when I started driving, of all the interesting cars accessible to the average teen age motorhead, the MGA was probably the commonest; the 544 appeared as just about the only reasonably priced "sports sedan" (only other example you'd likely ever see was a Jaguar sedan); and sporty it was! and very like the MG (ohv 4 with side draft SU's); exhaust note (after suitable freeing of resistance) very similar to the MG.
thus Volvo launched in this country with the image of a genuine sports sedan, with rally credentials (E. African Safari win was big) and a group of followers that thought they were just the best (sedan at least) choice for going fast on twisty roads; this image was further enhanced by the 1800, which with development became a really nice GT coupe;
somewhere I think I still have a yellowed old issue of Car & Driver's test of the 1966 1800S, which they compared very favorably to the then current offering from Porsche (356 1600); it was a darn good rally car and I acquired quite a few trophies with mine (the rallies of that day being far less serious than pro rallying today, but in the PacNW still involving a lot of going waaay faster than you should on one lane gravel through the woods).
anyway, the upshot was, Volvo started out here with a group of loyal enthusiasts as supporters, and many were quite young; in the years since, Volvo's product and image have changed a lot; as far as sportiness, Porsche moved on and Volvo took another direction;
IMHO, things began to change with the advent of the 850; all due respect to those who stayed loyal to the brand and maintained, restored and campaigned the noble 240 over the years, but there wasn't much spiritual support from the home office between the 122 and the 850; now, I think, Volvo has cautiously put a toe back in the water, especially with the R, though they certainly aren't tooting their horn very loud about it.
thus some of your "older" Volvo owners still have an image of Volvo they've been carrying around since we were young!
Modified by willyjp at 12:44 PM 7-22-2005