Forest Find Volvo P1800 Update!

Volvo P1800 In the Forest

It’s been quite a while since we featured a poor little Volvo P1800 that reader Doug M had found. That sad Swede was overgrown and sinking into the ground, but he recently emailed us with good news! He was able to work out a deal with the owner and he is now the proud owner of this project. Well it wasn’t quite that simple, but I will let Doug tell you more about that below.

Forest Find
What else could be hiding in this forest?

From Doug – About 2 or 3 years ago I ran into some cars in a mossy forest (the Volvo P1800). Another reader who lives close contacted me a year later and asked if I thought the cars were still there?? That got me curious, so, long story short, I looked them up again and they were still ALL there, just as before. They were all still for sale, but the guy insisted on selling all of them as a package, because he wanted them gone!  I tried to work out a way I could help him do that and maybe come out with the Volvo P1800, maybe the ’74 Jag and be able to ditch the rest and come out on top. However, that would entail quite a lot of messing around on my part to get this all to happen. In total he wanted the 2 Volvos, 74 Jag, 77 Alfa conv. and 2 rusty hulks all sold as a package.

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So, I was kinda stalling, trying to figure out how many cars I could drag home before my wife noticed that our neighborhood was going downhill really fast!!  I was thinking my best bet was to find homes for some of the cars in advance. But that was tough, as he did not want prospective Craigslist buyers coming to his remote property for security reasons. So, I would have to take them off his property one at a time and then dispose of them. He tried to get me to buy them all for $3,000. But then he insisted that I include his old rusted 48 Kaiser and and an old burnt out 53 Packard in the deal. I told him that was a major obstacle to the sale, cuz they looked so bad, there was no way I would even drag them home! And I checked on scrap values, and scrap is way down, so no one would drive that far to get them. So, I put the 2 old heaps on Craigslist thinking if I could find a buyer for parts, then I might be able to pull the rest of the deal off. Basically, he was wanting “retail” or “all the value” for all he had except, that maybe the ’74 Jag was a good deal at $1,000. But Jags can require lots of $$ for repairs, too, so the whole deal was just still too risky for all the trouble needed.

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But anyway, I was working on it, when he calls me up  a few days ago and said “Hey, I just sold them ALL to a friend of mine in California” (??!@**#*??@ !!!) Now, realize, the guy is really a nice old guy, and he was not trying to be difficult, but just trying to clean up his place. So I figured why not see if I can buy the P1800 from this new buyer-friend? He said sure, but the price is now $1,500 (that was the price quoted from the new owner)! Well, by now I want this car really much, and I had gotten a door open (they were locked, and I had not seen inside before) and the floorboards were NOT all rusted out, which I had worried about before.

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In fact, they still have blue paint on them, and the rust in the other places looks very manageable (Battery Box, rear valance, and a few other spots). I have been checking around and these P1800’s are getting really hard to get, and getting very expensive. So, considering that this is a 1971 fuel-injected model, 4 wheel disc brakes, with air conditioning and it is ALL there… although in dire need of restoration, and the original motor, though out of the car, has been stored inside all these years.

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So, I went ahead and said I would buy it at his $1,500 asking price. Oh, and for that, I do still get the complete 142 parts car, which also has air conditioning and a complete motor -which could supply some parts, or at least many nuts and bolts that I will need. So I am scheduled to go pay for it and then will drag it home!

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I have mixed feelings about this, but think that in the end this could be a really nice car! and it has not been hacked up or altered a bunch. Original color is blue metallic, which is also a pretty nice color…with black leather interior (front seats). Of course, it all needs redone… but that will guarantee that when completed, it will be a pretty nice car! All the trim and parts that have been removed from the car are either in the trunk or inside the car. They had been taken off to do a restoration… but as you can see, never got going.

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So that’s my crazy story!  I feel like I am paying too much for this to be a “real-steal” bargain car, but I really do want to fix a P1800 up, and would hate to pass this up and end up paying $3,500 for one that needs a total make-over anyway…. ??  So, am I crazy? Or does this make some sense?! I’ll trek back into the forest soon, and drag this home, with a trip through the car wash to take advantage of the pressure washer.  I have already started to collect some of the parts I will need.

I can’t wait to see Doug’s progress on this Volvo! It looks like a momentous challenge, but it looks like it has good bones and will be incredible once it’s done. Be sure to wish Doug luck!

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Comments

  1. grenade

    The P1800 is cool. Best of luck Doug!

  2. Rich

    Awesome story! I don’t think it’s too much. After all, you’re getting her back on the road where she belongs!

    Keep us posted on updates!

    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      Thanks, Rich! See below for a recent photo post on this car…

  3. Zaphod

    I guess I’m jaded but for $1500 you got a car that after you spend another $15000 will be slow and handle like a tractor. I’ve restored a number of these, from the early English (Jensen) cars with factory auto-rust, to the neat looking bread vans. All my clients were enthusiasts and all of them brought the cars back to have me “do something about the engine…”. Fragile front ends, delicate hydraulics, lousy visibility…I’d like to hear you’re stories about sourcing gauges. Good luck, cash in your kid’s college fund and put it up for sale now…

    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      I don’t mind putting $15,000 into this… check the values of these… I think they are doing about twice that for nicely done ones… Full set of premium used gauges already in hand… good used dash, set of no-rust doors. Here we go!

      Like 1
  4. Fred

    You are a braver man than I Doug, would love to see you resurrect this and post your progress here. For those in the market for one that’s a bit less work, I gained some knowledge of the market this weekend when I attended an auction. Rather than a “hoity toity” BJ or R & M type event, this was a down home type place with extremely realistic bidding going on. A local classic car dealer ran many of their cars through but most did not meet their reserves (which were not unreasonable). On my phone I was able to go to their website and see exactly what they were asking retail for each car! The ’71 P1800 below went through, on their website listed at $11,999, their reserve- $8500. Non factory color, but otherwise exactly the kind of restoration you want. I nearly bid myself, but didn’t really want to spend more than about 5K on anything. I watched an immaculate 80’s Rolls and Bentley sell for $9500 and $14,500.

    Like 1
  5. AMC STEVE

    Hey Doug, if it’s your dream car then there’s no price on it. Don’t listen to the dweebs and naysayers above and pursue the dream.
    If you can do a lot of the work yourself then you will save tons. Only farm out what you have to.
    That is one cool car

    • zaphod

      I’d agree with you if I hadn’t worked in the business for so long. People too often lead with their hearts and not their heads and the resulting travail ruins the old car experience for them forever. It is ALWAYS better to buy the best one you can afford and spend your money on a gradual restoration, using the vehicle, rather than dumping thousands into a car which you’re then forced to like, or at least put up with, until you’re tired or you’ve amortized the investment in your head. I, too, like the TV shows where millionaires restore Daddy’s Mustang and drive off into the sunset $100K lighter but sentimentality cannot replace practicality. Dragging a P1800 out of the woods, hoping to have both a nice car and a viable project, is folly. Professionally: if someone absolutely positively had to have a 1971 P1800, I’d charge around $35000, then go find one for $15000 and clean it up.

  6. Woodie Man

    I will be really interested in knowing when all is said and done what Doug finds the condition to be when the car goes on a rotisserie AND I think we all would be interested to know how much this baby ends up swallowing in restoration costs….maybe he would be willing to set up a restoration thread as a Barn Find (forest division) Restoration Project

  7. David Frank David Member

    First thing, began saving for your wife’s birthday, anniversary, mother’s day, Christmas, etc. If she’s letting you bring this home, you’re a lucky fellow and she’s a keeper!

    If this is a car you plan to keep for a long while and you’re doing it ’cause you like the car, the cost spread out over a few years won’t seem so bad. For example, if you spend 10K on this, after 20 years that’s only $500 a year, what many folks spend at Starbucks, and you still have a car that’s worth something. (At least that’s what I told my wife! That and “isn’t this better than building another airplane?”)

    • Jeff Staff

      David, this is similar to the approach I take. Over the course of a few years, it can seem like a drop in the bucket – esp compared to anyone who is carrying a late-model car payment, which is a seriously and rapidly depreciating asset.

      Like 1
    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      David, Your wisdom is recognized here! My wife DID allow me to bring this home, and it’s not the only old 70’s sports car at my house. She IS a keeper (the wife, not the car), and after 43 years of marriage she has seen me transform some really scary looking projects. However, I have to admit that I have agreed to hold off on any more purchases for a while till I thin down my collection… :)

      Like 1
      • Mark S Member

        Hi Doug, I bought a 1951 dodge Mayfair hard top from my wife’s aunt 6 years ago the car has been in my wife’s family since the early 60’s. It would be the equivalent to a cornet so Belvidere on the he US side of the border. I got the car for $400.00 and have been working on it as time allows, I am 80% done and to date I have spent about $1800.00 on it largely because I do all my own work from mechanicals to headliners and everything in between. $1500.00 for your Volvo is not a bad price when you consider how little that will buy nowadays. For me it is not about the end value it’s about the build. By the time you are done you will know everything there is to know about a p1800. Keep going enjoy the build and enjoy the ride.

        Like 2
  8. Neil

    Seems a good deal to me if prices are on the UP. Most of the fun is in the fixing up so you are on to a winner there. and the P1800 is one of Volvo’s most beautiful car designs. I am actually quite envious :-)

  9. Ard

    Good luck with the restoration Doug !
    If you like it that’s all that matters !

    Man’s got to have dreams that look like they’re doable ;-)

  10. 67 GT fastback

    What’s wrong with you grumpy know it alls? Doug’s obviously into it – they are frigging cool looking cars and Doug’s going to bring this baby back from the dead !! Life is short Go hard Doug can’t wait to to see this baby cruising again !!

    Like 2
    • zaphod

      Honestly, it’s not grumpiness. I have had literally dozens of cars towed off for scrap because people lead with their hearts. I encourage him to continue with his dream – we all need them and I’ve made a ton of money off other people’s but, with every passing day these “classics” out in the wilderness get rustier and the passion of restoration must be mitigated by the reality of economics. An example: I had a 1968 E-Type brought to me for a “rebuild” The man had the engine “redone” in Virginia and it still burned oil. I took it apart, found all the split pins for the big end nuts in the pan, except for one which was mashed up in the oil pump; itself minus a piece of rotor which had circulated, ruining the engine. I told him he was looking at around $9000 for a rebuild, with the suspension work he wanted. He wife freaked, called me a fraud, so I recommended boxing the car up and storing it for when they had the money to fix it. I kept it for almost 10 years before they came back and the storage, plus the new rebuild estimate, put them out about $20K which was just about the total value of the vehicle. At least, in the end, they got an E Type, not a sleek looking tractor. While I encourage Doug to go ahead with his rebuild, I caution him that,at the end of the process, he may very well be left with a car that he neither likes, nor can get rid of for his investment.

  11. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Congratulations, Doug–reward for the hard work! I know you’ll enjoy it!

    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      Jamie, Thanks for the encouragement~!! I have worked on so many projects that the negative comments don’t bother me. Most people talk about cars, but there are few that really will take on a project and follow it through to completion. This web site is so great because we get some really good feedback from people who do know how to roll up their sleeves and grab a wrench and actually get things done…

      Like 1
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Good, Doug! Keep us updates as you go, we’re really looking forward to seeing more!

  12. crazydave

    It seems that most of the folks on here look no further than “can I fix it up and make $$$$ on it?” Believe it or not, it isn’t always about the $$$. For many of us, it’s the love of the car that counts. If someone puts $35,000 into a P1800 or 1800S (or even an 1800 E or 1800ES) but its the CAR that they love – then who cares whether or not they could ever “get their money back out of it”?

    It ain’t for sale anyway! I fixed it the way I want it. I enjoy driving it. If it is ‘no longer original” – well – its MY car – not yours! I don’t have the original 1965 air in the tires of my 1965 1800S, so it’s no longer original. So, since it doesn’t have original air in the tires, it isn’t original anyway, so my conscience is quite clear about the R&P steering, the Chev 3.4 V6, the stereo, the Grant steering wheel on a tilt column, the aftermarket A/C, the power windows & power door locks, remote trunk release, etc, etc.

    It is the way I want to drive it, the way I want to cruise.

    If I went down to a stealership and brought a brand new car for (lets just say) $40,000, then in two or three years it’s going to be worth $20-25K. What’s different about putting that cash into my ’65 1800S (or his ’71) and winding up with a car that would only be worth half what I put into it? The new one is NOT gonna have the “wow” factor that my 1800 has

    (Or is “everyone” on here just out make $$$$ out of the hobby?)

    Like 1
  13. grenade

    Agreed. Most people just want to make money. Some of us, buy what we want and that’s that. If you get some of your money back when you sell it, great! If you get all of it back, even better! If you buy a car that you love and then get the satisfaction from building it, that has real value. It all depends on your motives.

    Some guys say if they put a price on all their man hours of work that has gone into a project car, they would have to charge a million dollars when they sold it. I say that the hours you put into it, is worth much more than money. Sometimes, it’s not about the money.

    Like 1
  14. guggie

    I have read this article twice , and why not .I have pissed away $ 1500 + on stupider things , plus it keeps you off the streets and in the shop LOL, Always liked the 1800 and its gonna be a fun project !!

  15. Robert White

    Strip the car down to just parts and a shell. Dump all the parts in a wash tub or 5 gallon pail of hot water and add Tri-Sodium Phosphate T.S.P. to the water. Wait
    about half a day and rinse the parts in hot water with a scrub brush. Powerwash the shell and sandblast to suit. Buy NOS, and weld up the new patch panels, or pans, where necessary, and you will be off to the races in no time at all.

    You can do it easy street.

    Bob

    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      Robert, This is the new owner of the Volvo listed here (Doug M. west coast) and your rundown is exactly what I have in mind! As bad as it looks right now, its all just details in a process that can be very prescriptive and lead to a successful completion! And this is not my first project, either! Thanks for the encouragement! Here is the car now that it is “out of the woods” so to speak. A little more rust than I was hoping for, but still a worthy project. (excuse the messy shop… in the middle of some work-space remodelling). Oh, and I have already secured two doors, full set of gauges and a good used dash -so I think this just might work!

  16. angliagt

    Where is this located?I’m always interested to see where
    these buys are,as I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the US,&
    have been to many interesting places on the West Coast.

    – Doug M. (also)

    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      Doug, the car was located in a small community just east of Portland, Oregon, called Colton. Now it is in Silverton, also just south of Portland a bit… Stop in next time you get over this way!

      • Tracy

        Doug M (West Coat)
        I’m in the Willamette Valley and would love to see your project. Also, I may have some parts for you 1800 if you need them. How can we get in touch?

  17. Robert J.

    Great find Doug. These cars are simple, reliable,enjoyable and make great economical daily drivers. Anyone who could complain about them has probably forgotten how to enjoy themselves. :) Irv Gordon has 3.5 million miles on his P1800 and counting.
    I recently traded my 1990 4Runner for this 1800ES. This is now the newest car in my fleet (Mercedes L306D bus, Jensen Healey, Volvo Amazon and this one) and it’s my daily driver. I could not be happier. Weekends are spent tinkering and weekdays are spent driving. I have a supportive wife as well and I agree that you have two gems there. Enjoy your new wheels and don’t let a little moss and rust get you down. All replacement metal is available online. This is going to be a great project car. Keep us posted!

    • Robert J.

      Photo link:

      https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOamzlGxR9wQJ0YpTa_W_hZW6wQCIq74BnTWmhG

      How do I get photos to upload? The choose file function is not working.

      • Robert J.

        Ha. Even that didn’t work.

      • Robert White

        Right click your mouse on your desktop when you see a picture you like and then left click the mouse on ‘save picture as’. When the prompt window comes up label the picture with a number or name and then left click the required prompt to save. Then, when you come to BF all you need to do is click on the Browse button where it says Upload Image.

        Hope that helps, let me know if it works.

        Bob

  18. Mike

    I absolutely love the 1800 series cars from Volvo – this one’s quite a mess, but if it were me I’d probably go ahead and attempt it. The first run of cars, (the “P” cars) were built by Jensen in England and even though they look identical to the later Swedish cars I can tell you firsthand that virtually every screw, bolt and clip is different. I’d try to save it just for that.

  19. Chris A.

    Lots of us talk about the cars we like and want but never pull the trigger. Doug here has been there, done that and is still willing to dive back into a not so easy project. Do your thing again Doug, way to go. More pics later on? Good luck and thanks for being an encouragement to all of us on the sidelines.

  20. Robert White

    Doug, it already looks 1000 per cent better. And I know you said ‘please excuse the mess in your garage’, but there is no excuse for a messy garage IMHO. PLEASE CLEAN YOUR GARAGE UP, Doug. Messy workspaces confuse things to the point of being counter-productive, and they are unsafe workspaces if sparks can hit combustible stuff. I am a Mechanical Engineering Technician and good work habits are key to being productive in the shop. Take my advice and clean your garage top-to-bottom before you start in on this project. And always have a fire extinguisher at the ready just in case. Sorry to admonish on garage cleanliness, but I had the same problem when I built my Acadian & BSA Thunderbolt 650. When I realized that I needed a super clean workspace and got down to cleaning up my garage, the whole rebuild went smooth as butter and I had lots of fun because of that necessary bothersome step to safety.

    cheers, and keep us all posted on developments.

    Bob

  21. Roy Crader

    Question to anyone. I recently ran into an engine that Studebaker used along with the 289. was wondering if someone might know the “down” sides of the 259?

  22. p4e

    cant even find an empty shell for that kind of money here in sweden! all in all it is nothing! 1500 bucks or a vintage car that is mostly complete? it´s a no brainer! good find! super jelous! :D

  23. Larry J

    Doug….lovely find so hope all goes well, I used to own a red Jensen P1800 that was a constant running restoration and enjoyed driving it a lot (and yes a bunch of the parts were specific to that car which was a pain!)……they’re a really fun car so ignore anyone saying its a tractor! Also sometimes people seem to miss the point that the enjoyment is about discovery and restoration, not profit….and not jus dumping a pile of cash to dealer, wheres the fun & skill in that??

    look forward to seeing any more pics you post as you go.

  24. Larry J

    Found an old pic of it….

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