50 years of “Snow White’s Coffin”: The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo

Menus

The unique career of a passionate Volvo

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-sports car

1 of 14

Famous not only for his nickname: "Snow White’s coffin" the Volvo 1800 ES was christened in the early 1970s. The title also fits the study from 196 shown here7th.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-sweden

2 of 14

Even the P 1800 prototype from 1960 impressed with its unmistakably Italian design.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Italy

3 of 14

The Swede Pelle Pettersson was employed by the Italian star designer Frua in the late 1950s, where he created the designs for the 1800s.

Source: Archive Nichel SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-North America

4 of 14

The car received free advertising when it was used as a film vehicle for detective Simon Templar in the cult series ‘The Saint’. Leading actor Roger Moore (left) soon drove privat a P 1800.

Source: picture alliance / kpa / kpa

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Scotland

5 of 14

The movie car found its way into collectors’ hands in the 1970s.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Italy

6 of 14

The 1800 S was the first of its kind to truly match Volvo’s proverbial high level of solidity.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-sweden

7 of 14

The spectacular study of the 1800 ESC by Karossier Coggiola was shown in 1968.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Mercedes 190 SL

8 of 14

The car with the folded rear and the frameless window was the boldest design of an 1800.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Germany

9 of 14

In 1972 the 1800 ES came onto the market as the penultimate of the model series.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-sports station wagon

10 of 14

The advantages of its oversized glass tailgate helped with the marketing.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Snow White's coffin

11 of 14

The steering wheel, which is huge compared to today, was what the Volvo had in common with many cars of its time.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-North America

12 of 14

Three generations of the 1800: from back to front, the development from sports coupe to sports station wagon is visible.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Germany

13 of 14

The American Irvin Gordon with his 66 1800 S in cherry red in front of the New York skyline. Gordon brought his car to Guinea in 2006 with a mileage of four millionssbook.

Source: picture-alliance / dpa / Volvo / PA / epa

50 years of "Snow White's Coffin": The unique career of a hot-blooded Volvo-Germany

14 of 14

Even today, Volvo designers refer to the legendary sports coupe. Similarities with the C30 from 2008 (right) are not accidental.

Source: Archives Nickel / SP-X

Conceived in Sweden, designed in Italy, built in Scotland and adored all over the world: when the P 1800, the pioneering sports coupe from Volvo, hit the market, it simply stole the show from beauties like the Jaguar E-Type or the Mercedes 190 SL. And it’s even in the Guiness Book of Records.

I.The career of Sweden’s first successful sports coupe could hardly have been more international: the Volvo P 1800 was drawn in 1957 by star designer Frua in Italy, it was assembled with a body pressed in Scotland by Jensen Motors in England, and it was successfully marketed until 1973 especially in North America – most recently as a sports suit 1800 ES. In Germany it was nicknamed because of its glass rear end "Snow White’s coffin".

Exactly 50 years ago, Volvo presented its exclusive sports car to the public for the first time. In the sophisticated ambience of the Brussels World Exhibition Grounds under the Atomium, the P 1800 made its debut as the first fast dream car of the sixties. The trade press praised the sports car, whose elegant and powerful lines with an extra-long bonnet almost gave it the charisma of a super sports car such as the Ferrari or Maserati of the time or the Jaguar E-Type unveiled a year later.

In fact, the P 1800 even managed to displace the originally nominated E-Type in a film casting. Roger Moore and his fast Volvo were the main characters in the cult TV crime series "The Saint" (Simon Templar), which was broadcast in over 70 countries from 1962 to 1969. Roger Moore was so enthusiastic about the two-seater designed by the Swede Pelle Pettersson at Frua that he also bought a P 1800 privately. The Swedes could not have wished for better and free worldwide advertising for their coupe, which was delivered from 1961.

Naturally, the initially just 90 hp Volvo couldn’t compete in terms of engine and driving performance with bolides like the E-Type with its 265 hp. The technical basis for the 2 + 2-seater coupe was the conventional but solid Volvo Amazon P120 sedan. The staid gray cast iron four-cylinder accelerated the P 1800 to just under 170 km / h. And that was quite competitive in the field of real rivals such as a Porsche 356, Mercedes 190 SL, Peugeot 404 Coupe, MG B or Alfa Giulia Sprint.

After a cost and quality disaster with the first Volvo sports car, the P 1900, which was built in small series from 1955 to 1957, Volvo boss Gunnar Engellau attaches particular importance to low production costs and a high level of solidity with the P 1800. Indeed, in September 2006, the American Volvo customer Irvin Gordon succeeded in providing the ultimate proof of the coupe’s longevity: After a total of four million kilometers with his 1800 S, which he had bought 40 years earlier, it was enough for an entry in the "Guinness Book of Records" that can hardly be surpassed..

Nevertheless, it took several years after the start of production of the P 1800 for the quality to meet the otherwise usual Volvo standards. Since the production lines in Sweden were running at full capacity and the new Torslanda plant did not go into operation until 1963, the most exclusive Volvo first had to be produced abroad. The steel was formed at Pressed Steel Ltd in Linwood, Scotland, and the body was also assembled there.

The final assembly was carried out by the English sports car manufacturer Jensen Motors. The first 250 cars had to be sent to Gothenburg for repair before delivery. Although Volvo quickly sent engineers to Great Britain for quality assurance, the problem was not solved until 1963 when production was relocated to Lundby, Sweden.

Sales of the coupe, now renamed the 1800 S – S for Sweden or Sports Coupe, are now really gaining momentum, especially in the USA. An overhaul was only necessary around 1970, because the car, whose roots go back deep into the 1950s, now looked quite antiquated alongside the coolly drawn Italian and French sports cars.

However, there was no money for a new development, which is why Volvo relies on a spectacular evolution of the injector, now known as the 1800 E: As the 1800 ES, the coupe mutated into one of the first shooting breaks or hunting vehicles in 1971. And “Jaktvagn” was the name of a near-series combi-coupe study by bodybuilder Coggiola commissioned by Volvo, which was shown in 1968.

A unique design feature of the 1800 ES is a large frameless rear window that extends well below the belt and allows a clear view of the luggage. Not even extremely high sales prices, which even make a Porsche 911 T appear as a special offer, can prevent the success of the 1800 ES: Over 8,000 units of the pioneering station wagon coupe can be sold in less than two years, most of them to America.

In 1973 it was the retrofitting costs to meet new US safety regulations that buried the two-door model jokingly known in Germany as the “Snow White’s coffin”. The importance of the design and cult status of the 1800 ES for Volvo is demonstrated twelve years later by the 480 ES, which revived the idea of ​​the sports suit – and remains considerably closer to the original than the current Volvo C30, with which Volvo is once again referring to history.

Leave a Comment

RSS
Follow by Email