Great Colors: 1973 Volvo 1800ES

This 1973 Volvo 1800ES has been extensively refreshed by the seller, with recent work including both mechanical and cosmetic improvements that should make this collector-grade Volvo a well-sorted classic for the next owner. The Volvo is not perfect and still has some bodywork needs, but it seems as if the seller had addressed the big-ticket items, leaving the smaller repairs and final sorting for the next owner. This wagon-ized version of one of the most iconic Volvos ever made, the P1800, remains an eye-catching model today that is both known and unknown to collectors, meaning that Swedish car enthusiasts know how special the 1800ES is while the rest of the marketplace is still catching on. Find it here on craigslist in California for $15,500.

I personally love wagons, and have always felt like automakers missed a great opportunity to make them more appealing to consumers by marketing two-door shooting brakes instead of solely relying on four-doors to carry the wagon torch. Cars like the Ford PInto Cruising Wagon and the 1800ES are terrific examples of attractive models that seemingly embrace an active lifestyle, with room for your gear and at least one other warm body (more if your other passengers don’t care if they wear a seat belt.) The Volvo is particularly striking for its novel glass rear door and ample natural daylighting entering into its cargo bay. The carpeting looks like clean and every piece of glass appears to be in good shape.

Engine work is extensive, with the seller noting that he “…..had the engine gone through with new cam, lifters, cam bearings, timing gears, oil pump, main and rod bearings, water pump, gaskets, and new valve stem seals.” He had the head rebuilt in 2014 at 48,241 miles and noted at the time that the crankshaft and cylinder walls were in great shape and thus not machined; however, this job was just recently done 100 miles ago by renowned Volvo specialist George Swift. The seller notes it runs and drives great, and that while the indicated mileage is 60,142, he cannot verify it as actual. The odometer has moved up from 43,306 while in his care, so it’s at least working; whether it’s rolled over is an unknown. The Volvo certainly looks clean enough to be a low mileage specimen.

Despite appearing quite solid in photos, the seller has already addressed some of the Volvo’s rust needs while admitting there’s more work to be done. He’s replaced the front floors and driver-side inner rocker panel, along with the front jack cross members and portions of the frame they attach to. Still, he notes that there are other rust areas to fix including the passenger side rear wheel arch that extends down between the rocker and wheel well (a replacement quarter panel comes with the car); the outer rocker panels have holes in them; and there’s a small area on the driver’s side rear wheel well in the rear seat area that needs attention. The battery box and an area near the brake booster also need attention. You would hope with all the money lavished on the mechanical bits that the rust isn’t too frightening, but the only way to tell for sure is to check out this mint green 1800ES in person.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    This could be the car I didn’t buy after hitting the west coast from South East Asia because of the “beautiful Apple Green” paint. They are still one of the great looking cars built and are on my top five list.

    Like 9
  2. DRV

    Sorry but if you are replacing the inner rockers on one of these, there is a whole world of hurt waiting. I love these but you must inspect. Bring your magnet and an inspection camera.
    That’s an great color that I’ve never seen on one.

    Like 6
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Agree on the rust comments. Built like tanks but way too many pockets to collect water and dirt. I don’t remember seeing the color in any of the charts when we ordered our 1800ES in ’72. This is a few shades darker than the Apple Green I mentioned.

      Like 4
      • CCFisher

        If you look at the photo of the cargo area, you can see green peeking out from under the cargo mat, so I’m betting that the dark shade is either a trick of the lighting or a poorly mixed re-paint.

        Like 2
  3. CCFisher

    Volvo was one of the first to adopt 6-digit odometers, so if this one rolled over, it’s passed 1,000,000 milles.

    Like 3
    • DRV

      The cable / speedo assembly is not dependable. Mine broke at 50 k miles.

      Like 2
  4. Mark

    Although a sharp design, I always questioned why they didn’t give the front end more of a rake to match the rest of the car as opposed to being more squared off. Can’t lose going with green.

  5. Steve Clinton

    I love that 1800es, hate the color. It reminds me of the Testors spray paint color I used on my models in the 60s.

  6. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. It’s an unforgivable shame that this was discontinued after 1973. As Volvos go, this is perhaps the best looking car Volvo offered. It’s attractive, while still being practical. It’s safe, while still being comfortable.

  7. George Swift

    I went thru the engine and transmission. It runs great. Personally I prefer both, but a rough body and a great drivetrain is better than pretty body that runs bad and needs engine and transmission work. I have seen restorations on cars much rustier than this. And yes. I am not a fan of the color. It’s original color is dark green.

    Like 2
  8. Bob from WI

    We have an 1800 ES. I bought it in CA in the 80s. I’ve seen a few dark green. But what I want to mention is that the rear seats DO HAVE seat belts, but no shoulder belts.
    And as I’ve mentioned here before, as with all cars with Smiths Instruments (Mostly British) , the British wind their speedometer cables opposite of ours, so they act like an auger and bring transmission oil up to the speedometer head and gums it up so the cable breaks, OR the speedometer got replaced with new. I have 3 Jags and 2 Volvos love them but they all have American cables!

    Like 1

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