Not Irv’s but Neat: 1964 Volvo P1800
Back in the day, Volvo desperately wanted a sports car. They had all of the bits necessary to make one too. Volvos were very successful with their rally racing sedans in the late ’50s and ’60s so it made sense to cloak the drivetrain in something snazzy.
After much ado about something, they hired Helmer Pettersen, project major, to get one to market. Helmer asked Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm to pen the car. His son Pelle worked there at the time and only recently have the Pettersens been attributed with the timeless design. Helmer interviewed a few German manufacturers to build the car but worried about quality. He entered into a contract with Jensen to build the sports car, now dubbed the P1800 – 1800 refers to engine displacement. Jensen really let them down as the build quality was not up to Volvo’s standards. Duh! They brought production in house with the S – for Sweden – and this survivor is one of them. Fortunately it spent most of its life in California so it presents well. And it has those wonderfully simple “cow horn” bumpers. I worked for Volvo for 18 years and didn’t really appreciate the P1800 until a few years ago. They are really pretty cars with subtle details – turquoise gauges for example.
The drivetrain is bullitt-proof and when you can find one in this condition, buy it!
I have come to know Irv Gordon. Irv, in case you didn’t know, is steward of the Guinness book record holder for high mileage passenger cars. He’s nursing 3 mill on his ’66 P1800 (picture left) as I write this. If you buy this one, it will take decades to get close to Irv but you’ll have fun doing it. See it here on eBay.