Terrific Driver: 1973 Volvo 1800ES

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Volvo’s P1800 coupe astonished the competition, press, and customers alike when it arrived in 1961. Volvo’s staid reputation was suddenly in question thanks to the sporty P1800’s contemporary looks, 100 hp engine, and available overdrive. The new car was unlike anything Volvo had sold to date. After a long production run and many updates to the coupe, Volvo introduced a wagon, called the 1800ES, in 1972. The wagon had actually been on the back burner since 1965 when Fissore presented a fastback design, which was rejected. As the new decade opened, Volvo came around to the notion of a roomier vehicle more suitable to American lifestyles. Designers from Frua and Ghia submitted proposals for a four-seat estate wagon. The “Rocket” Frua prototype lives in the Volvo Museum in Sweden. The Ghia prototype held promise but was heavily altered by Jan Wilsgaard, Volvo’s chief designer. The new body was called the “Beach Car”, and it was a winner. Here on eBay is a usable example of this wagon, a 1973 Volvo 1800ES, bid up to $5322, reserve not met. The car is located in West Hartford, Connecticut.

By now, the stout 1986 cc in-line four-cylinder engine was fuel-injected courtesy of Bosch and produced 130 bhp. In Volvo parlance, this is the B20 engine. The seller notes that the car runs and drives very well, with strong acceleration, flawless shifting via the four-speed manual, and working overdrive. The brakes receive a passing grade and the seller notes the tires are good.

The interior is well-cared for, with new OEM dash panels from Sweden installed by the owner. The carpets are clean. The headliner is in average condition without tears but showing wrinkling and staining. The door pockets retain their elastic. All gauges and the radio work. New OEM sun visors, several new door and hood seals, and a new windshield washer unit are included in the sale. The jack and spare are present. The ES offered seating for four, and those rear seats are actually pretty comfortable. The seller reports that the clock does not work – whose does!

Underneath, we couldn’t ask for much better on a driver-quality car. Alas, no car can be perfect, and this one’s flaws are its paint and body. The seller has replaced the hood due to rust in the hinges which deformed the original panel. The hinges now work, the new panel was painted, and new underhood insulation is included. However, several panels have mismatched paint, surface rust is present in the quarter panels, and pinholes have formed in the sills. The frame and floors are said to be solid. Given these minor issues, this car is underbid at the moment. A new owner could do nothing more than install the new parts – or not! – and drive the heck out of it. What would you do if this one dropped into your driveway?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Frank Sumatra

    This a very nice example. But rust never sleeps.And if it does nod off, the alarm clock is set.

    Like 4
  2. BigDaddyBonz

    A very cool and unique car, worthy of a partial resto. Don’t have to get crazy, just clean up interior, nice paint and wheels. Get mechanicals safe and reliable. Not likely to be another at ‘Cruise Night’.

    Like 5
  3. Robt

    I’ve always wanted one of these.

    Like 5
  4. angliagt angliagtMember

    I heard that the steering was heavy on these.
    Any truth to that?

    Like 1
    • George BishopricMember

      The steering effort is high.

      I solved this on mine with an add-on electric power steering kit from EZ Power Steering in the Netherlands. Invisible, and makes the steering modern and light

      I have to laugh at the author’s description of the back seats as “comfortable.” Once you get there, not too bad, but not recommended for adults on long trips.

      Like 8
  5. JohnN

    Sold 2/13

    Like 4
    • Francisco

      Bid to $9100. Reserve not met 2/13.

      Like 1
  6. nohops

    According to the listing it didn’t meet reserve at $9100.

    Like 2
  7. Bill Potts

    A lovely car, one I couldn’t afford at the time. Another alternative, but not in the same league as this car was the 1976 Toyota Liftback. Very similar style, and not as much horsepower, but it did have a reliable reputation. I expect some sniggers with my comment, just saying. There’s really no comparison between the two, just the Toyota is a knock-off!

    Like 1

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