Here’s why seeing 3 Volvo 1800s at Bonhams’ Quail Auction is a big deal

1973 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon

For the first time in forever, Bonham’s is selling multiple Volvo 1800s at the same event: the upcoming Quail Lodge Auction in Monterey. Seems like an obscure and overly specific claim, right? Wrong. 

First, we should point out that Bonhams has become the unofficial authority in high-dollar 1800 sales, notching a couple big sales in the past year. A teal 1972 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon sold for $92,400 at Bonhams’ 2018 Quail auction, and a green 1972 P1800E went for $91,840 at Bonhams’ Scottsdale event in January.

Second, Volvo 1800 values have risen dramatically over the past year. Hagerty valuation expert Andrew Newton points out, “These used to be solidly entry-level classics, with even rare versions like the ES being attainable. But people caught on to their virtues—good looks, relative rarity and endless usability. And prices for good examples have been consistently rising since about 2010, although things are a little flatter more recently.” An attainable Volvo 1963 Volvo P1800S Coupe sold for $32,480 at Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction in March.

1973 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon
Cameron Neveu
1973 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon

Like a hot Swedish pyramid scheme, it’s not too late to get in on the ground level. With three for sale at the Quail this weekend, you have some options.

While previewing Bonhams’ Monterey auction, I ran into Volvo aficionado Mike Dudek, who owns iRoll Motors Inc., and I overheard at least one stranger refer to him as “the Volvo guy who works up on Morgan Hill.” (Sounds like a Scandinavian nursery rhyme.) During the preview, he was vetting one of Bonhams’ multiple Volvos—a Gold Metallic 1973 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon. Dudek, true to his reputation, was able to point out everything correct and incorrect on the car. Under his scrutinous eye, the car did well. Not coincidentally, the Volvo belonged to one of his clients. Dudeck pointed out that this car, built during the model’s final production year, still rested on its original tires, and he noted things as minute as the battery cables were correct. Bonhams expects the car to sell between $70K–$90K.

The Metallic Blue 1973 Volvo P1800 ES Sport Wagon parked in the middle of Bonhams’ lot is the second Swedish shooting-brake up for auction. Imported by Sacramento’s Turner Motors Volvo in 1973, it is believed the car spent its entire life in the Golden State, most recently residing with an elderly Swedish woman in Auburn, California, until 2012. Really, you can’t make this up. Bonhams estimates it will sell for $60K–$80K.

The third and final 1800 to be sold is one of Dudek’s personal cars—a 1965 Volvo P1800S Coupe refinished in Pearl White. In the mid ’90s, long before Dudek bought the car, it went through a four-year rotisserie restoration. Bonhams reports that since the restoration, “the car has been used sparingly and always properly stored inside, undercover.”

1965 Volvo P1800S Coupe
Cameron Neveu
1965 Volvo P1800S Coupe

After seeing the car in person, this jives. Still, Dudeck was not content. After he purchased the Volvo earlier this year, he fitted the interior with correct arm rests, the body with new seals, and plumbed in a new wiring harness replete with period-correct cloth insulation. Bonus. The 1800 has some updated handling bits, including Bilstein shocks, performance sway bars, lower springs, and Panasport wheels. Bonhams estimates the car will fetch $60K–$80K.

I learned a lot from Dudek and his son Matt. I asked how they came to be 1800 experts. “Experience,” Matt says. “You learn a lot from making mistakes.” Let’s hope that devoting an entire article to an obscure three-car auction milestone isn’t one of mine.