Vintage Volvos and Saabs galore

Ray Ciccolo’s restored 544 Volvo will be on display today at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. The grounds will be filled with classic Volvos and Saabs.
Ray Ciccolo’s restored 544 Volvo will be on display today at Larz Anderson Auto Museum. The grounds will be filled with classic Volvos and Saabs. –VILLAGE AUTO

If my financial circumstances were different, I’d have accumulated a car collection over the years. These would be cars that caught my eye when they were somewhat common on our highways … or vehicles that graced our driveway for short times.

The first car in it would have been a 1965 Mustang GT 350 with trumpet exhaust outlets, a car I first saw one fall morning while walking to school. Sadly, by the time I could buy a car, they already were out of my price range.

Next would have been a tie between two Volvos: the Volvo P1800 wagon and 544 sedan. There was a time when a P1800 drove by our house every afternoon while we’d be in the driveway playing basketball, street hockey, or Whiffle ball.


My friend Bob Gordon owned a 1959 544 and says, “I drove it around on three cylinders for quite some time.’’ For some reason, that hump-backed Volvo always reminded me of another car that would be on the list—a 1946-48 Ford.

These memories were awakened when Ray Ciccolo emailed a picture of his 544, calling it “the best restored 544 in the world’’ and saying it would be on display at today’s Swedish Car day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline.

Ciccolo, president of the Village Automotive Group, was sending a reminder that two of his dealerships—Charles River Saab and Boston Volvo Village—would be presenting Swedish Car Day XIV.

The XIV denotes that this is the 14th year Swedish Car Day has been held under Ciccolo’s sponsorship.

It’s annually the museum’s largest lawn event, with more than 200 Saabs and Volvos from the ‘50s up to the present in various “states of condition.’’

All collector cars have ardent followers but no group outdoes the fans of the now-defunct Saab. After the company declared bankruptcy in 2011, Ciccolo considered cancelling the event until a grassroots outcry convinced him to continue.

Both the Volvo and Saab dealerships will be represented, along with select aftermarket vendors. Admission is $20 for a judged car, $10 for spectators. The cars are the centerpieces of the event and judging is done by spectators.


In addition, there will be two speakers between 11 a.m. and noon with longtime Charles River Saab fixture Pierre Belperron returning as master of ceremonies.

• Dean Shaw, vice president of corporate communications at Volvo (and former brand strategy manager) will speak on a variety of Volvo topics, including new safety systems and hybrid power trains.

• Saab Parts North America president Tim Colbeck continues a tradition of company executives speaking at the event.

Seth Wonkka, a multiple Saab and Volvo owner and Village Auto Group employee, returns with his band.

Prime Time Players

Prime Motor Group continues to develop its regional presence, adding South Shore dealerships to an impressive footprint that stretches from Cape Cod to Maine and includes 18 dealerships.

The company recently broke ground for Mercedes-Benz of Hanover on Rte. 53 near the Hanover Mall. The new site joins Prime’s Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Hyannis and Westwood.

More than a year ago, Prime acquired the former Columbia Buick/GMC at the Hanover location, then purchased adjacent land to relocate the dealership in a state-of-the-art GM facility just off Exit 13 on Rte. 3.

“We feel we have one of the best sites on the South Shore,’’ says Prime vice president Matt McGovern, “especially as business opportunities continue to grow in the Hanover, Norwell, Hingham, and Pembroke area.’’

Now the original site is being transformed into a $10 million, 42,000 square foot dealership, designed jointly by Mercedes-Benz and the Connolly Brothers design firm.

The new facility will continue the industry trend of making service visits ever more customer-oriented.


Those stops start with an inside service arrival area where a valet takes the car.

If the customer doesn’t need to borrow one of the complimentary loaner vehicles, there is a choice of waiting areas ranging from a family room with a dedicated children’s area to a quiet room for those who want a place to work.

WiFi is available throughout the building.

“We pride ourselves on providing exceptional value and service,’’ says Prime president David Rosenberg, “however, the dealership really has been designed for customer comfort. You should feel like you’re in someone’s home—it will be that warm and inviting.’’


The Kelly Automotive Group is planning a “soft opening’’ for its new Volkswagen dealership on Rte. 114 in Danvers tomorrow. It will be the largest VW facility in the country—a reflection of VW’s aspirations to become the world’s No. 1 brand. “We’ll have a Grand Opening in September,’’ says Brian Heney, director of operations. “A delegation from VW headquarters in Germany is planning to come over for the occasion.’’ … How do the years fly by so quickly? The East Coast Camaro’s hold their 32d annual all-vehicle show this morning in Hudson, NH … Next Saturday brings us to the end of August and the all-day “Cruising Downtown’’ festivities in Manchester, NH.

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