10k: It Hardly Rains Here Anyway: 1972 Volvo 1800ES

It seems like just yesterday that decent driver quality vintage Volvos littered the streets and craigslist ads – their long-term owners practically begging you to take the old hulks off of their hands for the price of a left rear corner glass from a 23-window VW Microbus. Good deals on old rear-drive Swedes can still be found, but the more outgoing members of the family are garnering most of the attention and now demanding the big bucks. A complete and running 1800ES was considered just an oddity a few years back, and might fetch $5000 on a good day. Now the rotting hulks are almost worth that much and the decent cars go for double. Still – they are a value among low production classics. Find this 1972 Volvo 1800ES for sale in Duarte, CA for $9500 via craigslist.

When near-perfect examples of the 1800ES are cresting over $20k on ebay, it’s refreshing to see a slightly tatty one offered for less than 5 figures. Any casual reader of DT will know of our infatuation with this shooting brake; we’ve matched a few cars with happy new owners since spontaneously manifesting in the blogosphere in 2012; hopefully this one keeps another DT’er happily occupied sorting out its issues.

Even though this is alleged to be an original California car, rust has taken hold in a few spots with the tenacity of Rush Limbaugh on a bottle of oxycodone. You may want to ingest opiates before painting your new 1800ES, but first consider that just about all of these cars have (or had) some rust due to the design and geometry of the steel in key areas. The cowl vent tray, rocker panels, and a few spots on the passenger door will need tinworm eradication in the near future. Thankfully, the seller is straightforward and honest and adds “water goes through vent when washing or raining…I just cover it and it hardly rains here anyway.” On the plus side, the car looks decent from 10 feet and may not need a respray. The interior seems serviceable and that’s a nice Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel and shift knob.

Underhood you’ll find Volvo’s mainstay for the ’60s and ’70s – the pushrod 2.0L B20 (based on the B18). These little tractors are so well built and understressed they can allegedly sit at redline all day long without incurring any damage; valve float acts as a built-in failsafe to keep it from revving any higher or hurting the spinny bits. By the early ’70s Bosch D-Jetronic MAP-referenced fuel injection was in place. It takes a knowledgeable mechanic or a motivated tinkerer to keep this system afloat; parts are still readily available. Just be glad it’s fundamentally simple and not the byzantine K-Jet! More pluses for this car: working AC, lots of records, and newer tires.

Find a cheaper drivable 1800ES? It might not be as easy as you’d think, but email us if you do: tips@dailyturismo.com