Happy 60th Birthday, Volvo wagon!

On July 4th Americans will take to back yard barbecues across the country to celebrate the birth of this great nation, but those in Sweden will be celebrating a different anniversary - the first-ever Volvo wagon.

The story of Volvo's first station wagon begins in 1949 when the company launched the 445 to fulfill demand for a commercial vehicle. Volvo produced the 445 as a chassis cab to customers, while more than 30 Swedish coach builders handled the body work.

The 445 proved to be not only very popular but also extremely durable. Thanks to its near bullet proof reliability, customers weren't replacing their 445s at the clip Volvo had predicted, leaving the company with 1,500 unsold units in 1952. In order to clear out those leftover units, Volvo president Assar Gabrielsson ordered his manufacturing team to "Build our own Volvo van!", laying the groundwork for the automaker's first station wagon.

Less than 15 months later, the Volvo Duett was born on July 4, 1953.

Living up to its name, the Duett really was two cars in one. The Duett was not only used as a commercial vehicle, but also a family hauler. Volvo continued to offer a chassis cab version of the 445, but the Duett far outsold it due to its well thought out practicality.

The Duett remained in production relatively unchanged until safety regulations forced it out in 1969. By that time the concept of the Volvo wagon had fully taken hold and the company was producing the 220 Amazon and the 145. Although its U.S. offerings have dwindled, Volvo remains well known for its wagons to this day.