1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen Project, part 1

Sometimes you have to go through life to figure out…a few things. That was a pretty profound thought, eh?

I have been playing with Volvo Amazons and 544’s for over 40 years and I have been pretty happy with that…until now.

While walking around at the Exotics at Redmond Town Center one Saturday morning I was throughly enjoying the lines of the 60’s Euro cars and especially the design of the Italian cars.

How can I own a car with those lines and still make it affordable and dependable?


The answer was right in front of me the whole time. A Volvo 1800!!

The hunt (if you can call it that) started by emailing some Volvo friends and asking if they knew of any good projects for sale.

About a day passed and I got an email from a friend. He knew of a 1962 Volvo P1800 that was for sale. 1961 was the first model year for this car and many 1800 enthusiast agrees that the 1961 through 1964  is the most beautiful models. The “Jensen bull bumpers, beautiful “hockey stick” moldings on the doors and some other attributes that makes is special.

If I am going to spend time and effort on one of these it might as well be an early car. I went to look at it and…

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen in garage

…two weeks later the car resting in my garage.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen 403

Turns out that this is actually a 1961 model year car. The chassis number is 423 and that actually makes it an early 1961.

P stands for Personvagn (passenger car)
1 = body type
8 = model (P1800 duh!)
3 = B18 engine
9 = Assembled outside Sweden as in England.
4 = Four speed transmission

69 = white
301 = red interior

The early cars were not equipped with overdrive. This also means that this car have a 4:11 rear axle ratio unlike the overdrive cars that had a 4:56 ratio.  Nerd info: When the car’s top speed were tested, it turned out that the 4 speed cars were faster compared to the overdrive equipped  cars. The taller rear axle ratio put the engine right at the optimum RPM for torque. Having said all that, I plan to add an original style overdrive to this car but I will keep the ratio stock. Best of both worlds, eh?


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen bumpers

The first order of business it to take an inventory and catalog what I have. These are the “Jensen” bumpers.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen grille

Early style “egg crate” grille made from heavy aluminum.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen tail lights

All red tail light lenses.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen dash

The car has a FrigiKing underdash A/C unit.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen engine

Looks like it has a later model sealed cooling system and a five blade fan. I think this may have been upgraded when the A/C was added.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen wheels

I am sure these are the original 4 1/2 wide rims.

1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen wheel marking

The rims appear to be in a gun-metal gray color.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen jack

Original jack and lug wrench.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen interior lights

License light assembly without back up light. it is my understanding that only the early cars had these milky interior lenses as they later were clear.


1961 Volvo P1800 Jensen manual

Original manual with notes from the original owner about spark plug gap etc. Cool stuff.

This will be a HUGE project and I hope to be able to pull it off.