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gkelly3gkelly3 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • amazonamazon 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • amazonamazon 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    Yes, there aren't many cars you can have more fun with for a couple of grand.
  • mom19mom19 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.

  • 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • jono4jono4 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.
  • 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,375

    and get a print copy of

    Hemmings Motor News (

    This part should not be that hard to find.


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  • 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    A kitchen BEFORE an old car? What a perverse sense of priorities she has :)

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  • amazonamazon 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.
  • 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • 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 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.
  • 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 Posts: 293
    Never heard about it. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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!

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  • 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.
  • 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 CaliforniaPosts: 57,375
    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.

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  • lokkilokki 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...

This discussion has been closed.