50 years ago, Volvo launched a car that was poised to shape the future of the company forever. it was the 1960s, and the automotive industry was on the cusp of a boom that would see decades of growth and profit. But even back then, the car that they were to launch would achieve a million in sales- an impressive figure considering the relatively small demand for cars back then.
It was the 140 series of vehicles, and it succeeded the legendary Amazon that came before it. It's funny when we talk about the "glory days" of Volvo because there were so many different eras- but this was the one when their cars were still stoicly front-engine, rear-wheel drive. Over the course of its life, it went from the 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine from the Amazon, to a 2.0-litre powerplant in 1969, to adopting EFI in 1971.
The 140 series was important because it brought a lot of features to the market- things that were not necessarily standard options at the time, and things you cannot imagine a car without today. Crumple zones, for instance, were a key engineering consideration. All round brake discs were also standard equipment, along with a primitive form of anti-lock brakes. The dashboard was designed to be protected in a collission, along with a fragile steering column that would split in the event of an accident to reduce the risk of blunt force. Head rests and seat belts were also standard.
When production of the 140 series came to an end in 1974, there were 1,251,371 such examples that had left the factory over the course of its production lifespan. It became Volvo's first car to hit over a million in production numbers, and was succeded by the 240 series of models that went on to generate 2.8-million units sold in just under 2 decades.