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Let’s Be Honest: 1970 Volvo P1800E


One of the tougher elements of being a project car owner is you grow a bit pessimistic at times, especially when reading the listings of other cars for sale. Take this 1970 Volvo P1800E here on eBay: the seller claims he’s not going to have any time to get to it in the next year, but I can’t help but think he’s just sick of tending to a rusty Swede.


And you know what? That’s OK. We’ve all been there, realizing we’re in over our heads (or maybe lucky enough to stop ourselves before we get in too deep). I just wish people would call a spade a spade and be blunt in their eBay listings: it’s too rusty. It’s too time consuming. I hate this thing. I wish I never bought it. There’s a newer, better car with fewer problems for less money right down the street. You get the point – there’s nothing wrong with admitting this isn’t the project for you.


Even though the seller is well aware of the virtues of an engine like Volvo’s B20, it still needs a full tear-down. He goes and on about how much he LOVES this car and its sexy silhouette, but like any man scorned, he just can’t pull himself back into this P1800. The hurt is too deep, it seems. I can’t get over how many times I read things like “All there” and “Perfect” and then immediately see the word “except.” Just tell us the truth: it’s way too much work.


I am not knocking the car, as I think these are worthy projects in most every form. The price is fair and there’s no reserve, so my hat is off to the seller in that regard. My personality is such that I like realists and can appreciate a point of view that is glass half-empty when there is good reason to be negative, and this project fits the bill. It’s rusty, it’s cheap and it could be yours: what more do you need to say?


  1. maserati

    not worth it, spend some more $ and get a better one.

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  2. MountainMan

    It is rough! Inside, outside, under the hood and likely underneath. The seller has no title and its pretty rusty based on the description on feebay. I am sure it could be saved but this is one of the rare cases I see a parts car

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  3. rogerowen

    In the UK this would not be considered rusty!

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  4. Peter

    Why would you punish yourself? Having owned more than 60 classics over 40 years, my one piece of advice is this; never buy a rust bucket!
    There will always be a much better car somewhere, often not requiring much in the way of restoration, for not much more money.

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  5. Duncan

    Not a money pit… a money chasm. The rust you can’t see is even more impressive.. once you can see this much outside. If you are wanting to become an expert in TIG and metal fab you would get pretty good on this car.
    Sad, not a common color combo in the states in a late FI car

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  6. andrew

    How come some people can’t look after a simple most important thing like an owner ship in ont. Can.no ownership is a deal breaker .

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    • Dan

      I am with you about ownerships in ONT. Why do all the sellers of these cars say it is easy to get an ownership. No paper ….NO DEAL! It’s that simple.

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    FYI. P1800’s were carburetor cars. 1800 E were fuel injection. So there is no P1800 E.

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  8. van

    Neat car great looks never see them
    We need to encourage young guys to get in
    Honda, toyota who cares
    Use a later model Volvo turbo engine and
    Don’t be so picky
    The car hobby is supposed to be fun
    Or pick from the ever growing list of rare only Gen 1 camaro with blue this or clock that or radio delete, copo clone yata yata yata.

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    • Horse Radish

      I’d take this over ANY Camaro this and that and the other clone wannabe , too.

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  9. Liam

    My friend is selling one of these in the UK. It’s white with red interior, has the alloy wheel option. It is on the road ready to use, if there might be a buyer for it on here, please send me a message and I can put you in touch with him…..

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  10. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Thanks George for pointing out that this is an 1800E, not a P1800. That said, it’s puzzling why this guy would be “sick of tending to this rusty Swede”…HE HASN’T DONE ANYTHING TO IT!

    Indeed he has probably realized the nightmare this rustbucket is gonna be to restore. And 40K when it’s done? Well, if you could get that kind of money out of it, you still wouldn’t be making a profit. Finally, I don’t offer these comments to be negative, it’s just that I have restored one of these, a ’69.

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  11. OA5599

    This 1800E has nothing going for it, other than the rusty notoriety that it might have been parked in a fjord.

    You can find plenty of better examples.

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  12. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    I am currently working on one of these and saw this ad yesterday, too… I had the same impression: “come on, guy, all this sentiment and emotion cannot be going into THIS car! Just admit it that it’s in bad shape!!” Here is a picture of mine… found it in the woods a few years ago (listed on Barn Finds). Went back and bought it last fall. Needs plenty, but I am not going to spin a story of how much I love it! Just needs a bunch of work. But these cars are getting harder to find, and eventually this one will be on the road again and doing fine. My wallet? We’ll see how that turns out!??

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    • Jeff Staff

      See, that’s what I’m saying! You can be realistic about a project – I am absolutely in that same boat. But what I wouldn’t do is sit there and try to blow sunshine up your rear about what a great car this could be as this seller is doing. Honesty will get him a lot further on a rough project like this.

      And on another note, that is a fantastic photo! Looks like some other gems in that backyard!

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      • DW

        So VERY true. I wrote this same blog post (in my head) yesterday while looking at couple hundred project ‘deals’ on CL.

        We all have the same amount of time, so when a seller says “I just don’t have time for it” what he means is “I don’t want to MAKE time for this car because it’s not worth it to me. But I’m hoping it might be to you.”

        I’m with Peter too – I’d rather spend an extra 80 hours online looking for a better car with less or no rust than 80 hours in the shop cutting out rust and trying to make new panels fit. There’s *always more* than you think.

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      • Horse Radish

        @ DW

        That is what a friend of mine said long ago.
        Make a really good decision on WHAT car to choose and put your efforts into.

        I live in S.California, so I see perfectly rust free cars getting crushed, because it’s too much work to get them going again.
        This one, though the rust could be worse, doesn’t even have that going for it….

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      You are a brave man, Doug!

      Kudos for taking on the project. Hope it goes well over time. Just one bit done, then another, then another…..

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  13. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey Doug, if you need parts, contact Nick Tarlton in Michigan. He’s on ebay. Good guy.

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    • Doug M. (West Coast) Member

      Thanks, Rex…. I think I am already connected… bought some new (used) gauges and other interior parts I needed. These really are fun to work on! But, I am still learning. I did NOT know the finer points of the lettering. I did think I had a P1800E, and did know the difference in dropping the P for the ES wagons, but did not know to drop the P for the earlier fuel injected coupes! Great team of advisors here on Barn Finds!!

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  14. Bob Deveau

    1800E yes not P1800! And mine is really neither!? 1963 1800S,first Swedish made 1800’s(6 thousand produced) VIN 6374. My 1800 I’ve heard is one of the most sought after, the “long Horn” (or “Cow Horn” as my friends in the U.S.call them)… “The Saint” car! Pretty much original except for the seats( low back leathers stored it the attic), she still runs a generator. I love the car!!! Fun to drive,handles great! 4 speed with elctro overdrive, front disc brakes,shoulder strap seat belts.And yes it gets looks!, and a lot of “what is it?” Cheers Bob

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  15. Andrew P.

    Poor old Volvo. 😢

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  16. rogerowen

    It will need a ‘Saint’ to rescue it!

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  17. Howard A Member

    1st let me say, I too see the glass as half empty. I dealt with mechanical things most of my life, and there’s a saying,” if something can go wrong, it will” ( Murphy’s Law) As far as this car, to the layperson, for some reason, all 1800’s are P1800’s. While very pricey to repair, I think this is a great find. I have a friend that had a car just like this ( maybe still has it) and it was the nicest Volvo made ( I thought) Doesn’t say if it has OD, as most of these were equipped with that, and a worthy option, in my opinion. Probably become a parts car, but it would be a cheap way to get into a P1800, oops, I mean an 1800E.

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