1973 Volvo P1800ES

Illustration for article titled 1973 Volvo P1800ES

Welcome to Found Off The Street, our look at cars found on the cape that rust liked so much it decided to summer there; Cape Cod, MA. Today we have a 1973 Volvo P1800ES

Last week's FOTS rust cheating 1979 Jeep CJ-7 was somewhat unloved for its modifications and price. This week let's take a look at a vehicle that is a little rustier and a lot rarer than the CJ-7, a 1973 Volvo P1800ES. This interesting offering from the Swedish car company doesn't have a lift kit or a single aftermarket light on it.

The first Volvo P1800 was produced in September of 1960 after first being shown to the public at the Brussels Motor Show in January that year. Interestingly enough, the first P1800s were almost entirely built in England by Jensen Motors under contract from Volvo. Quality concerns brought production back to Sweden in 1963 after only 6000 cars. The return to Sweden was signified by the addition of an s to the end of the P1800's model name.


Before production returned to Sweden in 1962, a white P1800 received a role alongside future Bond Roger Moore on a British TV show called "The Saint". During The Saint's 6 season run, the show became very popular and both Roger Moore and the P1800 rose to a previously unknown level of fame. The P1800 was selected to be The Saint's Car only after Jaguar refused to provide an E-Type.

A total of 47,484 P1800s were made throughout their 12 year model run. Of the 47,484 made, 8,077 were the coupe station wagon or shooting brake ES versions of the P1800 like the car seen here. The ES model was produced for only the last two years of P1800 production and in 1973 was the only version of the model available. The ES featured an all glass tailgate, 2+2 seating, and a 125 Horsepower Inline 4 engine that was slightly detuned from the previous version for increased usability. For 1974, instead of redesigning the quirky P1800ES to meet increased US safety standards, Volvo decided to end P1800 production.

This particular P1800ES has spent a good part of the last decade off the street, which likely explains why this vehicle is a little rusty instead of very rusty. P1800 Volvos and especially P1800ES's are somewhat rare no matter where you are, especially on the cape that rust remembered. Like many cars of their era, P1800s didn't take a lot of encouragement to start rusting, contributing to a low survival rate.

During this Volvo's time off the road, it hasn't exactly been living the easy life. As you can see from these pictures, this Volvo has spent it's time sitting outside, exposed to the harsh coastal New England weather. The Volvo's owner has had the car for quite a while and the car has seen road use under his ownership. The MA inspection sticker expired in 1999 which is likely the last time the car drove down the road under its own power. Likely distracted by the variety of old cars, boats and motorcycles the Volvo's owner has to play with, this old half wagon/half coupe was put aside.

I first saw this P1800ES 6 or 7 years ago, and besides being relocated a couple miles down the road, not a whole lot about the car has changed in that time. The idea of rowing through the gears while driving the old car certainly isn't any less appealing. Although the P1800ES unquestionably needs some cosmetic and mechanical restoration, it isn't anywhere near too far gone. Whether it will be the current owner or someone else who brings this old Swede back to life, I certainly think hope it will make a return to the road someday.

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"For 1974, instead of redesigning the quirky P1800ES to meet increased US safety standards, Volvo decided to end P1800 production."

Not sure what was different as far as safety standards for '74 vs. '73. 1973 was the first year of a bunch of safety crap including the 5 mph bumpers, which most car makers handled quite poorly. It looks like Volvo might have just reinforced the existing bumpers, set them further from the sheet metal and mounted them on cylinders or friction boxes. Still looks much better than other car's protection bars of that era.

I would suspect poor sales was more of a factor in stopping production.