A rare, resilient vintage vehicle
Alright, let's dive into this rugged relic of times past, the 1954 Volvo TP21 ‘Sugga.' Now, this isn't your average family-friendly Volvo. It's a bit of a beast, having been originally designed as a utility vehicle for the Swedish military. An embodiment of reliability and endurance, you could say it's the Volvo ethos on steroids.
A peek under the bonnet reveals a 3.67-litre sidevalve six-cylinder engine, serving up a healthy 90 horsepower. Sure, by modern standards it's not a powerhouse, but coupled with a four-speed manual transmission, and vacuum-lockable front and rear axles, it's a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you're treading off the beaten path.
Our friend the ‘Sugga' here spent its early years in the mid-1980s under the Australian sun, passing through the hands of one family all these years. Talk about loyalty. The odometer reads 31,718 Kms, but the number is not warranted. But that's just a minor glitch in its otherwise robust history.
Now, the TP21 ‘Sugga' is a rare breed, with only 720 examples forged between 1953 and 1958. This very specimen was the first of its kind to land in Australia, a pioneer in its own right. Its unique character extends to its equipment and features. Engineered for steep approach and departure angles, it features a fully welded frame, semi-elliptical springs, double-action telescopic shock absorbers, and Lockheed drum brakes. This battle wagon was purpose-built for the unexpected.
Cloaked in a rugged Matte Olive Drab, its body pairs perfectly with green vinyl upholstery. The TP21 ‘Sugga' is a vision of utilitarian chic. Don't let its tough exterior fool you, it's well kitted out inside. The rear cabin houses a table with slide-out trays, a 600-watt generator, and a 1.8hp starter motor – remnants from its past life as a radio officer's command car.
Worthy of mention is the high and low range gearbox, perfect for any terrain, along with the push-out front quarter light windows, an escape hatch in the roof, and a tilting windscreen. If ever there was a vehicle built for an adventure, this would be it.
Of course, like any vintage ride, it comes with its share of battle scars. There are chips, scuffs, and scratches, wear and tear on the seatbacks, and a few niggling issues like a broken boot support arm, a faulty low-beam headlight, and a temperamental heater switch. But hey, it's all part of the charm, right?
On the maintenance front, the ‘Sugga' has seen some TLC. The most recent upkeep in January 2023 included an engine oil and filter change, installation of new spark plugs, and a thorough reverse flush of the engine. The brakes have been stripped and checked, with eight new stainless-steel sleeved wheel cylinders fitted, among other meticulous measures.
In essence, the Volvo TP21 ‘Sugga' is a rare gem, a time capsule from a bygone era. With its unique military heritage and robust character, it would be a crowning jewel for any vintage military vehicle collector, or a weekend warrior looking for off-road thrills. Don't expect plush leather seats or a fancy infotainment system; this beast is all about the adventure, the grit, the thrill of the open road. And isn't that what life's all about?
- Historical Significance: As one of the 720 examples ever produced, this Volvo TP21 ‘Sugga' comes with a rich historical and military heritage. It's a genuine collector's item with a unique backstory.
- Durability and Ruggedness: Designed for military use, the TP21 was built to withstand harsh conditions and challenging terrains. This, coupled with regular maintenance, ensures it remains robust and ready for action.
- Unique Features: From a roof-mounted antenna to a high and low range gearbox, the TP21 comes with a host of features that set it apart from your average vintage car.
- Collector's Value: Given its rarity, this vehicle could appreciate in value over time. It's more than just a car; it's an investment.
- Age-Related Issues: As with any vintage vehicle, the TP21 has its share of wear and tear. There are age-related scuffs, chips, and scratches, as well as some mechanical issues that will require attention.
- Maintenance: Owing to its age and the rarity of its parts, maintaining this vehicle could prove costly and challenging. It's a labor of love that requires a certain level of commitment.
- Comfort and Practicality: The TP21 is far from a modern, comfortable ride. It lacks the creature comforts of contemporary vehicles, making it less suitable for those seeking everyday usability.
- Fuel Efficiency: Given its age and military roots, it's safe to say the TP21 is not the most fuel-efficient ride on the market. This could result in higher running costs.
- Availability of Parts: As a vintage, relatively rare vehicle, sourcing parts for repairs or restoration might be difficult and expensive.