15k: 1971 Volvo 1800E Coupe – Fully Restored – Thorsday #3

After two Thorsdays of wagons, one a hit…the other, all but ignored, it’s time to consider a Volvo coupe for number 3. Clean & well maintained original cars are our preference but sometimes a restored & refinished Swede catches our eye…and why not consider the original coupe version of the shooting brake we featured two weeks ago? To be fair, today’s Thorsday chariot is not the early P1800, but the later evolution with fuel injection and bigger lungs. This super fetching example is a 1971 Volvo 1800E, available on ebay in Portland, Oregon with the auction ending today and reserve somewhere north of $15k.

The 1800 coupes offer less in the way of utility and total silica mass than their “Schneewittchensarg” 1800ES shooting brake derivative, but we’d argue that they lose nothing in the way of presence and Italianate style. Coupled with solid Swedish mechanicals and iffy British electrical components, they offer a unique blend of high-end appearance with roll-the-dice reliability. The pushrod B18 and B20 engines hardly ever have issues, but the Lucas lighting might complain if you rally this little steed through any water crossings.

The Portland, OR seller is Cascadia Classic, who seems to be a regular on ebay with interesting and sanitary vintage Volvos. We’ve admired their wares before and don’t mind getting caught with our trousers down staring at this little creampuff. Without the expansive roof and rear quarter windows, the original ’60s finned coupe styling really shows through, with it’s Karmann-Ghiaesque roofline, thin A- and B-pillars, and what’s that? A variation on the Hofmeister Kink on a Volvo? Maybe we should call it the Thormeister Curve.

Rear styling is unmistakable on these cars, even if the front has a bit of a Ferrari feeling to it. The quarter panels are welded to the inner fins on either side of the trunk, which is welded to the rear fascia panel, and the roof, which is welded to the cowl, to which the front fenders and nose cone are welded…wow, actually the only removable sheetmetal panels on an 1800 coupe are the hood, trunk, and doors. Even though these are small cars when seen through 21st-Century eyes, their overbuilt solid superstructure unit body gives them a heft that conflicts with the sporty styling promise. Think of an 1800 coupe as a Scandanavian Karmann-Ghia – that’s the simplest way to describe it – with the engine in front and a radiator (containing water!) in front of that. The 1800 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing but charming nonetheless.

Inside, we don’t find sheepskin seat covers but rather perfectly re-covered black leather original seats. This 1971 model is a ‘tweener, with the late ’60s style square sofas with separate headrests, but the oh-so-’70s woodgrain dash and three spoke plastic steering wheel. But wait, that’s not fake woodgrain sticker applique slapped on by Gunnar in Goteborg, no, this car has been treated to an upgrade with real Zebrano wood panels. This is the same stuff used by Mercedes-Benz all the way through the end of the W123 lineup, and if not cracked and baked looks mighty fine in a Euro interior. Stay classy, San Diego!

The 2.0L B20E engine is an evolution of the earlier B18B, with larger displacement, Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection, and a plastic shroud on that yellow steel fingerchopper fan. The 115 hp twin carb B18B feels quite peppy in our own ’66 1800S coupe, so we can imagine the 2.0L EFI upgrade with 124 hp and a 6,500 rpm redline should keep your inner child happy when he feels like romping on the go pedal. We’ve seen turbochargers added to these B20E motors with great success, and that would make this little beaut a burnout machine, if there’s room under the hood for the turbo, plumbing and intercooler. Give it a try! Let your creativity (and dollars) flow by molesting a cherry stock vintage Volvo!

Another awesome ebay seller including underside shots of the car on a lift! We wish they were all like this guy and the Hilux seller from yesterday. Original undercoating looks intact except where some leaked gear oil has been cleaned form around the trans. If it’s not leaking a little bit, it’s not an old European car, so don’t worry about it (you can quote us on that).

So tell us what you think: does this fresh and clean DT have Thorsday Throwdown success written all over it? Or would you rather save your pennies now, buy a “project” 1800 and spend the next 10 years and $30k getting it into this condition?

Let us know if you find a better Swedish Thormeister Curve Mobile – or a Swedish Brick – or any suggestions for Volvo Thorsday. email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

**UPDATE 8/16/12: Looks like this one is out of DT budget range – the auction ended at $17,800 with reserve not met – no sale. 30 bids were placed indicating some healthy interest. This is near the top of the 1800 market…but we’ll keep our Thor-dar on full alert to see if the seller tries again.