Volvo 1800S/1800E/1800ES - Market Watch

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: Volvo


Volvo 1800S/1800E/1800ES - Market Watch
How have the prices moved?

Not quite ‘Bond ... James Bond’ but Volvo’s low-slung sports coupe did start life with some clever on-screen product placement.

Simon Templar was the alter-ago of Roger Moore, in a television series called The Saint. In the series, which began screening in 1962, Roger drove an early-build Volvo P1800 coupe with ST1 plates and a distinctive ‘cowhorn’ front bumper.

The brand was Swedish but Templar’s Volvo had a strong British connection due to its body being built in a factory owned by Jensen Cars. Early versions were designed more for show than go, with 75kW from 1.8 litres and a 168km/h top speed.

Late in 1963, production moved from England to Sweden and the designation acquired an ‘S’. The unique bumper design changed to a conventional straight bar and the engine produced 82kW.

From 1963, these cars were heavily promoted to the USA market, headlining a sales boom that saw USA Volvo sales climb from around 17,500 in 1964 to 35,000 annually by 1968.

Sales here during the mid-1960s were strong as well, led by the efforts of Sydney-based dealership British & Continental Motors. They kept up a steady stream of magazine road test cars, leading Sports Car World to describe an 1800S as "Probably the safest high-performance car in the world".

A bigger B20 engine appearing in 1969 was followed a year later by fuel injection and output of 97kW. Automatic transmission became an option in 1970, but buyers whose focus was performance could still specify a four-speed overdrive version.

The final act in Volvo’s P1800 saga was introduction during 1971 of the car that came to be known as Snow White’s Hearse. Volvo’s 1800ES was notionally a station wagon, but more realistically described as a hatchback with very long windows. 

At launch in Australia the ES cost $8750, or just $1200 less than a 2+2 E Type Jaguar, but it still sold in significant numbers. The design by this time was showing its age and weight, but heavy-gauge steel did help stave off rust and ensure a lot of these Volvos survive intact.

Prices since 2010 have climbed significantly, but only a few have hit unrealistic levels. Some cars have been advertised at over $100,000, but buyers who check around the international market, will be informed and not pay too much. 

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