1972 Volvo P1800ES

Just two scant years ago, Volvo killed off it’s C30 hatchback. It wasn’t a huge seller, but this car offered unique styling and competent performance in a tidy, near luxury package. It was also a flattering throwback to this car we see here, the P1800ES. The P1800ES didn’t have a long production span, but it made an impact on an otherwise staid lineup at the time, save for the P1800 coupe that it was based on. This example for sale in New York has the desirable 4-speed manual gearbox and benefitted from a bare metal respray. On Minilite style wheels, this is one attractive shooting brake.

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Practical Saint: 1973 Volvo P1800ES

There’s a running joke here at GCFSB regarding Volvos and SAABs. Without exception, every time we post one someone comments either here or on our Facebook page that those two manufacturers aren’t German. It doesn’t really matter that we explain nearly every time that though we know this, we still enjoy to look at a super Swede from time to time since – let’s face it – a majority of people on Facebook don’t actually read the articles that are posted, but rather just react to the headlines. Now, we could actually get into a discussion about how the Swedes are actually a Germanic based tribe if you go back far enough, or how many of their engineering principles fall in line with those of their Southern neighbors. We could mention that many of the newer Volvos and SAABs actually utilized German derived chassis from either Ford Europe or GM’s Opel division. But that would be pointless since those arguments don’t apply to today’s example, the P1800ES. You see, Volvo is mostly regarded as builders of very slow moving, very safe and very conservative boxes – but go back a few generations, and Volvo threw a few curve balls as the plate. None were more curvy than the P1800, a pseudo-sports car with stunning looks available in coupe version or the more rare 2-door wagon:

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1973 Volvo P1800ES

In case you missed it, Volvo released a stunning concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The Concept Estate is a modern take on what seems like an extinct breed these days: the shooting brake. The estate car is experiencing a little bit of a resurgence amongst enthusiast communities across the US, mainly due to fast five-doors like the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate. However, the two-door estate vehicle, or shooting brake, is still a bit too obscure for the mainstream American motoring public. The MINI Clubman is about as close as we’ve seen lately to a two-door estate vehicle, and even that one had a third door on the side.

The Volvo P1800ES was a curiosity, built towards the end of the P1800 run for 1972 and 1973 only, with a little over 8,000 produced. The trademark glass rear hatch would go on to be copied in later Volvo hatchbacks such as the 480ES and C30. This example for sale in New York is a well sorted example in a sharp red orange color that looks idyllic against the autumn backdrop in these photos.

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Wagon Week: 1973 Volvo P1800ES

Yes, it’s not German, but from time to time, we here at GCFSB like to feature the errant unique or fast Swede. And since it’s Wagon Week, what better way to celebrate the stylish shooting brake that is the Volvo P1800ES? Designed in-house by Volvo and available for two model years only, this 1973 example represents the final year this automotive oddity was offered. The car’s most unique feature, the rear glass hatch, is a design feature that was seen years later on the 480 and C30 hatchbacks. This particular P1800ES for sale in Oregon is a two owner car, having been sourced from an estate sale from a long-time owner.

Year: 1973
Model: P1800ES
Engine: 2.0 liter inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 128,056 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 Volvo P1800ES on eBay

This is my Volvo 1800 ES, current mileage is 128,058, and that is pretty accurate because when the speedometer went south last year I had it rebuilt without any drive time while getting repaired. I am the 2nd owner and had her for almost 2 years, mileage when I bought her was 125,662. I had been looking for an ES 4-speed with overdrive for about 3 months before coming through with this one. It was tough out there, had seen many but almost everyone had rust or rot issues and if you know these cars then you know rust can be a BIG issue. This one is rust free, no rust on the doors, no blistering at the seams, no rust or rot on the frame, floor pans, or spare tire well. It has had a repaint some time back by the original owner, paint is very nice but has some chips. I did go around the car with a magnet (as did the broker I bought it from) and found no Bondo. One of the hood hinges was frozen and had ginked the metal on the front edge of the hood. I pulled the hinge and freed it up and had the hood repaired though I did the added paint in that area which isn’t stellar but is adequate.

This was a California Blue Plate car but when I moved to Southern Oregon last Sept. I had to have the plates swapped out. Yes, I’m in Oregon but I’ve never driven her in the snow, rain or wet roads, I have other cars for those days.

I’ve done a few things to the car but not much was needed. I replaced a some of the side moldings because the former owner parked next to someone that like to swing open their doors with reckless abandon causing dings to both the moldings (which are soft aluminum) and the sides of the car. I had the brakes replaced and bearings checked and greased. I found a spare parts car and pulled off a few items and swapped whatever I thought was less then stellar. The front seats from the parts car are in her now, these are vinyl, the originals were leather but were dry and cracking.

There was an issue with the 2nd gear syncro so I had the transmission gone through and had a new clutch installed at the same time. They were also supposed to replace the rear main seal, and they may have, but I have a small drip and haven’t located the source, may be that.

All gauges work and are clear, the exception being the Water Temp which has a tiny amount of fog. The clock works and is the original mechanism. I had it repaired and not replaced with a quartz movement, it does run a little fast, picks up about 5 minutes every other week. It takes a very hot day to get the Oil Temp or the Water Temp gauges to go up but they do, this is just a very cool running car. The broker I bought the car from was a high end auto broker (he got it from the estate and never registered so I am the second owner) and he had mentioned going though the car fairly well and one of the things he did was a radiator flush / inspection, brake lines and hoses as well. He had also the tires so you’ll be rolling of four still fresh Goodyear Eagle LS2’s. The radio is a Blaupunkt AM / FM that I believe is original to the car.

Other than that, it’s a dream to drive, quick and sporty, very unique and gets compliments wherever I go. It’s been reliable and has no issues, drives straight with no shimmies or shakes, doesn’t smoke or burn oil. There is probably a lot more I can be telling you but I’m feeling like I’m writing a book, if you have questions please ask, if you need additional pictures, please ask. If you need to have the car inspected please ask. I will drive the car to the winning bidder within a reasonable distance but YOU have to get me home.

FOR SOME REASON THIS AD ONLY AND NOT MY OTHERS IS SHOWING MY 1800 ES LOCATION AS SUN VALLEY CALIFORNIA, THIS IS INCORRECT, THE LOCATION IS SOUTHERN OREGON, THE TOWN OF JACKSONVILLE, 97530.

I tried to correct this but can’t after receiving bids. I will try to have corrected thru customer service, sorry for this mistake and any inconvenience.

I appreciate cars such as this that have been sympathetically reserved rather than restored to the nines. It’s hard to find these in rust free condition, especially one that hasn’t been completely overhauled. At the high end, a decent P1800ES will set you back anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000. The patina of originality is a nice thing to have, so I’d suspect this particular car might reach around the $20,000 mark somewhere to the right buyer.

-Paul