Not Your Mom’s Volvo Wagon – 1972 Volvo P1800ES

Shooting brake bosch injectionThe shooting brake isn’t a body style for everyone (just look at the controversy over the Ferrari FF), but surely one of the most graceful of them all is the Volvo P1800 ES of the early 1970s. The sport hatch was not a new idea when the famed Swedish carmaker decided to alter their lovely P1800 coupe, and although Volvo had been ahead in the development of such a car, Reliant beat them to the sales floor with their Scimitar GTE, and of course Aston Martin also had their own Radford-bodied shooting brake in the mid-1960s. Volvo had already been toying with cost effective ideas of changing the somewhat dated style of the P1800 with a few fastback concepts before they settled on the idea of extending the rear of the car into a hatchback. After a few other concepts, including the “Beach Car”, the “Hunter”, and the “Rocket”, the always methodical Volvo was getting closer to a production version, and after deciding that their concepts were “a little too advanced for the Volvo buying public”, did what any sensible carmaker would do: hire an Italian.

Sergio Coggiola set up his own operation after leaving Ghia (who did some of the first P1800 prototypes), and was given a P1800S coupe. By late 1968, Carrozzeria Coggiola had finished a prototype, but it was not until 1972 that the graceful new hatchback really went on sale. This allowed it to get the mechanicals from the P1800E of 1971, including a bigger 1,986 cc engine and Bosch fuel injection. Overall the ES was very well received, especially in the important US market, where journalists praised the cars practicality and loved the elegant rear glass and clever hatch. Volvo advertised it as “sort of a flying trunk”, and from 1972 it was the only body style offered for their gorgeous sporting machine. In 1973, though, it all had to come to an end. Emissions regulations in America strangled some of the power out of the B20 engine, and the P1800 had certainly had a good run anyway, so Volvo let the car go out gracefully.

A little over 8,000 P1800ES’s were built and, just like the coupe versions, they are fantastic cars. They were never the fastest cars, but they’re fun to drive, wonderful to look at, and impossibly rugged. As is the case with almost all Volvos, high mileage original examples are often perfectly fine and, other than expensive parts, are typically headache-free to maintain. They are also typically quite affordable, and with its ample luggage space the P1800ES really can be a sensible, practical classic sports car. That’s not a phrase that one hears very often, but these cars really are something else and this car, located in Portland, Oregon, looks ready to prove it.

Owned and barn kept by an Oregon farmer for the last fifteen years or so, it looks to have really been pampered, even with almost 100,000 miles on it. Cosmetically, it looks almost perfect, and with a rebuilt engine shouldn’t have any major mechanical issues, either. It does, though, have a broken tach and fuel gauge, which is common and fixable. P1800 prices have been appreciating a bit lately and a few have done very well at auction, but overall they are still quite attainable. If you’ve been searching for one of these and are mesmerized by its graceful lines, this car is definitely one to jump on.

Check out the 1972 Volvo P1800ES here on eBay, where bidding has reached $8,300.


  1. Hello,

    Got to know many new information by reading this blog.Machines are composed of variety of brands of parts in it.Before visiting this blog I don’t had any knowledge regarding engines and its parts. According to me it would prove to be an effective mean for providing useful information for the new comers.
    Glad to visit the blog.

  2. The 1800 ES is one of the nicest cars of early seventies. It’s just unfortunate that the rear seats can be used only for young children

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