Field Find: 1964 Volvo 1800S Coupe

Whenever I think of these cars, a British TV spy show from the 1960s comes to mind. Roger Moore tooled around in one of these beauties as Simon Templar in The Saint. The P1800S would enjoy a long run from 1961-73 and Volvo built nearly 48,000 of them during this time with a few adjustments along the way. This 1800S, either a D or E Series car, was built in 1964 and has been sitting for at least 30 years. It has rust and will need a bunch of work, but when was the last time you saw one of these cars? Located in Long Beach, California, this Volvo is available here on craigslist for $2,800 without a title. Thanks, MattR, for finding this cool set of wheels for us!

The somewhat iconic P1800 was a 2+2, front-engine, rear-sports car built in Sweden by Volvo Cars for most of the ‘60s and part of the ‘70s. It would morph into a wagon referred to as a “shooting brake” during its last couple of years. The mechanicals of the P1800 was derived from Volvo’s dependable Amazon/122 series of cars. The one that Moore drove was from 1962 and was white in color, thus supporting Volvo’s goal of portraying the automobile as a stylish touring car rather than a sports car.

During 1963-65, Volvo built two models of the car that differed little, but the production of both crossed over in 1964, so we don’t know which of these machines the sellers actually is. The P1800S-D saw 4,500 produced, while the 1800S-E netted 4,000 copies. Both were powered by Volvo’s 1778cc inline-4 which output 108 horsepower with a 4-speed manual. These cars were known for their durability. In 1998, the 1800S was certified as the highest mileage private vehicle driven by the original owner in non-commercial service. It had covered 3.25 million miles until that party’s death in 2018.

The seller’s car has been laid up for more than 30 years. Since he refers to it as a field find, the photos taken of it indoors must have come later. We’re told the 1964-65 editions are the best years to have, but a true P1800 enthusiast will have to educate us as to why. The VIN is said to identify this car as black over red in color, but the body looks blue in someplace and red in others. Rust has consumed the trunk, floorboards, and some fender wells, but has spared the areas around the windows and the car’s various curves. All of this is more work than the seller has the time or inclination to tackle.

As a sign that not all is lost, the doors open and close as they should with the proper gaps, and the same is true of the hood and trunk lid. The car received a sunroof after-the-fact of which the seller says looks okay (leaks?). The interior is original, and it appears that most everything is going to need replacing or recovering. The odometer reads 89,000 miles, but the seller says it’s broken, so who knows what the actual distance has been.

A piece of good news is that we’re told that the engine will turn over, but we assume that’s manually, not with a battery hooked up. The Volvo will come with a bunch of extra part including stainless trim pieces and interior door panels. Also, spare cylinder heads, a transmission, and various odds and ends. The car is priced the way it is because the title has long since disappeared and a Bill of Sale will have to do. But this could turn out to be an interesting acquisition as Hagerty says one of these in top shape will run $42-77,000. And then you, too, could drive around as if you’re a suave British adventurer!

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I’m pretty familiar with these cars, having owned about a dozen of them. I am not familiar with the “D” designation. Here’s the skinny on the 1800 nomenclature:

    The first 6000 units, built from ’61-’63 by Jensen in England were known as the P1800. When Volvo pulled the plug Jensen and moved production to Sweden, the “P” was dropped, and the the car became known as the 1800S, the S stood for Sweden.

    The last 1800S was built in 1969, when thereafter the B-20 engine was fuel injected and the car became known as the 1800E. In 1972, Volvo introduced the 1800 as a wagon or shooting break model (or “estate”), and that model was known as the 1800ES. So there you have the progresion: P1800, 1800S, 1800E, 1800ES.

    There is no such thing as a P1800S, P1800E, or P1800ES. And no such thing as a P1800-D whatever.

    Like 16
    • Russ Dixon Staff

      I got this from the Volvo Owner’s Club, so I assumed it was accurate.
      https://www.volvoclub.org.uk/history/1800_stats_search.shtml

      Like 4
    • Jonathan Stein

      Thank you for telling the world that they’ve been getting Volvo 1800 nomenclature wrong for years. It drives me absolutely crazy. Despite your best efforts, I’m sure people will be referring to the “P1800S” for

      Like 2
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey Russ, publish the link where you got the info. Thanks.

  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    Those letter designations are simply year codes. They may appear in the VIN or on a chassis tag, I can’t remember. But nobody would ever refer to an 1800S-D, it would simply be a 1965 model (or whatever year D corresponds to).
    And their production numbers are suspect…in 1969, there were less than 1700 1800S coupes built, 1683 I believe.

    Like 1
    • BobinBexley BobinBexley Member

      Never heard of a D. Rex, if I’m buying from the ‘good ol’ days’ I’m buying American. I’m getting older & not yet crotchety & I like power steering.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        I’m with you on that Bob. The ergonomics of the 1800 are pretty cramped, even though I love the model. But these days
        I like the American cruisers like my ’63 Riviera and ’67 Newport. I’m even looking at a ’67 Electra 225 4-door!
        AC, auto, power everything. But I still crawl under them and wrench on ’em.

        Like 1
  4. Chris

    Just noticed that this Volvo is t same one as listed in the “Field of Projects” post a couple above this one. Looks a little better than the photo of it sitting in a field.

    Like 3
  5. AMCFAN

    This is featured in the Field of Project cars 40s to 70s. Same car only NOT $1500. as you will see. Now $2800. Nice flip

    Like 2
  6. rex m

    Gone

  7. Colin Hughes

    If you want accurate figures and designations, contact Kevin Price at the Volvo Enthusiasts Club or Tony Whitton at VEC 2010.
    They have the original documentary detail from Volvo and can give you built date and specification for this car.

    Kevin has the original car used by the late Sir Roger Moore, in the TV series.

    Like 2
  8. Phlathead Phil

    My Brother in-Law had a red one. Caught my sisters eye. Car is long gone but they are still together! Happy Valentine’s Day to them. I’m still in love with phlatheads!

    Like 2
  9. Tom Hand

    My only encounter with this model of Volvo occurred when I was managing a 114 unit apartment complex in the mid 70’s. Each apartment had a reserved parking slot. Visitors were directed to the guest parking area provided and parking regulations were clearly posted.

    One evening a resident had returned from work with groceries picked up on the way home. She asked the violator to move but the violator (girl) told her where to go. The resident was upset and I went to investigate. I approached the car and the girl rolled the window down. I explained that she needed to move to guest parking. Her response was off color and she rolled the window up.

    Being pretty upset, I opened the drivers door to tell her to move. She then yanked the door handle to pull the door shut. I held the door open and she pulled off the interior panel off. She was very upset over this, told me where to go and I told her to get out and never return to the complex.

    I will never forget the look on her face as she looked at the unattached panel that she was holding. She managed to shove it in the back seat. Then she left in a huff.

    Note to self: Volvos have lousy interiors.

    Like 5
    • Rick

      My only from-a-short-distance encounter with the wagon version of this model of Volvo occurred when I was working in the parts department of a GM dealership in Michigan in the early 1980s. A guy and his girl had been looking at the selection on the used car lot. Upon finishing they got back into their Volvo 1800ES. Evidently he wasn’t paying close attention or had a problem with distance and depth perception. He backed the car into one of the pole lamp bases, denting the bumper and sheet metal and completely shattering the tailgate glass.
      Note to self: always try to park in a manner that allows an exit without having to back up.

      Like 2
  10. Rex Payne

    The Volvo 1800 Roger Moore drove as “The Saint” was almost certainly not an 1800S, which was built in Sweden, but a P1800, built in England by Jensen. The Jensen-built 1800s were subcontracted to another British coachbuilder that sent them by rail to Jensen on open rail cars unprotected from the English rain that, per John Lennon, could give you an English tan. As a result, the P1800s had rust problems the 1800S notably lacked. Jensen threw only about 6,000 P1800s before Volvo said “enough” and built all the rest of them – the 1800S — in-house.

    Like 2
    • WILLIAM BABYAK

      If memory serves, Roger Moore drove a new 1800 every year in THE SAINT.If Jaguar hadn’t been so stubbornly obtuse, their E-Type
      might have become even more popular, and farther renowned, as “The mount of The Saint”.
      for seven years. Butl

      • WILLIAM BABYAK

        But, Jaguar’s loss was Volvo’s gain!

  11. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    A friend has a 1966 he wants to sell, I haven’t seen any on Clist or FB Marketplace for pricing estimates, but there were several on Ebay under $5,000, I was surprised. A while back I remember a lot of wanted ads for 1800s, I guess they found enough.

    Like 1
  12. matt

    I like this model of Volvo. And I hear my Dad saying, Matthew, you can’t fix all the cars you see and want.
    He was right.
    Today I learned from Rex Kahrs and Russ Dixon a little more about the 1800 series lettering designations.

    I had a 740 Turbo that I got a ticket in one night. I thought I would light it up for fun on the way home from work.
    The state trooper said when he caught me and saw my license, Matthew, I’m giving you a ticket for 58 mies an hour in a 45 zone.
    I said Yes Sir, Thank you.
    I was pushing more than 80 when I passed by him in the oncoming lane, but he didn’t have time to take my picture.
    I got off very easy that night.

    Like 1
  13. Norman B McLeod

    I bought an 1800ES brand new in 1973 for $6,935 CDN dollars. (My first Volvo…..still drive one)
    Drove it for 10 years and sold it for $9,450 CDN, serial # was 1836353007175. When the car was unloaded here in Canada, production had ceased. I believe it was the 37th last one built. It had minor problems, but I loved the car.

    Like 2

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