Throughout the book, different makes of cars are used to signify different characters’ values and temperaments. For instance, Saabs: when Ove’s father dies, one of the only things he leaves for his son is the Saab he was given by his boss at the railroad—a reward for his loyalty and good character. Ove and his father spent many Saturdays working on the car together, and Ove remains loyal to that particular car manufacturer for the rest of his life, owning only Saabs. Not only does Ove seem to see the car as having a conservative (rather than flashy) design, but it’s also a Swedish manufacturer—meaning that Saabs represent modesty, sensibleness, and arguably even a type of conservativism or nationalism. BMWs and Škodas—both foreign cars—are cast in a different light. The man in the white shirt, who is portrayed as a bureaucrat and a jerk, is associated with the Škoda he drives. When Ove’s neighbor, Rune, buys a BMW after his adult son leaves Sweden for America, Ove seems to see it as a sign that Rune has lost integrity, noting that he used to drive only Volvos (another Swedish car). Furthermore, the BMW is a two-seater and can therefore only accommodate only Rune and Anita, which stands as a rejection of Rune's extended family and community. Ove sees Rune's BMW as a symbol of Rune giving up on his family and on life, and therefore takes it as an unforgivable offense. The trajectory of Rune's health supports Ove's assessment: within a year of buying the BMW and symbolically rejecting his community, Rune is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and slowly loses his connections to his community as he loses his memory. In this way, cars are used to indicate a wide variety of aspects of different characters’ personalities.
Cars Quotes in A Man Called Ove
After the accident Ove bought a Saab 95 so he'd have space for Sonja's wheelchair. That same year Rune bought a Volvo 245 to have space for a stroller. Three years later Sonja got a more modern wheelchair and Ove bought a hatchback, a Saab 900. Rune bought a Volvo 265 because Anita had started talking about having another child.
Rune and Anita's lad grew up and cleared out of home as soon as he got the chance. And Rune went and bought a sporty BMW, one of those cars that only has space for two people and a handbag. Because now it was only him and Anita, as he told Sonja when they met in the parking area. "And one can't drive a Volvo all of one's life," he said with an attempt at a halfhearted smile. She could hear that he was trying to swallow his tears. And that was the moment when Ove realized that a part of Rune had given up forever.