Greg Wharry was a young guy on the hunt for a Volvo P1800 in 1978 when a buddy spotted a 1968 P1800S at night in a parking lot and left Greg’s contact information on the car.

Greg’s search was limited by the fact “I couldn’t find one I could afford”, in his words, but his luck changed dramatically when the former owner called Greg to discuss a possible sale.

Jim Sutherland

The Volvo P1800S was a sporty car built by a Swedish car company that seemed to favor refrigerators for overall body design on its models–however the P1800 was a major exception to that rule because it embodied everything that was cool about retro sports cars. The subtle rear tail fins on the P1800 only enhanced its sportiness-then and now. 

Older MyStarCollectorCar readers may recall ‘The Saint’ TV series because its main character Simon Templar used a P1800 as his daily driver enroute to adventure and intrigue, much like Templar’s big-screen counterpart James Bond drove a classic Aston Martin sports car on his way to movie adventures.

The impact of Templar’s P1800 on young TV viewers was significant enough to make them lifelong fans of the iconic Swedish sports car if they were not already sold on its incredible style. Greg could be numbered among the loyal fan base for the P1800, but he doubted whether he would own one-until his buddy spotted his future car that fateful night.

The car was a rust-free model that was likely purchased by a Canadian soldier who used the P1800S as a driver when he was stationed overseas. Eventually, the car ended up with the man’s wife in Alberta, Canada after a divorce separated the soldier from the car.

The fact the P1800S was not subjected to harsh Alberta winters likely saved it from major rust issues because it only had 48,000 total miles on it when MyStarCollectorCar interviewed Greg at a 2023 car show.

However, the P1800S had some mechanical issues and needed a new interior but most car guys would agree that a rust-free car is a major lottery win in the hobby. So was the sale price for Greg because he was able to purchase his dream car since it was well within his price range.

46 years have passed since Greg bought his ’68 Volvo P1800S and he has learned a lot about the car over the years. One of Greg’s changes sparked some controversy with Volvo purists because he replaced the car’s factory twin-carb fuel distribution setup with a single carb that requires less tinkering to keep the P1800S’s factory engine running smoothly.

Greg also chose a custom red paint job for the car and removed the P1800S’s side trim from the car because he wanted to emphasize the Swedish sports car’s classic body lines and felt the factory bling hid the P1800S’s overall design.

The net result is a car that gets an enormous amount of attention because of its style and striking paint scheme, a fact not lost on most women, including his wife Debbie, co-owner of the ’68 P1800S.

Greg is not afraid to take the Volvo sports car on modern highways because it can meet or exceed speed limits upon request. The car’s sporty little factory 4-banger is still connected to its original 4-speed manual with overdrive, so it can easily handle the pace on the road.

We at MyStarCollectorCar would call Greg and Debbie’s vintage 1968 P1800S the best of both worlds because the legendary Swedish sports car can easily handle today’s world with its ultra-cool retro style and old school engineering.         

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.