Well known Swedish automotive icon Volvo is celebrating its 85th birthday, albeit these days owned by Chinese manufacturer Geely. At 10am on this day (April 14) in 1927, the first mass-produced Volvo ÖV4 was driven off the production line and through the company gates in Göteborg. At 10am today, exactly 85 years later, the same car will pass through the same gates.

The meanderings in fortunes of many of the world's best known businesses make fascinating reading, and Volvo has a remarkable story to tell.

The name "Volvo" was registered more than 100 years ago (May, 1911) by another well-known Swedish company - SKF - the producer of ball bearings.

Volvo actually means "I roll" in Latin, conjugated from "volvere", and the intention was to use the name as a brand of SKF ball bearings.

As luck would have it, the company stuck with the SKF name for its bearings and today enjoys a reputation as fine as that of its offspring, being by far the largest manufacturer of bearings in the world.

The name was pulled off the shelf for an SKF venture 16 years later when it decided to produce specially-made cars designed for the unique conditions experienced on Sweden's rough and often frozen roads. The necessary robust and durable nature of Volvo vehicles stood it in good stead, and the brand represents safety and quality to this day.

Indeed, Volvo's most enduring legacy and a hallmark of its brand values, is that it focused its designs and research on automotive safety long before it became necessarily fashionable.

Volvo developed the modern three-point seat-belt and introduced it in 1959 as standard equipment. By even the most conservative of estimates, the three-point seat-belt has saved at least a million human lives.

Volvo Group is now one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles and the Geely-owned Volvo Car Corporation sells almost 500,000 cars each year.

Happy birthday to Volvo!

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