Want An Affordable Spy Car? Try The Volvo P1800
Photography by Philippe Fortier
My dad has always been very fond of the extremely expensive—but proportionally perfect—Aston Martin DB5. One common point between the Aston and the Volvo was that they were both spy cars, having been both driven by Roger Moore in the James Bond movies and in The Saint television show.
That is when I decided I would be searching for a Volvo P1800 to be my father’s first classic car.
Reaching 50 years old, he was looking for a car that he could have fun with. I knew driving feel wasn’t the thing he looked for, so a Porsche or a BMW wasn’t really well-suited for him.
After a couple of months, I found the perfect one: a 1973 Volvo P1800 ES, from the last year they made it. Green, manual transmission tan interior, and amazingly, the car was located in Montreal, Canada, exactly one hour away from where we live.
We were pretty lucky to find a car that was made across only 8,077 examples in just two years. It also spared us the hassle of importing a car from the United States, where most of them were located.
That said, we bought the car in the middle of a Canadian winter and had to bring it home on a day where the roads were cleared from snow, ice, and salt—to immediately store it in the garage. It was a fun experience, as everyone on the road turned their heads at the sight of a classic car driving around in the snow.
He’s now had the car for almost two years, but plans on keeping it forever. It has been easy to maintain, and should stand the test of time considering it is one of the most reliable cars ever made. Irv Gordon’s P1800 sports the highest mileage of any car in the world.
The shooting brake configuration provides tons of space, but retains the fabulous lines designed by Pelle Peterson. It looks odd but clean at the same time, and is a real head turner. Unlike sports cars nowadays, this will make people smile at you. The unframed glass tailgate, reused by the Volvo C30 in 2006, provides easy access to the back of the car. The power is almost tractor-like, with a lot of torque down low. But it is very comfortable for long rides and cruising around.
So there it is. The Volvo 1800 is the perfect affordable spy car…at least for us!