Just when you think you've exhausted every possible bizarre story about cars, another one comes skidding out of nowhere and crashes right into your ass. This time it's about two things that I'm not sure I ever thought about simultaneously before: children's literature and Swedish cars.
Here's the deal: it's 1952 in Sweden, a few weeks before Christmas, which means a few things. First, it's probably cold as hell, second, Volvo would really like to sell as many PV444s as they possibly can. Oh, and third, little Swedish kids all over the country are expecting fun presents from Jultomte. So what does Volvo do with this set of criteria?
Simple: they commission a fully-illustrated kids' book starring an anthropomorphized PV444 named Ville and have it sent to every seven-year-old kid in Sweden. That's 126,138 little blonde Swedish kids.
The 24-page book was written by Kurt Frankman and illustrated by Nils Arild, and was titled Ville Volvo Vinner Världen Och Prinssessan, which translates to Ville Volvo Saves The World And Marries the Princess. Huh. I wonder what happens in the book?
Despite the spoiler-alerty title and fairly predictable-sounding plot, the books look pretty adorable. The Volvo is anthropomorphized in a way I can stand behind, eye-placement-wise, and the illustration style looks pretty loose and charming. I only have found a picture of the cover, and from it I can tell there's a number of animals involved, terrain that ranges from Egyptian desert to undisclosed forest, and what appear to be either three evil, windowless vans or possibly angry, wheeled bread loaves who must be the antagonists.
The book was a huge success, with 1953 sales reported as being double that of the previous year. The plan of getting parents thinking about a new Volvo by having their kids fall in love with a cartoon version seems to have been a solid idea. The next year they gave it another go this time with a book called Måla Volvo, which means Paint Volvo, which makes sense since this book was partially a coloring book.
Based on the cover, the second book seems to have focused on action taking place among the Egyptian pyramids and a surprisingly chipper-looking Sphinx, while the trio of baddies returns, though here the desert heat seems to have melted them into some sort of worm-like beings. Maybe not worm-like — more like the shape of those funny liquid-filled plastic oblong things that are really hard to hold and squirt out of your hands. What the hell are those things called?
Volvo discontinued the kids' book program after the second book, and originals are very rare and valuable today. Has anyone seen one of these in person? Or even heard of them before? These are a fascinating artifact of both clever marketing and the cars-as-living-being fiction genre. Plus, that PV444 is so freaking cute I want to punch a horse.
(Image and information source: Volvotips.com)