Volvo ÖV 4 Jakob by Stahlberg

Ninety years ago today, April 14, 1927, the first Volvo production car rolled (pun intended) out of the factory. Dubbed the ÖV 4 (for “Öppen Vagn 4 cylindrar,” or Open Car 4 cylinders), the first Volvo has long been affectionately known as the “Jakob;” the first preproduction cars were presented on July 25, 1926, the Swedish name day for St. James the Great, known in Swedish as Jakob.

Several years ago, I was given this plastic model of the Volvo Jakob by a friend who had found it in his garage. I gratefully accepted it, put it on display on my shelf, and didn’t think much about it for a while after that. The only marking on the bottom says “Made in Finland,” so the manufacturer was a mystery and my curiosity was mild enough that I was willing to leave it at that. Although the interior has detached from the base and warped slightly, it’s otherwise in great shape and like the car itself, is pleasingly simple and sturdy.

Ultimately, I came upon the answer by accident in the place where such things seem to happen most often: eBay. More trained eyes than mine have probably already identified the maker as Stahlberg, the Finnish company well known for its plastic promotional models of Volvos and Saabs from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Once I knew the origins, my curiosity was piqued. Like most other Stahlberg models, the Jakob was created as a promotional item for Volvo dealers, to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary in 1977. While most Stahlberg models were approximately 1:22 scale, the Jakob is slightly larger at 1:20 scale; otherwise its quality and detailing are on par with the company’s other offerings: chunky and basic, but well proportioned and appropriately Scandinavian in its minimalism.

Lycklig årsdag, Volvo!

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