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Car Tales: A Family Affair, The Volvo 1800S Coupe

‘One of the most beautiful – and still very obtainable – classic cars ever built, the Volvo 1800, in production from 1961 to 1973, achieved early renown for its co-starring role in The Saint, the globally successful British spy thriller TV series, shown by NBC in the USA from 1962-1969.
1966 Volvo 1800S Coupe for sale
‘The beautiful white 1800S appeared opposite actor Roger Moore who would later play the part of James Bond in 7 feature films. His character in The Saint was named Simon Templar and the car sported the number plate ST 1. To this day, the Volvo 1800S can be heard referred to as ‘the Saint’s car.’ But the truth was that it was not the first choice of vehicle for the television series: Jaguar Cars had rejected a request from the producers of the TV show to provide their then new XKE.

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‘My mother once had such a car, a Saint-like white 1964 Volvo 1800S: she would drive it around London, the personification of glamour.
1966 Volvo 1800S Coupe side
‘Often we would go out in it, my mom, my dad and I. I would squeeze up on the back jump-seat: I was small enough to fit on it lengthwise in those days. Sometimes we would go on quite lengthy journeys, like the almost 250 miles up the M1 to my grandparents in Yorkshire.
‘Quite rapidly it seemed: unsurprisingly, as the Volvo 1800S had a top speed of just below 110 mph. On one of those trips I spent the entire journey back to London asleep on that back seat.
‘One day my mom leant the white Volvo 1800S to my father, who hurtled down the M4 motorway in it to interview Charlton Heston, the legendary American movie star, on location at the famous Eton College. At the shoot Charlton Heston expressed his love for the 1800S.
‘Such is the Volvo renown for reliability that in 2013 a privately-owned 1966 Volvo 1800S surpassed the 3 million mile mark! When Irv Gordon, the owner, died on 15 November 2018 the car had driven more than 3.2 million miles, the highest mileage private vehicle driven by the original owner in non-commercial service: it featured in the Guinness Book of Records.
1966 Volvo 1800S rear
‘At Beverly Hills Car Club right now we have an eye-catching 1966 Volvo 1800S Coupe in its factory color code #89 Light Blue with a black interior. The vehicle comes equipped with a manual transmission, dual carburetors, steel wheels, Volvo hub caps, and spare tire. Also included are service documents and receipts copies totaling over $4,000. This is a gorgeous color combination Swedish classic that is mechanically sound.
1966 Volvo 1800S interior
‘Whereas the 1800S Coupe’s Volvo contemporary, the Amazon 121 and 122 saloon, had a rugged, muscular appearance, the 1800S’s rolling curves impart a far more feminine look, one that does not seem too Swedish at all. Unsurprisingly, for the design was a product of Carrozzeria Ghia SpA, the Italian automotive design and coachbuilding company. Very shortly after the company would come up with the beautiful Maserati Minstral Coupe, and there is a suggestion of design cross-pollination between those two outstanding models.
‘But the actual designer at Carrozzeria Ghia was indeed Swedish, even though in his creations he clearly felt that Italianate vibe: his name was Pelle Petterson, an Olympic medal-winning yacht racer who later skippered the Swedish America’s Cup Challenges in 1977 and 1980.
‘Having studied at the Pratt Institute in New York in the late 1950s, Petterson is probably best known for designing the Maxi brand of sailing boats, still among the most common sailing boats in Swedish waters.
‘But first he was in the motor-car world. Following his time at Pratt, Pelle came under the tutelage of Pietro Frua, one of the leading Italian coachbuilders and car designers during the 1950s and 1960s, himself attached to Carrozzeria Ghia. For its part, Volvo had had as its engineering consultant one Helmer Petterson, the instigator of the Volvo PV, a series of two-door, four-passenger car models — the PV444 and the PV544. Helmer was the father of Pelle Petterson – and for some time he was oblivious to his son’s role in the 1800 S.
‘In 1957 the 1800S project began: Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that the P1900 had failed to take off. The Volvo Sport, also known as the P1900, was a fiberglass-bodied roadster of which 68 units were built, the first 19 by Glasspar Company in California and the rest in Sweden by Volvo Cars. Between September 1957 and early 1958 Carrozzeria Frua built the first three prototypes of the Volvo 1800S.
‘The car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960. To physically build the vehicle Volvo turned to the UK’s Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilized, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. In September 1960, the first production 1800S (for the 1961 model year) left Jensen. Unsurprisingly, considering its beauty and the easy functionality of its engineering, the Volvo 1800S was an immediate hit.
‘I wish my mother still had one! And I’m hardly surprised that it would become the co-star of a legendary television show.
-Alex Manos, Owner

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