The 1800ES (internally at Volvo as the "Beach Car") was only sold in 1972 & '73 model years as a way to extend the life of the long-in-the-tooth 1800/P1800 coupe. This shooting brake classic is offered with 90 miles on the odometer with a hefty $74k price tag.
The funky looks can be polarizing - the Germans call this model Schneewittchensarg, which translates literally to "Snow White's coffin." I can't help of think of Sid the ground sloth from Ice Age whenever we see the front end, but at least it's a friendly face! Volvo management envisioned well-tanned and well-moneyed stylish California beachites loading up their boards and cruising the coast when they designed the "shooting brake" style 2-door mini wagon. Find this 1973 Volvo 1800 ES with 90 miles on the odometer for sale in Syosset, NY for $73,999 buy-it-now on ebay.
This one looks like it's been sitting in a climate controlled glass lidded coffin waiting for prince charming to awaken it from 40 years of slumber. It is nice enough to qualify for a museum piece and it is almost too nice to drive around. The suspension design, engine, and transmission all trace their roots back to Volvo's agricultural yet curvy mainstream sedan, the Amazon (aka 122). But it does have sporting pretenses. You sit low in an 1800, and feel like you're almost on the ground. Looking out over the classic twin-gauge instrument pods towards the front pontoon fenders, with manual steering and a rorty exhaust note from the pushrod four, you can almost convince yourself that you're the main character in a British secret agent action film. Or maybe his sidekick.
The seats and dash in the 1800ES evolved from the original early '60s designs, but have a distinct '70s flair about them. The addition of headrests make the seats a bit safer and they have a bit of bolstering unlike the early flat sofas. Woodgrain applique on the dash panels doesn't quite mesh with the jet-age shape of the original design, but you get plenty of gauges to monitor, and a plethora of toggle switches to fiddle with. The 1800ES even has a center console, but it's not big enough for both your iPhone and your Venti half-caff mocha latte - you'll have to choose one.
Wait, what am I saying here - scratch that last comment. The 1800ES is such a man's car that the driver should naturally just be eating raw coffee grounds on his morning commute. There's plenty of room for a baggie of fresh Arabica beans. This car is so masculine there's even a 70's-style love den in the back, complete with plush blue velour carpeting and mood lighting. You provide the Burt Bacharach tape and the lucky lady, this Volvo provides the memories.
Pop the reverse-hinged hood to find the heart of the beast, the 112 hp / 115 lb-ft B20 pushrod 4-cylinder. This engine is quite the little tractor, providing much more entertainment value than one would expect given the specs. Being an ES, this 1800 got the Bosch D-Jet electronic fuel injection system which will save hours of "fettling" over a twin-SU-carbureted earlier B18 engine.
The cargo area in the back of the ES gives the impression of being larger than it actually is, but a bike or two will fit if you are into that sort of thing...but do you really want a greasy bike chain ruining the inside of this untouched virgin?
From the beginning of coupe production, the 1800 was always an interesting international mish-mash...it was designed in Italy at Frua (by a Swedish guy), the earlier coupe bodies were pressed in Scotland, engines, transmissions and running gear were all Swedish, the electrics were a mixture of Bosch (German) and Lucas (ack! - British), and the afformentioned SU carburetors and Laycock deNormanville overdrive unit (hehe...he said Laycock) also hail from Blighty.
What do you think - would you feel like Thor if you put the hammer down in this quirky Swede? Or should it be left in a museum in Valhalla?
Originally posted by CFlo on Daily Turismo.
Image credits; ebay.com