Volvo didn't really enter the SUV segment until launching the XC90 in the early 2000s. However, the Swedish brand had what you could consider a proto-SUV in the 1950s with the TP21 "Sugga." One of these odd military machines has come up for sale in Australia on Collecting Cars.
The Sugga, which means "sow" in Swedish, entered production in 1953. They used a 3.67-liter flathead inline-six making 90 horsepower, a four-speed manual, and selectable four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case. There were even locking front and rear differentials. Volvo built them as personnel carriers and radio vehicles – like this one. A report from Hemmings claimed that some of them remained in use by the Swedish military as late as the 1990s.
Gallery: Volvo TP21 Sugga For Sale
The TP21 shared elements with the Volvo PV800 Series of models but had a truck-based chassis. It included elements like a lifted suspension, revised fenders, and chunky tires for performing off-road. A rear accessory rack carried things like extra gas cans. This one has a roof-mounted shovel and axe.
The driver's side of the cabin includes a big speedometer, two additional gauges, and three shifters to manipulate. There are also chunky switches on the dashboard. The rear has a broad table presumably for operating the radios and two seats.
This rig came to Australia in the mid-1980s and has been in the same family up until this sale. According to the listing, this Sugga might have been the first in Australia. It received service in January 2023, including fresh fluids, spark plugs, a new fan belt, rebuilt water pump, and a cleaned radiator.
According to the listing, Volvo reportedly only made around 720 units of the TP21. It would make an exciting alternative to a classic Jeep or other, more common military rig in a collector's stable.
Volvo built multiple vehicles for its country's military. There were also rigs like the L11/12 and even the TL22 6X6 with differential locks on each axle. The armed forces used these machines for decades as heavy haulers, even in rugged terrain.