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It’s All There: 1970 Volvo 1800E Project

I must admit it, I’ve never been a big Volvo fan. Sure, their durability and safety-enhanced designs are part of their justly deserved legacy – they just, ah, seem a bit boring. Except, however, the 1800 series such as today’s 1970 subject car. While I’m not exactly jonesing for one, I have, in the past, considered the possibility. I found this example intriguing because it’s very original and appears to be all there even if it is a bit rough around the edges. T.J. discovered the listing for this Lyons, Illinois domiciled Swedish Special and it’s available, here on craigslist for  $3,850.

For the sake of accuracy, this Volvo is actually an 1800E, first introduced in ’70, with the “E” meaning a fuel-injected 2.0 liter, in-line four-cylinder powerplant good for 130 HP. This one’s a non-runner but the seller does state that the engine turns freely. The odometer reading is 8,700 so assume that it has been at least once around. As is usually the case, a four-speed manual transmission makes the rear wheel connection.

The exterior definitely has that well-worn look about itself though the body does appear to be sound. There is some surface rust noted within the confines of an extremely faded gray finish but the body doesn’t look to be perforated. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the driver’s side floor pan has a substantial Fred Flintsone feature going on. And that being the case, a closer and more detailed, top-to-bottom inspection would be warranted. As near as can be told, the body looks complete and free of crash damage, but a complete redo along with polished trim and re-chromed bumpers should be considered.

The “What in the Sam Hill happened here?” question is reserved for the interior – it’s one of the worst that I’ve encountered in a while, at least from an upholstery perspective. And that may beg the question, “What upholstery?” Well, there is a very moldy back seat in place but as for the front seat skeletons, who knows; stored outside with the windows down maybe? The dash pad has absolutely seen better days and the switchgear and steering wheel just look like they’ve had enough of life. One interesting feature is included air conditioning though owing to a missing compressor belt, it probably hasn’t been operational in years.

The seller suggests, “everything seems to be there all in one piece” and that appears to be true as does his other statement of, “needs total restoration“. I dunno, seems like a pretty involved project, what do you think, would it be worth the effort?


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    As has been mentioned here on BF numerous times, these 1800s can be prone to rust. The spot on the drivers floor is always bad, same for the passenger floor. There is some defect in that area around the A-pillar, it always leaks.

    The problem gets worse the longer it goes on, and then the structural cross-pieces are affected and then you’re doing a lot of patching and welding. An underside inspection is smart on any old car, and especially these.

    Like 11
  2. Jamie

    If I were in the market, I’d go check this one in person. Looks to me like it may have been in a flood at some point in its life. There are a lot more photos if you go to the listing. Parts car maybe?

    Like 4
    • Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

      The Illinois location wouldn’t suggest a flood car necessarily, but after looking at the photos again, Jamie might be on to something. And, we actually do have this global warming problem….

      Like 3
  3. GLemon

    I think there may be a lot more rust going on than the article suggests. You can’t really see the lower fenders or rockers in the pictures except the parts behind the rear wheels. Rodents got in and the seat upholstery was beyond hope? It’s relatively cheap but looks like it needs everything inside and out.

    Like 2
  4. James Stone

    This is clearly a full resto project. The challenge is that even after a top notch full rebuild, you will never be able to recover your investment.

    Like 8
  5. Marc Struglia

    I would resto-mod it. LS or Ford Flatplane, or Hemi. It’ll fit.

    Like 4
    • mike

      I have a 1965 1800s and I put a 327 in it.

      Like 0
  6. Gary

    Looks like a flood rescue

    Like 2
  7. FasterAsteroid

    Among the nicest cars ever made. If I can sell my 740 wagon soon enough this will be mine. As far as recovering your investment, that is no longer possible in any auto restoration. It has been said, if you are making money restoring cars you are doing something wrong.

    Like 4
  8. Chris Cornetto

    I have a simular unit and yup it’s rusty but mine runs great is a stick shift with factory ac. Most if not all the body panels are available. If the rust isn’t into the structural part of the unibody where the suspension is, the floor stuff is easy. These are great cars. Any old car is going to have rust unless your lucky and there aren’t enough exciting desert units left. You cannot have an old car unless you can do a bit of the work yourself and if you think your going to do a Barrett Jackson restore in your backyard you will be broke and disappointed. build it to drive and enjoy, you will get much more satisfaction in the long run.

    Like 3

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