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Volvo P1800, S, E and ES (1961 - 1973)

Last updated 23 May 2017

Delightful to drive, useful in ES form - 'The Saint's' car will always be cool
They're known for rusting, variable build quality on the ES


The P1800 was a radical departure for Volvo. The conservative manufacturer of solid, well-engineered saloons took a stab at the coupe market - and did it very well indeed. The P1800 was designed by Frua and launched in 1960, and made very clever use of the P130 'Amazon' underpinnings.

It looked great, but performance failed to live up to the glamour - and that meant in order to keep buyers happy, Volvo continually uprated its engine (in parallel with the Amazon) mechanicals. Post-1963, the P1800S saw power increaed to 115bhp, which went up again to 130bhp for the P1800E.

In 1971, the 1800ES was launched - and in many ways is the most interesting of all these models. It was cast in the mould of the Reliant Scimitar GTE wih a shooting brake rear and glass hatchback. It was daring an idiosyncratic. The 1800ES ended up selling very well, especially as it had room for four - and their luggage - and a maximum speed of 115mph. And that made it a very individual proposition in the early 1970s.

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