Over the weekend I checked out the Volvo P1800 car show here in Sydney. It was a small car show as they didn’t make that many of the Volvo roadster. That said it was fantastic to see these cars upclose …and to me, when you see a car like this it really makes you want one. The first time I saw the Volvo p1800 was in the Saint which starred Rodger Moore in the sixties.
The history of how the tv show got Simon Templar into the car is quite interesting in that the producers approached both Jaguar and Aston Martin for a car but they both rejected the TV show. Thankfully Volvo was smart enough to embrace the idea which brought a huge amount of popularity to the car.
The Volvo Car Corporation supplied the “The Saint” television producers a total of five P1800 models for use on their show. Volvo happily supplied the first one in 1962, registered as 71 DXC, within a week of its being requested.
The Volvo sportscar project had started as early as 1957.
It was long thought to be designed by an Italian having been drawn up at the Pietro Frua design studio.
However, in 2009 Volvo admitted it was the work of Swedish sailor and yacht designer Pelle Petterson who was a student at the studio at the time.
Coincidentally he was the son of Volvo engineering consultant Helmer Petterson who battled for several years to have the vehicle produced.
The vehicle debuted at the Brussels Motor Show in 1960 and because of a lack of Volvo assembly line availability the Swedes turned to the British sportscar company, Jensen Motors, to build the sportscar.
However, quality control was not a strong suit of British industry at the time, so production was moved in 1963 to Gothenburg in Sweden and the model name was changed to P1800S with the added S standing for Sweden.
In 1970, the P1800E added fuel injection and a more powerful motor, and in 1972 a rather ugly P1800ES station wagon was added. Production ended in 1973.
Why do I like the P1800? Well it was hi-tech for its time with fuel injection, four-speed manual with electronic overdrive, four-wheel disc brakes, a rear window demister and lap/sash seatbelts .
It’s also a very good looking car with very strong engine that has a reputation for just going and going!
Whilst rare, it’s also a very affordable sports car that is a real head turner…now my biggest issue is whether or not I have enough room to fit it in the garage!