Cool or Cruel? – V8 Volvo P1800ES

I’ve copped plenty of flack over my desire to V8-ifiy a 1970’s/80’s Jaguar XJ6. I don’t mind. I still think there’s some merit to adding a bit of grunt to compliment the smoothness and make it a big British bruiser (and by the way, Jaguar seem to agree – the company’s latest offerings are hardly what you’d call understated, and I like it!!)

The Volvo P1800, whether in coupe or shooting brake form, is a classic much like the Jag. But how far can you bend that classic before it breaks?

A guy in the US has shoe-horned a Chevy 327 into his Volvo P1800ES. He says it turns heads wherever he goes but are those heads turning in admiration of horror? Looking at the custom hood treatment, I’d suggest the latter.


BUT…… I reckon there’s merit in this V8 Volvo conversion.

Smooth out the hood, add some decent wheels and a body/paint job and I reckon you’ve got the makings of a fun weekender. You’re never going to win over the traditionalists in something like this, but you’ll have a blast while you’re annoying the daylights out of them.

I’m expecting people to vote ‘Cruel’ and I’m with you based on the cosmetics. The crowd on Ebay are with you, too, as the car attracted no bids at auction.

But I think there’s some cool in this V8 Volvo, too. All it needs is some vision and a few dollars.

What do you think? Comments are yours.

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  1. I always admire the effort that goes into modifications like this so it’s hard to just point blank say no. Somebody must have thought it was a good idea because it appears it was well executed and certainly took time, effort and money. But it was impossible to improve on the original and timeless Pelle Petterson design – and this does certainly not qualify as doing so.

  2. Well, I love the P1800 as much as anyone, especially the coupe. I don’t begrudge anyone modding the car like this — be about it. Ditto your Jag. Do with it what you like.

    The nascent rust is the scary part with this one. That ‘paint bubbling’ is certainly the sign of trouble, and it’s in some problem spots. My bet is there is more to be found in troubling spots like the control arms, etc. I wouldn’t touch this car for anywhere close to the $8,000 opening bid. My feeling is that the car needs a boatload of rust remediation, wheels, tires, a new hood and a few more odds and ends. On its best day, with all of the work completed, I don’t think you can expect something like this to fetch more than he’s asking for it as is. Subtract the work needed and I think he needs to be around $4,000? Maybe $3,000?

    1. Yep. Definitely overpriced with all that work needing to be done.

      But also definitely interesting. I couldn’t condone this on a P1800 Coupe but the wagon – yeah.

  3. Nobody could have a problem with a heart transplant in a car with an original engine that’s blown. Saving good cars from the scrapheap is to be admired. Doing it when the car is in good shape is a little different, but really if it’s not an absolute classic..

    This one.. well, the hood kills it, entirely. It’s atrocious – tasteless, and totally unsympathetic to the original design. Looks like the vacuum formed plastic electronics housings I made in high school design tech class.

  4. Find an engine that fits under the original hood and I vill vote yes. That hood ornament belongs on a 70′ Firebird or something. Not a small car like this.

    I once saw a “hot rod” Jeep with a Scania V8 protruding from the sides of the engine bay like Chevy V8’s used to protrude from the sides of hot rods. I think it was an Icelandic car used for some sort of local hill climb.

  5. Not pretty. Other people have shoehorned V8s into P1800s without having to make so much mess of the bonnet.

  6. Agree, the bonnet mod is unpleasant.

    Some suspect-looking knobs in the cabin, too, as the captain said to the first mate.

    But it is a reminder of what a beauty the original car is.

    And I admire the effort the man has put in.

    Is it fun to drive, though?

  7. I have some photos of a V8 P1800 done right. Just waiting on the owner to OK sharing them. Amazing.

  8. There’s always this instead of the P1800 V8

    And there’s a place in the US where they do the full upgrade on jags
    and MG’s adding new transmissions, engines, and modern anti locking
    brakes to the package. They look like fun, but they are expensive
    (although not as expensive as the Jensen Interceptor upgrade at

    1. Bet that one’s nose heavy! The alloy Rover V8 was lighter than the iron 1800 4 cylinder, so it worked well even if it was a bit too much de-tuned.

  9. I am in the “cruel” camp. However, I tend to go with “whatever floats your boat”, as long as it is for you.

    This kind of reminds me of a SAAB SPG, that someone here in the states spent a good amount of money on in extensive mods a couple of years ago. On paper, the car sounded pretty interesting with the; carbon fiber hood, added hp, gearbox temp sensor, water/alcohol injection…just to name a few. However, in the flesh, the reviews were mixed when it appeared at one of our SAAB events. The owner obviously spent a lot of time, energy and money into the car, but it was somewhat over the top.

    The video, “Japan’s Retro Car Kings” you posted awhile back is a very good example of how two different people from two totally different camps can take the same car and restore that same vehicle in two very different ways: one all original and one updated, with all of the newest and best technology — yet, both are done very tastefully and look quite similar on the surface — I liked both finished products.