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 22

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1961-volvo-jensen-p1800-rotisserie-jack

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.

1961-volvo-jensen-p1800-rocker-removal

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…

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 17

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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 !

 

 

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1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 15

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I am trying to catch anything that need to be done before it goes to body and paint.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 missing nut

Like this weld nut that decided to take a walk. This nut holds the upper panel on the door. Now would be a good time to fix it. Threads are 1/4 -20.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 weld nut

I enlarged the hole enough to hold a nut in place and then used my 180 AMP metal melting device. I doused the screw and threads with anti splatter spray to make sure I didn’t weld the bolt to the nut!

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 weld nut in place

Nut job! Threads in place and all is well.

All chassis component on this car are semi flat black including the front cross member. On later cars, Volvo changed it to a blue gray color.

I found a perfect match to the black at my local powder coating company.The have a one time set up charge so it makes sense to bring in all parts for coating in one swoop.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 ugly front end 2

It is amazing how many little parts are on one car! Like the front end, after disassembling I have another hundred…or so…parts to…ugh, to clean and keep track of.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 front spring compress

NOTE spring compressor!  PLEASE NOTE: The front A-arms are holding the front springs under EXTREME pressure. DO NOT unbolt the ball joint or A-arms without taking precautions. If this spring was to let loose it could seriously harm or kill an individual. If you are not comfortable with this task, take it to a professional.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 front end blow apart

Sometimes I wonder why I do this :-/

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 A-arm petrified

Petrified! The dirt and grease have become petrified over 50 years.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 A-arm clean

OK, this is a bit of overkill but I like clean…I plan to blast and powder coat everything anyway.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 cross member

Front cross member ready for the next step. I will have it dipped in the rust removing solution as well as I want any internal rust gone.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake stud removal

Volvo’s service manual tells me that the minimum thickness of the rotors in 12.2 mm. These were less than 10 mm so these are going in the recycle bin. The early cars had different rotors and they are no longer available. Here I am pressing out the studs so I can separate the rotor from the hub.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake hub

Rotor and hub.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 brake rotor difference

Here you can see the difference between the early style (left) and the later style. The “hat” is 2 3/16 tall compared to the 1 3/4 height on the newer style. The old style lasted through chassis number 6999.

I have been told if I use the newer style caliper bracket, I can use the newer rotor. However, I also have to use the newer style backing shields and I would like to keep the original stuff. They looks very different and they are in excellent condition.

I have some ideas…more on this later.

 

Now I have to inventory all parts so they can be accounted for when I bring them to powder coating. Tip: Take lots of pictures!

1961 Volvo P1800 project, part 11

It is absolutely amazing when you strip a car body of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g…there are still a few things left but now we are getting close.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 vac tank

Here is one of the items that I am NOT looking forward to deal with.  The early cars had an extra vacuum tank for the brakes. I am not sure when Volvo dropped this. This unit is “conveniently” located under the left front fender. It is also “conveniently” bolted on using Phillips screws…facing the fender! Wish me luck!

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 insulation remover

The air hammer turned out to be an excellent tool to remove the sticky insulation. Hold at a very shallow angle and do not do this on an outside panel.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 cleanup floor

There! Pretty clean!

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 cranky nuts

The cage nuts under the passenger seats were cranky and put up resistance to the point that the bolts broke off. I guess I would be cranky too if I was caged under a seat for 50 years! I drilled out the spot welds and now I can replace the nut and cage.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 paint remover

After 50 years there is always a chance that the seam between fender and body may have some rust hiding. The only way to find out is to remove the lead. You don’t want to start grinding or sanding in lead. Like the good folks in Flint Michigan can tell you: Lead is BAD. You don’t want this stuff flying around in the shop.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 lead seam

Using paint remover I can see where the lead is located and then I can melt it out and dispose of it properly. Most local recycling facilities can take lead. Also, your local gun range can dispose and recycle lead. Don’t throw this stuff in the garbage as it can contaminate ground water. Consult a professional if you need help with this.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 door panel new

I think I worried about the availability of the interior as I ordered the kit very early in this resto. I was worried that with such low numbers of early cars out there it may not pay to re-manufacture for ever.

Anyway, I have it now and it looks great. The camera can’t really capture the chrome vinyl on the bottom but it is just sexy.

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen Project, part 3

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen dissasembly interior

All this have to come out. I am taking pictures and documenting as I go. It is always easy to tear stuff out, putting it back in the right order is another thing.

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen dissasembly interior apart

It is amazing how the interior from such a small can spread out.

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen dissasembly interior rear 2

All gone. I have to hack away all the sound deadener so the media blaster can get to all the surfaces. Having said that, I am researching a chemical dip as an option.

 

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The antifreeze was very clean. That is a good sign as the car has been sitting and clean antifreeze have good corrosion protection.

1967 Volvo 1800S

If one 1800 is good then two must be better. This rather solid 1967 1800S followed me home. It will be a parts car for now but it may be a project for someone in the future.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen jack tool

Here is one of the benefits with parts cars. I was missing the crank for the jack, One look in the trunk and here is what we need. Also the washer for the spare tire was found.

1964 Volvo 1800S

Well, if two 1800 is better than three must be bestest?? This is a 1964 with a perfect right side front molding. Guess what? I have a ding in the right side molding on the 1961. This car also have a bored out B-18 with a D cam and overdrive. It also have a Volvo AM-FM Radio, could be useful.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen kick panel

Back to tearing out the rest of the interior. This must be the coolest kick panel…evar. Chrome vinyl! Looks like something Chrysler would have cooked up in the late 50’s.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen dissasembly interior all out

A/C unit is gone and so is the rest of the interior.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen air intake

It should be a felony to paint this air grille.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen air intake Binford

Binford 6000 Professional Paint Remover to the rescue!

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen in garage done for the day

All done for the day. Sometimes I just have to stop and sweep up so I can get a good start on the next shop day.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen Project, part 2

I continue to look over the latest addition in the garage, the 1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen car.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 side

The car is quite straight but with some rust in the usual spots. What surprises me the most is how nice the trim and bright work is.

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 interior

The interior is actually quite decent or being 55 years old. However, as soon as you start replacing anything it all has to go.

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen door panel

The 55 year old door panels held up well.

 

1961 Volvo Jensen P1800 body number

I think this s the body number. If that is correct, Jensen (and Volvo) had already gone through over a thousand bodies by the time they got to this car, number 423! Is that possible?

I wanted to make sure about the engine, it would be great if it was the original engine. This is the delivery information that Volvo used to keep track of the cars coming from England. As you can tell, Excel was not yet invented! This is the 400 series chassis number so the circled number is 423.

P1800 delivery information

As we can see, the Chassis number 423 should have engine 149.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen engine number

Ha!…there it is…149! Good to know.

 

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen door trim

All the trim is in an amazing condition.

 

i am documenting and taking photos of all items for reference. This will be a big job!