Volvo p1800

27 11 2012

The Volvo P1800 is a classic sports car which was first made available to buy in 1960. Volvo had long wanted to add a sports car to their range but their previous attempt, the P1900 had been a catastrophic failure, with only 68 units sold. The P1800 was to fare much better, the car was produced, at first, by Jensen Motors in West Bromwich, England.

The original engine supplied with the P1800 was known as the B18 which is derived from the Swedish word for petrol (Bensin) and its 1800cc capacity. It featured dual carburettors and generated 100 bhp. In 1963, production was moved to Sweden due to quality control problems at the Jensen plant. The car was now known as the 1800S, the S denoting its Swedish provenance. At the same time, an extra 8 bhp was added to the improved engine. In 1966, the engine was tweaked again and was now capable of 115 bhp with a top speed of 109 mph. In 1969, the B18 engine was replaced with the 2.0 litre B20B which pushed the power up to 118 bhp. Despite the new engine, the car was still known as the 1800S.

In 1970, however, it became known as the 1800E which was now fitted with the fuel injected B20E engine, generating 130 bhp with no loss of fuel economy. The top speed had now crept up to an impressive 120 mph and the 1800E would accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in around 9.5 seconds.

The last 1800 model to appear was the 1800ES, a coupp station wagon which came to market in 1972. Its engine was a slightly less powerful 125 bhp version of that found in its predecessor, but the 1800ES is generally considered to perform even better than the 1800E. As well as the standard four speed manual gear box with overdrive, the ES was also available with a three speed automatic transmission. The ES also had an all-glass tailgate, the first Volvo to do so and a feature that would be found on several later Volvo models. Although being available for two full years, only 8000 units were produced.

In 1974, the United States was to introduce stricter emissions and safety standards and Volvo decided not to invest the considerable funds needed to redesign the 1800ES given its small production volumes.

In the last year of production, 1973, only the 1800ES was produced. From 1961 to 1973, the 1800 line had seen more than 47000 units made. The marque probably would have performed much better had it not been released at the same time as the Jaguar E-Type. The P1800 was actually more expensive than an E-Type in the UK and only slightly less expensive in the US.

The P1800 appeared on TV as the car used by Simon Templar in the 1960s show, The Saint. Roger Moore, who played Templar, was so impressed by the car that he bought one for himself. When The Saint was revived in the 1970s, The Saint drove a Jaguar XJ-S.

Today, used P1800s can be picked up for as little as $10,000 and are considered a classic car, they are often available through online car listing sites such as Classic Cars.