It's Classic Retrofit curiosity time! We're on the lookout for a classic Volvo P1800 to borrow for some measurements as part of some R&D project work. Our client is based overseas, so we can't use their car. We really just want to get a look under the dash of a P1800, to see how we could integrate our electric air conditioning system. Close to our base in Mayfield, East Sussex would be perfect. We're open to any ofers and of course all possible anti-COVID precautions will be taken.
Did you know that early P1800s were made in Great Britain? The prototype cars were shown in 1959, two years after the Volvo Sport: Volvo's first sports car, which had a body made of fibreglass-reinforced polyester.
The new car became known as the P1800, with later designations of P1800S and 1800E. The new sports car was marketed as having Italian styling by Frua - part of Ghia - but, in fact, it was styled by Sweden's Pelle Petterson (son of P1800 project leader, Helmer Petterson) under the guidance of Pietro Frua.
Production began in 1961. As Volvo did not have sufficient capacity to build the car itself, early production was carried out in the UK. Pressed Steel in Linwood, Scotland made the bodies, while final assembly of the cars took place at Jensen in West Bromwich, Birmingham. Jensen originally signed a contract for 10,000 cars, but the contract was ended after 6,000 cars due to issues with quality.
The Volvo P1800 was based on the shortened floorpan of the Volvo 121/122S. The car also had an entirely new 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder engine, which initially developed 100 bhp. Over the years, the car was developed primarily by the introduction of new engine alternatives.
In 1963, P1800 body production was transferred to Olofströmsverken in Sweden, while P1800 assembly was transferred to Gothenberg. The model now became known as the P1800S - S for Sweden.
In autumn 1968, a 2.0-litre engine with an output of 118 bhp was introduced. The later P1800E model came in 1969 - E relating to the now fuel-injected engine, which produced 120bhp. Series production ended in 1973, when Volvo built only the estate version to run out the range.
Total production of the 1800 line from 1961 through to 1973 was 47,492 units. We just need to borrow one for a few hours, so let us know if you have one available!