Car of the Month – January, 2022

1968 Volvo P1800S


1968 Volvo P1800S

Engine – 1782 cc OHV in-line 4 cylinder
Horsepower – 115 hp @ 5800 rpm, 112 ft-lbs of torque @ 3800 rpm
Transmission – 4-speed Manual with overdrive
Curb weight – 2,359 lbs
0-60 time – 11.9 seconds
¼ mile time – 18.6 seconds
Top speed – 113 mph
Number built – 39,778 (1962 – 1972)
MSRP price – $4,115.00 (1968)

The P1800 project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the U.S. and European markets. The car was designed by Pelle Petterson, a Swedish Olympic sailor and yacht designer. He collaborated with Pietro Frua of the prestigious Italian coach building firm Carozzerria Ghia. Petterson applied reversed hydrodynamic principles and successfully created a very streamlined vehicle for those times. The body panels were manufactured in Scotland, and the final assembly took place in the United Kingdom at Jensen Motors. In 1963, because of assembly problems with Jensen, Volvo moved the production to Sweden and the name updated to P1800S. The S stands for Sweden.

Inside, the P1800S revealed an advanced design concept: a profiled instrument cluster that raised in front of the driver and hosted the speedometer and the tachometer. Three additional gauges were mounted on the dashboard, next to the stereo. Its bucket seats featured seatbelts, a novelty for those times. Even the two seats in the back were equipped with the innovative safety device. It was the first car to offer as standard seatbelts for all four passengers.

Despite being designed by the 25-year-old Gothenburg native, Volvo insisted for over 50 years that the P1800 was an Italian design. In 2009, it admitted that it was, in fact, Petterson who deserved credit for the design. A 1966 P1800S has traveled over 3.2 million miles, a Guinness World Record.