Oh, the shame we used to feel when dad dropped us off at the school disco in his battered VW Beetle, when all the other kids were hopping out of glossy Ford Sierras and Vauxhall Cavaliers. He enjoyed watching us squirm in the back, begging him to not to park up next to the other parents more 'respectable' vehicles. More often than not, he'd just turn up the radio whilst we pleaded with tears in our eyes, before coming to a screeching halt in full view of our cooler classmates, the shithead. Then one day, he came home with a Volvo, and all those years of embarrassment soon became a distant memory.

Nothing screams 'estate car' like the word Volvo, which, for the nerds out there means 'I roll' in Latin (you're welcome). Those Swedes sure know what counts in the wagon stakes, which isn't surprising when you consider that they've been building them since 1953. Their first attempt was the now rather twee looking PV455, which wouldn't look out of place in an episode of 'Happy Days'. Anyways, things started to get a bit sexier in the 70s, when the 245 was launched. This long-line beast was in production for over twenty years and formed the blueprint for all their future estates – culminating in dad's blue Volvo 850 road-trip dream, fondly nicknamed, the 'Smurf Hearse'.

1975 245 Wagon or 'Estate' as they're known in Europe.

Launched in 1993, with a 5-cylinder engine, steady weight distribution and superior balance, it was the first all-wheel drive they'd ever manufactured. An amalgamation of all the best bits of the 940 and 760 series, the 850 was certainly the slickest Volvo on the block. Back then, it was a firm favourite with the Labrador owning, caravan towing middle class tribes of Europe, but these days, with its blocky, analogue silhouette and pumped up bumpers it appears to have developed a new fan club of hardcore younger fans. Cars like this are designed for adventure, which as we know, means different things to different people. With so much room in the back, you can flip down those seats super easy and slide in a couple of road bikes, 4-man tent, and full-size BBQ – or for those who prefer life in the slow lane, they're brilliant for a trip to IKEA (meatballs included).

Volvo wagon advert
Volvo ran some great ads over the years.

Robust, reliable, sturdy and strong, they're the car equivalent of Hillary and Tenzing. Whenever I see one chugging away at traffic lights I sometimes even feel a pang of jealousy, remembering how safe we always felt with our rear safety belts smugly secured and heated seats on full blast, as dad regaled us with tales of crash test dummies and Side Impact Protecting Systems. Some scoffed at its clunky exterior, but I'll always hold a special place in my heart for this hefty Swedish chariot.

Leanne Cloudsdale