Peter Leoni’s amazing 1963 Volvo 1800S Restoration

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The most rewarding part of being a motor head is the people you meet along the way.

Peter checked in as he is doing a full bottom up restoration on a 1963 Volvo P1800, chassis number 6023

Looks like a pretty decent solid car to start with. Some people would drive this car as is.

Peter went to work and fixed any questionable sheet metal.

This is the track that holds the weather stripping on the doors. Since you can not go to Volvo1800doortracks.com and buy these with your Visa card, Peter made a wooden buck to duplicate this track and then made a tool so he can shape the inside exactly like the factory part. Impressive!

Peter actually built a bath for the car to run rust removing solution through it. According to Peter, the key is fluid movement. He used a pump and as the fluid is moving about, it keeps destroying rust. This he used a spy camera to look inside the cavities to make sure he did a good job.

All open seams got sealed to keep out moisture.

Protective coat of paint.

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Peter is returning the car to it’s original color, 79 pearl white. You know, like the Saint!

Peter even built his own paint booth.

THIS! is when it really get to be FUN. Installing all the trim and chrome on a freshly painted car.

All hardware was re-plated to factory specs. Note the black bolts as some bolts were not shiny and some bolts that were painted like the trunk bolts for example were also black.

 

I met a lot of car guys that tells me “they” restored the car. A lot of times that means that they wrote checks! Peter not only do all the paint and body work…get this…he does his own chrome!

Front cross member painted in the correct blue gray color.

 

This is the frame that holds the headliner. The advantage is that you can work on a bench with it to make sure all wrinkles are gone before it goes back in the car.

Like this…

 

I look forward to updates from Peter and of course the finished product. There will be some serious awards handed out to Peter for the incredible work on this car.

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 24

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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

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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.

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

 

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

 

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Looks OK.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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 22

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I was looking for a smooth way to rotate and hold the body as I need to move it quite often. This is the expandable load bar I use in the truck. The rubber ends offer traction and it works like one of those domestic ratchet car jacks.

 

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This is very premature but I just had to do a test fit. With the rocker sheet metal temporary held in place I can now see how the rear quarter panel and the front fender. Both connects to the rocker panel via an overlay. It is important that I achieve a smooth transition between the panel for the correct look.

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Looks like the quarter panel fits well. Repairing rust is not exactly glorious work so these “test fit parties” are good for motivation.

 

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The rear inner wheel wells are in excellent condition except the bottom. The fender obviously attaches to this so it has to be solid.

 

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So…

1. Template.

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2. Make metal part look like what was there before.

 

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3. Test fit.

 

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4. Weld in place.

Looks good. Since this will never be seen I don’t need to grind the welds completely. Besides, the weld is stronger if not ground down.

 

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This is the front lower part of the wheel well. Based on the weld “lump” it appears that the factory just filled this corner with weld.

 

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There…solid corner and a lip to attach the quarter panel to.

 

 

Adam Featherston’s most excellent 1961 Volvo P1800

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Collecting, restoring and enjoying vintage Volvo cars is a world wide hobby.  Another virtual visitor drove by Vintage Swedish Cars with his newly restored 1961 Volvo P1800.  As I am knee deep in to a full restoration of the same car, I am always looking for inspiration and motivation.

Adam Featherston resides in Marple Bridge, a town near Manchester in the UK.  Adam imported this car from San Diego and it turns out that the So Cal weather had been very gentle on the sheet metal.

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The car was described as “scruffy and a little sad” and in need of cosmetic and mechanical rebuild. That’s what  you would you expect after 56 years or so.

 

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Adam commissioned Keith and Simon at the to bring the Volvo back to it’s former glory.

 

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After blasting: Check out how solid this car is.

 

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Photo: P1800 Specialists

Adam had some thoughts about the color. These cars looks absolutely stunning in a gun metal grey metallic and if you step up for red leather you will have a Swedish car that rivals a similar era Aston Martin.

However, after seeing the Saint’s car in the original off white color the decision was made to keep the car all stock. After all, if Roger Moore was happy with it, we should be too!

 

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The paint came out excellent and the body is perfectly straight.

 

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“Installing the chrome”

This is probably the most satisfying period of any car restoration: Installing new chrome on a freshly painted car.  Doesn’t get any better than this.

 

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Engine compartment.

Like the car was built yesterday.

 

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Ivory car with red interior is about as about a sexy as it gets. Yeah, I’m running out of adjectives here…Note how the early P1800 doors are very different compared to the later ones.

 

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Since I have run out of adjectives I will just say: Nice, huh!?

 

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Thank you Adam for sharing your car with us…and the world. This twin of your truly’s project car is excellent inspiration and motivation. The car is on it’s way to great fame as well. It was used for an arts project: The Spy Who Loved Himself

If you want to see more of this car make sure to visit Adam’s blog Saintly Wheels. Adam did warn his reader that the blog will now shift focus: Less restoration and more driving. We sure hope so.

Photos:  Adam Featherston

 

 

 

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 20

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

 

Vintage Swedish Cars…in Sweden!

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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.

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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.

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1967 Volvo Amazon dk blue

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

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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

 

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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.