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Volvo Went Communist Long Before The Chinese

Illustration for article titled Volvo Went Communist Long Before The Chinese

"The Csepel Car Factory, the MOGÜRT Export Company and the Swedish AB Volvo founded a joint venture in Hungary. The new agreement states that using Swedish-made components, the Type L-3314 Laplander all-wheel drive vehicles will be assembled at the Csepel Car Factory.

The Laplander is capable of satisfying commercial and public needs, and can also be used as a heavy duty truck depending on the setup, ranging from street-cleaning to technical support or agricultural usuage." 


This article was published in Autó-Motor Magazin in 1974. You see, Hungary was not allowed to have a car industry under the communist oppression. We were on truck duty thanks to Moscow, so that's why we gave the world its best selling bus ever, the Ikarus 200 Series. We sold that to literally everybody, including the USA, Iraq, Nigeria and Cuba, not to mention the rest of the gang behind the Iron Curtain. But while buses were made by Ikarus, trucks (and bicycles) were rolling out of the Csepel factory.

Illustration for article titled Volvo Went Communist Long Before The Chinese

And so did the Volvo Laplanders, powered by a mighty 82 (or 68, or 75, depending on the source) horsepower B18 engine. But the VOLCOM partnership didn't last long. Volvo pulled the plug in 1980 after just a few more than a thousand Laplanders were made in Budapest. Volvo claimed that there was no demand for the relatively expensive all-wheel drive model in the markets they expected to sell well.

Illustration for article titled Volvo Went Communist Long Before The Chinese

One of the Hungarian Volvos ended up in this guy's garage. Meet János Kádár, the communist leader of Hungary between 1956 and 1988. People associate him with the introduction of "Goulash Communism," a much softer version of the mass murdering dictatorship of the fifties with an improved standard of living. But make no mistake: he was responsible for the death and misery of thousands as well. He was also a keen hunter, which meant the Laplander have seen a lot of action during his last years in power.

János Kádár died of cancer on 6 July 1989 at age 77, the same day when the High Court rehabilitated Imre Nagy and the other heroes of the Revolution of 1956. In October, the Communist Party convened its last congress, and the parliament adopted legislation providing for multi-party parliamentary elections and a direct presidential election. Almost two decades later, Kádár's Laplander went on sale for around $4000.

In 2010, Volvo was bought up by the Chinese for $2 billion, after Ford (and capitalism) finally gave up on it.


Photo credit:, Wikipedia and Fortepan.

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[sips half-calf latte]

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-American wearing wool cap.