Heritage - Volvo P1800

VOLVO P1800/1800S/1800ES (1961-1973)

VOLVO P1800/1800S/1800ES (1961-1973)

In 1960, Volvo presented a new sports car, just a few years after the previous attempt with the glass fibre bodied Volvo Sport.


The new car became known as the P1800. This new sports car had Italian-influenced styling by young Swede Pelle Petterson and production began in 1961.


As Volvo did not have the capacity to build the car itself, production during the first years was contracted to the UK. Pressed Steel in Scotland made the bodies and final assembly took place at Jensen Motors Ltd. in West Bromwich.


In 1963, the assembly was transferred to Gothenburg, the P prefix taken away from the model designation and an S suffix was added. Body production was also eventually transferred to Olofström in Sweden in connection with the 1800E in 1969.


The Volvo P1800 was based on the floor pan of the Volvo 121/122S, but it had a shorter wheel base. The car also had an entirely new 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder engine, which initially developed 100 bhp and later 108, 115 and 120 bhp; the classic Volvo B18 engine.


The P1800 became very famous because of its role in the "The Saint" TV series between 1962 and 1969, in which the hero Simon Templar (played by Roger Moore) drove the car.


Over the years, the car was developed primarily by the introduction of new engine alternatives. In the autumn of 1968, a 2.0-litre engine, the B20, with an output of 118 bhp was introduced. It was followed in 1969 by a version with fuel injection and an even higher output.


In the autumn of 1971, a new version of the 1800 model was presented, the 1800 ES.


It had a newly designed rear end compared with the previous versions of the 1800. The roofline was extended and the car had a profile that was more reminiscent of an estate, a sports wagon. The 1800ES had increased luggage capacity to provide extra space for golfing or hunting equipment, for example.


The new version was produced for two model years, 1972 and 1973. In 1972, both versions, the E and ES, were produced in parallel, but only the 1800 ES was produced in 1973.


When the last cars were built in 1973 and production ended, this was due to increasingly rigorous safety requirements in the USA in particular. These would quite simply have been too expensive to comply with.



Model: P1800 (1800 S, 1800 E, 1800 ES) 

Produced: 39,414 of which 5,078 were 1800 ES

Body: Coupe 2-seater, 2 + 2 seater (ES)

Engine: 4-cylinder, in-line, overhead valves, 1,778 cc, 84.14 x 80 mm, 100 bhp at 5,500 rpm, increased in 1968 to 108 bhp at 5,800 rpm. A 2.0-litre, 1,986 cc ( 88.9 x 80 mm), carburettor version appeared in 1968, followed by a fuel-injection version in 1969, 120 bhp.

Transmission: 4-speed manual, 4-speed manual with overdrive or 3-speed automatic, all with a floor-mounted gear lever.

Brakes: Hydraulic, discs at front and drums at rear, later models had discs for all wheels.

Dimensions: Overall length 435 cm (ES 438.5), wheelbase 245 cm.

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