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The Ingrid Bergman Amazon

December 4th 2013

© Gunnar Jacobsen

Consulting Thinker:

Espen Valand Stange

​Ingrid Bermann and Roberto Rosselini's Ferrari 212 Inter in Sweden.

Volvo made sensible cars until one day Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rosselini drove their Ferrari from Rome, Italy and arrived in Stockholm, Sweden. They were a sensation when they married and they were a sensation when they arrived in Sweden in her Ferrari. Volvo’s Jan Wilsgaard, a young designer lured from his studies in Art and Design, understood the opportunity he had been given. He knew all about neoclassicism and the Renaissance and had observed Italy's fabulous postwar car designs. He was pregnant with Ingrid's Swedish Growling Baby. If Volvo could give the Swedes a car like Ingrid’s they would sell on the wave of enthusiasm for her. They needed a strong model name and there was no stronger than Amazon, the female warriors as they were perceived at that time.

Volvo virtually cut Ingrid’s Ferrari in two, made a saloon of the rear half. The Amazon was born. This idea came about from reading

​Ingrid Bergman 1940 publicity photo.
Ingrid Bergman 1940 publicity photo
found at Google filtered image search

The conservative board of directors thought the car looked like a pin-up model. How succesful the young designer was!

Ferrari 212 Inter, Roberto Rosselini.
Ferrari 212 Inter Roberto Rosselini.

Volvo never used the Ingrid name, they chose Amazon. Was it the z in Enzo that changed Amason into Amazon? There was an earlier Italian-built prototype code-named Elisabeth (The Other Actress, Taylor), surely to be renamed Ingrid.

Not only can we see the likeness of the Ferrari and the Amazon. Volvo’s advertising documents their inspiration, now on YouTube. See Volvotips for more.

The Volvo Amazon Film Documentation

Not transcribing, but picking from these films, here are some exhibits from four Volvo commercials. "Lithe like a panther, beautiful like a Venus, what lines, what grace, temperamental, and what an attitude, what stature. She’s got style". This is no ordinary woman but a collection of male descriptions of a female star. There is the theme of him and her, exchanging complements. He is the strength and comfort, she is the elegance, and appreciative of the car, like Ingrid "loved" Ferraris. The female is the star of the commercials, along with the female Amazon. "Upholstered details, an extraordinary elegance, an inner security and strength. Pleasant to encounter, beautiful to look at, the charming Amazon". The charming Ingrid. The woman is veiled. Ingrid described.

Amazons and Gunnebo Slott, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Gunnebo Slott, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gunnebo House south of Gothenburg. Renovated 1949 - 1952. Italian style villa and park for the Scandinavian film star beauty, the Amazon. The woman in the picture poses as a sculpture. Gunnebo Slott

The Amazons

Medieval French romantic literature has Amazons as brave female riders. The Amazon was marketed as an international touring car.

The heady days are over and I suggest a black and Grigio Ingrid-grey remake of the two-door Amazon by that name; Ingrid. No Volvo safety seats, of course, but grey leathers like the fifities Italian car. Slim bumpers and wire-wheels. Six-cylinder engine tuned for touring as would be the suspension. For sheer bravery I would use Jan Wilsgaard’s favourite, the central tall grille to accomodate the six-cylinder engine. The race and rally-version would be called Rossi. I pity their divorcées, but they were trumped by flying style. The Scandinavian/Mediterranean hybrid.

Ingrid Bergman's Ferrari in red
Ingrid Bergman's Ferrari in red
by Fabulous Coachbuilding

Here is Ingrid's car in an immature Ferrari-red/beige upholstery. Motor-Klassik drove a rebuilt but not finished restoration of the car.

Bergman and Rossellini with a 1954 Ferrari 212 Inter
Bergman and Rossellini with a 1954 Ferrari 212 Inter

The roadtrip from Stockholm to Lappland is the perfect mirror of the trip from Rome to Stockholm. The woman is the central character in all the commercials. The man represents trust and reliability and is of average looks, she is the extraordinary. Volvo's own marketing shifted its focus later though the elegant woman theme remained.

"Race and grace, a Swedish beauty acquired for its looks alone. As if carried on the wind" («Gone With the Wind», 1939, another iconic couple, Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh) "High average speed for touring, powerful brakes, beauty, comfort and built-in security". The man and woman leave the scene and the Amazon is left in the picture, not alone but with a Renaissance sculpture. The Italianness of it all. Volvo's Renaissance

Generally the man is ordinary and the woman is a beauty ready for the film studios.

The Ferrari arrival of the Rosselinis in Sweden combined the Mediterranean and Scandinavian, a theme exploited in Dolce Vita where Anita Ekberg was the fascination of Marcello Mastroianni.

So there’s looks and there’s allure and marketing of a car that was brought before customers three years after the Great Arrival. The Amazon inherited all its technical bits from the old PV, hence the reliability claims. What Volvo had made was a female body with a female name.

Volvo Amazon Volvo PV publicity shot.
The older reliable PV Man and
the excited woman on her toes, the Amazon.

​Ingrid Bergman Humphrey Bogart 1954.
​Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart 1954.

His earliest intentions was to use a single grille. He did not get his will until the fine 1969 model year Volvo 164 was launched with its single 6 engine. That is how strong the first impression of Ingrid in her Ferrari was.

Red Volvo Amazon late 2-door.