British Built Swede: 1962 Volvo P1800

After sitting parked in a barn in Olympia, Washington for the past 26-years, this 1962 Volvo P1800 is looking for a new home. The early P1800s were built under contract for Volvo by Jensen, but when the deal turned sour due to quality control issues, Volvo chose to take production in-house after only 6,000 cars had rolled out of the Jensen factory in West Bromwich. This car is one from that initial production run, and it seems to have a bit of potential as a project car. It is listed for sale here on eBay, and while bidding has reached $3,435, the reserve hasn’t been met.

Being a unitary construction (or unibody) car, rust issues in a P1800 can be a real concern. The owner mentions rust in the trunk floor, but this may not be a worry. Of greater concern is the rust that he mentions in the rockers. Unfortunately, this is in about the worst possible place, which is the front end of the rockers and fenders. The rust on the driver’s side is the worst, although it is also beginning to appear on the passenger side as well. The rockers here are a triple-layer, and repairing any issues is really the job of a professional. There is also rust visible in the lower quarter panel on the passenger side. If these problems can be rectified, then the rest of the car looks like it is quite good.

Originally powering the P1800 would have been the 1,778cc B18 4-cylinder engine that produced 100hp. That engine has gone, and in its place is the larger 1,986cc B20 engine, which is hooked to a 4-speed manual transmission. The B20 became standard fitment in the 1969 1800S and was good for 118hp. The owner says that the car rolls and steers, but I would say that the engine doesn’t run. For those who might be considering this car as a potential restoration project, the owner does have a period-correct B18 engine that can be included with the car.

The interior of the Volvo is definitely going to require a complete restoration at some point, but apart from the missing radio, it does seem to be complete. Most of the upholstered surfaces are showing the ravages of time, while the rear parcel tray has holes cut in it to fit aftermarket speakers. That fantastic original Volvo wheel is still there, as are the very attractive gauges. Looking at the interior though, it could be made to be quite serviceable with a good clean, and restoration could be undertaken as time, money, and circumstances allow it. The positive aspect is that all of the parts that would be required to return the interior to its former glory are available as quality reproduction pieces.

The P1800 is a striking looking car, and while it may only pack 100hp under the hood, it is still a fairly light car, so it was a car that was still capable of hitting just shy of 120mph. The low center of gravity means that a good one possesses great handling, and they are entertaining to drive. If the rust in the rockers isn’t too extensive, then this could be a good potential project car.


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Oddly, the “Jensen” 1800s command a premium among the interested buyers of this model, despite the fact that the build quality wasn’t up to the Swedish standards. I don’t think the non-original engine hurts the price of this car that much. This car will sell to Europe,(where Volvo didn’t sell the model in large quantities, most of them came to North America) and should easily sell north of 10K. That’s probably way low…maybe 20K…the Germans, French, and Poles absolutely love this model
    And by the way, only the 6000 Jensen-built 1800s are referred to as P1800s. When production went to Sweden in 1963, the car was called the 1800S. In 1970, the injected model was called the 1800E. The wagon version (’72 and ’73) was called the ES.

    Like 7
    • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

      You best me to it – I was going to point out that all P1800s were assembled by Jensen. :-)

      For some reason, many have a hard time differentiating P1800 vs. 1800S and later versions…

  2. Smokey Member

    I loved the design of this P1800 immediately when I first saw it and still love it today. I tried to buy one back when it was first available, but was always sold out. I bought a Porsche Speedster instead. I am on fourth Porsche now, but would still like to have one of these. A timeless design I think.

    Like 3
    • aboyandhisdog Tom Fitch Member

      I couldn’t agree more…I’ve always loved the look of this car. I’ll bet that if Volvo came out with a contemporary version of this car, it would be a huge success.

      Like 4
    • Mike Harrel

      I agree, this car is beautiful and timeless. The only thing I would change is the chrome strip on the side. It would be so much prettier without it.

  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Where’s Roger Moore when you need him? IIRC that’s the one that was used in the Saint.

    Like 1

      Absolutely correct.

  4. TimM

    I loved these cars as a kid! I thought they were so sporty looking and loved the body lines on the car!! I haven’t restored very many foreign cars in all my years!! I ask the question to anyone that knows! Is it relatively easy to find parts for a car like this??? I would love to be a bidder on something like this but I wouldn’t know where to start if I needed body panels or even a head or exhaust manifold!!! I spent a month last year on and off looking for a gas tank for a 68-74 ford van!! I never thought it would be a problem cause there use to be a ton of them around!!

  5. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Tim, the parts for the 1800 are readily available. There are many sellers who have vintage parts on ebay etc.. ,and there are several companies who sell restoration parts for the vintage Swedish cars, including performance upgrade parts. The interior stuff for the Jensen cars might be a bit more difficult to get, but if you buy the car let me know, I know of several guys who have large caches of parts for these cars.

    Like 2
  6. DRV

    Having had 5 1800’s since 1977 I know what’s involved here. If you have to get into as much metal as needed here you would start with the much more desirable Jensen built one like this one. Most everything needed can be bought new. This one has many later pieces on it and the hardest to find will be the correct grille and the outside air vent cover. I would hunt down a close matching number motor and stamp it to match. The body will not be cheap to replace rust with metal, but when its finished you will have a very usable and safe car to drive regularly.

    Like 2
  7. Wayne

    I prefer the ES/shooting brake body style. I tried to buy a new one in 1976 but all I could find were automatic transmission cars. ( I bought a new Scirocco instead) I was a Volvo service manager for several years. And the owners of these have a deep love for them. The owner of the million mile P1800 that you see in the advertisements drove his car to our dealership and the crew was able to meet him.
    If I bought one of these I would instantly spend a ton of money at IPD in Portland. For all the suspension goodies. You can put the turbo engine in this car also from a 740 turbo. Just use the oil pump, pickup and pan from original style (vertical) red engine. That would be a very fun car!

  8. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    The good old days are just that. These beasts steer like a truck. You’d want one with carbs because that F/I stuff is so sucky to work with.

    Like 1
  9. jpb

    This car has many issues—and many missing Jensen specific parts. If buyer needs a 62 P1800 Jensen motor—I have a good one in storage. jpb 71 1800e

  10. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey Bob in Bexley, I’m up in Columbus for a couple of months escaping the Tampa heat. And I just bought a new project car, a ’67 Newport which I’m working on at a friend’s shop on the south end. You should come down for a visit, there are lots of interesting cars down there and a great group of guys.

    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      Rex, call me. I’m at Byers Volvo in service.

  11. Bob Deveau

    My 63 1800S. Not a show room toy but still fun! Can’t post a pic,sorry

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