Section 5: 180
All P180 cars are Volvo sports cars. The first model, the P1800, was
displayed at this New York Auto Show in April 1960. The P180 was offered
as a two-door, four-seat (2 front plus 2 rear) sports coupe from 1961 through
1973. A three-door 112 + 211 hatchback "sportswagon' was offered in 1972-73.
The two door carries the P182 designation and the three door is a P183 in Parts
Department terminology. The 11180011 name comes from the size of the engine
-1,778 cc rounded to 1,800.
The P1800s had an attractive body designed in the 1950s in cooperation with an Italian company named Frua. The engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and certain chassis parts came from the P120. This made the P1800 both rugged and durable -- something very unusual for a sports car in the 1960s.
The P180 was always considered to be more of a luxurious GT (Grand Touring) car and less of a finicky high performance sports car. In the 1960s, it was marketed in the 1.6 to 3.0 liter Sports/GT car market. Other cars in this class included the Porsche 911/912, Austin-Healey 3000, MG-B, Triumph TR-4A and the Mercedes 230 SL. Prices for these cars ranged from $3,000 to $6,000 in 1964! At $3,970 the Volvo P1800 fit nicely.
Both weekend racers and privately sponsored professional racers used modified P1800s on the racetrack. Throughout the 1960s, the P1800 consistently placed at the top (or very close to it) from Sebring, Florida, to Riverside, California. A P1800 was the first Volvo to tackle the high banking at Daytona... not bad for a luxury touring car!
The P180 were sold throughout the years as the P 1800, 1900S, 1800E and 1800ES. The "PI' was officially dropped in the mid-1960s but remained in popular use with the customers. The "PI' in Volvoese means personvagn-- private car.
As the sample U.S. classified ad section indicates, a well-kept P1800 is worth
some bucks. These cars are attracting new owners that take an active role in
restoring them to like-new condition. Many genuine Volvo parts are still
available for these potential classics. (As of 1987, a "clean" E or F-S can sell
in Canada for as much as $12,000 Canadian!)
The total number of 1800s produced is 47,462. Well over half were exported to North America.
The P1800 were fitted with the reliable five main bearing, overhead valve, four-cylinder B-18/B-20 engine. Below is a recap by model and year:
The difference between the two B-20F engines is in the fuel system. All 1972-73 Volvos have electronic fuel injection. The 1974 B-20F has a different fuel injection system called Continuous Injection (CI).
TIP: Substituting a 1972-73 B-20F exchange engine with a 1974 type involves changing a lot of parts. For the 1972-73 B-20F, it's better to rebuild the block, use new pistons and fit exchange B-20F cylinder head.
The 1970 1800E was the first Volvo to receive electronic fuel injection on the B20E engine. Even though this model has the 1,986 cc engine, it was not called a P1986 or P2000. The 1800 name remained.
In 1966 a special high-performance parts kit was available from Volvo for the B18B engine. It included a high-compression cylinder head, special camshaft, lighter flywheel and an assortment of smaller parts. Other than the R-Sports Parts Program that came later, this kit marked the first time that a genuine Volvo parts "hop-up" kit was made available. This tradition continues today with the availability of turbo intercoolers in the early 1980s and the current Turbo + Boost Kit.
Oil and fuel filters are located in the same places for the 1800 as indicated in the 140 and 120 workbook sections. Maintenance and replacement intervals are also very similar.
Two hard paper air filters (one for each carburetor) were fitted to all B-18B equipped P1800s. They are located on the right side of the engine. 1968-69 models with the B-20B engine used a f lat-type air filter.
1970 and later cars used a single air filter element located in front of the right side of the radiator in an air cleaner canister. The front grille has to be removed to get at the air cleaner. Replace the filter every 24,000 miles/38,400 km.
Because the P1800 was designed from existing components, most engine, cooling, heating and air conditioning parts are identical to the 140 and 120. These share many part numbers -- something that can make a job easier!
All P1800s have a twelve-volt electrical system. The generator was replaced by an alternator with the introduction of the 1969 1800S. Exchange alternators and generators are available.
One exchange starter motor part number fits all 1800 engine types.
Volvo advertising in the 1960s promoted the dependability of the 1800's ignition system. A commonsense approach to sports car ownership ("Volvo believes that your enjoyment shouldn't stop when a little rain starts") was a unique way to sell sports cars.
The ignition system was identical to the system found on the 140 and 120. A complete tune-up would include a new set of contact points, a condenser, a rotor, a cap and four spark plugs.
Drive Train / Brakes
Most 1800s came equipped with the M-41 four speed plus overdrive manual transmission through 1969. From 1970 the M-410 four speed plus overdrive (from the 160) was installed. The P180 parts microfiche contains separate frames for the M-41 and M-410 transmissions. Part numbers are substantially different between the two gearboxes. A steering column-mounted lever engaged the overdrive when an 1800 was cruising in fourth gear.
Both transmissions have an overdrive unit that requires fluid and filter checks. Replacement of the overdrive solenoid is sometimes needed. A rubber transmission mount located on the rear bottom of the transmission and attached to a frame crossmember is a candidate for replacement on high-mileage 1800s.
A three-speed automatic transmission (BW35) was available as an option beginning in 1970. Separate parts are available for rebuilding purposes. All automatics had a floor-mounted shift lever.
Unlike the hydraulic assembly in P120, the 1800s have a mechanically operated clutch assembly. A cable and release fork may also be needed in addition to the usual pressure plate, disc and release bearing.
The driveshaft (also called a propeller shaft) contains three universal joints and a center support bearing. All 1800s were given stronger driveshafts and "beefier" U joints from the 160 when the fuel injected B-20E and B-20F engines were installed (starting with the 1970 model).
TIP: As a general rule for all pre-1975 Volvos, when more power was obtained from an engine, the driveshaft and U joints were made stronger. Always review the "propeller shaft" section in the parts microfiche with this in mind.
The rear axle assembly contains the differential and axles. The 1800s used the "live" rear axle design from the P120. An anti-spin differential (also called limited slip) was fitted to most 1800s.
Because of the introduction of fuel injection and automatic transmission with the 1970 model, part numbers increased.
TIP: The part number of the rear axle assembly is stamped onto a metal plate attached to the differential case. While this info is not absolutely needed to find parts on the microfiche (because the rear assembly is clearly identified by chassis number), it is helpful in confirming what rear end should be in the car. Call it peace of mind!
The front disc-rear drum setup of the P120 was used through 1969. Early 1800s had single circuit brakes without power assist. By 1967 all cars came with a dual circuit braking system and power assist as standard equipment.
TIP: It's always a good idea to get both the vehicle identification number and as much info about the car as possible. Understanding the P1800 brake parts section on the fiche is easier if you have more info. For instance, find out whether the car has a single or dual braking system and power assist. Don't hesitate to ask!
From 1970 on, this came equipped with f our wheel disc brakes. Most part numbers used on 1970-73 P1800s are completely different than 1962-69 P1800s. The 1970 and later system is a development of the 140 instead of the P120. For example, a front disc brake caliper from a 1966 1800S cannot be replaced with a front caliper from a 1972 1800E -- a power brake booster from a 1963 P1800 will not fit a 1972 1800ES... got it? IMPORTANT: When it comes to brake system parts, always look up the correct part number. Don't ever rely on your memory for a brake part number. Look it up.
Exchange front calipers are available for the 1800. Caliper rebuild kits, master cylinders, brake pads and most other 1970 and later brake parts are available. It is always a good idea to check parts availability for older models BEFORE quoting a price.
Suspension / Steering
The 1800 have an independent front suspension nearly identical in design to the P120. Many part numbers are also shared. As a general rule, the major difference is coil springs and shock absorbers.
Typical parts that require replacement due to wear or age include:
Accident damage could involve replacing the above parts plus one or more wishbones and the frame crossmember. The rear suspension is identical to the P120 (except springs and shocks).
Early cars through 1969 have stamped steel wheels 4.5 or 5 inches wide by 15inches in diameter. All later 1800s from 1970 on use the same sizes, but a black spoked alloy wheel was used on a few cars.
The steering system on these are a manual cam and roller type identical to the P120 and similar to the 140. Power steering was not offered. Parts that need replacement include:
In its stock form, the suspension provided a softer ride than the average sports car. This contributed to the P1800's claim to fame: long-distance touring.
As for the steering, most 1800s had a light, sports-car feel to them. The addition of automatic transmission, air conditioning and more complex systems (like fuel injection) added weight to the front end. The light steering got heavier as more parts found their way onto the 1800 in the early 1970s.
The 1800, 1800S and 1800E all shared the same body style. They all were a twodoor "notchback" sports coupe. All models were front-engine, rear-drive unit-type constructed vehicles.
The styling of the 1800 aroused much public in-Eerest when it was first introduced. Although in later years the 1800 received some criticism for being too 111950s looking," the attractive basic shape remained unchanged. It is this lack of change, unique styling and sporty flair that interests car collectors today.
In the beginning, P1800s were assembled in England and shipped to Sweden for a final quality control check. Once these cars were quality checked, they were sent on their way to different markets. From mid-1963 on, all 1800s were made in Sweden. By the end of 1966, a grand total of approximately 25,000 1800s had been built. More than half were sent to the North American market.
The only major change to the body was made with the introduction of the 1800ES in 1972. A rear hatch made of glass was added to the original coupe body design.
The 1800 body received anti-corrosion protection similar to the 140. Partly because of this protection (plus owner care), a number of 1800s over fifteen years old can be seen with limited rust on them. Many other sports cars made during the same years as the P1800 cannot make this statement.
A number of genuine Volvo body parts are still available. Fenders, grilles, grille surrounds, hoods, trunk lids and doors are available and usually in stock at the National Distribution Center. If it's not in stock, but still available from Sweden, it will be ordered with the same urgency as any other genuine Volvo part.
The interior of the 1800 contained a variety of standard luxury features in keeping with its purpose. For example, a 1972 1800E came with an electric clock, tinted glass, tachometer, leather upholstery, heated rear window, locking center console and orthopedically designed front seats.