There's a reason the Swedes didn't invent Buffalo Wings, and you won't find a Hëutters in Stockholm. Despite that disconnect, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Volvo sports a wing and is kind of hot, but is its price appetizing?
Did you know that in the movies, when they need to have a scorpion crawling all over an actor, they put a drop of super glue on the tip of its tail to keep the star from going tits-up from a errant sting? It's true. Also true is that yesterday's '77 Lancia Scorpion with a turbo kit went neither tits up nor Crack Pipe down, enjoying a stunning 88% Nice Price win for its trouble. Apart from that tidy turbo installation and kind of creepy-looking steering wheel, one of its selling points was originality. Today's car. . . not so much.
Volvo, yeah there are sporty versions of their boxy cars, ones that rock nervous turbos, and crazy fast wagons with incongruous rubberband tires and buttercup paint. But there's only ever been one Volvo Sports Car, and even in the case of that car, such a term must be applied only loosely.
The P1800 debuted in 1961, built not by Volvo, but by the English maker of all things impermanent, Jensen Motors, due to production constraint - or perhaps it was too many moose - back in Gothenburg. The Brits weren't just contract constructors of the Swedish sports coupe, they also added that quintessentially British of automotive features to the car, shoddy quality.
Those initial P1800s deliveries shocked the Swedes with their poor build quality – some being constructed entirely out of Papier-mâché, and one not even being a real car, but an old row boat containing a drunken Scot! Okay, I'm making that up, but truth be told, those early cars did suffer from build quality issues and Volvo cut Jensen off after only 6,000 cars had creakily rolled out of the company's West Bromwich factory. P1800 production was moved in-house to the land of the midnight sun, and things started looking up for the car, so much so that it even sprouted a cool sport wagon sibling.
Powering the P1800 was the B18 four cylinder – B for Bensin, or gas, and 18 for 1800-ccs – which also powered the concurrent Amazon. The B18 in the P1800 started out with a pair of inch and quarter SUs and 100 horsepower, but in 1970, Volvo jumped on the injection wagon with the 200-cc larger B20-powered E series. Those cars benefited from better drivability and 30-more horses. Today's car is just such an E.
Located in viva Las Vegas, this 1972 P1800 looks to have survived either a pre-teen's sleep-over, or a TLC reality program because it's had an extreme makeover. The dual speed stripes running the length of the car aren't too off-putting, but the trunk-mounted wing sure looks strange, and that, coupled with a set of faux wire wheel covers, and some weird Pep Boys stick-on vents, conspire for a look that could potentially make it Sweden's Next Bottom Model. Strip away the frippery and you begin to appreciate the clean design of Volvo's only sportster. The nose is reminiscent of an early Ferrari or Maserati, and you'll notice that the fenders have been leaded into the front clip for a seamless presentation. Along the flanks is the car's main styling excess, that of an up-curving accent line which meets a chrome-topped vestigial fin, itself representative of the design's ‘50s origins.
Inside, the brown wall to wall isn't as brown as it was when it left Torslanda, but the seats look unmarred and there's three pedals and a 4-speed stick shift to keep you busy when you're in there.
So there you go, the seller says it runs good and is a daily driver, with up to date smog and registration, and it doesn't look like any of the movable panels are hanging off it by a rusty thread, so it's got that going for it too. Plus it's a Volvo, and who doesn't like a Volvo? No one, right?
Of course, that doesn't mean that someone might not like this Volvo's price, and at $5,500, there's a lot of Benjamins with which to get upset. Or maybe not. What do you think, is $5,500 for this P1800 like the wind beneath its wing? Or, is that price as offputting as its wheelcovers?
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