Volvo Penta 1900

1900-1909

Our engine production narrative begins during the first decade of the 20th century. In 1907, Sköfde Gjuteri received an order to build a paraffin engine for test operations. This would become the famous B1 designed by Edvard Hubendick. The engine was called Penta, the Greek word for five, because of the five men who attended the meeting at which the first drawings were presented.

1907 – The Penta B1

1907 – The Penta B1

In 1907, guests at the highly reputable Billingen Hotel in Skövde watched a young man of about 30, dressed in a leather jacket and wooden clogs, remove his shoes and jacket, give his belongings to the cloakroom attendant and then walk into the dining room to enjoy a well earned meal in his woolen socks.

The young man’s name was Edvard Hubendick, an engineer who worked for lngenjörsfirman Fritz Egnell in Stockholm and who would go on to become Professor of Combustion Engineering at the University of Technology in Stockholm. He was in Skövde to supervise the work on a test engine that would run on paraffin at Sköfde Gjuteri & Mekaniska Verkstad.

As far as the dominant industry in this small town was concerned, this was yet another example of the many unusual orders the foundry received during this period of industrial awakening. Tailoring products to get customers exactly what they wanted was the foundry’s strength, but when it received the request from the engineering company from the capital city, who was already a major customer for the foundry’s turbines, things really started happening.

Little did anyone suspect where this first order would lead, but the first Penta, the B1, was on its way!

The name Penta, a Greek word meaning five, was chosen as a result of a meeting between five gentlemen where the first engine drawings were presented. When a name was needed for this product, Penta was chosen to commemorate this particular meeting. The story does not say who the five men were, but perhaps it was the man who took the initiative, Fritz Egnell, and his chief engineer, Edvard Hubendick, together with the managing director of the foundry, John G Grönvall, and two of his most trusted members of staff, who made the historic decision and who live on through the name to this very day.