gkelly3gkelly3 Member Posts: 38
Another one for Mr. Shiftright: I generally don't
like VOLVOs, except for the late P1800 (wagon).
That was a car with a different look-even today, it
stands out! What are my chances of finding one in
good condition, and do they stand to appreciate?
Also, belive that they came with the B21 engine,
which is a pretty good powerplant. The rear window
really intrigued me-the glass was hinged directly
to the frame-does anybody do that today? Did a lot
of owners wind up smashing their rear windows?


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Oh, there's no scarcity of P1800 wagons. They are enjoyed by a small number of enthusiasts, and as such the supply and demand remain constant, so the prices kind of creep along with inflation. I wouldn't expect any big increases in value, no, but if you bought a nice one at a fair price and took care of it you probably wouldn't lose any money.

    They are sturdy cars but not sportscars in any sense of the word. A bit slow and heavy, very reliable, rather noisy, but a decent attractive and distinctive older car that you could easily use every day and stay warm and dry in.

    Mechanical parts are generally available, but any kind of body, trim and glass part will cost you through the nose.

    I believe the last P1800s used the B20E engine, not the OHC B21.
  • evilpancakewomevilpancakewom Member Posts: 35
    Volvo is apparently coming out with a Volvo S60.
    The S60 is suppose to replace to S70.
    Get all the latest information at:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I'm hiding the above post not out of ingratitude but because it is off-topic and when you go to the site they throw pop up advertisements at you. So beware.

    I think Volvo styling i getting better, but to the P1800s credit, it was just about the only Volvo in the last 50 years that can some real dinstinction and humor to it...well, I take that back...the old 444 and 544 turtlebacks were pretty cute. But the 120s 140s 240s 700s etc. were pretty dull stuff.
    Now Volvo has finally seemed to have hired a styling department. I wish them good fortune and hope they'll try even harder.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    The P1800 is a great car. Nice styling, affordable, easy to work on. In stock shape, theyt weren't too quick, but this can easily be taken care of. Re-jet the carbs, get a better head, and install a slightly bigger cam, and you'll have a great performer.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well, you'd have to do something about the handling, too, but places like IPD make all kinds of modifications...I myself would throw the Stromberg carbs over a fence and use the SU-type...the B20E head is a great idea, and the better cams (Volvo stock cams of that era were really quite junk metallurgically speaking)...then sway bars, good shocks, throw away the silly oil cooler (leaks all the day long), get stronger u-joints (they are too small) and figure out a way to hang the exhaust system so it doesn't fall off (I mean, rubber bands? Geez Louise). Oh, got to do something about that fiber timing gear, too.

    So if you can work on all those weak points you can make a pretty decent car out of the P1800...I rode in one that had about $10,000 in mods and cosmetics and it was a great ride. But the guy really went through it and got rid of the inherent problems, which are undeniably annoying.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    You're right about the handling. It's not bad for a 60's car, but obviously won't compare with todays cars. The U-joints are good for up to 150hp, and i think that the fiber timing gear is fine as long as you don't use a bigger cam than the K- cam (from a late B20E). I'va never had a problem with the exhaust system falling off, have you?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I just remember some friends experiences in their shop that specialized in Volvos...they had barrelfuls of bad camshafts, buckets of bad u-joints and lots of twisted exhaust piping (those big rubber doughnuts either broke or stretched so much that the exhaust clanked and clattered whenever you hit a bump....I think the exhaust system problems were worse in the sedans, but he u-joints were pretty lame...I mean, look at them, they are TINY....of course, lubricating them once in a while would have helped!

    The fiber gears got sloppy and messed up the timing...this is why so many old Volvos are always pinging...I always thought the later P1800E was a much improved car...better styling, better engine (head), better fuel delivery, better electrics, etc...

    Also the overdrive transmission in the P1800 is something you want to be careful with...many people tear out the planetary gears backing up in reverse while in overdrive...and I've taken just two apart---they are very tricky little devils to rebuild.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression tha 1968 is the last year for the 122. So a 1970 would be a 140 series which is supposed to have a B20 engine.

    If it's a misregistered 122 sedan updated to a B20 engine from a B18, this is a common conversion. Best would be a B20 with the B20E (injected) head, with bigger valves, and SU rather than stromberg carburetors.

    As for value, usually any restoration would result in a loss, but the 122 is a very useful, sturdy car so I could see paying $3,500-4,500 for a really, really sharp one all tricked out.

    If you like older Volvos, you might find the 544 very entertaining, as it is lighter and perhaps more nimble than the 122 model, and IMHO, prettier.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    No 1970 model 122 in the USA, or 1969s, so say all the big books on the subject.

    But could very well be a Euro doesn't really matter, it won't affect value one way or the other. The only 122s worth a fair sum in the US are very clean wagons and the 123GT, otherwise, nobody much seems to care about these least not the collector car market as we see it today.

    Nonetheless, I like these cars and think they are terrific automobiles. What I'm saying is don't pay too much for one, because you won't get that money back, except in enjoyment.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Yes, there aren't many cars you can have more fun with for a couple of grand.
  • mom19mom19 Member Posts: 1
    I bought a ratty, neglected, worn-out 1963 P1800 in 1971 and drove it for another 11 years; hard to tell how far, since the odometer (love those Smiths' gauges!) was almost always on my desk in some stage of repair, but we crossed the country together a few times and I drove it every day until boats, dogs and babies forced a replacement. I probably added at least 200,000 miles to the 155,000 it came with.

    The goofy SUs overflowed regularly, and the rear end had an annoying whine. Mechanics often told me the differential should be replaced right now. I never did get around to doing that. The car would telegraph me, loud and clear, before anything needed serious attention and it was only on the back of a towtruck twice: once when I locked my keys in the trunk; once when, after a week's fair warning, the water pump failed and stuck the fan through the radiator.

    The car never put a foot wrong in all those years and miles. I learned to fix cars on that car, and still complain about how stupid complicated newer engines are.

    We used to beat Porsches through curves, just because I was so used to the car. Now, after a fine new Subaru, a Pontiac, a lovely Benz and a Jeep, I'd give almost anything to have my P1800 back.

  • didihearatapdidihearatap Member Posts: 2
    1968 P1800s-Got it with 80,000 miles, the usual rot but overall nice condition, did the necessary repairs to stop the rust got new disks drums calipers, and actually a bunch of ext chrome way back when, but the stagnent value of the car has caused it to remnain on blocks in my garage all these years. Personally I think this is the best model and year made with the jade green and chrome gauges, rear view mirror on the dash, gas cap ontop the rear fender and the blue white paint with black interior as well as the fact is is still a true 1800cc engine. Who knows what I'll do with this car, I mean fun is fun but investing 1 dollar less then 10,000 will haunt me forever and Volvo itself dropped the line of selling old parts so Im really quite undecided.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well, the car isn't likey to be worth a lot in the future so if you restore it you'll have to do it for love. These are very sturdy and reliable cars, and interesting to look at, but they are coupes, eccentric, heavy, not very fast nor good handling, and the driving position is unfortunate. So the market niche is narrow. Most people looking for a good cheap sports car would chose an MGB or Alfa or some such car in the $5K-$8K market because of the inexpesnive and plentiful aftermarket parts available and the open-top aspects.

    You should, however, EASILY be able to find all the mechanical parts you need to fix up this car. The big problem is body and chrome pieces, which can set you back a bundle, and the gauges, which don't work well and are expensive to fix. Also, the overdrive unit is tricky to repair.

    I'd say given the condition of the car this would be a great time to bail out if you can get any kind of decent offer. Then perhaps you can find one that's more together, maybe a later fuel-injected sport wagon, which is in many ways a better car than the older coupes.
  • jono4jono4 Member Posts: 8
    I am 53. My first car was a 1962 P1800. Second car was a 1968 P1800. Third and fourth cars were 1800's. The '68 was not as good as the others. That I fell asleep at hte wheel and totalled it has no relation to the car. In fact, I would bot be here or in good health but for the car. Been Volvo-less for decades. Occassionally see them at shows. Heart skips a beat. Hearing your stories makes me jealous but not enough to do anything abu it.
    I hope you continue to enjoy your vehicles.
  • khoguekhogue Member Posts: 1
    My name Is Kate and I'm looking for a headlight Bezel for my dad's 1969 P1800. I kind of wrecked the side of the car in an accident a few years ago and my dad has never been able to find a replacement fo the bezel. If anyone has any contacts or knows where I can find some parts, please e-mail me. My dad LOVED his P1800. Thanks.

    [email protected]
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482

    and get a print copy of

    Hemmings Motor News (

    This part should not be that hard to find.

  • dugtamdugtam Member Posts: 4
    My first car was a 67 1800s which I under appreciated and abused. I knocked the slave cylinder off the bell housing in the woods and speed shifted it (a four speed like a hot knife thru butter)for two months till I found out it was easily tig welded back on. Had a 64 but the restoration never happened and she was parted out. All I have left are a set of wheel covers that look like they were from a 57 plymouth. But those cars led me to a 125 amazon, a 164 and my first new car, an 82 245. My 745 has 230,000 miles and
    I'll need something else for the daily NY commute.
    But some day, after my wife gets her new kitchen, I dream of a red 1800es...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    A kitchen BEFORE an old car? What a perverse sense of priorities she has :)
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Yes, the M40 transmission is a truly great one. I did it also, when the clutch main cylinder was leaking. No problem. These trannies aren't the strongest in the world, but enough for around 150 hp.
  • stratissinostratissino Member Posts: 9
    I kinda like the P1800, even its oddly pretentious styling but the 544 was such a fun car.It makes me sad every time I see one rusting away in a yard.The best thing about mine was the gravel road handling.The front wheels would turn almost as far as a London taxi which meant that you could hang the tail out to ludicrous angles and keep it there with 80 roaring horsepower!But it was always needing balljoints, etc.(all that dirt tracking?)and on pavement it was a little spooky when the panhard rod at the back would do some of the steering just when you didn't need it.The SU carbies were responsive and gave no trouble.Plus there were just so many quirky and endearing things about it like the odd three point belts (in 1964!), the 28 inch long gearshift with a male biological/Volvo symbol on it, the late 40s type styling, the snug and secluded rear seat where you were invisible to passing police cars.In short it was second only to the VW bus as flower child transport. The P1800 wouldn't hold a candle to it from what I can tell.It's smaller, seats only 2 and has a smaller trunk but it's heavier.It has a larger engine but it's slower.I don't get it.Did they put lead in the sills or what?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I'd agree...the 544 is more of a sportscar than the P1800 in terms of how it feels and handles. I've seen P1800s get up and go, but only when well-modified. Bone stock they are a bit of a slug to drive, not much fun at all IMO.

    Man, Volvo sure missed the boat by not exploiting the "sport wagon" concept in the 1970s...a very popular concept right now in the marketplace.

    I love 544s...I think it's one of the greatest little cars ever made (B18 engine ONLY!) and very under-rated. They are tremendous fun to drive, and you can buy a really really nice one for under $5,000.
  • stratissinostratissino Member Posts: 9
    I reviewed my facts a little and apparently my 544 had 90bhp rather than 80.The P1800 with the same 1800cc engine in a higher state of tune had 100hp but in a 300lb. heavier body(!?).To be fair, according to my old Road&Tracks the P1800 accelerated slightly faster once past 60mph, but just barely, and had a higher top speed.Were those B-series engines derived from a British engine by the way?The early P1800s had their bodies made in England by Jensen, I think.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    The "BI" in B18, B21, and so on comes from the Swedish word for gasoline- Bensin. The diesel engines were consequently named DI##. The B18 is a Swedish design.
  • egkellyegkelly Member Posts: 17
    I believe that a few P1800 coupes were assembled in Israel, under the name "Sabra Sport". I'm quite sure that this venture was unprofitable, but does anybody know of any automobile assembly going on in Israel? A country of 6 million people ought to be big enough for indigenous auto assembly-heck Sweden is only 9 million, and they have two (Volvo and SAAB).!
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Never heard about it. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I have defintely heard of a Sabra from Israel, but I don't recall it looking anything like a Volvo P1800...damn, don't have my books with me..
    quick, somebody do a Google Search!
  • stratissinostratissino Member Posts: 9
    The Sabra was a British Reliant assembled in Israel.I am pretty sure.Reliant had a similar license production deal in South Africa at around the same time, called GSU...GSM or something.
  • bigbozerbigbozer Member Posts: 22
    There is a blue P1800 Station Wagon in a driveway near my home in Davis, Calif. Everything is there and the car looks original. The tires are inflated. But it has not moved in the last 5 years at least. Only the front oval grill is missing. If anyone is interested I can get the contact information. Not too far away there is another enthusiast who has three P1800 Coupes! Only one of which is in continous use.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    The missing grill is a is rare and man oh man , it isn't cheap if you can find one.

    Sounds like close to a parts car...five years of outside storage really screws a car up.

    My motto with buying an old Volvo is: if it has been hit hard, is rusted, or has a torn up interior, take a walk on the car.
  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    You gotta love this 'Motorbase' site; they have everything... Whatever these things were based on it wasn't a P1800 for sure...

    I kinda like the name Sabra Camel - the sport isn't bad though...

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I didn't think would have been an expensive platform to use.

    One misconception about this car is that the engine is a "tractor engine". This refers to the 3 bearing B16 engine, not the B18/20/20E engine used in the 1800 series. The B18/20 is a much stronger engine, virtually indestructible really, if you make sure to change the water pumps and fiber timing gears, which are weak points in the engine's "accessories". Also, the oil cooler is a bit of a joke.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    With today's oils, you don't need it anyway, unless your engine is making significantly more HP than stock.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    It's where they put it that's the joke...on the side of the engine, near the firewall....great place for airflow, huh? Also, it's about as tiny as a tea cup. All it does is leak very efficiently.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    What's it like to get behind the wheel and drive an old 122 or P1800?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Umm....sorta nice in a vintage kind of way. The 122 coupes are fairly lively, with a sturdy (but noisy) engine, decent handling and brakes, and a nice shifter/gearbox (big long shifter, lot of fun). Very reliable and well-built car.

    The P1800 is a bit of a tank for a "sports" car. Probably the most discouraging thing on it, aside from the fact that it has the exact same engine as the sedans, is the driving position--you feel like you are sitting on the floor, and the door sill is about at your ear level. The nose feels very heavy and the car is noisy. But there is a very solid feel to everything. None of the dash gauges will work more than 3 months and the overdrive is a British unit, delightful when it works, but expensive when it doesn't. If you should accidentally back up while still in overdrive, you have just ruined the transmission. (they don't always tell you that...).

    My choice would be the 122 coupe over the P1800, but the P1800 is more interesting to look at, and so I can see why some Volvo lovers would prefer that over my choice.

    The ideal would be the 123GT, which is a 122 with overdrive and a few options. Best of both worlds!
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,388
    In the Volvo that I owned (which was a 164E, not a P1800) overdrive was electrically locked out except in high gear. Was it different in the 1800 or is there a story behind how you managed to get into reverse overdrive?

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    My understanding is that the locking would fail. It was not fail-safe.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Is making me want to find another PV544.

    They are VERY far and few between around here.

    A few years ago, I drove a long way to look at one that was supposted to be "near perfect".

    It was a rusted out pile of garbage!

    Still looking....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    They are worth looking for. I can't hardly think of a more fun, more reliable 2 door coupe from the 60s. Very charming car. You can't steal 'em anymore though, but they also aren't an easy sell at high prices. I'd think you could hammer down a nice one for around $3,500.

    Main weaknesses are:

    clutch control rod linkeage wears out almost for certain (just weld in a washer to regain original hole diameter for clutch pedal pivot)
    Fiber timing gears in engine will strip (no harm done, though, engine just stops). When replacing gears, be careful in prying off the gear, you could break the end of the camshaft.
    Water pumps often leak. Buy a good European one.
    U-joints are very small and need replacement often--no one ever lubes them.
    Muffler falls off because they are only held on with rubber donuts.
    SU carbs are great but some monkey has messed them up I bet. Readjust according to book or have them rebuilt.
    Install some under dash gauges to replace the ones that won't be working on the dashboard.

    Otherwise, engine and driveline are pretty indestructible.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Late B20 (after 1973) bored out to B22
    SU carbs fixed up with KD needles
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Check this out. You might find something you'll like.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Hmmm...the guy asking $7,500 is going to own that car for a long time, but the Seattle owner is more realistic. The old one not running since 1987 with rust sounds like a money pit to me.
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    Yes, some of these asking prices are.... well.... unrealistic. There's a 123 GT there also (drooling) , but it's just way too expensive.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I think these guys confuse "rarity" with "value". The two don't always go together, and they can't expect the market to bail them out if they went overboard on the restoration budget. Still, the better the car, the better should be the price realized. I'd pay top market price for a well-done car, but not twice market price. I'd sooner just wait him out or wave cash in his face.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Having trouble with the door latches on both of the PV 544's I owned. Sound familiar?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    I noticed in an earlier post that you discussed the 140 and 240 series as being built of low-quality materials. Were you talking about the bodies, interiors, or both? The materials quality is what made my father choose the 850 over the 240 and 940 when we were looking at Volvos in '97. To me, the 850 has better fit and finish than either the 240/940. What do you think? I know you praise any type of Volvo, like I do.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Yes, I meant the interior plastics, the paint, the knobs and switches, all pretty low grade stuff. But the car itself was built very sturdily, even though the 140s/240s had their glaring weaknesses. What always puzzled me about 60s 70s-80s Volvos is that they kept making the same defects year after year after year. Maybe it was because they were undercapitalized, I don't know. But you just couldn't keep a camshaft of muffler or u-joint or water pump in a Volvo for very long. I think the fit and finish of their cars vastly improved in the 90s, as you noted.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    I do have reason to believe that they were undercapitalized years ago. Compared to the giant GM, Volvo has never had the funding or resources to make new models year after year. And that's why my father would never go near a Volvo during the 1980s; he heard so much about the defective parts!
  • amazonamazon Member Posts: 293
    I disagree with you on this. Yes, the interiors were not high class, but tell me which car (except BMW and MBz) were?

    Regarding camshafts, I never heard (in Sweden or elsewhere) that the OHC engines had a problem with the cams. I know that the B20 engines had this problem in the early 70s, though.

    I do not agree with you on the muffler issue and the waterpump issue. These items have been just as good as any other brand.

    Regarding U-joints, the 122 and early 140 series U-joint (the small one) is easily good 'til 150 hp. I never had to replace a U-joint in any of my Volvos.

    The problem, as I see it, with the older Volvos are performance related. The 240's got MPG in the low 20's back then. At the same time, these cars were really slow.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well, I dunno. When I worked on cars, we had barrelfuls of Volvo camshafts from B18s and 20s. Yes, you are right the OHC wasn't a problem but I don't think I meant to say it was. The mufflers on 70s/80s Volvos are held on by a rubber donut system as you know, and once these break most oblivious Volvo drivers don't replace them, so the pipes vibrate and break off.

    The 240s interior squeeked and rattled like a NY taxicab, and you really needed a bucket to hold all the knobs that fell off them. True, many 80s cars were not much better, but as you say BMW and MB were, and they were Volvo competitors. So my point was that Volvos weren't up to snuff on interior quality. And you can't find an 80s Volvo leather interior that isn't demolished. They must have used marmot hide or something.

    Yep, you said was the performance issues that were the worst aspect of the cars. They really were cows on the highway. Of course, you could improve that with substantial investment, as some P1800 owners have done. I don't see much point in trying to modify a B21 engine.

    But people did like their older Volvos boxy roominess and general level of reliability. They were a faithful and useful car as long as you could tolerate lots of little annoyances.

    Basically, though, I think their reputation is rather overblown, like Saab and BMW of that period. They just looked good compared to the dreck produced in America in the 1980s.
This discussion has been closed.