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Want An Affordable Spy Car? Try The Volvo P1800

By Philippe Fortier
November 4, 2015
8 comments

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!

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8 Comments on "Want An Affordable Spy Car? Try The Volvo P1800"

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Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom

Great car. I’d love to have one. But Roger Moore never drove an Aston Martin DB5 as James Bond (although he did as “Roger Moore” in Canonball Run) nor did he drive a Volvo 1800ES as Simon Templar.

Edward
Edward

Bravo! What an amazing car you got there! Best era for Volvo

Louis Fortier
Louis Fortier

Excellent article!
Sorry to break the news : Your father really is a Spy.

JsT Fartin
JsT Fartin

That AM-powered 1800 is pretty but, if I remember other articles I’ve read, it performed quite poorly. BTW, I’ve a couple of very ratty 1800ESes and, in keeping with the international espionage theme, they fly through border crossings as the inspector can easily view the entire interior 😉

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Ahem .. errr … ahhhh .. cough … sputter .. hmmnn .. how to sat this …

PS; So we can assume said Border Crossings are unaware of the ‘hidden ‘ compartment(s) in the P1800ES ? Ooops ! A bit of the devilish past coming to the forefront perhaps ? .. And ahhh … err … once again the P1800ES has no Spy Car history . Again … that was the ES’s sister car … the P1800 that hogged all the on screen [ small screen actually ] glory

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
The best article .. as well as one of the one’s no longer accessible on the ‘ Net ‘ is the one written by Beat Roos himself [that was on his company’s website ] going into great detail about the history of the car as well as all the efforts he and his crew took to restore it along with all the hoops they had to jump thru to make it work the way it was supposed to . Mr Roos placing all the blame on AM’s lack of engineering expertise back then as well as their aforementioned pathetic quality… Read more »
Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

Very nice car, Philippe. But if you want to really impress your father, get him this one.
http://www.topgear.com/car-news/classic/aston-martin-engined-volvo

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
1) Amen Mr Anigbo . Aint it amazing though for all the so called sophistication and supposed accessibility of the ‘ Net ‘ not one solitary in depth story about this incredible piece of Volvo /Aston Martin history can be found ? Not on Roos Engineering CH’s site [ they restored and own the car ] .. not on Octane [ who did a four page spread in their Aston Martin MagBook ] .. nowhere . Disgusting that we have to resort to the the minimal blurb in TG you posted . For those who do not know … the… Read more »
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