When was the last time you saw a Volvo PV544? Unless you're a Volvo mechanic in California, chances are that it's been a while.
I completely forgot about the 544 until a few weeks ago when I moved from Boston to Santa Barbara, Calif. Since then, I've run into two running, if rusty, examples. The latest of which was parked at the Lowe's parking lot in nearby Ventura.
This black 544 looked in perfect running condition, and the paint job was not that much worse than my Saab parked a few rows away. The 200,000-mile sticker from the Volvo Club on the trunk lid is a testament to the robustness of this line of Volvos that effectively sold the American public on the virtues of Swedish Iron. Red quilted seats on this example didn't hurt, either.
The 544, released to the Swedes in 1958, was a development off of the PV444. The 544 remained in production until 1965, with versions after 1962 sporting a 4-speed manual and the B18 engine – the same kind that's proven so bulletproof in that 2 million-mile P1800.
I didn't get to see what's under the hood of this example, but whatever's inside has probably proven long-lasting. This is a roughly 50-year-old car that's still used running errands to the hardware store. It still surprises me how many I've seen running around Southern California, in mall parking lots and parked on the street. I think it's cooler than an S60, but not as cool as the brown XC70 T6 I lust after. I'm just weird like that.