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Volvo P1800

Volvo P1800 Published: 22nd Dec 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Volvo P1800
Volvo P1800
Volvo P1800
Volvo P1800
Volvo P1800
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Hang out for a good one and you'll be in Heaven with this stylish yet sensible Swede

WHY IT’S A WINNER

Classic coupés that ooze style and are fun to drive usually originate from Italy rather than Sweden but there again we are talking about the Volvo P1800. They are as simple to run as an MGB and prices can only increase as an increasing number of enthusiasts latch on to what they’ve been missing for decades.

 

HISTORY

1960 Débuted at the 1960 Brussels auto show, but didn’t go on sale until the following year. Volvo had a contract with Jensen to assemble the first cars, with the bodyshells being produced by Pressed Steel in Scotland. Build quality was poor and this coupé take on the trusty 1.8-litre Amazon saloon cost nearly as much as an E-type, so they weren’t easy to sell.

1963 Volvo cut short its contract with Jensen and so saw assembly transferring to Sweden. The car then became known as the 1800S (for Sweden) and at the same time the power went up from 100bhp to a more acceptable 108bhp.

1968 Only minor interior revisions occurred until 1968, which is when the 1780cc B18 engine was replaced by a 1986cc B20 version of the same unit. Dual-circuit brakes also arrived and Volvo started to produce the bodyshells itself, as Pressed Steel sold its Linwood factory to the Rootes Group.

1970 Bosch fuel injection replaced the previous twin carburettors, with a change to 1800E badging E being short for Einspritz, the German for fuel injection. Disc brakes were also fitted all round from this point on.

1971 Rather late in the day a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox became available for the first time on the car. The trendy sportshatch 1800ES (rather like the Scimitar GTE) is launched to broaden the range.

1972 The handsome but now ageing 1800 coupé had had its day, with the last one being produced in June of that year after 39,407 examples had been made. The 1800ES lasted just two seasons and in 1973 the final 1800ES was built.

 

DRIVING

The Volvo is not unlike an MGB to drive really. With plenty of low-down torque, there is no need to rev the engine, the gearchange is great, and most feature overdrive which is worth having.

Handling is MGB-like too with its orthodox 1950’s, suspension meaning the Volvo wallows on corners thanks to the rather soft suspension but that ensures that the ride is serene, so this is more of a cruiser than a car for chucking around.

As a tourer they work well, especially with overdrive and for a 2+2 are roomy and refined. The sports hatch ES is very Reliant Scimitar GTE-like and is as pretty as it is practical and versatile even if the actual load bay is a tad shallow.

The 1800 is very usable in standard form, but there are some worthwhile upgrades to consider if you plan to use the car a lot such as firmer suspension, better lights and so on.

 

BEST MODELS

Purists may like the original cars, but the best all rounder is the 2-litre range of the late 60s. The fuel injected cars are usefully nippier but repairs to the Bosch fuel injection will be expensive. Finally, you either like or don’t like the styling of the ES…

 

PRICES

There’s little variance in values between fuel-injected and carburetted cars, which means whatever the model, you’ll be looking at a minimum of £6000 for a usable coupé. Cheaper cars appear but are probably best avoided because they’ll need a lot of money to put right, especially the bodywork. Very nice coupés fetch up to £10-£12,000. The 1800ES isn’t quite as valuable but don’t turn down a good one because they will come into fashion we reckon.

 

VERDICT

The P1800 is a mighty fine GT that has style and solidarity to spare yet cost no more than an MGB GT to buy and run. There’s plenty of good Volvo specialists about, club support is as enthusiastic as any other marque and spares don’t pose any real problems – the trick is to wait until a good example comes up for sale.

So if you feel like playing Simon Templar, then just apply a little patience to get the car you want…

 

FIVE TOP FAULTS

1. RUST Structurally the car can take a big hit at sills, crossmembers, wings (inner and outer), floors and where the steering box is located

2. MECHANICS Generally, as one car has proved in the US, these cars last for an eternity, but UK cars with overdrive can play up and brake servos cause problems as can its parts

3. ELECTRICS In contrast to the car’s rugged build, the electrics can become surprisingly quirky especially the fuse box so check that all is well

4. INTERIOR Dashboards crack, seats split, switchgear no longer sourced from new and you’ll probably need to replicate the trim

5. RUST ES Sports hatch car can rust even worse than coupé and rear wings are very expensive and scarce, ditto the glass hatch



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