The Volvo P1800 was introduced in 1961 to compete in the European and US sports car markets. Designed at Pietro Frua, Volvo initially outsourced the building of the car to Jensen, who were contracted to build 10,000 units. The unibody shells were produced by Pressed Steel in Scotland which were then assembled by Jensen in West Bromwich. However problems with quality control meant that Volvo moved the assemble to its own plant in Gothenburg in 1963, changing the name to P1800s at the same time.
This car is a 1966 P1800S which was the cross over year. The models of this year retained the 1800 cc engine and the chrome (other than the cow horn bumpers).
The car had been rescued from a barn and was a one owner car from new. It was originally sold on the 5th January 1966 by Rex Neate who was the main Volvo agent in Hedge End Southampton.
Some restoration had been done and, while the car was structurally sound, it had been clumsily put back together and I think the respray had been completed by Stevie Wonder! The engine internals were fully rebuilt by a leading specialist, fitting a slightly hotter cam, so at least that was one thing I have not had to do.
Being a qualified car mechanic from the 1970s, I have tackled most of the rest myself, which has been complex and expensive, and involved the neighbours covering their ears as the abuse has flowed. The only thing I farmed out was some of the more comprehensive body repairs and new panels. Finally the car had a full respray carried out by a high end car body repairer.
I had booked the car to go to the Silverstone Classic and, as fate would have it, I only got it back from the body repair shop 72 hours before the event. It still needed all the interior, chrome, side glass and a full service to get her ready… I never left the garage for three straight days often working 18 hours plus.
Other work completed this winter has been a front end rebuild – replacing steering arms bushes, front shock absorbers, springs and poly bushes, which at least means when I turn the steering wheel car follows the same direction! I dread to think how many components I have refurbished or replaced.
The car has been on a rolling road and tuned at Bogg Brothers. This proved that the output was still an impressive 115 bhp at the rear wheels – not bad for a 50 year old car. Fast? no not really, it is a GT tourer and a good one.
What’s it like to drive? In a word great! She can, and does, keep up with modern traffic and climbs hills effortlessly . The seat position is low and although the seat can be adjusted many would find they could not see the front end of the car. The sunroof was an optional extra, which in truth I have never liked but it works and the cockpit would be very very warm without it!
Is it original? Well l have rebuilt this car for me and my wife to tour in the UK and abroad so I am not concerned if a grub screw is not exact but other than the colour it is very close. She would give a lot a run for their money
You can never go anywhere without being noticed – which makes me laugh when the villains never saw Simon Templar!