Volvo P1800 Buyers guide

Read this before you buy a Volvo P1800 P1800S or P1800ES

Volvo P1800 buyers guide

I would say the production of the Volvo P1800 can be divided in three series or periods if you like. The first period being the cars Manufactured by Jensen in U.K. The second period will be the S model. And even though many people would like to think that S is for sport, it is actually when the assembly of the cars where moved to Sweden. The last period of the Volvo P1800 would be the Volvo P1800E models divided in P1800E and P1800ES.

1961-1962 P1800 Jensen

The Volvo P1800 where during this period built in England by the Jensen factory and you refer to P1800 Jensen up to chassi 6000. The output was 100hp and if you have ever driven a Jensen car you would agree that these cars feels very different from the ones that came later. Some of the first cars did not have overdrive as later became standard. They have different seats in the front and just two small pillows in the back and a small compartment. Rust protection did not exist on these cars and already after 10-15 years many of them where rusted out. That is the reason it is so difficult to find a good early car today. Since the value has been so low for many years a complete restoration of the complex body would exceed the value of the car. If you can find a good one these are fantastic cars!

1963-1969 Volvo P1800S

Now the cars where built in Sweden and many people prefer these cars for that reason. Personally, I do not think they got any better. The bodies where still from U.K and it was not until around 1967 they started to use Swedish steel. Now the horsepower of the engines started to come up and in 1969 the B20 was introduced, but short lived in carburetted version. When you have driven many Volvo P1800 cars you start to notice there is a big difference in power. The reason for this I think is that when the original engine was done the owner went to the scrap yard and there it was a lot easier to find a B18 engine from a Volvo Amazon. Not realizing that the Amazon had much lower output due to another camshaft, smaller valves and lower compression. If the head and the camshaft was moved over it still has the same power. In 1967 the side trim became straight and many wants the cars before 1967 for that reason. I prefer the look after 1967 since the car then looks a little longer and sleeker. Also, the power was up a little from 1967 to 115hp. I have one P1800S for sale right now here

1970 Volvo P1800E

So finally it was time for fuel injection and the power came up a little more again. The E model is a much better car to drive on any day. Better seats, more power, better brakes. But unfortunately, now it has lost many of those charming features it had when it was young. The dashboard is rather boring with the black instruments on that fake wood panel. There were some different styles on the wheels, and I would prefer the early P1800E models with clover leaf wheels. Then we have the Volvo P1800 ES. Well I guess it started a trend of its own with a small wannabe kombi.

Avoid:

  • American cars with automatic gearbox.
  • Rusty cars that have been poorly restored (there are many of these)
  • Some small bubbles on the rocker panels normally means it is all rusted out inside.
  • Instruments are often broken; they can be repaired but it takes time and is expensive.

Otherwise everything is easy with Volvo P1800 cars. The engines are bullet proof and costs peanuts to rebuild. Pretty much all other parts are available and not expensive. There are a few items that are getting rare though. Such as a nice original steering wheel, or original good seat belts. With some parts the original holds much higher quality than aftermarket parts. Such as side trim for the front fenders, trim around the windows on the early cars. In my opinion they are all a little bit underpowered but that can easily be fixed. I try to always have at least one Volvo P1800 for sale. Check here in the “classic cars for sale”

More info on the Volvo P1800 club pages here

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