1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 24.5


Yup, I call this up-date number 24.5 as it is a small one. Starting a new business and other petrolhead distractions is keeping me away from the 1961 P1800 resto but here is a small update.

This is not from my car but I got a cut out filler piece from a friend.

The cavity that holds the fuel filler on these cars probably did not win any design awards. As soon as the small drain tube clogs up it will start to hold water and eventually rust out.

They are not reproduced and mine is weak from rust just like the one in the picture.

I took it to my expert metal guru and he made a copy. He also made the 90 degree edge so I can install it. These are not just rectangular shape, they are skewed so difficult to reproduce. Once installed, I can then install the tube so I can make sure it has the right angle towards the tank.

Like I said, small news but a step in the right direction.


The Swedish Puzzle


Since your’s truly does not have a thing to show for in the Volvo resto department I can at least show someone else’s work:

Gary Ramstad’s incredible 1967 1800S is now finished and on the road where it belongs.

Gary had the coming out party at the April 9, 2017 at the PSVSA Car Club Spring Show and Shine Swap meet for members at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland.

Looks great from any angle.

Completely rebuilt engine and stock appearance under the hood except a little extra chrome. Chrome is known for making cars go faster. Gary did 95% of the resto including bench pressing overdrive transmissions up in to the tunnel.

All of the interior was redone as well. The interior was probably the largest reason for the “Swedish Puzzle” name. Gary bought the car partially disassembled and you know how that goes. Not only is it hard to know where everything goes, it increases the chance of missing parts. Regardless, Gary powered through and the evidence speaks for it self.

Gary owns a perfect 122S and a 544 so this 1800S rounds out his collection nicely.

Like the man sez: Now for the first time ever, I get to drive a Volvo 1800S Sports Car this 2017 Summer.

Nice job, Gary!…Now drive the wheels off it!




1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 24


Door stopper! I added this crude adjuster in the door opening to hold out the door so I can line up the body panels as I am test fitting everything.

Like this. This is still just approximate as the door will get a new skin and I am sure that things will change again but at least we are close for now. These parts will be removed and test fitted a thousand times! Nothing will get welded until e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is perfect. Puh!

The front fender is welded to the body and not only have to line up with the door and nose, it is also part of the hood opening cavity. If I move any part in any direction there will be a problem elsewhere. You know, that cause and effect thing you heard so much about! I installed to hood so I can line up the fender for good fit.

I made these shims quickly to be used between the body and the hood hinges so I can get the hood just right. I will use some nicer ones in the end.
I hope there is an end!

Where the front fender (wing is you reside in the UK) meets the A-pillar.

It looks like Volvo used part of the fender in the window channel. Sine my channel is very clean and solid I don’t need to disturb it. I will cut at the dotted line, that way the edge is still intact. The edge is where the strength is so as long as I keep that, I should be OK. I did run this by my Swedish experts and got approval.

Looks like Volvo gave me some extra material in the cowl area. I get suspicious when a manufacturer gives you extra material. The mind in my cynical and conspiratorial Swedish brain starts going….Why?? Am I missing something??

Once I mellowed out it looks like an extra 14 to 9 millimeters. Maybe Volvo was just feeling generous when they made the P1800 fender mold.

Now it starts to look like something.

I have ways to go but the weekend is over and I have to go to work tomorrow.

To Be Continued…


1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 23


This is a short update as work is interfering with my ability to play with cars!


As stated before when doing rust repairs: Make template, make replacement part, install…you know…rinse and repeat.


This is the bottom of the A-pillar. It is attached to the inside rocker panel support and hides under the front fender.



Since I can not go to “Bottom-Of-P1800-A-Pillar-metal-part.com” and order this part I have to make one.



Looks OK.



I am realizing that I will test fit the rear quarter panel and front fender about a 1000 times. They fit in to a recessed area on the rocker so the rocker has to be…you know…just bloody perfect.



Speaking of perfect…Let’s get screwed!

In order to test fit everything before I start to tack and weld it in place, I use sheet metal screws in order to “suck in” the sheet metal when it belongs. One push or pull here and there will change the fit in another corner. Puh!



This sure is an interesting corner. This is where the front fender meet the body. This is NOT an Amazon, where one would just bolt on the fender and call it a day. Then you go and have ginger snaps with Gevalia coffee.

I guess this is why they call this coachwork…as in lots of work!



Another interesting area. This is the top of the front fender by the windshield. It looks like the fender was actually a part of the windshield frame. Since this area is very healthy on the car I think I will just cut the fender on the dotted line and weld to body. Then I can smooth out the windshield channel with lead.

Also, I ran this by the experts in Sweden and got approval 😉 You don’t mess with Swedish experts!

Well, that all I have to say about that.
I hope to get some quality time in the shop in the upcoming weekend.

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!


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.


1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 17


If this is part 17 of this Vintage Volvo Tale..I wonder how many parts it will take before this car is back on the road?? 300??…500??  957?? Damn if I know…Oh well, we will keep keeping on!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 rust free

Dippety-Doodaa !!!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 inner fender well

Wow…It is like is was 1960 again and the car was just made at Pressed Steel!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 clean metal


The rear of the car is very clean and solid.

I did say rust free earlier and that is technically true but we certainly have some perforation caused by rust. I also found some lousy repairs on both the doors and the quarter panels. I plan to replace all of them, no need to be cutting any corners at this point. I have to order panels now, more on this later.


In the mean time, I keep fiddling with the small stuff:

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 early idler arm

Only the early cars had this idler arm. It actually used needle bearings as opposed to the later models that use a bushing. To me this will help steering effort to a small degree.  As you can see on the old shaft, the most wear and stress happens on the top. The kit includes the shaft so all good.This was the last rebuild kit available so me happy!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 new parts

This is what $1200.00 worth of new Volvo parts looks like. This is the third of many “installments”. I think I need a separate shelf for all this to keep order and more important…my sanity!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 exhaust manifold studs

Hot Action shot! The heat is on.

The exhaust manifold studs were in rough condition so they had to be replaced. After 50 years of marriage to the manifold flange they were not about to divorce easily.

However, after introducing the flange to an Oxyacetylene Torch at about 1980 C and thus making the molecules really excited (and red) the studs reluctantly departed.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 rear brake drum cleanup

Before and…you guessed it, skipper…after shot of the break drums after a couple of days soaking in the rust removal solution. They will be powder coated with high temp coating.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 new caliper

I was able to secure one left side early caliper from VP-Autoparts and that was it. I checked with a local rebuilder and I was quoted over $300.00 per ea caliper!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 caliper pistons

My friend Gary Ramstad, president of the local Volvo club was generous and gave me these caliper rebuild parts. All that is missing is the large piston and I can get those from VP for 20 bucks.  As long as I can get the pistons out I should be able to rebuild them. The calipers are soaking right now, more later.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 springs

It is a pleasure to see that many new parts are actually made in Sweden. The new springs are made by Lesjöfors in Sweden.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 trans cross member

This is the transmission cross member. See that bend on the left side? I was certain that the previous owner took this fine car for a spin in some rough terrain. I checked under my 1964 parts car and it has the same recess, however it is factory pressed. What is going on here??

Turns out it is a recess to clear the speedometer cable. Jensen factory workers just took the stock Volvo cross-member, grabbed a sledge-hammer and beat it in submission. Chalk that up to another “early car quirk”

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 modified cross member

There is even a mark when they missed a little or got a bit generous with the sledge-hammer. Totally cool !



Volvo P1800 logga

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 13

We don’t trust rust!

From Wikipedia: Rust is an iron oxide, usually red oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture. Rust consists of hydrated iron (as in an old Volvo), oxides Fe2O3·nH2O and iron oxide-hydroxide (FeO(OH), Fe(OH).

The next exciting stop in the restoration journey is to remove this stuff!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 ready to go

Since this is a unibody car it is not easy to remove and stop rust inside the “frame channels”. By dipping the whole car is rust removing acid I can get all the hidden rust dissolved and then a protective rust preventative coating can be applied.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 mystery penny

After disassembling the doors I turned them upside down to empty out all the junk. I noticed a round copper object in the pile. I thought it was a penny. I was curious what year penny it would be.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 mystery volvo logo

Turns out it was a small brass or copper Volvo logo. I have never seen this before. It has very nice detailing on it. Can it be a top of a shifter? A lapel pin maybe? I button on a Volvo coveralls??  If you know, contact me!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 empty door

Here is the door completely disassembled and they are going to enjoy a bath in the rust removing soup as well.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 visor chrome

Anything that needs to be rechromed have to be completely disassembled. These are the visor arms.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 to be chromed

The “To be chromed” box is growing. This will not be cheap!

Got some family stuff to deal with so it will be a couple of weeks until I can bring the body to the dipping company. Stay tuned.