The Volvo 1800ES is one of the best-loved station wagons to emanate from Europe in the 1970s, it was built on the foundation of the Volvo P1800 and the original design sketches had been labelled the “Beach Car” by designer Jan Wilsgaard.
Its two-door configuration coupled with the long “estate” rear means it’s classed as a shooting brake in Britain and many other regions, and this is the way many describe the 1800ES today. Just 8,077 examples of the model would be made and surviving examples are now popular with collectors.
Fast Facts – The Volvo 1800ES
- The Volvo 1800ES is based on the P1800, Volvo’s beautiful follow-on from the markedly less successful Volvo P1900. The P1800 was released in 1961, its looks were universally admired, and it remained in production until 1973 with over 47,000 made in total.
- The design of the P1800 had been penned by Swede Pelle Petterson and it would soon become a global icon thanks to its use by Simon Templar (Roger Moore) in the TV series “The Saint” from 1962 onwards.
- The P1800 shared its platform and drivetrain with the earlier Volvo Amazon. A car that would win the hearts of many thanks to its toughness and its long list of rally successes.
- The 1800ES was released in 1972 and only produced until 1973. It featured a long roofline with vastly increased interior space, and an unusual glass hatchback rear. Just 8,077 were made in total.
The 1800ES – A Volvo You Can Sleep In
The Volvo 1800ES is a car that enjoys cult classic status on both sides of the Atlantic and in many other regions. It’s one of the most mass-produced shooting brake designs of its time, if not the most numerous outright, despite the fact it was only made for two years with 8,077 leaving the production line.
Above Video: This is one of the more famous car chases from The Saint, the TV series starring Roger Moore and his Volvo P1800.
The unusual looking car was closely based on the Volvo P1800 which in turn had been based on the platform and drivetrain of the earlier Volvo Amazon.
The styling of the 1800ES was penned by Jan Wilsgaard, a Swedish designer who had beaten out designs by Italian automotive styling giants Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua.
The design kept the two door layout of the P1800 series cars but from the B-pillar back the roofline just kept going until it met with a Kammback rear and an all-glass opening rear hatch.
The rear seats of the car can be folded down to create a long flat cargo area, over the years many have used the car as a surf wagon as they could both store their surfboards in the back and sleep there to boot.
By 1973 the P1800 series styling was beginning to show its age and due to increasingly stringent emissions regulations in the USA it was clear the model’s days were numbered. It was axed in 1973 despite its popularity and today they’re much sought after.
The Volvo 1800ES Rally Car Shown Here
The car you see here is the 1800ES as we haven’t seen it before – set up for rally racing. Considering the fact that the P1800 series of cars share their platform with the Volvo Amazon, a car famed for its rally prowess, it’s perhaps a little surprising that more 1800s haven’t seen action on the dirt.
The car is a 1972 example of the Volvo 1800ES, the first year of production. It’s finished in light blue metallic, it has Volvo alloy wheels, and it came from the factory with a heated rear windscreen, Smiths gauges, manual winding windows, push-out front quarter windows, and standard heater and ventilation controls.
Later in its life the car was modified for rally and it’s clear that the job was done thoroughly. It’s now powered by a 2.4 liter B-series Volvo engine, a significant increase over the 2.0 liter original, the head has ported intake and exhaust ports, and it’s fitted with twin Weber carburetors.
During the rebuild improved valves, pistons, and connecting rods were used and the compression ratio was increased to boost power – as a result the engine now produces approximately 180 bhp and it requires premium higher octane gasoline.
On the front of the car you’ll find four Hella spotlights, a “Saint” grille badge, and a rally plaque holder.
Inside the car you’ll find a wood-rimmed Luisi steering wheel, a cut-off switch, exterior spotlight toggle switches, an aluminum passenger foot rest, Heuer Trackstar stopwatches, a route check gauge, a rally trip meter, and a MicroTim precision digital barometric altimeter.
The car is now being offered for sale out of Alkmaar in the Netherlands on Collecting Cars, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
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