The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
11/17/17 3:45 p.m.


Story By Andy Reid • Photography Courtesy Volvo
Volvo’s image is hard to shake: They’re a maker of durable, boxy sedans, not sports cars. Look back through the history books, though, and Volvo did, in fact, build a very nice GT car: the P1800 series.

Not only was it a good vehicle, but Volvo somehow managed to stretch its production from 1961 all the way to 1973 with only subtle changes. It might have featured Volvo’s standard—yet tough—mechanical bits, but the P1800 was unlike anything built by the brand before: beautiful, and not just in the eye of the beholder.

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wspohn
wspohn Dork
11/18/17 1:19 p.m.

Early cars were made in Britain by Jensens until they and Volvo had a falling out.

The Volvo engine were rugged and (slightly) more modern than the BMC equivalents. The bodies had the usual rot problems that all cars of the period did (some worse than others - think Fiat), and the P1800 was a tad on the heavy side, but they were good solid stylish cars.

procainestart
procainestart Dork
11/18/17 2:08 p.m.

Nice article - thanks for posting. 

A friend of mine who was once heavily involved in the local Britcar community said they would sometimes get requests by 1800 owners to participate in Britcar-only events.

Toebra
Toebra HalfDork
11/21/17 11:59 p.m.

Guy who lived behind us when I was a kid had one just like that red one pictured, same hubcaps and everything.  I loved that thing, just looked right to me.

oldeskewltoy
oldeskewltoy UltraDork
11/22/17 5:52 p.m.

I had one as my first car.   1964 1800S Jensen body - pretty rusty... but not yet horrible in 1975 when I got it.  I had the 10:1 (115hp) engine.  I managed to pull 35mpg in it on a trip from NJ, to upstate NY - yes O/D!

I've had 3 overall 2 S models, and one E

RoddyMac17
RoddyMac17 Reader
11/22/17 6:14 p.m.

I don't know if this builder frequents the GRM board, but there's a build log on a slightly modified P1800 on the locost board:

 

P1800

Gary
Gary SuperDork
11/30/17 8:03 p.m.

I loved the design when I was 15 years old in the early sixties drooling over it in the local Volvo dealer showroom, and I still love it today. Meanwhile, I owned one, a '68 1800S, from '70 to '76. I'd own another today, except ... after test driving a '66 a few years ago that was for sale locally, and after owning a Miata for a number of years, I was extremely put off by the overall "feel." I'd actually forgotten about the driving experience. It was like driving a '66 F100 pickup compared to the Miata (although installing an EZ power steering unit would probably fix that). So I'll just continue to admire the design, but I doubt I'll ever own another one. On the other hand, I'll keep my '96 Miata forever.

BTW, I started a sh*tstorm here a few years ago (and endured a lot of hate-posts) over a Wayne Carini piece in another publication where he said we were on the cusp of the $100K P1800. I wholeheartedly disagreed and disputed that. (Nobody should challenge the Great Carini). Anyway, I confronted Wayne about that prediction at the Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance shortly thereafter. He backtracked and hedged heavily, and consequently I felt vindicated. So I doubt we will ever see even a $50K P1800. But they sure are pretty cars.

And kudos to Andy Reid who wrote that great piece originally for CMS. Andy once owned (or maybe still does) a beautiful 1800S which I considered buying from him a few years ago at Lime Rock.

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