At first Volvos weren’t boxy, and then they were. Now, once again, they aren’t. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe P-1800 is from the first non-boxy time, but will its price have you thinking outside the box?
If the closest you’ve ever gotten to a rodeo is a mechanical bull - and you’ve got the bruised inner-thighs to show for it - then you likely found yesterday’s 2002 Isuzu Rodeo to be a fine urban cowboy ride. Its Lancia Zagato on steroids style, and overall condition made its price seem favorable too, and it took home a narrow but sufficient 56% Nice Price win.
That Isuzu appealed by opening up its backend. Today’s 1972 Volvo P-1800ES does the same by extending its roof back there, turning it into a shooting brake.
The P-1800 was Volvo’s second attempt at a sports car, the first being the aborted P-1900 in the ‘50s, of which fewer than 70 were built. The P-1800 was far more successful, enjoying a model run that stretched from 1961 to 1973 and with nearly 50,000 cars produced over that time.
And it all almost didn’t happen. The P-1800 was designed by Pelle Petterson, the son of one of Volvo’s engineering consultants, while he was working at Frua. It was originally hoped that production duties for the car could be handled at Germany’s
Karmann-Karmann-Karmann-chameleon Karmann coachbuilders. Volkswagen was Karmann’s largest customer at the time and feared the Volvo taking sales away from their Karmann Ghia. That resulted in the German juggernaut pressuring the coach builder not to accept Volvo’s offer.
Volvo next shopped around the production contract, which eventually ended up at Britain’s Jensen. Pip-pip and cheerio, right? Well, not exactly. The Brits did such a horrific job at building the P-1800 that after two-years Volvo was forced to bring production in-house at their Lundby factory in Gothenburg. Those models were branded as the P-1800S, the trailing letter indicating just how Swede it is.
This one is an ES and it’s the two-door wagon variant, which make up only about 10% of the model’s total production. The wagon is an in-house design by Volvo stylist Jan Wilsgaard and features an all-glass rear hatch which would become the car’s most iconic detail. The E in the ES indicates that the engine is the 125-bhp fuel injected version of Volvo’s stout 2-litre B20.
This one is backed up by a Borg Warner 35 3-speed automatic and the car comes with what looks to be an aftermarket A/C making it about as ‘70s American import as you could possibly imagine.
Mileage on this ES is only a claimed 112,000, and it comes with a respray that presents well in the pics, as well as the need for a lot of little (or maybe big) work to be completed before this Volvo is ready for the road.
The car has apparently sat for a number of years which have left its mechanicals in disarray. The gearbox is said to have been rebuilt, and the engine to run - albeit poorly. The brakes probably need a full rebuild, including the master, and the tranny has a linkage that’s presently not linked to anything.
The parts for these issues are said to be included with the car, as are some interior parts, including a lower dash cap. The rest of the interior is a bit rough around the hedges, with the driver’s seat needing a new squab covering, and the cracked and wobbly dash a... well something to distract attention from it. An attempt has been made at that with a steering wheel cover that’s a crazy shade of blue. Other problems include a hatch that will latch but not lock, needing a new key, and an overall tired appearance both inside and in the engine bay.
Regardless, it looks to be a solid start, and everything needed could be handled by a reasonably competent driveway mechanic who’s willing to read the included manual. Plus it’s only $6,200. That’s a lot of cash for sure, but when we’re talking about the P-1800ES it seems reasonable.
Or does it? What’s your take on that price for this cool old Volvo? Does that seem like a screamin’ deal to get a shooting brake? Or, is that just too much for a brake with no brakes?
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