Well, that escalated quickly. Bonhams’ Scottsdale Auction got off to a fast start on Thursday when the first car to cross the block, a 1972 Volvo 1800E, was bid to $82,000. Including a 12-percent premium, the car sold for $91,840—the most ever paid for an 1800E.
That amount just missed setting a record for the most ever paid for a P1800 in general, regardless of sub-model. Two cars share that honor at $92,400, and both also sold through Bonhams: a 1972 1800ES Sport Wagon at The Quail Auction in 2018, and a 1973 1800ES Sport Wagon at the 2014 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance Auction.
“You never expect to see the first lot of the day setting a world record, but the stars aligned today in the Volvo world,” says Hagerty valuation analyst James Hewitt. “Historically the first lots are the less desirable ones before bidding picks up, but this car just sold for 15-percent above the high estimate. That doesn't happen often.”
Arriving for 1970, the E was the most powerful iteration of the 1800, and the final version of the coupe before the ES shooting brake came along. It features a 120-horsepower, 1986-cc inline four-cylinder “B20” engine with four-speed manual gearbox and overdrive. The 1800E was notable for its early use of electronic fuel injection. Volvo also made small tweaks to the interior, and 1800 buffs widely prefer the earlier, more elegant instrument panel design.
The 1972 Volvo 1800E is a highly original, unrestored late-production (February 1972) example. A California car with a well-documented history, it might be among the best in existence. The stunning Volvo wears Cypress Green paint, has its original optional waffle rubber mats and original Goodyear G800 spare tire, and has only 40,000 miles on the clock.
Last year, it was judged as the Volvo Club of America’s Best of Show winner. Now it’s also a record holder.