Volvo Car Japan Restores the P1800

*This is a translation done by a machine.

P1800 is Volvo's first mass-produced sports coupe, introduced in 1960. It was sold as 2 + 2, but the model officially imported to Japan seems to have been registered as having a riding capacity of 2 people.

The design was by Italian designer Pietro Frua, who had worked on the Maserati Mistral and Quattroporte, and the body was built in Pressed Steel, England, and assembled in Jensen, also in England.

However, due to quality control issues, production began in 1963 at Volvo's plant in Göteborg. This year, the first Swedish-made 1800 went off the line. From this model, the first letter "S" was added to the car name "P1800S" to show that it was made in Sweden. At the same time, it is said that it was meant to be a "sports coupe".

The P1800 has been improved every year since its debut, with the A series being the early model assembled in the UK, followed by the B and D series in 1963. The engine was a 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder OHV, as the car's name implies, but the displacement was increased to two liters from the S series in 1968. However, the name of the car remained the 1800 and was never changed. In the following year, the carburetor became an electronically controlled fuel injection (EFI) system, and the output was improved, and the name of the car became 1800E.

In 1971, an estate model "ES" was introduced. It's a stylish design that could be called a shooting break, with a curved front grille, a large frameless rear gate, and press lines that bend upward under the doorknobs, all of which have been carried over from the V40 and XC90 to the latest models.

In June 1973, the production of the 1800 series ended with the last ES. It still has fans all over the world, and It is said that there are about 120 units of them in Japan.

Taichi Fujino's Highlights!

This car is a 1971 model 1800E. The owner is Mr. Takayuki Kimura, who served as the representative director of Volvo Car Japan until March 2020.

When he became the president of Volvo Car Japan in 2014, he was looking for a classic car that he had been longing for for a long time. By coincidence, he received the 1800E that had been owned by Volvo Car Japan employees.

The car repainted in dark blue at the time, was able to run, but it was never in good condition, so it was restored (See the interview later.). With the cooperation of Mr. Akio Abe (current Volvo Classic Garage Manager), a veteran staff member who knew that time, they collected existing parts from Volvo all over the world, and if there were any missing parts, they acquired 2 other P1800 s as parts recovery vehicles. It was restored in 2015 over a period of about six months based on a total of three P1800 units.

The body color has been repainted to the original safari yellow. It was repainted with water-based paint at a certified plant in Volvo. Regarding the engine and suspension, it seems that he asked a Volvo OB mechanic who knows the active age of P1800 well and carried out an overhaul.

With this car, which was restored at the end of 2015, he participated in events such as the Classic Car Rally several times a year. The engine, which has been able to adjust subtle distortions every time it runs, is now in great shape and has traveled less than 10,000 km in five years.

In fact, Mr. Kimura became even more fascinated with the P1800 and bought another ES in sun yellow, which is a little brighter than the coupe. He lived a happy 1800 life with a yellow coupe and an estate, but when he stepped down as president, he decided to sell either of them. "It's a car that reflects the thoughts of many people who have been involved in the restoration process. I want people who take good care of it to buy it, even in the sense of passing on the history." Kimura says. This car is currently being stored at the Volvo Classic Garage in the Volvo Cars Tomei Yokohama store.

Interview with the owner.

Mr. Kimura started his long-cherished classic car life on page 1800. That hobby led to the opening of "Volvo Klassisk Garage" in 2016 where authorized dealers refresh older models such as the 240, 740 and 850, as well as the P1800 and Amazon.
I asked Mr. Kimura what his life with his classic cars is like.

"I've liked cars since I was a child, and I always wanted to drive a classic car. I worked overseas for a long time, but I was finally able to settle down and live in Japan, so I started looking for a classic Volvo car."

When I asked Mr. Kimura how he got his hands on 1800, he told me the following.
After serving at Toyota Motor Corporation and Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., he served as president of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Indonesia), and president of Nissan Motor Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Thailand), Volvo Car Japan was the company that Mr. Kimura chose after a long period of overseas assignment.

"There are a lot of old Volvo fans in Japan, and when I became president, we owned about 180,000 cars, half of which had been registered for more than 10 years. I was really surprised at how many of them there were. Dealers need to think differently, and we felt that we needed to create a shop that would attract customers who have been driving older models for a long time, rather than just people buying new cars."

While many luxury car manufacturers, including Mercedes and Porsche, maintain and sell their own classic cars, Volvo says it didn't have such a service in Sweden either.

"Initially, as a test case, I refreshed the 850 T5R Estate with 230,000km of driving distance. That went well, so I submit a proposal to the head office to try an older car, but it didn't pass. So I decided to do it with my own car and that's how I got started."

It was Akio Abe, the current manager of Volvo Klassisk Garage, who supported the president's private project, so to speak.

Owners Kimura (left in the photo) and Abe (right in the photo).

"Initially, we contacted Sweden to inventory parts from around the world and gathered everything we could get our hands on. Since a dealership can't do the restoration work, I asked an OB mechanic who has worked on OHV engines like the Amazon and 1800 to do it for me."

It took about six months to restore. Both Mr. Kimura and Mr. Abe began to feel positive about maintaining and selling classic cars. After restoring the P 1800, in the summer of the following year we opened the "Volvo Klassisk Garage" in Volvo Cars Tomei Yokohama, one of our directly managed stores. This is the division that deals with refreshing 240, 700, 900 series, 850, including P1800 and Amazon, and it seems that this was Volvo's first attempt in the world.

"It has been four years since it was established, but the number of customers and sales have been increasing. Starting with PV544 in 1959, many classic cars such as 1800 and Amazon are stocked for maintenance. We are also receiving more inquiries from customers and dealers across the country. Basically, maintenance is the main activity, and we do not purchase and sell vehicles, but there are cases where owners who have owned a new car for a long time ask, "I can't get on, so I want you to take it." and if it is a good car, we refurbish it and sell it. As of the end of 2019, we had sold 19 units. There is a case that a customer who once gave up an old model and switched to the latest model bought back car after seeing it we restored. After all, I'm happy about that." Mr. Abe said.

Finally, Mr. Kimura told us this story about his life with his classic car.

"Classic cars attract people. People naturally gathered around me, and thanks to the cooperation of many people on 1800, it was a great car. It's a lot of fun, and of course it's sad to let it go, but it's nice to be able to share it with someone else. The classic car life started on 1800, but I don't think this hobby will change for the rest of your life."

Vehicle Specifications

Model Year1971
Year of PurchaseApr 1971
Engine Capacity1,986cc
Steering WheelLeft
ColorSafari Yellow
Chassis No.東[41]32327東
Engine No.
InspectionOctober 2021
AreaTokyo, Japan