Swedish Survivor: 1966 Volvo 1800S

I’ve always found Volvo a fascinating vehicle manufacturer. Where some companies change models frequently or regularly perform significant updates to existing models, Volvo has a history of keeping models in production for extended periods with little more than evolutionary updates. That is the case with its iconic 1800S. Originally released as the P1800 in 1961, it rolled off the production line with only minor revisions until 1973. Our feature car is a 1966 Volvo 1800S that presents well. It has a few imperfections, but the new owner could address these as time and circumstances allow. Located in Olympia, Washington, you will find the Volvo listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has sailed past the reserve and sits at $12,100.

Volvo’s “1800” series could easily have been a car that appeared and disappeared from the automotive world without causing a blip on its radar. The company felt it lacked the engineering expertise and ability to produce a sports tourer of this caliber. When negotiations with Karmann broke down in early 1958, Volvo hunted for another manufacturer capable of rolling the vehicle off its production line. Eventually, it signed a contract with Jensen Motors to build 10,000 examples of the P1800 at its facility in West Bromwich, England. As business decisions go, this could best be classed as brave. The problem was that Jensen’s quality control system lacked two key attributes; quality and control. Early cars were plagued with problems that threatened to undermine Volvo’s carefully developed reputation, so the company canceled the contract after 6,000 cars had rolled off the line. Having been bitten savagely, Volvo brought production in-house to its Gothenburg factory. With this move came a new model designation, with the P1800 becoming the 1800S. Cosmetic changes and upgrades were evolutionary throughout its production life because the company believed it had hit upon a winning formula. Out feature car emerged from the Volvo factory in 1966, presenting well for its age. In keeping with the company’s conservative reputation, it wears a shade officially called “Red.” The seller admits it isn’t perfect, with a close inspection revealing chips, marks, and checking. Addressing these faults would be easy and could occur at the buyer’s leisure. The panels are straight, but the big news is this car’s lack of significant rust. Volvo developed its models to cope with the harsh Swedish winter, so its rust-protection strategies are sound. One of the few weak points in the 1800S is the front section of the rockers. This area is triple-skinned, and if problems develop, they require the attention of a professional to ensure the car remains structurally sound. There are no such problems with this classic, and the floors show no signs of issues. The seller indicates that the short cross-member has rust, but sourcing a replacement should not be a drama. The bright trim requires polishing, but the glass looks good.

This Volvo’s interior generally presents well, which is a relief. Interior trim and upholstery for the 1800S is eye-wateringly expensive. If one of these classics requires a complete retrim, it can leave no change from $4,000. The seller indicates that the seats wear non-original upholstery in cloth that a previous owner fitted in 1988. It remains in good condition for its age, with only a few wrinkles and minor marks. They believe the carpet is original, showing some wear and fading. A new carpet set retails for $450, which is above what you might pay for a similar item for other classics from this era. The dash pad is cracked, which could be a headache for a buyer seeking perfection. High-quality replacements are available, but like many interior trim items, they aren’t cheap. The buyer should budget $750 for a new pad, although cheaper ones are available if the wallet isn’t that thick. The seller admits the lower door trims are damaged, but with a pair costing $140, they are pretty affordable. The photos reveal the upper pads on the door trims are cracked, so the buyer needs to add $210 to the total for a new pair. The original owner ordered the car with air conditioning, but this doesn’t blow cold. The aftermarket radio/cassette player doesn’t operate, but the remaining electrical systems and lights work as they should. The buyer faces a few tasks whipping this interior into shape, but there’s nothing that they couldn’t tackle in a home workshop to minimize the costs.

While Volvo didn’t develop a reputation for producing high-performance engines during the 1960s and 1970s, its drivetrains have a reputation for being bulletproof. This car’s engine bay houses the 1,778cc “B18” 4-cylinder engine that produces 115hp and 112 ft/lbs of torque. Neither figure sounds impressive, but the 1800S uses it effectively. These engines continue to see service in Scandinavian domestic rallying and rallycross, and the owners rarely suffer mechanical failures in the heat of battle. The power finds its way to the rear wheels via a four-speed M41 manual transmission with the optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit. This Volvo is virtually a turnkey proposition for potential buyers. The engine demonstrates strong and consistent compression across all cylinders. The car runs and drives well, and the overdrive unit functions as it should. The only issues the owner identifies are low brakes and old tires. They believe that a new set of pads would address the brake issue, while the buyer should replace the tires before hitting the road in earnest.

During its thirteen-year production history, 39,407 buyers elected to hand over their money for a new Volvo 1800 Coupe. That number sounds respectable, but it is worth remembering that it represented worldwide sales across Europe and North America. In that context, the 1800S is a relatively rare creature. Some trim parts can prove expensive, but they have built a reputation for mechanical longevity. This car needs no exterior trim or drivetrain work, making it a straightforward restoration project as time and circumstances allow. You will struggle to find a decent example for under $20,000, while figures beyond $25,000 are common. Values have shown modest increases recently, although not as dramatic as other models in the current market. The bidding on this car hasn’t been as intense as you might expect, raising the possibility that its next owner could potentially secure it for under that magic twenty grand mark. If this happens, this 1966 Volvo 1800S could be a great buy.

Comments

  1. Big Al

    There is this exact car ( except silver ) sitting besides a barn. Sitting in the weeds with no tarp. It’s a shame because it looks in pretty good condition. I’d knock on the door but the house looks spooky. Kathy Bates would answer the door and kidnap me looking place. 😱🤪👻 🤣🤣

    Like 9
    • Britcars4me

      Be brave, check it out and let us know!

      Like 10
      • Big Al

        If you don’t see me in the comment section for awhile, you know Kathy’s got me tied up Send help !!! Lots of help !!!
        Know that I took one for the team. hahaha 😨😨

        Like 10
    • Jagbass

      If she tells you that she’s your number one fan or that she’s named the car after her favourite book’s main character, then run! Otherwise, good luck!

      Like 5
  2. JAMES HOMER COOK

    Take a friend along, safety in numbers.

    Like 6
  3. Graeme T

    A friend of mine had one of these. When he sold it, all the local Volvo guys came with a magnet. Most are full of filler in the sills and wheel arches.

    Like 3
  4. chrlsful

    Italy married Sweden’n produced a pretty, durable baby (? ‘sports’ car ?). I think I C Simon coming?
    My druthers? the 1800ES. Who wuz 1st the MG(B GT) ’62 – 80 or this?

    Like 2
    • Captain RD

      58 years of cars for me — my 1966 1800s — was my best one.

      Like 2
  5. Howard A Member

    I tire of bringing up similar cars accolades, but I was wondering if anyone would have mentioned, or cares about the late Irv Gordon, who amassed an amazing, 3.26 MILLION miles on a ’66 1800 just like this. Being the sentimental sap that I am, I feel I’m alone in the “human interest” side of these posts. You know, apathy could be our countrys biggest problems,,,but who cares, eh? Irv knew what to drive, RIP, pal.

    Like 6
  6. OldCarGuy

    Howard:

    Around 1999/2000, I happened on Irv just east of Oshawa, Ontario, hood up, on the side of Hwy 401. A rad hose had let go, I offered help, but he was fine. He claimed to know almost exactly which part was going to fail, and when, and had one of everything most likely. I had a large jug of water, so he changed the hose, added water and anti-freeze, washed up, and gave me an autographed pic of the car. He was a very nice fellow, and I was glad to have met and helped him. RIP indeed.

    Howard, you are not alone in cherishing the memories of the various automotive characters that make chance meetings an enjoyable part of life, and I, for one, thank you for your reminisces. The only other person I know of, but never met, was a little old lady, from British Columbia, who bought an early Austin Mini, and put over a million (mainly west coast) miles on it, with just regular servicing.

    Who remembers Donna Mae Mims? Who remembers her side-splitting story of losing first position to another competing Sprite/Midget driver, when he, in his RH drive car, pulled up beside her, and reached over and gave her a hug! Hugely entertaining.

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, pal, I know many older folks feel like us, but probably refuse to have a computer, if you can believe that, in this day and age. This site is all about memories, perhaps the grumbly ones don’t have those memories, and never will.

      Like 1
  7. joenywf64

    Poor man’s dash cover?
    Why are there 2 oil pressure gages?!
    https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/~SYAAOSw~kFioU51/s-l1600.jpg
    lol

    Like 1

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