My terminal Volvo affliction and the 1964 1800S I couldn’t let die
by Jamie Graham //
In October 2015, I was standing next to my ’68 Volvo 1800S at a car gathering in Victoria, British Columbia, when someone showed me a Google Map on his tablet. He zoomed in to reveal an 1800 parked in a residential driveway not far away. He said he walked his dog by the house every night, and the car had been sitting in the same spot forever—at least a decade.
I was curious, so a buddy and I went over that night, and I “cold knocked” on the door. The owner allowed us to look over the car. Even in the dark I could see it was in bad shape. The owner said I could come back the next day, so I arrived with another Volvo fanatic, and we parked our P1800s out front to show her I was serious. She said her husband had passed away recently, and I could tell she loved the Volvo. Then she said those lovely words, “I just want the car to go to a good home,” and she made me promise as part of the transfer not to sell it for parts.
The Volvo was an early 1964 1800S, and it originally came west to Victoria from Montreal. From the expired license plates, I calculated it had been sitting for nearly 26 years, undriven and open to the elements. Rust, mold, and local wildlife had taken over, but it was complete. With one owner and only 72,000 miles, it was a car worth saving.
A local Volvo 1800 expert and I spent many hours in my tiny half garage on the rebirth of this classic. Everything was removed, photographed, logged, sorted, categorized, and thrown in the trash or stored away for the restoration. It took a few years, but the car now sports a rebuilt 1.8-liter engine, new fuel tank, new braking system, and new exhaust. Inside are new black leather seats, new carpeting, and rebuilt door cards. While on holiday at my brother’s place in South Carolina, I sourced upper and lower dash pads and then brought them back on the plane. The airline lost them for a day or two, but they were found and installed and finished off the interior. This wasn’t a barn find—more a driveway find—but I couldn’t be prouder of its transformation.
My Volvo affliction is terminal, I’m afraid. In addition to this ’64, I just sold a beautiful ’68 1800S to a German buyer, and I recently picked up a rare 1962 Jensen-built P1800 that had been decaying in a carport here in Victoria for 14 years. That beauty will have to wait in storage until space and time are available, because right now I’m only halfway through a ’73 1800ES restoration.
Not long ago, my wife uttered those wonderful words every gearhead wants to hear: “Honey, you need a bigger garage.” I couldn’t agree more.