Journal: The Volvo P1800 Was the Volvo Sports Car That Wasn't

The Volvo P1800 Was the Volvo Sports Car That Wasn’t

By Petrolicious Productions
September 4, 2013
12 comments

Volvo is best known for its tough and boxy sedans, but it’s always had a sporty side to its character. The Volvo P1800 was Volvo’s very first sports coupe (it began its sporty tradition with the PVS44 Sport), but the P1800 was never meant to be a super-fast sports car—it was actually be more of a smooth, grand touring machine. It was durable, practical, sturdy, and comfortable. It didn’t have utilize any single radical ideas, but rather it used elements that were long-established and had been proven worthwhile to create a car that looked like a sports car, with a strikingly individual appearance.

This car was for those who dreamt of owning a sports car but were all right with the idea of a sports car rather than an actual sports car. Volvo played to this in its advertising of the P1800 using headlines as follows.

“This car won’t do 150, it just looks like it will.”

“This is either the most expensive economy car in the world, or the least expensive Gran Turismo car in the world. We’ll sell you either one.”

“What’s it like to own a $10,000 car? Find out for $3,995.”

Some additional ads and brochures are posted below.

Image Sources: ebay.com, flickr.com, ebay.com, blog.64saint.com, ebay.com, mclellansautomotive.com, ebay.com, cartype.com, ebay.com, flickr.com, ebay.com

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Michael Fedun
Michael Fedun
3 years ago

I had a ’71 when in my mid- twenties, more years ago than I care to remember. Took some amazing road trips in it to both east and western Canada. Great highway car. Sold it in the mid 80’s. I still miss it.

Juan ADY
Juan ADY
7 years ago

I love those prices, inflation is weird.

Nils Wenzler
Nils Wenzler
7 years ago

Always loved them. My parents had one back in the day, unfortunately all that is left is the Manual that I found in the basement lately…

Jason Watt
Jason Watt
9 years ago

My wife and i recently bought our beautiful Jensen built 1963 P1800. It’s recognized as being the most original example in the UK, (one of only 20 Jensen P1800 Volvo’s on the road in the UK) with a genuine 40k engine. I’m 47 and it’s the second one I’ve ever seen on the road, so we were blown away when it came on the market. Pure serendipity that we had the money and were looking within a week of it being available.
As soon as we collected it, we drove into London to see friends…..what a reception.
At one point a fellah stepped out into the road as we were pulling up at a junction and put his hand up to stop us. As we came to a halt in front of him his brow furrowed and my wife Pearl asked me if there was a problem. Just as I was about to get out to look he started clapping and slowly nodding. My son Cedar (8) immediately freaked saying “He’s clapping the car daddy, he’s clapping our car!”
Just to let you all know, it drives smoothly at 80mph for as long as we want and was as fast or faster than all of it’s contemporary 4 cylinder engined rivals.
It’s a pleasure and a privelege to be the ‘custodians’ of such a great car. We prefer the country horn.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
9 years ago

Well, it’s not fast. Mostly an Amazon with a nicer body. However, I’d want one. With a factory tuned Volvo Competition Service Stage IV (180hp) engine, it would get decent performance. I much prefer the P1800 to it’s predecessor, the P1900 and I also think that the P1800ES (estate) looks quite cool. It’s a shame they never produced the successor, the 1800 ESC, because it looks quite cool in a corny 70’s way.

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman
9 years ago

this is still the best looking volvo ever, not the concept car pretender currently doing the media rounds.

Wayne Kile
Wayne Kile
9 years ago

I have always had a soft spot for P1800 coupes and sport wagons. Never owned or driven one, but hope to one day…lol. Such a great looking vehicle, and here in Florida at least, we don’t see many

Alan Mitchell
Alan Mitchell
9 years ago

Town and Country horn? Do want!

Steve Fitz
Steve Fitz
9 years ago

What is fascinating to me is how obscenely expensive the other cars in the ads have become and how the Volvo has in fact not done so. I do like the Volvo a lot, but history and snobbery have effectively called BS on their claims of being about as good as the others. You get what you pay for.

Shane Elliott
Shane Elliott
9 years ago

It made for a very attractive wagon as well

Noah Dudziak
Noah Dudziak
9 years ago
Reply to  Shane Elliott

I can’t argue with that, it was nice they used that styling feature in the C30. Too bad it wasn’t as attractive as the P1800 otherwise…

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
9 years ago
Reply to  Shane Elliott

Definitely, personally find the Estate version much cooler than the standard coupe.