Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1973 Volvo P1800ES

Here in the US, the term "sports car" and "Volvo" rarely go together. It's easy to forget that Volvo built an impressive sports car in the 1960s and early 70s.

The P1800 came close to never being built. It also came close to being built as something other than a Volvo.

The original P1800 coupe was designed by Pelle Pettersson, under the eye of Carrozzeria Pietro Frua. Helmer Pettersson, Pelles father, and the man responsible for the Volvo PV444, took the car to Karmann in West Germany with the idea of having Karmann build the car for Volvo. Supposedly everything was all set to go when Volkswagen, Karmann's biggest client, called and told them that if they built the P1800, they would end their contract with Karmann. VW was afraid the P1800 would take sales from the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

With Karmann not willing to build the car, Volvo shelved it and Pettersson toyed with the idea of producing it himself. When a Volvo press release accidentally listed the P1800, and Volvo saw that the reaction to the car was good, they again started looking for someone else to build it. They found the British firm, Jensen. The car was introduced in 1961, with the first 6000 being built in the UK by Jensen. In 1963 Volvo started building the car itself.

Fast forward to 1972 and the introduction of this car, a station wagon version called the P1800ES. In my opinion, this is the best of the P1800 cars. By the time the P1800ES was built the car had received fuel injection, a larger engine, and 4 wheel disc brakes.

In my opinion, the P1800ES is better looking than the coupe.

The car being offered on eBay is a 1973 model, the last year the P1800Es was built. The car has A/C and an automatic transmission, both of which rob some power, but make it easier to drive in "real world" conditions. The seller says the paint has some minor flaws, but also mentions that the car has won a few awards at Volvo Sports America shows.

Click here
to see the eBay listing.

Irv Gordon is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the person who has achieved, “the highest certified mileage driven by the original owner [of a vehicle] in non-commercial service.” He did that in a Volvo P1800. Click here to read the story.

Click here
to find the Volvo Sports America site. It's dedicated to P1800 cars.

1 comment:

whereswillie said...

FYI the only 1800 to carry the "P" before 1800 were #1-6000 (May 7, 1961-Apr 1963)
all later were 1800S, then 1800E, then 1800ES all without the P.