Cyan Racing Resurrects The Volvo P1800 As A Badass Little Racecar

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Photo: Cyan Racing

I used to own a Volvo P1800, and I’ve always loved the look of the car because I am a human with a pair of functioning eyeballs. The proportions are just right, the amount of detailing and brightwork is restrained but has enough jewelry to keep you interested, and there’s plenty of nice details without cluttering the look. It’s just a wonderful design. The Volvo/Lynk & Co-focused racing company Cyan Racing agrees with me, which is why it built this fantastic Volvo P1800 Cyan, a 420 horsepower little restomod monster.

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Illustration for article titled Cyan Racing Resurrects The Volvo P1800 As A Badass Little Racecar
Photo: Cyan Racing

What’s interesting about this build is that it’s less of a stunt technology showcase car, and more like a little bit of alternate history. Here’s how Cyan describes it in their press release:

The original Volvo P1800 was unveiled in 1960, a year before the Jaguar E-Type, two years before the Ferrari 250 GTO and three years before the Porsche 911.

 “The Jaguar, the Ferrari and the Porsche are all cars with a continuation,” said Christian Dahl.

“That left us with inspiration to create what could have been if we as a race team had been there during the sixties, racing the P1800, and got to design a road version of our race car.”

“We have done that before with three of our race cars, the Volvo C30, the Volvo S60, when we were known as Polestar, and last year the Lynk & Co 03 Cyan. The Volvo P1800 Cyan is our interpretation of what could have been.”

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This is certainly interesting to think about because, despite all of its good qualities, the P1800 was never really considered to be in the same class as an E-Type or a 911 or a Ferrari, at least not performance-wise. Of course, the P1800 had the advantage of being very reliable and actually very useable as a fun daily driver, a thread I’m not sure Jaguar really would want to pull.

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Photo: Cyan Racing

Cyan started with a 1964 P1800 and re-worked the body a bit, giving it a wider track, larger wheelarches, and repositioned the greenhouse a bit. The body—which, notably, was all once piece on the original car—was reinforced with new high-strength steel and carbon fiber.

You can see some of the changes in this side-view comparison:

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Graphic: Cyan Racing/Jason Torchinsky
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The larger wheelarches are the most obvious change, and the greenhouse repositioning is very subtle, looking to be scooted rearward just a bit. Bumper heights and design has been changed a bit, becoming smaller and higher, and there’s more of a front air dam than before, when there was, um, none.

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Photo: Cyan Racing
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I especially like that the original lighting remains pretty much intact, and they kept the dash-mounted inside rear-view mirror. I remember that took a while to get used to on mine, but I ended up really liking it.

The car’s structure has been stiffened significantly, but the weight has been kept low, just 2,182 pounds.

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Photo: Cyan Racing

When it came to how to power the P1800, Cyan seems to have considered a number of options, including some period-correct ones:

While evaluating engines for the Volvo P1800 Cyan, we considered a wide range of Volvo engines, including the original B18, the ‘Red Block’ B230, the 5-cylinder ‘White Block’, the short inline 6-cylinder and the 4-cylinder VEA engine that power Volvos of today,” said Mattias Evensson.

 “The efficient and lightweight VEA (Volvo Engine Architecture) gave us the best base, also allowing us to transfer our experience from the different versions of the VEA that we have designed for our race and performance cars of the past decade.”

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It’s not surprising they went with a currently-selling engine architecture, both from a power-to-weight standpoint and, let’s be honest, a marketing standpoint.

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Photo: Cyan Racing
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Also, they moved the fuel filler and gave it a real cap, which is something my old P1800 desperately needed.

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Photo: Cyan Racing
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The power goes to the rear wheels like the original, through a specially-built five-speed gearbox from Holinger. A limited-slip differential and Cyan-designed independent rear are a pretty big step up from the original P1800's live axle.

Impressively, Cyan has decided to keep the car very mechanical and un-assisted; there’s no ABS, no traction control, no electronic helicopter parents hovering around and making sure you don’t get into trouble. You likely can get into trouble in this car, but it seems that the process of getting there will be incredibly satisfying.

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Photo: Cyan Racing

This isn’t a car designed to set lap records, it’s something designed to be a hell of a lot of fun to drive, and it sure looks like Cyan nailed it.

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Plus it looks incredible. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if these images, in those astoundingly clean workshops, were renders or real, but I asked a representative at Cyan and they insisted that yes, these are photographs of the real car.

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Photo: Cyan Racing
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This picture of the grille confuses me the most; Cyan says the grille is actually open and used for cooling air intake, with the lower mid-intake for the intercooler, and the lower right one for brake cooling.

I’d think I’d be able to at least see a hint of the radiator through there?

Well, they say these are real pics, and the car does look great, so I’ll take their word for it, because, of course, I want to believe.

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Oh, and if you want a bunch of specs to try and build your own from the P1800 shell you found behind that old warehouse, here you go:

Technical specifications

Engine

Aspiration: Turbocharged

Size: 2000cc

Number of cylinders: 4

Cylinder alignment: Inline

Valves per cylinder: 4

Bore x stroke: 82x93.2 mm

Compression ratio: 10.2:1

Maximum HP/kW: 420 hk/308 kW @ 7000 rpm

Maximum torque: 455 Nm @ 6000 rpm

Maximum boost: 2.7 bar

Maximum RPM: 7700 rpm

Fuel system: Direct injection

Turbo: Borg Warner EFR, ceramic ball bearings, gamma-ti turbine wheel

Exhaust: Dual tube stainless steel, twin catalytic converters

Transmission

Drive wheels: RWD

Gearbox type: Manual synchromesh helical cut dog leg

Number of gears: 5

Clutch: 200 mm, organic disc

Flywheel: Single mass steel

Prop shaft: Carbon fibre

Final drive: LSD with customizable ratio

Dimensions

Wheelbase: 2446 mm

Length: 4203 mm

Width: 1748 mm

Height: 1220 mm

Track front: 1466 mm

Track rear: 1489 mm

Fuel tank capacity: 57 litres

Suspension and body

Front: Double wishbone, adjustable camber, caster, toe and bumpsteer

Rear: Double wishbone, adjustable camber and toe

Dampers: Adjustable compression and rebound front and rear

Anti-roll bars: Tubular anti-roll bars front and rear, adjustable rear stiffness

Steering rack: Rack and pinion with adjustable ratio

High-strength steel and carbon fibre body

Roll cage made in titanium

Brakes

Front: 4-piston caliper, 362x32 mm disc

Rear: 4-piston caliper, 330x25.4 mm disc

Wheels

Front tyre size: Pirelli P Zero 235/40-R18

Rear tyre size: Pirelli P Zero 265/35-R18

Front rim size: 8.5”x18”

Rear rim size: 9.5”x18”

Centerlock wheels

Weight

Curb weight: 990kg

Weight distribution: F:R 47:53%

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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