Volvo Concept Coupe. Echoes of the P1800

Volvo delves into the past as it looks to the future with the Volvo Concept Coupe.

[Not a valid template]
Volvo Concept Coupe
Engine: 2-litre twin charged, electric motor on rear axle
Power: Approx 400bhp
Torque: More than 440lb ft

Volvo is delving into its history at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month by building a new version of the classic P1800.

Well, sort of. The Volvo Concept Coupe – the first of three forthcoming concepts from the Chinese-owned Swedish company – will give an idea of what we can expect from next-generation Volvos, particularly the XC90 in 2014.

Being Swedish, the design is minimalistic, or “free from the superficial surface excitement of other car brands,” as Volvo puts it.

Look carefully, and there are subtle elements of the Volvo Concept Coupe that reflect the P1800 of the 1960s. But Volvo doesn’t want to you think that they’re ripping off their own history. Oh no.

“Using elements from the P1800 exterior and interior has nothing to do with being retro,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s senior VP of design. “We are using these subtle links to a glorious past to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognised part of Volvo’s identity.” So there you go.

Interior features of the 400bhp-plus, hybrid-engined Volvo Concept Coupe include a handcrafted crystal gear lever and a large portrait touch-screen, a la McLaren 12C. The engine is a 2-litre supercharged and turbocharged affair, with an electric motor over the rear axle.

The decidedly non-hybrid P1800 first appeared in production form in 1961, a rakish and stylish coupe that still holds its beauty more than 50 years later. Officially, Volvo said it was Italian-designed, but it was only in 2009 that Volvo recognised that a Swede, noted yacht designer and Olympic medallist Pelle Patterson, was actually the man that penned its sleek lines.

The car was first shown to the world in 1960 at the Brussels Motor Show, and it was this that led to a production deal with the British firm Jensen to actually build it in the UK. Construction switched to Sweden in 1963 and stayed there for the next 10 years.

As the name suggests, it was powered by a 1.8-litre engine producing just shy of 100bhp. Not bad for the early ‘60s.

Interesting fact: A P1800 holds the record for most distance travelled by a production car. The 1966 P1800S, owned by Irv Gordon of New York state, USA, is expected to hit the 3 million mile mark (4,828,032km) in Alaska this very month. Volvo is so excited, it even made this microsite about it.

P1800 pictures by Michael Schiebler and Racin Jason on Flickr.

Categories: Road


Comments are closed