Volvo P1800 Jensen history

Volvo 1800 S

The Volvo P1800 was created in 1957 as Volvo wanted to offer something sporty for the export market. Volvo turned to Frua in Italy to design the car as they wanted…you guessed it…a car with Italian design.

Volvo P1800 Prototype

Turns out…A Swedish designer, Pelle Petterson was working for Frua at the time and he was asked by the Frua management to come up with a design. They submitted several ideas anonomysly to the current Volvo president Gunnar Engellau in December 1957. Once he saw the P1800 he said: I want that! He did not know at the time that a Swede actually penned the car and was rather mad once he found out. He wanted “Italian design”. After Mr. Engellau cooled off a bit he gave the go ahead and aren’t we lucky he did!

Volvo P1800 Prototype 2

Volvo did not have the capacity to build the car so they turned to Karmann in Germany  and they were indeed interested. However, VW got wind of this and said they would pull their production from Karmann if they made a Volvo. So…Volvo looked around in Europe for other companies and finally made a deal with Pressed Steel in the UK to build the bodies and then have Jensen in West Bromwich to assemble the car. Jensen was for example building the Austin Healey.  The contract was to build 10,000 cars.

Volvo P1800 interior

Some of the design element were scrapped in order to streamline the production. For example, the drawings had the tail pipes coming out of the rear valance and the rear license plate recessed. Also, the rear quarter windows were fixed as opposed to the original design where they could open.

Volvo P1800 styling

Volvo also wanted a new engine for this sports car so they developed the B-18. It was a quite an engine for it’s time:
It developed 100 hp SAE at 5 500 rpm while sucking Swedish air through a pair of 1 ¾ tums SU HS6 carburators.

Volvo P1800 interior

Borg&Beck supplied the clutch and they opted for Volvo’s bullet proof M40 four speed transmission. You could also order a Laycock-de-Normanville electric overdrive that would give you a total ratio of 0,76:1. With the overdrive the rear axle ratio was 4,56:1 and without the rear had 4,10:1 ratio.

Volvo P1800 design

Volvo was not happy with the quality of work from the Jensen factory and decided to bring the P1800 manufacturing back to Sweden. The good news in all of this was that Volvo’s new car factory on Hisingen, Göteborg in Sweden was finished in 1963 and that meant that the older Lundby factory could be used for the P1800 manufacturing. After 6,000 cars made by Jensen the Volvo 1800 was now made in Sweden. This is why the designation P1800 changed to 1800S and the “S” stood for Sweden, not Sport as I have believed for all my life.

Volvo 1800 E and Volvo 1800 ES

Volvo continue to improve the 1800S through out the years for safety, convenience and power until it’s demise in 1972 for the coupe and 1973 for the ES model (wagon). Volvo produced a total of 47,485 of which 8,078 were the ES model.

Photos: Volvo Herritage Press Kit

Volvo Amazon History

Volvo Amazon History

(To the best of my knowledge. Some equipment varied depending on market and assembly plant. If you have info or pictures to correct, add or just general bitching, feel free to ping your Humble Editor )

The Volvo Amazon was designed by the then rather young Jan Wilsgaard. Jan’s parents fled to Sweden from Norway during the war.
Those were hard times and not the greatest circumstances but o’boy are we grateful that he ended up in Sweden. Really, imagine a world without Amazons!!

Vintage Volvo Amazon Commercial on Youtube
Mostly in Swedish, deal with it)

Jan Wilsgaard also designed the 140, 164, 700 and the 850 body.



The new Amazon was shown in September of 1956. Deliveries was started in spring of 1957.



4 speed was now standard. The Amazon Sport was introduced with twin SU carburetors rated 85 hp.


The vertical stripes on the interior was changed to horizontal. Front seat belts were now standard.



New color were offered as in black, blue and red. The trunk got the beautiful “air plane” style handle.



Last year for two tone paint.



The handsome two door model was introduced. The Sport model now came with disc brakes. 1.8 liter engine (B-18) was new as well as 12 volt system. The base model was rated 75 hp and the Sport 90 hp. New grille. First year for the Combi (Combi Volvo speak for station wagon/estate.) Orange blinkers in front and the wagon got orange blinkers in rear as well. (euro market)


the sedans also get orange rear blinkers. (euro market)


New and simpler trunk handle introduced.



New all vinyl seats with perforated inserts and ergonomic design with lumbar support.


New steel rims with vent holes.
The model designation was now displayed on a aluminum shield instead of the cursive gold lettering on the front fenders.


New grille with a small built in center bar. Black mats replaced the previous gray ones.



the Sport model is now rated 95 hp.



The Volvo letters on the hood are now silver replacing the previous gold version. New grille with a square looking center bar. The Sport model is now rated 100hp. The 123GT was introduced with the B-18B rated 115hp. Last year for four door cars.
The rear torque arms were much improved. Thank You Volvo!!
The aluminum fender badge was moved up and back on the front fender.
Closed cooling system and power brakes.
New grille design.



Collapsible steering column, dual circuit brakes and emergency brake warning light was part of the new safety equipment. Interior trim are flat black as opposed to the earlier shiny black. This goes for the tachometer housing on the 123GT as well. Some late 1967 saw this equipment as well, especially export models.

A butterfly style steering wheel replaced the beautiful Bakelite and chrome steering wheel. Also, the dash knobs in Bakelite was replaced with padded knobs.


The B-20 engine was introduced.  At this point, the Volvo 140 series had been out for two years and it was obvious that Volvo was directing it’s attention in a different direction. This was evident by the “simplified” Amazon.

The hood spear and the shiny trim on the gutters was deleted. The rear windows on the two door were now fixed. The door panels lost the map pockets.  Rear seat belts added. Last year for the wagon.



The third of July was a sad day as it was the last day of Amazon production. A dark blue car two door that was added to Volvo’s collection. A total of 667,488 Volvo Amazons were built. Some very late Amazon got heated rear window. I am not sure what year it was introduced.

Photos courtesy Volvo Sweden