Jensen Built: 1963 Volvo P1800

This gorgeous Volvo P1800 is a genuine barn find from the San Francisco Bay area, but it’s more than just a pretty face: this is one of the earliest production models, which was built by Jensen in England. While production would eventually return home to Sweden once Volvo had the facilities to do so, the Jensen-built models are different in a variety of intricate ways and come up for sale far less frequently. The seller claims this example is “virtually” rust-free and he believes that the mileage of just over 61,000 is accurate given the overall condition of the car. Check out the P1800 here on craigslist with an asking price of $33,000 or best offer.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been paying much attention to the P1800 market as of late, and the Jensen-built models are even more obscure. I’m sure the asking price can be justified given the rarity of the early models, and even more so when you factor in that this one appears to be a genuine survivor. As you dig into what sets the Jensen-built models apart, it becomes almost mission-critical that you find one that hasn’t been messed with, as the various differences between these and the later cars are so intricate that trying to replicate any lost features can become a tedious exercise. For instance, the backseat is a “jump seat” style, whereas the Volvo-assembled cars went to a conventional bench. The door sills featured solid brass strips, whereas late models made do with glued-on plastics, and so on.

The P1800 was stored in 2012 and claimed to have been routinely started; as of today, it is still a strong runner, although it run a bit rich when idling. The original engine was replaced under previous ownership, and while it is a “ding” on the car itself, it’s also not uncommon among Volvos of this era to receive a transplant with a later model. The current engine is a B20 with “….unknown cams, aftermarket Lynx intake manifold, 4-2-1 header, and period-correct Weber 45 DCOE 13 carburetor.” The seller has cleaned and rebuilt the Weber carb and also installed new radiator hoses along with fuel lines, fuel pump, and priming bulb, among many other service tasks related to starting up a long-parked car.

The Volvo has been repainted, and the hubcaps that were used on the Jensen cars have since gone missing. When you find an early P1800, it’s not unlike discovering a Porsche Pre-A roadster: the variety of details that set it apart from the later cars yield a simpler, purer design, almost fragile in some ways. Check out pictures of a factory-correct Jensen P1800 and you’ll see what I mean. It will still represent a decent amount of effort and expense to return this P1800 to OEM-correct condition but starting with an incredibly solid example like this is the best way to begin such an undertaking. Have you ever driven one of the Jensen-built cars?


  1. Grant

    Okay, I give. What’s with all the Volvos as of late? Someone got a crush on the Swedes? They are pretty nice people. (Pretty girls too, though my heart still goes for the English girls in general, with the exception of my awesome Yankee bride whom I am most grateful for on this Thanksgiving morning.)

    Like 5
  2. Sam61

    I really like the Coupe and hatchback. The Jensen’s are identifiable by more rust ha, ha. Some of these are past the point of no return, destined for a Viking funeral.

  3. tiger66

    Way overpriced. The famous insurance site puts it at $16,200 in No. 4 (fair) condition which seems fair for this car. A much cleaner ’68 has been on CL locally for a while and remains unsold at $25k. Aren’t the Jensen-built cars more rust prone and worth less than the Swedish-built ones? The insurance site thinks so.

    Like 5
    • $ where mouth is

      Regarding that ‘more rust prone’:
      from what ive heard/read maybe rumored,
      the iron ore from the Scandanavian region or maybe just Sweden, is more pure or something thus result in better quality steel. Please chime in anyone whos more versed here.
      Further, Volvo translates to ‘roll roll’ supposedly and the company started as a bearing company and was considered some of the best bearings in the world.
      Though Volvo cars is now like a walmart product, and not owned and most cars not built in Sweden, the trucks and constuction equipment are still actual Volvos, owned and made in Sweden and considered some of the best in the world. I speculate that iron ore is a key factor.

      Like 2
  4. DRV

    It needs everything to be a desirable Jensen, including an entire interior, motor, wheels and $$$$ wheel covers. The underbody pic looks great , but the external rust Bubble after having a repaint (was white) means some trouble.
    Half the price is generous here.

    Like 4
  5. Martin Horrocks

    Jensen lost the contract because of failure to supply the build quality Volvo required. Inherent steel quality is not a factor.The Jensen cars are rarer because they were the first few yesrs of production so the number of Swedish built and surviving cars are both much greater.

  6. Rallye Member

    Overpriced considering:
    C pillar emblems missing
    ad says original wheels/ (RARE)hubcaps included but photos show 1800S/Amazon wheels/hubcaps.
    “4354” 6K total, 2 K per year probably is a 63. No idea why he’s say made in 61
    Wrong grille, should be eggcrate
    Mismatched Park/turn lenses can’t both be right.
    I prefer a pair of DCOEs over the single.

    Some value the Jensens higher than other coupes due to rarity. I’d sooner have a 4wheel disc brake, high compression motor car.

    Like 4
    • Paul Root

      A single DCOE is more carb than this engine can use without significant head work.

      Like 1
      • Rallye Member

        Say what?
        Stock was 2 HS6 SUs. 2 x 1.75″ throttles =
        dam close to 2 x 45mm throttles
        DCOE s come in different sizes 40,42,45 (X 2 all work on stock 2.o Volvos) I consider 40 x 2 small for a 2.0 and with mods I use 48s or 50s on 2 liter Volvos
        This is a 2 liter motor.

        From one of the Weber tuning guides I use.
        Volvo 122S, 144 and P1800 42 DCOE 8 2
        Volvo Std 40 DCOE 2 34 4.5 125 55F8 F2 175 40 40 175 7
        Volvo D-kam 40 DCOE 2 36 4.5 130 55F8 F2 175 40 40 200 7
        Volvo Std 42 DCOE 2 3A 4.5 125 55F6 F2 175 40 50 200 7
        Volvo D-kam 42 DCOE 2 36 4.5 140 55F6 F2 170 40 50 200 7
        Volvo C-kam 45 DCOE 2 36 5,0 145 45F6 F16 210 70 200 7
        Volvo D-kam 45 DCOE 2 36 5,0 155 60F8 F2 185 60 50 200 7
        Volvo R-kam 45 DCOE 2 36 5,0 170 45F6 F16 190 70 225 7
        Volvo D-kam 45 DCOE 2 36 4.5 130 50F8 F2 175 45 50 200 7
        Volvo F-kam 45 DCOE 2 36 4.5 130 55F8 F2 175 45 50 225 7
        Volvo R-kam 45 DCOE 2 38 45. 150 55F8 F2 175 45 50 225 7
        Volvo Race 45 DCOE 2 40 4.5 160 60F8 F16 175 45 50 225 7
        Volvo Race 48 DCOE 2 42

  7. fordor

    1963 Jensen(built in England) P1800 Rust Free Barn Find! – $33

    Hey–this price isn’t too bad!

  8. George Birth

    If you don’t like the price you can always make an offer. Personally before I’d spend $33K on this one I’d prefer to find a 55 Chevy ragtop.

  9. Juan Alvarez

    I had the 1965 P1800 Jensen, the 1966 P1800S, & the 1971 P1800E.
    My best was the 1966 P1800S with 2 SU carburator.
    The 1965 became a rust problem.
    The 1966 some one cut my brake line & came an accident; total the front.
    The 1971 E. Automatic fuel injection was always a problem.
    The 1966S was my best. I put 200,000 miles and only got stronger as my Hampton Beach weekend traveler.
    Wow, Good Fun car to drive.

  10. BA

    Still liking the idea of a town car with a cobra 4.6 for about half the price of this trouble ! Not to mention anything automobile with wiring made in Great Britain becomes hopeless and must be destroyed or risk it jumping to other cars like mad cow ! I tease but seriously I think everyone has lost it on price!

  11. Dennis

    Unfortunately, Volvo hired Pressed Steel to manufacture, the bodies

    Jensen was hired to assemble and paint the cars

    I’ve been on the Jensen Healey, and now my interceptor for the last 20 years. I’ve never really had a rust issue with either.

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