Jan Wilsgaard

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The Volvo 122 coupe, designed by Jan Wilsgaard
The Volvo 145, designed by Jan Wilsgaard
The Volvo 144, designed by Jan Wilsgaard
The Volvo 164, designed by Jan Wilsgaard
The Volvo P1800ES, adapted to an estate by Jan Wilsgaard
Rearview of the Volvo P1800ES, as adapted to an estate by Jan Wilsgaard
The Volvo 740, designed by Jan Wilsgaard
The 850 was Wilsgaard's last design at Volvo

Jan Wilsgaard (born 1930;[1] Brooklyn, New York)[2] was the Chief Designer at Volvo Cars from 1950–1990, having studied at the Gothenburg School of Applied Arts (now HDK, Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk, at the University of Gothenburg) before joining Volvo when co-founder Assar Gabrielsson still headed the company.[3]

Wilsgaard was one of twenty-five designers nominated for Car Designer of the Century, and was followed at Volvo by the noted designer Peter Horbury.

Background and career[edit]

Wilsgaard's father was a Norwegian sailor. During World War II, the family fled from Norway to Sweden.

As Chief Designer, Wilsgaard designed all Volvo's projects during his tenure, with few exceptions (e.g., the Volvo P1900 Sport and P1800 Coupe). One of Wilsgaard's first jobs was to design better rear windows for the PV Duett Van,[3] a prophetic project, given that Wilsgaard went on to design the estate versions of the company's Amazon, 145, 760 and 850 Series — during a period which saw Volvo become closely associated with the station wagon / estate body type.

In addition to designing the Amazon, and 144, Wilsgaard also designed the highly regarded Volvo 164, as well as his successful estate adaptation, the 1800ES, of the company's P1800 Coupe.[2][4] According to Simon Lamarre, chief studio designer, "the 1800ES has become one of the icons for Volvo," [4] inspiring the design of the Volvo C30.[4]

When he designed the Volvo 140 Series,[5] Wilsgaard employed a credo, "simple is beautiful". [6] The design symbolized the car's robust, restrained quality — but later came to represent a lack of creativity or daring. Regarding the enormous success of the Volvo 240 series in Sweden, Wilsgaard is said to have remarked "It might be because the car is a little square and sluggish, just like the Swedes themselves."[2]

Wilsgaard lives today in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo cars styled by Jan Wilsgaard:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amazonen fyller 50 år (Amazons turn 50)". Göteborgs-Posten, July 29, 2006 (in Swedish). 
  2. ^ a b c "Jan Wilsgaard,Presentation of new Honourable Member, 2005". Volvo P1800 Club of Sweden. 
  3. ^ a b "Jan Wilsgaard, Designer - the man who turned the van into a station wagon" (PDF). Volvo Press Release, 50250-HR, 38400-JTR/ kse, Sep 2, 1985. 
  4. ^ a b c "From the Past: Volvo 1800ES, Combination of a Wagon and Sports Car Flopped in the Market, but Became Influential". The Wall Street Journal,Dan Carney, June 30, 2007. [dead link]
  5. ^ "So good a million people bought one". The New Zealand Herald, August 19, 2006. August 19, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Volvo 760 - the car that formed the foundation for the modern Volvo". Topspeed, 02.6.2007,by Simona. 

External links[edit]