did not like it, and as we know, they were at this time in the final stages of developing the P1800, which was launched in 1961. Therefore, Volvo was not interested in Sommer’s proposal for a Volvo coupe, and like the S1, the Special never made into production. This is the only one ever made.


I think the Special is quite a bit better looking than the P1800 in both coupe and shooting brake configuration. I think this Danish version of a conservative Swedish car came out looking quite Italian and rather elegant.