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Tag: Theme Week

Swede Week: 1970 Volvo 1800E

The famous Volvo 1800 actually came about thanks to another unusual partnership in the earlier, and lesser known, P1900. In 1953, Volvo commissioned California-based fiberglass body producer Glasspar to help make a sports car based on the 544. A few were made, but changes in leadership ultimately killed the project.

The idea was reborn in the 1800 and design moved from California to Italy, where prototypes for the new sport concept were produced by Frua. Frua couldn’t handle large-scale production, though, so Volvo took the prototypes to Karmann in Germany. Though it initially agreed to produce the car, Volkswagen’s contract with Karmann to produce the competitor Ghia ruled it out. Stymied, Volvo turned to Jensen in England after exploring some other dead-end options. Jensen’s production possibilities looked promising to Volvo, but ultimately Jensen didn’t have the capacity to produce the bodies. An agreement was struck with Scottish Pressed Steel, which then produced the P1800 bodies so poorly that a very frustrated Volvo ended up moving production back to Sweden in 1962. The renamed 1800S (no longer with a “P”) signified the changeover.

But regardless of how many masications they went through or who was producing it on any given day, one thing remained certain – the 1800 is one of the best looking cars to come out of Sweden and was an unusually round peg from a notoriously square manufacturer:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Volvo 1800E on eBay

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Swede Week: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero

So the GM-takeover of SAAB is to be completely lamented? Not so fast. A few really cool vehicles came about as a result of SAAB’s combined efforts with other automakers; the 9000 is probably the best example, but the Viggen, the ‘SAABaru’ 9-2X, and 9-5 Aero are also popular alternatives to the normal German performance rides out there. Today, though, I want to take a look at what many consider the low point of SAAB’s GM connection and try to unearth a diamond in the rough – because there was one.

The ‘Trollblazer’ was just that; a SAABafied version of GM’s GMT360 Trailblazer. It was really just a light reskin of the vehicle and was even assembled in Ohio. That doesn’t sound too exciting, as indeed the Trailblazer was not the shining star of GM’s catalog nor its best example of vehicle dynamics. But late in the run, GM upped the game with the ‘SS’ version of the ‘Blazer, which added a 400 horsepower Corvette-sourced LS2, giant wheels, and suspension and body tweeks that somehow made the mundane grocery-getter instantly cool. And for good measure, just over 600 were changed into SAAB 9-7X ‘Aero’ models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero on eBay

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Swede Week: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III

Continuing on the Swede Week theme, here’s an instantly recognizable treat that is unfortunately seldom seen today. Like Volvo’s P1800, SAAB’s Sonnet lineup attempted to add some sport to the company’s brochures with exotic Italian looks and an odd combination of DNA. Although the above Sonnet’s lines are familiar to most Euro-centric automotive enthusiasts, this was actually the third version of the car, which had emerged from a ultra-low-production roadster into a similar and striking Coupe design in the late 1960s. 1970s saw a full exterior redesign but it remained very much a unique look, with a long, low hood punctuated by a Kammback tail. Power had developed in the second series cars from the original two-stroke inline-three to a Ford-developed V4 borrowed from the European-market Taunus. The result was 65 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like a lot – and wasn’t. 0-60 was an uninspired 13-second affair, but hey – just look at it! Who cares how fast you were going, most would mistake this for some oddball Maserati or Alfa Romeo were it not for the badges.

These cars are quite rare – far less were produced than the E30 M3, for example – and as a result hold reasonably strong value today. This ’71 sure looks nice!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III on eBay

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Right Hooker Week: 1991 Volkswagen Scirocco GTII

Okay, enough Audi dreaming. Are there any interesting VWs over in England? You bet! While production of the U.S. bound Scirocco was long over, Volkswagen continued to produce the second generation Scirocco right through the 1992 model year. This particular model, the GTII, was the model which finally wrapped up production a decade after it began in mid-1992.

The GTII was the mid-range model in the Scirocco lineup. Top of the range was the Scala [née GTX(née GTi)] with its 112 horsepower 1.8 liter motor borrowed from – you guessed it – the GTi. Below that model lay the GTII [née GT(née CL)], which shared the bodykit and 1.8 liter displacement, but only had 90 horsepower and steel, rather than alloy, wheels fitted. While not as sought as some of the range-topping models like the GTX or special “Storm” models, this GTII offers classic looks on a modest budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Scirocco GTII on eBay.co.uk

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