Partially in celebration of my Swedish sister in law’s receipt of permanent residency in the UK there seems no alternative but to praise what else Sweden has also given the world.

The one word that perhaps best sums up seemingly endless journey’s to their blue and yellow buildings, bloodied knuckles from a slipped Allen key during a tricky build, the undoubted delights of a festive Pepparkakor house and the insurmountable joy of arriving at the Hot Dog – now available in Quorn in the UK – counter after a tiring trapse along its endless corridors is : “IKEA“.

Without trivialising the legacy of great design that hails from Sweden – regulars will know I have celebrated the work of Pelle Petersen and his beautiful Volvo P1800S – see here – Volvo P1800  – the socio-political impact of Ingvar Kamprad’s smart idea is profound. The reliance by landlord’s, students and the modern family on the products offered by this ever present retail chain is way more than impressive. In addition, to remodelling children’s bedroom on an almost annual basis, my family are clinically addicted to the wonderful smoked salmon and meatballs.

Design lies at the heart of much of IKEAs strategy and the conscious promotion by naming the designer adjacent to a display of their designs is very engaging. This is more than IKEA’s introduction to a wider audience of curiously named products. Did you know that IKEA’s product names are based on a special naming system as developed by IKEA including, upholstered furniture has Swedish place names, beds have Norwegian place names and chairs have men’s names. Icons include the very comfortable chair POÄNG chair that celebrates its 40th birthday this year and was designed by Japanese designer, Noboru Nakamura.


Founded in 1943 by a 17 year old dyslexic Kamprad – seen below holding the ÖGLA chair in 1961. IKEA is an acronym of the founder’s initials, plus Elmtaryd (the family farm) and Agunnaryd (his Swedish hometown). Initially, it was a mail order business with deliveries being picked up from the family’s farm along with the milk to be dropped at the local train station. Ingvar started selling furniture in 1948. The first IKEA store was in Älmhult (Sweden) in 1953 that in 2016 became the IKEA Museum. He resigned from the operating company’s main board in 2013 – but not the controlling holding company – and his youngest son, Mathias, is now Chairman.


As of December 2016, IKEA owns and operates 392 stores in 48 countries with annual sales in 2016 of €36.4bn. In 2010, the company produced 197m catalogues in 20 languages and consuming 70% of the company’s annual marketing budget.

Ceaseless expansion continues with IKEA growing its product base to include flat-pack houses, apartments and soar panel packages with various sites identified in the UK in London, Leeds and Liverpool. Environmental, green-tech, waste and other social challenges are all an important focus for the company, its commercial and charitable operations.

Finally, a couple of observations about IKEA, which are quite possibly urban myths: that one in ten Europeans is conceived in an IKEA bed and that the IKEA catalogue is now read by more people than the combined readership of the Bible and the Koran!
















Volvo P1800



It’s odd what you forget and your memory needs to be jogged by a friend’s comment. A recent example is that of a favourite TV series from the late 1960’s.

I had forgotten that it’s hero, Roger Moore’s rather wooden “Simon Templar” aka “The Saint”, – cue title music – dodo dodo dadodo –  drove a very early white Volvo bearing the registration “ST1”. Long before they became super sensible Volvo, yes a Volvo, agreed to sponser the design and constructed later versions of the far from ordinary and wholly iconic Volvo P1800.

Available from 1961 to 1973, it was designed by Pelle Peterson – seen below with his creation – later to find fame as a decorated yachtsman and yacht designer – and featuring the styling of, Pelle’s tutor, Pietro Frua, a leading Turin-based car designer who’s work is seen particularly with Maserati.


In 1957 Volvo sought a sports model to compete in the US and European markets. The concept for the car came from Pelle father, Helmer, an automotive engineer and consultant to Volvo. Volvo were insistent that the car had to designed by an Italian coach-builder and the resulting P1800 was what was then known as a “stylish tourer”.

It was initially intended to build the car at the Osnabruck (Germany) factory of Karmann but, it is thought Karmann’s major client, Volkswagen, may have insisted that Karmann refuse the work.

The car was finally presented at the 1960 Brussels Motor Show and it was initially assembled at the Jensen Motors factory in West Bromwich (near Birmingham, England).

Production moved to Sweden in 1963 and the car was renamed the P1800S – “S” for “Sweden”.


Over its production run more than 47,000 cars were built. In addition to a couple of engine sizes – the 1800 denoting the 1778cc initial spec. engine – the P1800 was available as a neat two seater coupe or as a three-door “shooting-brake” or sports estate – the P1800ES. This acquired the affectionate nicknames, the “Fiskbilen” – Swedish for the “Fish-van” – and in other parts of Europe, the slightly sinister,  “Cinderella’s Coffin”.

Although Volvo themselves didn’t produce a convertible version of the P1800 the car was recognized by others for its perfect lines for this treatment. Notably, Volvoville in New York saw this opportunity and produced a highly desireable convertible version.


In September 2013, a 1966 P1800S, having obtained an entry in 1998 Guinness Book of Records for the highest mileage private vehicle at 1.69 million miles – exceeded three million miles.

In the 2013 adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s excellent book “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” the leading character Allan Karlsson (played by Robert Gustafsson) is shown – in a Swedesh city location – driving a P1800S.

If you have ever been tempted to buy a Volvo P1800 can I suggest that a Eseential Buyer’s Guide is a good starting point – click the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy.


Volvo P1800/1800S, E & ES 1961 to 1973: Essential Buyer’s Guide

Once you have purchased your Volvo P1800 you will surely need the required Haynes Workshop Manual – click on the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy


Volvo 120 & 130 Series (and P1800) (61 – 73) Haynes Repair Manual (Classic Reprint Series: Owner’s Workshop Manual)

I do understand, as opposed to buying the car you may like to show your allegiance to the Volvo P1800 by wearing a T shirt with pride. If so, click on the AMAZON link below the image to get yours. – there are several colors to chose from.


STUFF4 Men’s Large (L) Burgundy Round Neck T-Shirt/Stencil Car Art / P1800

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Phot credits – with grateful thanks Gooding & Company