Solid Swedish Tourer: 1971 Volvo P1800E

When the original P1800 first appeared, it was like a breath of fresh air from Volvo. Long the maker of conservatively styled cars, the P1800 was a car with bold and distinctive styling. During its 14-years in production, the car underwent a number of significant changes, and one of the most desirable models is the P1800E, which is what we are looking at here. This 1971 P1800E is located in Olympia, Washington, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the super Swede has now reached $3,383, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The P1800E has been owned by the same person for around 40-years, and it appears as though they have been a fairly meticulous owner. The California White paint is not original, with the car receiving a repaint back in the 1980s. It has a few marks and scratches but is generally pretty decent for a repaint of this age. One great relief is the lack of rust in the Volvo. There are a few very small blisters near the rear wheel arch, but they look to be it. One of the known trouble spots in the P1800 is the front end of the rockers, which is a triple-layer arrangement. Rust in that area usually spells trouble, but that area, along with the floors, looks to be super clean.

One of the characteristics that make the P1800E so attractive is what that “E” stands for. It indicated that the car’s B20 4-cylinder engine was equipped with Bosch D-Jetronic Fuel Injection. This not only improved the smoothness and driveability of the car but pushed power output up from 118hp, to 130hp. This Volvo features that engine, along with a 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive. The owner says that the Volvo is in really good mechanical health, with good and consistent compression readings across all cylinders. It has no oil leaks, doesn’t blow smoke or make any nasty noises, and in his own words, is as smooth as a sewing machine. The car also comes with a fairly comprehensive set of maintenance records, which should provide the next owner with some peace of mind. These Volvo 4-cylinder engines are actually quite sprightly performers, and in this case, they produce enough power to push the car along to a top speed of 118mph.

The interior of the Volvo is actually fairly tidy, but there are a couple of items that will require attention. The most obvious of these is the dash pad, which is really badly cracked. In addition, the kick panels will require attention, as will some of the trim items in the rear seat. The superbly comfortable front seats wear new covers, while the headliner, rear seat, and the door trims, all look really good. There is an aftermarket radio/cassette player fitted into the dash, and personally, I would be inclined to throw that in favor of an original radio. Otherwise, it would be fine to drive and enjoy the Volvo as it is.

We’ve seen a few examples of the Volvo P1800 in various guises here at Barn Finds in recent times. To me, this is probably one of the better examples, because it is mechanically strong, and its rust problems are so minor. The appearance of the P1800 is a bit deceptive because while these may have the appearance of a sports car, that was never the intention of Volvo when they released the car. The envisaged the P1800 as a comfortable Grand Touring Car, and if that is the sort of European classic that really takes your fancy, then this has all the hallmarks of a pretty strong contender.

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Comments

  1. poseur Member

    love the looks of these gems but doubt i could fit comfortably inside.

    there was one in the little town where i grew up that i loved but i was let down when i learned what lucked under the hood.

    in classic midwest schoolbus engineering i decided i could fix it by stuffing a Buick 3.5 V8 under the hood and terrorizing the streets.
    (of course that was my solution for every underpowered auto i saw, eventually making it reality with a couple Vega’s.)

    from what i’ve noticed they seem to be strongly appreciating which feels good given the unique styling.

    this one looks like a worthwhile investment for a driver you could be proud of but not scared to drive.

    Like 2
    • Matt

      they have surprisingly good leg room. I’m 6′, 240 and fit in it just fine.

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Doesn’t take much to get more horse power out of these engines. Friend built an 1800ES race car and pulled 226 hp at the rear wheels out of it. He has a street version that’s a gem to drive with 160 hp in it. Catch the rust and they are very nice drivers.

    Like 5
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there is no such thing as a P1800E.

    The first 6000 units were built by Jensen in England, and these cars are known as the P1800. When Volvo pulled the plug on Jensen, and moved production of the 1800 to Sweden in 1963, the car then became known as the 1800S. In 1970 the car was called the 1800E (fuel injection), and the wagon version (’72 and ’73) were known as the 1800ES.

    The “P” designation only applies to early cars assembled in England. I’ve owned 4 of the wagons and 3 of the coupes, and at one time had a parts business selling 1800 parts.

    Like 13
    • Steve p

      Rex,
      Is it appropriate to ask what a fair price for this car might be?
      Thanks
      Steve P

    • RJ

      Thank you, Rex. I lost count of the uncalled for “Ps” in the article.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Hi Steve,

    I noticed that the front and rear bumpers are indeed from the earlier P1800s…the “cowhorn” front bumper, and the rear bumper with overriders, and the sides that swing around the rear quarters. That modification would be a personal choice (putting the earlier bumpers on a ’71, I’m not a fan of the early bumpers myself), but I don’t think it brings up the value of this particular ’71.
    The dash treatment of the later cars leaves me cold…the worst contact paper fake woodgrain dash ever. The pre-’70 cars with the green gauges and embossed aluminum dash faceplates look much cooler to my eye, but that’s just personal preference.
    The fuel injection with it’s added horsepower should make a ’71 more fun to drive than the earlier cars, but that’s not the main idea in my view. These cars are more like a GT touring car, and they drew more attention from everybody than any classic car I’ve ever owned….people just love them. I used to laugh, sitting at a traffic light, even babies in strollers would stare at the car with their binkies in their mouths.
    The 1800 is a rock-solid car, based off the 122, so parts are easily available. It’s not really a sports car, but it looks like one. It is absolutely imperative to see the underside photos if bidding online. Don’t assume there won’t be some rust repair required.

    As to value, well, the Europeans just love these cars (because most were shipped to the States, so it’s quite exotic to those folks). The French and German and Polish guys will pay money for these cars. Speaking for myself, I’d cap my bid at 10K on this one, IF the underside checked out OK. Then it would be probably 5K to fix what needs fixed, and a paint job, maybe 7500? At that point you have a really nice 1800 that you will have a lot of fun with, and not be too deep into. But I could be wrong, it’s happened before!

    Like 6
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Thanks for fixing the picture BF!

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    What, bids going up a buck at a time? My kind of auction. Maybe the hobby is beginning to crack. For a while, 1800’s, ANY 1800, especially rust free ones would go for 5 figures. And one of the few cars I feel could be worth it. I have a friend that had a 1970, for all I know, still does, it was a remarkable car. Not the fastest, or the best handling or best mileage, and parts got to kill ya’, but probably the most reliable,fun 2 seater for the masses ever made.
    And no 1800 post would be complete without a mention of the late Irv Gordon that put an astonishing 3.2 million miles on one. Proof enough for me what a great car it is.

    Like 2
  7. Norman Moquin

    In the spring of 1968 i bought a 1865 1800 serial # 13922. I drove it from Connecticut to Wisconsin stopping only for fuel and food recording 30 mpg in real comfort. I wasn’t tired unlike anything i’ve driven since then, great GT. The fuel door on top of the driver’s side rear fender would be frozen by ice and snow. I learned to fuel up when winter storms were approaching. The car was black with a red interior, I installed an AM-FM Stereo radio from J.C.Whitney in the early days of Stereo, and an aftermarket A/C. You could drive with the windows open with very little turbulence inside, and it had Vent windows to move some air as necessary. On the whole I should have kept it, but i traded it for a leftover new ’70 Volvo 142S What a mistake, It wasn’t as good in the snow and ice as the 1800. I kick myself now, should have kept it.From time to time I go online looking for it, no luck so far.

    Like 2
  8. TimM

    I always like the body and style of these volvos!!

  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice….always like the styling………

  10. jimmy the orphan

    Didn’t the saint drive a Volvo like this on TV ? And the Brits got all butt hurt because it was not a English car ? Hey maybe Jensen made that one and everybody got all upset for nothing maybe huh? I’ll call them. Hey I didn’t get mad when Maxwell Smart drove a Sunbeam Tiger. Just sayin …………………………………………………….JIMMY

  11. SethJohns

    Gotta have it!

    This beauty is also “listed locally” (i.e. Craigslist: ) in Olympia WA @ $13,500:

    https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/cto/d/olympia-1971-volvo-1800e-147k-miles/6977130898.html

    90 More photos posted at:

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wggl2h80vus9ez6/AAB5fE_PThXgLFry_-NxWbeoa?dl=0

    Like 2
  12. Don

    Hey TV buffs..didn’t Roger Moore from the old TV show ” The Saint ” drive one of these?

  13. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Sep 17, 2019 , 12:00PM
    Winning bid:US $8,108.00
    [ 38 bids ]

  14. Rex Kahrs Member

    Seems like a reasonable selling price.

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