It was only in 1958 that Volvo cars were first officially imported into the UK. Up until that time, despite the fact that for a long time Sweden drove on the same side of the road as we in the UK currently do, Volvo only made left hand drive cars. America was the place where cars had to succeed so Volvo only built cars suitable for use in the USA. Obviously other countries that drove on the right were able to have them but because we drove on the 'wrong' side of the road they were no good to us.
Someone then decided in 1958 or just before, that the cars would sell well here in the UK and Volvo started to produce a right hand drive model of the 120. Lex Brooklands, an established UK company, set up Volvo Concessionaires to import Volvo 120's into the UK via the docks at Harwich and distributed them to a dealership set up to sell them across the country.
The cars very quickly proved to be popular owing to their somewhat sporting nature and possibly because they were something new. Owners became very enthusiastic about the cars and just four years later, in 1962, a number of them got together and decided to form a club. Bear in mind that as the oldest officially imported could only be four years old the club when formed was not a classic car club but a club for current model cars.
The club was quite simply called "The Volvo Owners Club", and membership in those days cost just £1.1.0 - one pound and one shilling, also known as one guinea. It would appear that those few members enjoyed quite a full calendar of events. A little different maybe from some of those we currently enjoy but clubs were a little different then. Black tie dinners being the sort of thing that was popular in those days. However, it was not long before those well known letter BKV crept into the club's vocabulary. The Best Kept Volvo competition from early on became a major event in the club's calendar.
The earliest document the club has archived is the February 1967 edition of Driver which was (unless someone knows better) the first bound edition of the club's magazine. In it is recorded that club Chairman Dennis Hope was stepping down, so it is reasonable to assume that with the club being just three years old that he was the first person in the chair.
One member reported having a blown bulb and on stopping at a non Volvo garage to purchase a replacement bulb the reception clerk called to a mechanic to get a bulb for a Vauxhall Volvo. There is another report of a car park attendant remarking brightly, "Fine cars these Vauxhalls, sir".
As more Volvo cars arrived in the country more people joined the club and slowly but steadily the club grew. In the early days much was made of competitive driving and the club was represented at many such events around the country. Thought was given to whether the fitting wood rimmed steering wheels was a good idea and there were reports of better steering wheel feel and control, but concerns about woodworm!
In August 1972 the club became a company limited by guarantee and was able to place the letters 'Ltd' after the club name. It then had to start to keep proper records of proceedings, and what had been committee meetings, now named board meetings. Since the inauguration of the club as a company we now have records of all proceedings up to the present day.
The club first went on the web on 28 February 1996 with a massive 5 web pages. We were with CompuServe, a company taken over by AOL some years later. Our address was ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Volvo_Car_Club. Quite a mouthful. A few months later we moved to a new host, Direct Connection, and obtained our own domain name, the one that we still use today. That company has been taken over a few times and we are now with Clara.net.
As the web site grew we looked at getting our own server, and this allowed us to expand greatly. Now, on our second server, we have over 5000 indexed web pages, plus a very busy forum and gallery, each with their own domain names.
The Club currently has around 5000 members, and membership is open to owners of any model Volvo, old or new. Each model has its own official, a Register Keeper, who deals with all enquiries for that model, and organises rallies for that model. Club membership gives owners the chance to get even more enjoyment out of owning their Volvo no matter which model they currently choose to drive. Six colour magazines are sent to every member each year.