Today’s Nice Price or No Dice 1800ES eschews Volvo’s boxy styling for a sexy and practical longroof coupe look. Let’s see if the price tag on this classic also makes it worth a second glance.
We’ve often been told that good things come in small packages, and while the 1974 Toyota Chinook we looked at on Friday was a pretty small package, it apparently wasn’t good enough to warrant spending $25,000 to own. That was the takeaway, at least, from its 78 percent No Dice loss.
You probably can’t lay down to sleep in this 1972 Volvo 1800ES, despite the seemingly commodious load area in the back. That being said, there’s still plenty to do with that space and there’s the wonderful and iconic all-glass hatch that Volvo so cleverly designed to access it.
The 1800ES started life as the P1800, a coupe that was designed with the American market in mind, positioned to be a competitor to Chevy’s Corvette. The coupe’s design was the work of Volvo designer Pelle Petterson with a little help thrown in from Italian designer Pietro Frua. Coming out of the tail end of the 1950s, the design featured a Ferrari-esque nose, sweeping side trim, and de rigueur, albeit constrained, fins in the back.
Volvo contracted Britain’s Jensen Motors to build the cars, with the model debuting for the 1961 model year. The model’s initial success was tempered by quality control issues at Jensen. That led Volvo to take production in-house two years later at the company’s manufacturing plant in Gothenburg, Sweden. At that point, the model was renamed the 1800S with the S standing for Superman… er, Sweden.
The coupe received another name change in 1970 when the S was swapped for an E with the advent of the 1800E. The E represented Einspritzung for fuel injection. Volvo chose to use the German word for fuel injection as the identifier rather than the Swedish bränsleinsprutning as the car used a D-Jetronic system from Germany’s Bosch.
That leads us to the 1800ES which offered the fuel-injected 1.8 liter B18 or—as in this car’s case—the 2 liter B20 edition of the same mill, and an extended roofline and cool all-glass hatch. What a beauty!
These were built for 2 years only, with Volvo deciding it would be too costly to adapt the decade-old design to meet emerging U.S. safety standards. Only a little over 8,000 were built over the course of those two model years.
This one, in dark gold over a biscuit interior, looks to be in terrific shape. The ad notes a solid chassis and claims only a few nicks in the paint. It rolls on later Virgo alloys which are wrapped in brand-new tires. Other updates include a new battery, all the fluids, and the upholstery on the front bucket seats. An aftermarket steering wheel is also noted, but that’s a less successful addition in my opinion.
As noted, the car comes with the B20 motor. That’s fuel injected as evidenced in the car’s name, and as fitted made 125 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque in U.S. guise. Behind that is a four-speed manual gearbox fitted with a Laycock de Normanville overdrive for blissful highway cruising.
In the ad, the seller says the car is “nicely sorted,” and claims it “Runs and drives well.” There are just 94,000 miles on the odometer and, as a related model gained fame for doing over one million miles, this one should prove fairly stout in the long term. The title is clean and the car runs Arizona antique car plates which have their advantages.
The seller asks $19,000 to take over ownership. That gets the prospective new owner a decent-looking classic that likely won’t cause a lot of headaches or extra expenses down the road. That being said, these cars have a very narrow audience. The traditional Volvo fans tend to be a little less enthusiastic about the 1800s since they aren’t all boxy and ironically cool. Others tend to discount them for their only fair-to-middling performance. That means we’ll have to carry the torch for this one and vote on whether we think $19,000 is the right price for that right buyer.
What’s your take on this clean and cool 1800ES and that $19,000 asking? Does that seem like a fair price for the car as it’s been presented? Or, does this longroof’s seller have a long road ahead of them?
H/T to Mike Pavlovic for the hookup!
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