Volvo 1800S - The lost wisdom of the ancients.

Prepare your monocle to fall into your tea. Also, get ready to say "The DEVIL you say!". Volvos used to be beautiful cars.

Here is an eye-wateringly beautiful 1964 Volvo 1800-S. It was not Volvo's first sports car, but it was their first successful one. Roger Moore drove one as Simon Templar in The Saint, and liked it so much, he bought one himself.

The photo in the magazine is kind of artsy and you can't really see the whole thing. Let's find a clearer picture.

Look at that. You'd think it was a Jaguar. Funny enough, Jaguar declined the opportunity to have their equally gorgeous Jaguar E-type serve as The Saint's weekly conveyance, and the opportunity then fell into Volvo's lap. Good choice.

Why, why, WHY did Volvos become boxy monstrosities, when clearly they knew how to make such a pretty thing as this? And don't give me that "Volvos are supposed to be functional" crap either. The utility of 70s and 80s Volvos did not have to come at the expense of being able to look at the thing without making excuses.

Somewhere along the line, Volvo chose to stop making beautiful things, forsaking all other concerns for safety and utility, but this is a false dichotomy. There was no need to become ugly. Someone just wanted it, and I would like to understand why.

Can you get one today? Sort of. This one is for sale in New York for about $5000. Ouch. It is in rough shape. I'd imagine a clean and drivable version would be triple that price.

So sad.

Click for big.


Steve Miller said...

Absolutely nothing snarky or humorous to say here. Yes, these were fun cars. Not a sports cars, but Grand Touring vehicles. Had a white '66, and a red 1800ES. Every once in a while I search online ads for another 1800. Its looks had stood the test of time better than the sports wagon... but that's just my opinion.

BTW, when the 1800 was introduced, Volvo's other offerings were the PV544, which resembled a shrunken '41 Ford, and the 122, which looked like a small version of a '50 Chrysler. (I wouldn't mind having either car, but the real find would be the Duett, the wagon version of the 544.)

The boxen were introduced as the 140 series in 1968. I had a 142, a 145, and a 240. They weren't monstrosities, but they began as simple and utilitarian as their earlier siblings, but then the entire line-up moved up-scale to near-luxurty and something was lost in the cars' character.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Holy shit, you HAD one of these? I am envy. I think the sports wagon is a fine example of how a wagon can still be made attractive. It's not as nice looking as the coupe, but still.

Thanks Steve!


Jim D. said...

My uncle had one of these as an art student and decided he didn't like the fins. Took a cutting torch to the thing . . . turned out the fins were actually structural and helped give the frame remarkable rigidity.

Steve Miller said...

I seem to recall a quarter-page ad in Time Magazine way-back-when that showed a side view of the 1800. The headline was something like "The Handsome Swede." This was long before I owned mine, and I remember thinking that Swede suffered from an under-shot jaw... Guess the design grew on me. I've never been able to find a copy of that ad again.

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