On 14 April 1927, the very first series-produced Volvo car, the V4 (nicknamed the Jakob), left the factory. Fast forward to 2005 and in a rural area in southern Sweden, Leif Tufvesson and his company Caresto started work on injecting modern craftsmanship and design into the car. Tthe result is the Hot Rod Jakob.
Just a few days ago, this unique car was unveiled at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden. Parked side by side, the similarities between old and new are remarkable, including the curvature of the hood, which has exactly the same radius.The characteristic windscreen attachment pillar that runs down the body side follows the original in detail, dimension, material and even the number of screws used. Equally identical is the radiator grille with its characteristic mesh pattern and diagonal bar incorporating the classic iron symbol.
The body has been built by hand from raw aluminum panels that were bent into shape using a hammer and English wheel - exactly as it was done in the prototype workshop back in the 1920s.
There are differences, the Hot Rod Jakob is far smaller than the original. It's a two-seater instead of offering space for four and it has typical Hot Rod attributes: large wheels, no fenders and a prominent rear axle.
And if you get closer, it's possible to see differences in terms of materials and details. The chassis is built of lightweight carbon fiber, rather than the heavy steel beams of bygone times. The brake rotors are remarkably slim, but their huge diameter (450mm front, 515mm rear) guarantee the braking surface is more than sufficient. The wheel spokes are made of aluminum instead of wood, but are exactly the same in number. The massive tires have a specially milled tread in the form of Volvo's iron symbol.
Most of the components have been hidden away inside the Hot Rod Jakob, including the springs and dampers, electrical components and exhaust system, making the car aesthetically elegant and minimalist. The result is to make the body and axles appear as if they are floating in air.
A closer look at the cabin reveals deeply rounded backrests instead of a single flat bench. The seats are upholstered in light brown hide. The piping resembles the original, while the perforated flat upper section behind the seat echoes modern styling cues. A glance at the instrument panels reveals no conventional gauges. Instead, all the functions are gathered into a single instrument to the right of the steering wheel. The dial face changes color and function when pressed. Press once: the ignition comes on and the button glows red. Press the clutch and the button turns purple. Press once more and the engine fires up and the button's turns Volvo blue.
There are also classic Volvo parts in the Hot Rod Jakob. The steering wheel comes from a 1962 P1800, as do the gear lever boot and steering column, while the brake pedal and brake master cylinder are from the 140-Series. The M90 gearbox is Volvo's last rear-wheel drive variant and comes from a Volvo 960. The engine, on the other hand, is brand new - a powerful Volvo T5 converted to run on ethanol. After being unveiled at the Volvo Museum in Gteborg on 26 February, 2008, Hot Rod Jakob will be exhibited at the four Nordic winners of Volvo Best Partner. In November, Hot Rod Jakob will visit the SEMA show in Las Vegas.