We en­joy the Volvo 1800ES and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -

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.

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