Some contributors to this site have a bit of thing about Volvos, some of which passes me by to say the least, but I can most definitely share in an admiration for the 1800ES sports hatch variant of the P1800 Coupe. And I have a bit of thing about the first series (1980-97) Renault Master and Messenger light commercial.
The pairing of the 1800ES with the Renault Master recovery truck outside a French garage was always going to bring me to a stop for photos and a look around. Being France and lunchtime (that is, it was some point between 12 pm and about 3pm), there was no-one about to help, or deter.
CC has looked at the 1800ES before, not least in Tom Klockau’s excellent piece, but it is perhaps the only rear drive Volvo I’d consider. Actually, it is the only rear drive Volvo I’d consider. But that’s just my preference and therefore not in any way scientific.
This car was obviously based on the P1800 coupe. It was perhaps too closely based on the P1800, given the limited rear accommodation, relatively high centre of gravity and, perhaps crucially, some stylistic limitations largely through the carryover of the Coupe’s rear wings and the 1961 vintage front styling. This example though, to me, looks great in the bronze metallic with the chrome highlighting.
The Renault Master and the Messanger derivative are staple features of France, being undoubtedly the most ubiquitous vehicle in their class on the country’s roads. This example is pretty typical of many conversions and adaptations of the factory chassis-cab Messenger, which was a Master cab mounted on a separate chassis with rear drive and twin rear wheels. The likely engine in this case is a 2.4 litre four cylinder diesel, driving the rear wheels.
In fact, if you broke down in France and it wasn’t a Renault Master or Messenger that came as the recovery truck, I suspect a rule would have been broken.
An intriguing combination, just waiting for a few people to finish lunch….