1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 21



Rotisserie Apparatus: $1300.00
Used Spitzenagel Pneumatic spot weld drill: $149.00
Standing up straight while drilling out rocker spot welds: Priceless!

Repairing a rusty car is really simple:

You remove all the rusty parts and replace them with not rusty parts! Done! Right?? Right???!!


Oh my, what have I done now?? A huge hole. Remember the movie Wrist Cutters?? If not, watch it and you will understand.


Since this is a unibody car, I need to make sure it stays straight and square while I remove any supporting panels. I added these support beams just to make sure the body does not move while I remove this part.


Nice and shiny, eh? The jack supports were a bit weak as so I decided to replace the whole beam. It is often easier and even faster to replace the whole component rather then try to patch areas. Besides, it looks like a factory job.


Milestone?? I guess so. This is a card board template of the first piece of metal that is actually added/welded to the car. It is just the lower A-pillar support that attaches to the lower rocker panel.


Cleco. A metal worker’s best friend. You drill a small hole and then use these Cleco fasteners to hold the panel in place during fitting and welding.

1, 2 and 3!

The rocker assembly on a Volvo P1800 consists of no less than three components.


1. Bottensvällare: The first piece is the inside panel. The Swedes calls it bottensvällare and that directly translates to “bottom sweller” as it rises from the floor.


2. Subrocker

Connects the lower part of the A and B pillar.


3. Rocker panel. Hey, we finally arrived at the outer layer. The ironic part is that the rear quarter panel and front fender covers most of it but I am sure all this add a lot of strength to the P1800 body.


Just held in place with the aforementioned Clecos but hey, that looks like a genuine Swedish rocker! I need to tack it in place and then test fit the rear quarter panel and front fender before I dare button it up. Nobody said this was speedy work.

Mo later…

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 20



Now I have done it!! There is no way back now.


In order to get to the rocker assembly the fender have to be removed. This right side fender will be replaced with a new fender. The driver’s side fender appears to be in much better condition, I am not sure if I need to replace it.


This is the edge left from quarter panel. After cleaning up the spot weld remnants I have a nice surface to attach the new panel.


This is why it is usually not enough to replace just the outer rocker panel. If the rocker panel is weak chances are that the sub rocker below have issues as well. …and it does!


And…if the sub rocker have issues there is a good chance the sub rocker support panel also have issues…and it DOES! This panel goes all the way back to the rear wheel well.


Bottom line, once I am in this far, there is no excuse for not replacing all components. Fun fact: the original rocker assembly from Volvo came as one unit. The aftermarket parts come in three sections. This makes it easier to bang them around to fit the body.


I HEART my plasma cutter. I obviously need to drill out all the sport welds that holds the rockers in place but it is easier if I remove most of the rocker first. By doing this it is easier the see how it is attached, what metal overlaps what etc…Instead of using a cut off wheel and filling the shop with metal dust I fired up the ‘ol plasma cutter. It is fast and much less messy compared to the cut off wheel.


With the rocker and sub rocker gone we can now see the inner rocker support structure.


This is part of the crud I found inside the rocker panel. I did not have a banana handy so…glove for scale.


Since the front fender is being replaced, I cut the fender off about an inch from the edge so I can see what was going on below.

The Spitzernagel Special is an amazing tool for removing the spot welds.  Also, because of the clamp that holds it in place, there is no effort. It only removes the spot weld but stops short of digging in to the bottom layer.


This is what the fender support looks like under the fender. It even has little indentation to ensure dirt and moisture will lay around and eating your Swedish sports car from the day you leave the show room! Brilliant!

I guess these cars were supposed to last ten years at the most so these “engineering blunders” were probably not an issue at the time. I bet they did not expect car guys restoring these cars 56 years later. Luckily, this part of the car is very solid.

Mo later…

Rotisserie Chicken…ahem…Volvo


Short up-date but it took half the weekend to make the brackets that attaches to the car.

My grocery store keep telling me that their rotisserie chicken is the bestest. I can only assume it is because it is evenly done. Just like this Volvo will be evenly done all around because…rotisserie!


To be able to repair and replace floor boards while standing up sounds like Ergonomic Bliss to me. All the sheet metal is in so it is time to start cutting!


1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 19


With the body back from stripping some less than professional repairs came to light.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 door lousy bodywork

This door had a scrape on it and the honorable Drill, Bondo & Squirt Inc. drilled 200 holes and then filled with bondo. I have ordered new door skins.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 quarter panel more beautiful bodywork

Looks like the same body shop did this fine work on the right quarter panel.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 quarter panel bodywork

Also, check out this classy job on the bottom. Initially, I thought about just patching the bottom but the heat and general distortion from welding when installing a patch will always require some filler.Also, you end up with an unsightly looking seam inside the trunk. The plan is to replace the complete quarter panel for a factory looking job.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 drilling spot welds

In order to remove the panels I have to use a spot weld drill bit. This is tedious work and NOT so fun. To make things easier, I ordered a professional pneumatic spot weld drill.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 NOS fender

Can you imagine going to the local Volvo dealer and pick up an NOS front fender for a P1800??!! I just did. My local Volvo dealer had this 664372 on the shelf. The tag shows a stocking date on 1995!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brazing

Before I remove any panels I am taking tons of pictures. Here you can see that the front fender was brazed in place. So basically the P1800 fenders are welded, bolted and brazed!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 rocker fender seam

Here is another seam that will be important to duplicate. The seam between the rocker panel and the fender. Small detail but filling it would not look correct.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 quarter panel front

This is another thing worth noting: The factory used lead to cover the spot welds on the quarter panel at the B-pillar. Normally car manufacturers are not “hiding” the spot welds in a location like this. This is just part of the documentation, I plan to duplicate this.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 right side quarter panel removed

Here goes nothing! Well, actually, it is something…the first quarter panel is off.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 right inner wheel well

The inner wheel well looks very nice except the very lower corner. I can just do a spot repair in that area.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 quarter panel spot welds

It was hard to see the spot weld on the outside on this panel so I cut the panel out and left a half inch or so. Now I can clearly see where the welds are located and I can drill them out.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 ye olde quarter panel

Ye olde quarter panel

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 high spotwelds

Problem: When you drill out spot welds with the spot weld drill bit it will leave part of the weld in place so you have to dress and grind the surface so you have a smooth attaching point for the new panel.



Solution: The world famous Pneumatic Spitzenagel Spot Weld Drill Apparatus. This tool will remove the spot weld completely and you can set the depth so it does not disturb the remaining flange. You gotta love good tools.

Speaking of helpful apparatus…I ordered a rotisserie rack so I can work on the car in comfortable positions and not break my back while working on this car. Can’t wait to get it set up! If chicken is good on rotisserie cars must be too!

All I have to do now is remove and replace the other rear fender, rear back panel, rear support panel, rear side support panel, rocker panel, sub panel, rocker sill plate, front fenders, floor boards, battery box, bla, bla, bla!!! Easy right??

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 18



I managed to get the very last rebuilt early caliper from VP-Auto Parts, a left unit. However, knowing what I know now I would have just rebuilt my calipers. What precious information is it? Read on.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake caliper apart


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake caliper apart hammer good

The pistons were stuck in the bores but after a couple of days soaking in the vinegar I gave the piston a good smack. This may seem counter intuitive but it helped loosening the piston in the bore.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake caliper apart large plier

Using industrial size wise grips I was able to turn and eventually lift up the pistons.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake caliper apart gasket

This is the cool part. It is ONLY the seal that wears in the bores. On later model calipers the bore is fitted perfectly to the piston and it can not have any flaws or rust. In this case, all I have to do is clean up the groove for the seals and we are off to the races.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake caliper inside

I think I will take to money I save on rebuilding these my self and buy a blast cabinet and clean these babies to perfection. There is NO limit on how many tools a man can have.


15’s Man! , Yeah, 15’s!


So this wagon was rolling on 17 inch steelies for a season. It was fun and I got a lot of positive feedback.

1967 Volvo Combi

However, with big wheels like these I am writing checks I can’t cash. If the car had a 200 hp engine and a pro touring suspension to match…well then, it would be OK.

I had to work on the brakes so the wheels were off anyway and I decided to go back to the 15 inch wheels.


Volvo 122S Amazon Wagon Combi Estate 15s

Somehow it looks more balanced. These are still wider than the stock wheels and the car is still lowered about three inches.


Volvo 122S Amazon Wagon Combi Estate 15s 2

Works for me!

Vintage Swedish Cars…in Sweden!


Yes, we found some Vintage Swedish Cars in Sweden, how about that !!

I went to the Wheels and Wings show in Falkenberg, Sweden and it was mostly about American iron. For those who don’t care for the metric stuff, check out the American Iron in Sweden at ClassicRoad.com here.

However, a big car meet like this brings out all brands of vintage cars. Here are some of the fine Volvos I spied at the event.

1958 Volvo Amazon front

This 1958 Volvo Amazon 121 is looking very nice with era correct auxiliary lights and Albert fender mirrors.

1958 Volvo Amazon

The rear of this Amazon is just as nice sporting the early style trunk handles.


Volvo PV front

This Volvo PV 544 is looking great in this color. Super straight with all the right accessories, it is a looker.

Volvo PV rear

1967 Volvo Amazon dk blue

The owner of this dark blue Volvo Amazon was eager to pose next to his 1967 car.

Volvo Amazon blue front

“Wrong” wheels but I will let it slide as this Amazon is like new.

Volvo Amazon blue

volvo 122S Amazon

This black 1964? Volvo Amazon was a stunner. White walls and Marshall lights are excellent options.

Volvo 740 EPA traktor

Volvo 740 “EPA traktor” A way for 16 year old Swedes to drive a car. Convert it to a tractor and limit the top speed. Sure beats a moped when it is -20C !


Saab 92

This Saab 92 was about the coolest Swedish car in the meet. Still sporting the stock two stroke engine.


Volvo Tractor

Since this web site is Vintage Swedish Cars, I think we can accept a vintage Swedish Volvo tractor. It was currently registered and still in use.

Volvo Tractor logo

Cool logo.

1953 Monark with ILO engine

OK, since we are pushing our luck on the Swedish Car subject, how about a Vintage Swedish Motorcycle?? This 1953 Monark with a 250 cc two stroke was actually used to pull a plow after the war. A farmer installed a rear gear that was about the size of the tire and pulled his plow.


2016 Volvo V60 diesel

Let’s round off this report with a not so vintage Swedish car. This was my rental for the week I spent in Sweden. A 2016 V60 diesel. Yes, diesel! With a 6 speed trans it was completely impossible to get worse mileage than 45 mpg!!

I drove all week on a tank of fuel. What an incredible car. It also have a ton of power in the low end. You shift at 3K and it just GOES! Why can we not get this car in America?? Besides, the damn thing drives itself!

Good Times in Sweden, Good Times indeed!

X-Ray Auto in Ballard, Washington


I was in need of a part…Wait, I needed a part for a Volvo?? I was told these things lasts for EVAR! Well, they don’t.

Even sturdy Volvos need service and repairs sometimes and X-Ray Auto in Ballard, Washington would be a good place to go. Matt is the owner and operator of X-Ray Auto and he works on 1975 and older Volvos…period! Not only does he service the cars, he also have a sizable collection of parts, new and used.

X-ray Auto car

Visiting the shop is equivalent to time travel. I worked at a gas station in Sweden in the seventies and there would be pretty much nothing but Saabs and Volvos around you.


Xray auto

This is what greets you when you arrive. You know it will be a good day.


Xray auto B&W

I could not help myself…A little black and white action. Sweden 1970? Ballard 1970?? Or Ballard Wa 2016?

Volvo Duett


Matt’s corporate company car. Volvo P210 Duett, the only way to go.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 tank filler lid

Here is the reason for today’s visit. As you can see, the original tank lid was reverting back to carbon. This is the fun part when restoring a vintage car. The thrill of the chase, the high you get when you find the right part coupled with the social aspect make it all worth while.


1969 Volvo 1800S

This car was for sale. A very solid 1969 1800S. Minor rust in the lower front fenders but that was all I could see. The customer just spent $6000.00 on tune ups, brake parts and more.

1969 Volvo 1800S interior

A really decent interior that can use some detailing but it is all there. I am NOT affiliated with X-Ray Auto but Matt helped me with some parts so I thought I should help getting the word out. . He is asking $15,000.00 and can be reached at 206-789-5455. Tell him Rolf sent you.

Next year Matt and X-Ray Auto plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sweden moving to right hand drive. He plans to have a party and to re-create the event having Volvos switching sides just like they did that night in 1967. Maybe we will crash in to each other??!! Stay tuned for more info on the events page.