The production of the svelte Volvo P1800 in the 1950s signified a major leap in the operations of the conservative Swedes. Volvo put more effort into the P1800 series after the P1900 series turned out to be a significant failure.

Focusing on producing a worthy sports car, Volvo’s P1800 was not only a great car for its time, it might very well be the best car to ever come out of Sweden.

The svelte Grand Classic P1800 was impressive right from the get go in performance and appearance. Even during its marketing, it was portrayed as the cheaper version of a sports car such as a Maserati, Mercedes or Aston Martin.

The rarity of the car and its exotic nature have been responsible for the Volvo P1800’s success over the years. The car has doubled down on Volvo’s reputation of reliability and quality.

The Grand Classic Volvo P1800 is often overlooked as a classic but it is fun and will not give you much trouble. Th pricing has also been a favorable factor allowing many to own a great ride for a great price.

History of the Volvo P1800

As stated above, the Volvo P1800 was a bold step for the car maker which was very small then. Since it could not handle the production of the P1800 series, Volvo outsourced production to Jensen, a company that was making bodies for English car maker Austin Healy.

The components of the vehicle were mostly made by Pressed Steel in Scotland. Such cross-border production was quite rare in the 1950s and 1960s.

The design work although attributed to Frua from Italy for the longest time, was actually the work of Swedish designer Pelle Patterson.

There were quality control issues with the P1800s built by Jensen. However, when production relocated to Sweden in 1963, there were changes made in appearance, performance and overall quality.

More Improvement

Changes made to the Grand Classic Volvo P1800 in the 1960s were mostly minimal. However, there were some significant alterations including the adoption of the 1986 CC B20 engine in place of the 1778-cc four-cylinder engine.

There were also significant improvements made to the power and efficiency of the Volvo P1800 series with the introduction of the 1800E in 1969. A three-speed automatic engine transmission was introduced the next year and in 1971, Volvo started using a plastic grill instead of a metal one.

There was also more plastic introduced to the interior after 1967. In 1971, Volvo reworked the 1800E series into a hatchback which had more room but was less practical. By 1972, the production of the Volvo 1800E series had slowed down to a halt.

The 1800E series had a beautiful shape with a svelte, massive rear glass hatch which gave it the nickname Snow White’s Hearse. However, the 1800E was never meant to be a long-term solution and by 1973 the Volvo 1800 series was nonexistent.

After Jensen ruined the first 6,000 cars to a degree, Volvo further built 24,000 of the 1800S model, 9400 of the 1800Es and 8000 of the ES models. Many of the 1800S cars were sold in America.

The longevity of the Volvo 1800 series was astounding and rare especially in the performance car industry. They could accumulate mileage in the millions and might very well be the world’s toughest and most reliable sport car.

Volvos 1800S model


Classic cars got really expensive in the early to 2010s and the Volvo 1800 series remained a hidden gem until then. However, since then they have largely remained stable.

1800E series Volvos trade for more than their 1800s counterparts. On the other hand, the 1800E series offers more value for money by comparison. It is quicker and has better performance but doesn’t offer much in terms of appearance in the interior or exterior. The earlier coupe 1800ES is much cheaper and costs significantly less than a hatchback version.

The svelte Grand Volvo P1800 series is an easy going, durable vehicle and a great option to join the Volvo community. You can move around in the Volvo P1800 series for a long time and look amazing all the while. Definitely recommendable, especially the 1800ES version. The reputation of the company keeps growing making it a great choice for its lovers.