1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 12

The body is finally stripped:

As mentioned in part 11, I discovered that the top bolt holding the vacuum tank was a Phillip head screw and obviously installed BEFORE the fenders were installed.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake tank screws

After a fair amount of “fiddling” we got the screw out. If you read up on Volvo 1800 history you will learn that the bodies were made by a company called Pressed Steel a few miles south of Glasgow. They were then sent on to Jensen for assembly.

Some smart ass at Pressed Steel grabbed a Phillip head screw for the top mounting of this tank as I am sure it was installed before the front fender was welded to the body.  Just to really mess with my head, they used hex bolts on the lower mounting point. Oh well!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake tank

This was an interesting surprice after I got the tank down. It felt very heavy. Guess what? It was full of break fluid. About two liters to be exact. I am going to guess that the brake booster failed at some point and the vacuum started to suck in the brake fluid. What is amazing is how much brake fluid the owner must have been adding to the brake cylinder.

I feel sorry for the poor owner that had to add fluid to that little master cylinder as the fluid was mysteriously disappearing! Maybe this was going on over many years, who knows.

The Jig is up!

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 frame jig

I built a metal frame and I added support beams that will hold the body to the frame so it can be transported to paint stripping and body shop.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 empty body

I sacrificed my lawn tractor trailer for it’s wheels and also the beam that connects to the tractor. It is going to stripping in late April 2016.

Comparing equipment between the 1964 parts car and this 1961 car reveals some subtle differences.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 speedo

Like the tachometer for example. The red line on the 1961 is at 6000 rpm. The red line…ish starts at 5500. That is code for: Hey Sven, you better start thinking about popping this baby in to another gear or your push rods will start denting your hood!

By the way,  these gauges are just gorgeous!


1964 Volvo Jensen P1800 speedo

This one is not so gorgeous but it is from the 1964 parts car.  The red line starts at 6500 rpm. I guess Volvo got a little braver or they got better valve springs…or both.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 fuel gauge

Also, the fuel gauge is different. The indicator stems from the center unlike the ’64 model where it is off to the side. Not a big deal but I want to make sure I don’t mix them up.


1964 Volvo Jensen P1800 fuel gauge

1964 gauge. See how the needle stems from the side as opposed to the center.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 trim piece

Another note for the nuance department: The metal trim piece that is located inside the car on the top of the B-pillar was made of aluminum. (top) The later cars had this made in stainless.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 modular shop

Modular shop. Having the axles on the wheel dollies help when shop space is tight.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 key lock

I finally got the ignition lock cylinder back. I was very excited that they were able to make a key but the pretty chrome fascia was now sporting a big scratch. Idiots!

I will be looking for a new cylinder I guess. Got one? Early style with small cylinder diameter…please  Email me

Folks along the way:

One of the fun aspects of playing with old cars is the people you meet along the way.

Having the same interest is reason enough to spark a conversation between two strangers. Maybe they have that part you are looking for or vice verse or just comparing notes in general.

Dave Lucas in Columbus, Ohio checked in with me. He is knee deep in a restoration of a 1963 Volvo P1800. This is the before picture:


Dave’s P1800 is chassis number 6065 so I am thinking it was assembled in Sweden. The transmission and engine has been rebuilt so now he is working on the body and interior. We look forward to updates.


Lucas 1963 Volvo P1800 dog

We know Dave is a good guy as he is also a dog person. Here his best friend is checking out the dismal back seat! “I think I will ride shotgun in the passenger seat”


Gary Ramstad 1967 Volvo 1800S

Gary Ramstad from Seattle is almost finished with his 1967 Volvo 1800S. He named it “Puzzle” as the assembly of all the interior pieces resembles a puzzle.

Mo later…

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 9

Damn, there is a lot of parts on a car. The stripping continues so we can go to body work.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 door handle removal

The original door panels are nice enough that I did not want to tear them off.  The sheet behind the crank is teflon designed to be used between spring leaf springs. Slippery and very strong. I used it to protect the panel to get the tool behind to remove the clip.

Well, so I thought…there was NO flexibility in the door panel and the rubber ring behind it. I had to break the chrome ring to get to it.  Blasphemy, yeah probably but I saved a 57 year old door panel.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 door panel

This is nice enough so someone could use this for a driver.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 nice chrome early style door

These early P1800 doors are nothing like the later model Volvos. The top plate unbolts and then you get the whole vent window, crank mechanism and glass out. It makes it very serviceable though.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 nice chrome

The chrome on the vent window assembly is absolutely amazing. I may not even have to replate it.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 nice chrome bandy stick

These “bandy stick” door moldings are cast as opposed to the front fender pieces that made from stainless stock.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 pentrating stuff

My new friend: PB “Catalyst-High Flashpoint-Magnetic-Lubricant-Bolt Buster” are some of the buzz words used by the manufacturer so it must be good, right? Used by Volvo restorers and spacemen.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 flamed

When the above mentioned “Catalyst-High Flashpoint-Magnetic-Lubricant-Bolt Buster” spray ain’t making it the solution is heat. To remove the moldings I heated the nuts to a glowing red and then I could break them loose. Hot nuts are good!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 wet blanket

Having a wet towel over the stainless kept it cool to prevent any discoloring.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 fender moulding off

It was 57 years ago since the front fender moulding was separated from the body.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 moulding clips

My friend Gary calls his 1967 1800S the “puzzle” for all the parts on a Volvo 1800 car. Here is one of the reasons: These are the clips that holds the front fender moulding in place. They are all different. They were secured inside the moulding by a piece of fiber board pressed in behind it! Classy!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 stainless chrome

I was convinced that the rear fin molding was cast as it appeared to be chrome and it has spiderweb cracks and small pitting. However, it turns out that it is not magnetic so it must be stainless after all. Chrome stainless…go figure…never heard of it. Need to do some reasearch.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 spreading out

It is amazing how much room a car take up when you blow it apart. Parts everywhere!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 quarter window

Quarter window and fin mouldings are out.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 oil press clamp brass

I am not sure why I find this to be so cool but the clamp that holds the oil pressure line is made out of brass. Of course I had to polish it. The sad part is that it is under the dash but now we all know it’s there.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 heat duct

The air duct between the heater and the body looks like it was made in shop class!
I give it a C. Having said that, this is the cool part with a low serial number car as some parts are still crude. Part of the history.

’nuff for now!

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen Project, part 8

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen crossmember

The nice thing with Volvos from this era is that the front cross member unbolts easy. Basically six bolt and the whole thing comes down. My motorcycle lift is once again put in to service.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen crossmember detail

Imagine how many thingies (technical term)  that have to come apart to be replaced or refurbished and then assembled just in the front end. This will be a long road.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen crossmember new

A complete restoration is a huge undertaking for anyone. Being in contact with other restorers is very helpful and a great way to get ideas and motivation. This is the front end from Richard Nyberg’s 1961 P1800 with chassis number 115. Richard is blogging in Swedish here and his blog is serving as motivation for your truly.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen drain

Draining by leakage! The front seal was leaking anyway so I just let it drain out this way. This axle does not have a drain plug and I really did not want to pop the cover before cleaning the outside.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen wiring

I am trying to remove the wiring in one piece. It appears to be in good shape except I have to replace the cloth cover material.



1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 1962 title

The car was originally licensed as a 1962 model year. This was pretty typical back in the day when it came to imported cars as they did not change the body style as American cars.

Very few people could tell the difference and the dealer wanted to offer a “new” car.  They could never do that with a 1961 Chevrolet for example.

Also, based on research, this car probably did not make it to the American shore until 1962. The car was built in late 1961 and the factory documentation shows Date of dispatch Aug 8th, 1961. It is my understanding that after dispatch they were all shipped to Sweden for quality control.

Volvo letter Sweden

I wrote Volvo’s Heritage department and they were kind enough to write a letter confirming that a car with chassis number 423 was indeed a 1961 model year.

I thought I had to go to State Patrol and have the car inspected. Instead, I broght the letter to the Department of License and behold, the nice lady in the window corrected it right there.

1961 Title

Now I can get a 1961 license plate as well. It should be green background with white text. A 1961 sticker would be a bonus.


1961 Volvo plate

Cool, huh?

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen Project, part 7

Today was a productive day.  My friend Tam came over and helped out with the heavy stuff. The goal was to get all of the drivetrain out…and we did.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 engine out

I was  not able to turn the engine over at the crank so I could not wait to get it out to see what was going on.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 engine goop

Whether you have a latex fetish or work on gooey engines like this, it does make you appreciate this material.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 engine turning over

Bazinga!  Archimedes was right, leverage is awesome!  It did not take much to make the engine turn. This is the documented original engine so…me happy!
Also, here you can see the oil cooler that was only on the early cars.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 transmission

Next out was the transmission and as you can see, it does not have an overdrive. Some of the early cars did not come with this option. This transmission is kaputt gewesen and that is probably why the car was parked for so long. It spins freely in any gear so I venture to think it experienced a small internal explosion.

I will upgrade the car with an overdrive unit.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 rear axle

Drive shaft and the rear axle came out next. I will just move it aside as the first goal is to strip the body so it can go to stripping and the metal shop.


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 engine cross member

Speaking of goop. About a pound worth was nested inside the transmission cross member!


1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 rear axle color

After removing the spring pad and the rubber dampener below it I can get a good look at the original color of the suspension.  It’s a semi flat black.

Anyway, a good day.

A closer look at Tom Lamb’s 1962 Volvo P1800

Since I am restoring a 1961 Volvo P1800 it is always great to connect with other owners of the same model. Chances  are that they have some words of wisdom for us or maybe even a spare of that strange-looking bolt that is missing on mine. You get the idea…


Tom Lamb in California owns this beauty.

This is a 1962 model with chassis number 4937 and as you can see  Volvo still used the full wheel covers. In 1963 Volvo changed things up by equipping the P1800 with the corporate rolling stock consisting of a solid body colored steel wheel with the large chrome hub cap.



How can you not want to pilot a vintage car with gauges as cool as these? They look even better at night as they emit a warm turquoise glow.

6500 RPM redline tells the driver when it is time to shift! Even though the five main bearing engine is very strong that is all the push rod assembly need to be exposed to.


1962Volvo-P1800-4937- Jensen-Lamb1

The cool part with these early wheel covers is that they scream EARLY CAR! …as in “I am special”


1962 Volvo - P1800 Jensen - No. 4937- Interior

Take this in: You are ready to enter a Swedish Grand Tourer right here by sitting down in this flawless red interior.

You will spend many hours here enjoying the short distinct shifter operating the smooth synchromesh transmission and comfortable highway cruising courtesy of the Laycock de Normanville  overdrive.

All this while enjoying the glorious music presented by the twin SU carburetors when approaching the aforementioned 6500 RPM redline.


The car was used for Volvo’s 60th anniversary celebration.

Tom restored the car about twelve years ago but it looks like it was done yesterday. It was restored to stock specifications with some small exceptions. For example, the distributor is now hosting a no maintenance electronic ignition system replacing the old points. Besides the obvious benefit Tom may even have picked up another horsepower or two.

Thanks Tom,  for sharing your car with us.  You set the bar high and that is now my challenge to reach the same level.

Photo: Tom Lamb