The 60s were a time for TV spies, most famously Maxwell Smart from Get Smart and Simon Templar from The Saint.


Smart’s car was a Sunbeam Alpine badged up to a Tiger, while Templar drove an ultra-cool Volvo P-1800.


The low-slung Swedish sports car had a balance of style and performance that was not typically associated with Volvo’s usual approach that married practicality with refrigerator looks.




The P-1800 was the flashy supermodel in a Volvo family of wallflowers and it was fit for a Saint. Volvo decided to go in a radical new direction with its 1972 P-1800 when it offered a station wagon version of the car. There are few wagons that could be considered to be truly classic sports cars, but the P-1800 ES would be at the front of a short line. The “ES” designation meant two things: it was fuel-injected (E) and a station wagon (S). The Volvo P-1800 ES was cool enough to drive even if you did not have kids during its short two year production run from 1972-73. Steve Ravnest was always a big fan of Volvos and owes some of his allegiances to his father who owned a Volvo 144 station wagon. Steve’s search for a Volvo started at 16 until he found his sporty wagon in 1986 and became its third owner. Steve drove his ES “a lot” in his words before he realized that a Volvo station wagon/sports car with a very limited production run deserved a total restoration and he decided to sink some cash into his car. $20,000 and many years later, Steve accomplished his goal.


He was fortunate enough to get the last two NOS rear quarters available for the P-1800 ES. “NOS” means a “new old stock” automotive part from the factory and is a highly desirable replacement part when it comes to vintage vehicles.  The restoration took place over a 10-year period dictated by time and money in Steve’s life. Much of the work was done on weekends and Steve gives full credit to a buddy who helped him throughout the restoration process. The car has been the one constant in Steve’s life and has been with him through two divorces, among other life events. He intends to make the car his legacy to his son who will become the future owner of the classic Swedish wagon. We asked Steve about the car’s name (Crystal) and got an unusual answer from him; “When I first got the car I saw lots of orbs (spirits) around the car. Then I painted the car and no more spirits.”


However, the car still had all of its original style and performance after the restoration. The heart of the car is its original 1800 cc engine in Steve’s opinion.




The reliable Volvo power train has never given him any trouble over the years and he can hold his own in modern traffic. This Volvo has electric overdrive so Steve can balance performance with amazing gas mileage on the road. The car also has factory discs on all four wheels to slow it down in a hurry.




Perhaps that is this Volvo’s greatest legacy: the Volvo P-1800 ES is 42 years old and has many engineering features that were not found on most cars until the 21st century. Either that or because its huge cool factor is still alive and well after 42 years.


Steve would agree with both assessments.


Jim Sutherland


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