We enjoy the Volvo 1800ES and put it fully to the test
1 DAILY DRIVING There’s no reason why a member of Volvo’s 1800 family shouldn’t be able to rack up year after year in regular service – just ask Irv Gordon, whose 1966 1800S has racked up more than three million miles since he bought it new. As long as it’s looked after, the B20 engine and four-speed gearbox will go on forever, and it’s an easy, forgiving car to drive. Things are even better in the ES model, whose great visibility and commodious load space makes trips to the supermarket – or indeed the Le Mans Classic – and the business of ferrying around family and friends a doddle. 2 IN THE SERVICE BAY It’s all Volvo 120-spec mechanically beneath the bonnet, so it’s fairly easy to look after and backed up by plenty of specialist and owners’ club support here in the UK. With the exception of a dipstick that’s inexplicably tricky to access, virtually everything’s easy to reach and look after, so we’d worry more about rotting bodywork than poorly mechanicals. We’ve a top tip too if you need to replace the headlight rims; fit Vanden Plas 1300 ones instead of the original Volvo items. They are much cheaper and easier to source and amazingly fit perfectly. 3 ON THE SHOW CIRCUIT The 1800ES’ rarity – it was only made for two years and there are just 50 or so still on the nation’s roads – means that it should attract plenty of attention at classic events. Both the Volvo Owners’ Club and the Volvo Enthusiasts’ Club are pretty proactive when it comes to arranging appearances at many of the nation’s bigger classic gatherings, so we’d definitely recommend getting in touch with them if you’re thinking of showing yours off. Its age also makes it eligible for most classic gatherings, including the Goodwood Revival’s ‘Over The Road’ displays later this year. 4 THE LONG WEEKEND It’s hard to think of a vehicle better suited to epic classic car voyages. The mechanicals are more than up to coping with long motorway journeys, and once you flick the overdrive into action on fourth gear it’ll happily lope along at relatively low revs and keep up with motorway traffic. The long weekend is also where the 1800ES’ more practical shape comes into its own, with 305 litres of load space available without folding the rear seats down, and rear accommodation isn’t unbearably cramped as long as you’re of no more than average height. It’s a perfectly practical, long-legged cruiser. 5 THE B-ROAD BLAST The Volvo copes admirably with tighter bends and offers a pliant ride on rougher surfaces, but if you’re looking for hair-raising handling thrills, you’d be better off looking at a Reliant Scimitar GTE or Lotus Elan +2, both of which competed against the 1800ES in period, and offer much tighter and enjoyable handling. It’s far happier finding its own feet and letting you enjoy its cruising abilities, and the light steering, ample mid-range torque and great all-round visibility make it perfectly suited to enjoying longer drives. Just don’t expect your heart-rate to increase much.