Einspritz – 1971 Volvo P1800E

coupe redA New York native named Irv Gordon recently ticked over three million (yes, three million) miles in his 1966 Volvo 1800S. You may have heard of him before. He’s held the record for mileage in a single-owner non-commercial car for years and years now, breaking it each and every time he takes his old red Volvo out for a drive, and with that unbelievable three million miles that record looks more unassailable than ever. Since it’s so pointless trying to catch up with Mr. Gordon, let’s instead take a second to  consider what car he’s been driving, a car that’s covered enough distance to get to the moon and back more than six times.

The Volvo 1800S came about in 1963 when Volvo moved production of the P1800 back to Sweden after cars assembled under contract by Jensen and Pressed Steel in the UK proved not to live up to Volvo’s characteristically Scandinavian standards of quality. The “S” therefore stands for “Sweden” instead of “Sport” as one might assume, and though these were sports cars and beautiful ones at that, their bulletproof engines and solid construction have allowed many examples to soldier on for what seems like eternity, hence Gordon’s insane record.

But a car doesn’t gain a reputation for reliability by having ultra light weight and a highly tuned motor. P1800’s are a tad bulky and underpowered, so for someone who takes his driving seriously the 1800E is probably the one to have. Introduced for 1970 to breathe some new life into Volvo’s aging sports car, the 1800E brought numerous improvements in performance. Even though it retained the 1800 name, the motor was the 1,986 cc B20 engine developed for the 140 sedan (and just previously introduced in the 1800S), and the “E” in the name stood for Einspritz, as the B20 was now fitted with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection to give 135 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, 20 horsepower more than the old 1800S.  In 1972 Volvo’s gorgeous coupes were replaced by the equally pretty 1800ES, essentially the 1800E in hatchback form, and the line ended altogether in 1973 after a total production of just under 50,000 cars.

As we’ve seen, the P1800 can be shockingly reliable for an old sports car, but as always it pays to buy a nice one. This 1971 example, located in Dallas, Texas, seems like a great candidate for starting the long saga of Volvo ownership. Finished in that deep red over black wheels and topped off by those great rally lights, this car looks a lot more exotic than it is. It’s been lightly restored and the engine was rebuilt 5,000 miles ago. This is reassuring, but it doesn’t look like it got the full monty as the factory radio doesn’t work and some of the weather strips have some wear.

Part of the appeal of these old Volvos, apart from how solid they are, is their affordability. Like most classics, they are getting more valuable, but the seller of this car is getting a little ahead of himself. This isn’t a top level car and he’s asking top level money, so although I’d love to start my own three million mile journey in this thing, I think I’ll pass. There are still quite a few cheaper examples out there, even if they are less shiny.

Check out the 1971 Volvo P1800E here on eBay, where the “Buy It Now” price is set at $20,700.


  1. D-jet not K in the E cars

  2. The blacked out bits (grill, wheels, rear side louvres) and side and rear bumper reflectors seriously distract from the otherwise flawless lines of these classics. As usual an attempt to “modernize” that falls short, in my humble opinion. I removed the side reflectors from my ’68 1800 S within a few days of purchasing it though I’d pondered it from day one.

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