Volvo appears to be testing a disguised prototype version of the classic P1800 coupé, leading to speculation that an electric restomod version could be produced in time for its 60th anniversary next year.
The prototype in question, spotted by a Volvo enthusiast just outside the company’s Hällered testing ground near Gothenburg in Sweden, sports a number of key changes over the original car. Wider wings, a revised front apron with a new intake and modern wheels and tyres are visible behind the disguise. But the most telling clue is the lack of any visible exhaust pipe at the rear.
One possibility is that Volvo’s engineers are working on a ‘reimagined’ P1800 that could be launched to mark the car’s birthday in 2021. Such a car could not only draw attention to the Swedish brand’s illustrious past but also present a clear marketing link to its future as it transitions to full electrification.
Volvo predicts that 50% of its total sales will be of fully electric cars by 2025.
The car in question is registered as a red 1964 example owned by Mattias Evensson, head of engine development at Cyan Racing, the motorsport arm of Volvo parent company Geely.
Evensson purchased the car from Jonas Christian Dahl, the owner of the Polestar brand from 2004 to 2015, when it was taken under the wing of Volvo. Before that, the car belonged to the Polestar racing team itself.
The car’s close ties to senior executives could mean it’s a personal project or a one-off. However, the fact that the model has been seen road-testing in prototype-stage camouflage suggests there may be more to it.
When contacted by Autocar, a Volvo UK spokesperson declined to comment on the sighting.
The P1800 was a 2+2, front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupé produced from 1961 to 1973. With Volvo initially unable to produce the car itself, it was first built by Jensen in West Bromwich, England, using bodyshells made by Pressed Steel in Scotland. Production moved to Sweden in 1963.
The P1800 gained fame through the hit TV series The Saint, in which one was driven by lead star Roger Moore.