September 15, 2016 @ 06:32 PM

Volvo 144

It was the first car to roll out of the Volvo factory in Shah Alam, here’s more about that car!

(Image source:

Malaysia Day is upon us once again, while our country is celebrating 53 years of unity, let’s make a throwback to when Volvo first started assembling cars in Malaysia. As you know, it’s been 50 years since Volvo established their assembly plant in Shah Alam but did you know what was the first car that rolled out of the plant?

If you’ve read our feature on Volvo’s car factory, you would know that it was the Volvo 144S. The 144 was part of the 140 series that debuted to replace the very popular Volvo Amazon. The series consists of the 144, 142 and the 145 wagon, two of which were assembled in Malaysia in its heyday.

While the modern generation aren’t as acquainted with the 144’s shape as the Amazon’s, the design style carried all the way into its second generation, known as the 240 series in 1975. Back when the 144 was in production, it presented a few firsts for the Volvo brand.

(Image source:

One of those “firsts” was the start of a new nomenclature for the manufacturer. It started the trend of Volvo’s tri-digit naming system that indicates the series, number of cylinders and number of doors. It was also the first of Volvo’s cars to feature the boxy styling with a more stylish version of the front split grille.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that Volvo saw fit to give the 144 a cosmetic refreshment with the addition of flow-through ventilation system under the rear window that were updated to electronically defrost itself. In 1971 was when the now ubiquitous Volvo diagonal line was introduced to the car. Yes, this was when the diagonal Volvo line made its debut and will continue on through generation after generation of Volvos to come.

Styling changes continued to be made to the 144 and its two-door, 142, and station wagon, 145, siblings as well. But unlike its siblings, the 144 received more engine changes throughout the years it was in production as well.

(Image source:

Since the 144 was introduced to be a replacement for the Amazon, Volvo decided to transfer over the heart of the Amazon to the 144. So, folks of that time received a familiar B18A 1.8-litre engine with a single carburettor that powers the 144 around the respective countries.

But the first 144 that rolled out of the Shah Alam factory was a 144S. The suffix “S” in the name indicates that that particular 144 is powered by a B18B engine that come with twin carburettors, the same engine that powers the P1800!

Of course, when Volvo decided to upgrade their engines the 144 also received the upgrade. From 1969 onwards, the 144 was then powered by the 2.0-litre B20 engine. The change did not end there, the 144 also had its generator replaced to an alternator, it was considered modern at that time.

(Image source: RA28GTvspecii's Bucket)

No, the 144 was not the most recognised car from Volvo, it did not have the effect its predecessor have globally nor did it live through the ages the way the Amazon had (we still see Amazons on the road but rarely the 140 series) but it did pave the way for the 740 to make waves across the globes once more.

The Volvo 144 was produced in a number of countries, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia and our very own Shah Alam. Our factory here in Malaysia produced both the 144 and the 145 back then, when the 140 series was replaced, they went on to assemble all the 240 series.

Are you only just getting the idea the heritage of the Volvo factory plant? Imagine that, a 50-year-old factory now capable of assembling the very advanced XC90!

Jerrica Leong

(Image source:

Connect to Car Magazine : Malaysian Edition! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.