CC Capsule: 1971 Volvo 1800E – Scandinavian Grime Drama

It was a sunny weekend and I was in a part of town I hadn’t yet explored. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of the Volvo’s characteristic rear fin gleaming from an alley. Pay dirt! I approached, and it actually was pretty filthy. As a matter of fact, it was just plain shocking. Finding a 50-year-old classic in such a sorry state in Tokyo is cause for concern.

What happened to the owner of this once-gorgeous Volvo? It’s far from a basket case, but also way past its prime. The rubber peeling off the rear bumper, rust appearing here and there, a missing mirror and the general dirtiness of the whole thing – something was very wrong here.

Yet it still had air in its tyres and, from certain angles at least, still looked like a million kronor. Could this be a regularly-driven car? In this condition?

Shock number two: the cabin was as immaculate as anything you’ve ever seen outside a Volvo dealership. Rarely have I seen such a mismatch between a car’s interior and its exterior appearance.

Clear signs of neglect that in any other country would be dismissed as delayed maintenance inform us, in this context, that this car’s owner has stopped caring for it, all quite suddenly.

Aside from that, what does this former Miss Sweden 1957 have in store for us, other than oblique references to Jensen, a production run that defies logic and the legendary Roger “Much” Moore as Simon Templar? I mean, this has all been gone into in great detail and by almost every CContributor on this website over the past decade.

I’ll just add my musings about one specific styling flourish on this beautiful machine, then. This might be the most handsome door handle ever devised. You have to give maximum kudos to designer Pelle Petterson for having integrated this purely functional item into the purely esthetic fins, thereby keeping those completely outdated (but oh-so-beautiful) appendages on the Volvo for over a decade. Even the shooting brake version couldn’t get rid of the fins.

This seems like a Japanese-spec car. The ugly turn signal repeaters, combined with the metric gauges and the RHD make this a likely notion. (I realize many / most imported cars here – especially old higher end ones – are sold new with LHD because that “looks more exclusive,” but Volvo seems to be an exception to this rule, for very unclear reasons.)

So there we have it: more questions than answers, despite this being one of the better-covered Volvos on CC. Tokyo strikes again, in yet another utterly unexpected way.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic: 1970 Volvo P1800E: About Lars, Who Bought a Stylish Italian Suit and Wore it for Twelve Years, by JPC

Curbside Classic: 1964 Volvo P1800S – Transcending Time, Distance And Fashion, by PN

Our Ex-Curbside Classic: 1973 Volvo 1800 ES – Gone, But Not Forgotten, by Tom Klockau

CC Outtake: 1972 Volvo 1800E – Souped-Down Sports Car. by Tom Klockau

CC Outtake: 1967 Volvo 1800S – Safe Flights, Everyone, by Joseph Dennis

In-Motion Outtake: 1972 Volvo P1800 ES – Shot While Driving A Modern Volvo Wagon No Less, by Brendan Saur

In-Motion Outtake: 1965 Volvo 1800S – Cleared For Takeoff, by Joseph Dennis

COAL: #10 1972 Volvo 1800ES – A Volvo Shooting Brake?, by Connor Kleck

COAL: #11/12 1972/1973 Volvo 1800ES – The Sacrifice Cars, by Connor Kleck

COAL: #19 1962 Volvo P1800 – Striptease, by Connor Kleck

COAL: #20 1972 Volvo 1800E – There’s a Corvette Engine In Its Unexpected Future, by Connor Kleck

Vintage R&T Review: 1972 Volvo 1800ES – A Successful Butt Lift, by PN