How the Volvo P1800 became a motoring icon
Next to James Bond “The Saint” was the biggest thing since sliced bread back in the 60s.
A sort of modern day Robin Hood, The Saint played by actor Roger Moore, roamed the globe righting wrongs, bending the rules if necessary and bedding a bevy of beauties along the way – with some dry English humour thrown in.
Like 007, who Moore would later go on to play, he had a special car too, a very cool Volvo P1800 Sports Coupe.
But the Volvo wasn’t always part of the plan.
The makers of the television show wanted something upmarket like a Jag or Ferrari, but unfortunately the budget didn’t stretch that far.
Volvo heard about their predicament and came to the party with the P1800 – the rest as they say is history.
The show was a hit, airing from 1962 to 1969, and the car went on to become something of an icon.
Moore even drove one off screen. When Val Kilmer reprised the role for the movie in 1997, Volvo was keen to cash in again – this time with a C70 Coupe.
But the moment had passed.
The P1800 still looks cool to this day and is very collectable.
It’s cheap to buy, cheap to run and one could be yours if you’re the winning bidder at Shannons Sydney auction on February 6.
One the last of its kind this 1971 P1800E has basically been in the same family since new and is expected to sell in the $24,000 to $30,000 range.
Resprayed 10 years ago in factory blue, with a 4-speed manual, and refurbished around the same time, it has 146,000 miles on the clock.
Delivered new by Scuderia Veloce at Roseville in Sydney the car comes with the original delivery books.
The P1800 story began in 1960 when the car broke cover at the Brussels International Motor Show.
It remained in production until 1973.
A New York man, Irv Gordon, owns a 1966 P1800 that has done over 5 million kilometres.
Based on the floorpan of the Volvo 121/122S, it had a shorter wheelbase and was initially known as the Volvo Sport – but later became known as the P1800.
Production began in 1961. Volvo made a total of 47,855 P1800s and many would still be on the road or in collector’s garages.
As the name suggests the car was powered by a 1778cc B18 engine from 1961-68 but graduated to a 2.0-litre from 1968-73.
The first engine was good for 100 bhp or 74kW, it then moved up to 108bhp/80kW and the S model raised this to 115bhp/86kW – followed by the 2.0-litre at 130bhp/97kW.
When this engine was fuel injected in 1970, it produced 135bhp/100kW.
The P1800 was initially built in Sweden and in the UK (by Jensen). The Jensen plant then used the assembly line to build the Sunbeam Tiger (the car driven by Maxwell Smart in Get Smart).
The program leader was Helmer Pettersson who had design assistance from his son Pelle who was working with the Italian design house Frua.
Volvo planned to replace the P1800 with the P172 coupe but that didn’t come to fruition.
Fancy owning this retro beauty? You can bid on line, on the phone or of course in person.