In the 1960s, a really cool design for a sports car had to be made by an Italian. Or so everyone thought. But when the head of Volvo, Gunnar Engellau, picked his favourite among the anonymously presented suggestions - he was in for a surprise.
|1960 Volvo P1800 (prototype)|
The job to design the new P1800 had gone to Frua, a Turin-based company that came up with five suggestions made by anonymous designers. Even though it was an Italian company, the winning design turned out to be the work of Pelle Pettersson, a Swedish junior designer working for Frua.
On top of being a Swede, he happened to be the son of Helmer Pettersson, the Volvo designer who led the whole project.
All this proved to be a little too much for the management, and the true identity of the designer was hushed up for many years. Pettersson wasn't exactly Italian sounding.
Pelle Pettersson later became better known as a successful yachtsman and boat designer. These days, however, he can take full credit for being the mastermind behind what many consider the best-looking Volvo ever made. And rumour has it that someone called "The Saint" really liked the P1800...
You know, Leslie Charteris' character Simon Templar who appeared in the popular British television series of the 1960s (played by Roger Moore), and more recently in the 1997 film starring Val Kilmer as a modern Saint, who had traded the P1800 for a C70!