Volvo isn’t a manufacturer that anyone would associate with the word ‘sporty’. Come to think of it, Volvo also isn’t a manufacturer that has ever offered anything resembling the word, unless in the form of a hot estate. The Polestar 2 is probably the closest offering today, however once upon a time there was a proper Volvo sports car, and it was actually rather good.
The 1800 was released in 1961 and boy did it look the part. Unlike anything to come out of the Swedish company at that point, it was obvious how hard they had worked on chucking some Italian flair into the mix. Throw in an utterly bulletproof 1.8-liter engine, then later a 2.0 liter, and you have one of the most useable classics to come out of the sixties, and seventies, and possibly of all time.
These engines were so robust and trustworthy that one example has the accolade of having the Guinness Book of World Records title for the highest mileage car on the planet. The 1966 1800S’ owner, Irv Gordon, bought the car in 1966 and by 1987 had already breached the million mile barrier. By 2013 the car had racked up a staggering 3 million miles.
So, it has the charm, the reliability and the looks. How about some screen time too? When the Jaguar XKE was launched in 1961 naturally there wasn’t much wiggle room for anyone else to pipe up at the Geneva Motor Show. Volvo were launching the P1800 too, and The Saint, featuring Sir Roger Moore, was in the midst of filming ready for launch in 1962. Jaguar was offered the opportunity to donate some E-Type but strangely declined. Sad times for them it seems, as the producers then approached Volvo who were more than happy to oblige, and enjoyed screen time lasting nearly the lifecycle of the car.
How about this quasi shooting brake, then. The P1800ES was only in production for the final two years of the platforms production, between 1972 and 1973. The addition of the new luggage area increased practicality even further without compromising the svelte lines of the standard coupe. A glass rear hatch and folding seats completed the alterations and assisted in its nicknames around Europe. Germany called it a Schneewittchensarg meaning Snow White’s coffin, whilst locals in Sweden called it a Fiskbilen, translating as The Fish Van; how kind.
The example featured here is definitely one of the best, especially considering how few ES models were produced. Sporting just 40,000 miles after a fully blown restoration, this 1973 ES is absolutely exquisite and was built in the final year of production. With dark blue metallic complimented by a gorgeous, if not hilariously impractical, light blue leather interior, this one is the car to go for. We want it too, as a company van?
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