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Part I: 1967 Volvo 1800s Joins the 1968 Volvo 122s at The Old Motor

Updated: The last update of on 1968 Volvo 122s “Georgia Peach” station wagon project car was four months ago in July. At the time some of the work involved with the 1.8 liter (B18) engine rebuild was covered along with the minor modifications to the cylinder head, valves, and guides in the interest of gaining a little more horsepower.

New valve guides for the cylinder head were machined, and a set of later 2 liter (B20) valves was modified to fit the head. Modern nickel alloy valve seats were sourced and the cylinder head was set up in the milling machine in preparation for boring out the old valve seats. Progress ended there and other than the ongoing effort to find needed parts the project has been temporarily halted due to finding a long-sought after Volvo 1800s.

You can look back on the first seven parts of this feature covering The Old Motor Volvo 122s here.

  • The “Georgia Peach” is resting for the winter in the shop trailer that is stored in the building. The engine, transmission, and overdrive are at hand if time permits to work on them over the winter.

This rare find appeared only after a very long search (many years), and the purchase of this red and black (original colors) 1967 Volvo 1800s became possible when it turned up for sale in the City of Moncton in northern New Brunswick, Canada. This car has led a very sheltered life and was never exposed to road salt or suffered from any rust which is very common with this model. A goal was set to purchase one without any rust or body repairs because to repair it correctly is extremely time consuming due to its unibody construction.

All of its original body panels and factory spot welds have survived, along with all of the original body seams on the exterior which are visible as they were originally. Photos showing the body in bare metal before it was repainted also indicated that it was a no rust ever car.

  • The original bumpers have been removed because some owners including myself believe the car’s look better without them. Small and tasteful 1950s to ’60s style sports cars bumperettes similar to those used on the AC Ace and Cobra are going to be installed on the car in the near future.

Previously this 1800s led a sheltered life here in New England and apparently was stored under cover year round. It then sat for some time in New Hampshire before it was purchased by Arlan Westrate and transported it up to his home in River View New Brunswick, Canada 10-years ago.

Westrate was an aircraft mechanic in the recent past and meticulously partially restored the car which included taking all of the glass and exterior rubber out along with removing the doors, hood, deck lid, and the engine and transmission.

The original aged paint was stripped off of the body, and the sheet metal was very carefully prepared and received a very high-quality repaint that included the engine compartment and trunk. In the meantime, Westrate rebuilt and detailed the original engine, four-speed transmission, overdrive and the complete brake and fuel systems.

  • Period Halibrand  15″ x 7″ wheels with pin drive knock-off hubs and Michelin 205/65/15 tires were installed this fall which results in both a significant improvement in ride quality and handling.  

The 1800s was then treated to all new rubber, re-plated trim and the stainless steel side strips were polished. The front seats were re-upholstered in leather as when new in the original pattern, and new padded dashboard covers were installed during the reassembly process. The balance of the interior and the carpets are original and in excellent condition. After owning and enjoying the car for a number years, Westrate sold it to Jamie Acker of nearby Moncton, New Brunswick last winter.

After owning his first old car, when spring arrived Jamie enjoyed driving it but he later on decided to sell it and return to driving a late-model sports car. After viewing over 100 photos of the vehicle he sent me including that included underside of it when it was up on a lift and a video, the decision was made to fly up there and check it out. After driving and inspecting it thoroughly it was quickly purchased to allow time for getting a transport sticker and the funds to be deposited in the bank before the end of the business day.

The following morning was spent dealing with last minute customs paper work issues, the long 850-mile trip back home began about one pm and getting it through US Customs that evening was a long ordeal. The trip ended the following afternoon without any problems with the car back home in Vermont. I did get stopped twice by Maine State Police Officers because the small New Brunswick window transport sticker and no license plates left the impression of it not being registered.

After returning home with it, a set of progressive rate Swedish Lesjöfors springs, vintage style Koni “Classic”shocks, and a set of Halibrand pin-drive wheels with knock-off hubs has been installed. When we return more information about the 1800 series cars (1961-’73) will be covered along with further maintenance work and performance enhancements on the car in the near future.

39 responses to “Part I: 1967 Volvo 1800s Joins the 1968 Volvo 122s at The Old Motor

    • Yes, it is only a year newer than his famous red three-million mile 1966 1800s.

      Have driven the car quit a bit since purchasing it and removing the bumpers. In my opinion the cars look better w/out them.

      Over the winter small 1950s to ’60s style sports cars bumperettes similar to those used on the AC Ace and the AC Cobra are going to get installed on the car only because of VT State inspection and bumper requirements.

      The height of the original bumpers is so low that 99% of the time the grille or the rear panel gets damaged and the bumper remains untouched.

      • Looks good. Now the 122 won’t be lonely.

        >>>The height of the original bumpers is so low that 99% of the time the grille or the rear panel gets damaged and the bumper remains untouched.<<<

        I hear it's much more difficult to get high quality plating work done than paint these days…but either way hopefully you don't need to use those bumpers…

        Curious to hear what chassis and suspension mods or adjustments were done to make use of the upsized wheels and rubber. That's a lot of tire for a 1960s car under 2500 lbs. For reference the 1967 Camaro coupes went out the door at about 3300 lbs. Modern tires are a different better thing than the OE tires of the 1960s.

        • Both cars use many of the same mechanical parts which comes in handy if there is a problem.

          The bumpers are re-plated and in excellent condition, but in in my opinion the cars look better w/out them and the car loses about 100 lbs.

          The curb weight is 2,491–2,590 lbs depending on what accessories were installed when new and losing 100 lbs is significant.

          The 1800s will understeer when pushed hard (no pun intended) w/195mm wide tires, but will not w/205 tires.

          At lot of people that did not know how to drive all that well got into serious trouble w/those skinny Camaro tires.

          • Never having driven an 1800S but having driven a number of the first generation F-bodies- the GM products offered a number of ways to get in over your head. Even without a higher horsepower combination or the most common owner “improvements”!

    • Over the winter small tasteful 1950s to ’60s style sports cars bumperettes similar to those used on the AC Ace and the AC Cobra are going to be installed on the car due to State bumper requirements.

    • Mark, This is the first time I ever bought a car in this condition and usually buy a car that needs some work, including this one, but I do not have the time to do a lot of work on another car. Also have four others at the moment needing attention.

      You will get to it in the end, but it takes a lot of determination and time to get it done.

    • Greg, Very nice bumpers did come with the 1800s but in my opinion the cars look better w/out them.

      The height of the bumpers is so low that 99% of the time the grille or the rear panel gets damaged and the bumper remains untouched.

      Over the winter small 1950s to ’60s style sports cars bumperettes similar to those used on the AC Ace and the AC Cobra are going to get installed on the car due to State bumper requirements.

    • Frank, Thanks good to hear you like the wheels. Early Volvos have the same exact wheel bolt patten dimentions and 1/2 inch studs as most Ford and Chryslers did so it is a bolt on affair.

      With only a few exceptions all of the fasteners on these cars are SAE sized and take inch-sized wrenches.

  1. Glad to see the car is doing so well. I still consider it the most beautiful car ever designed. Bit of sellers remorse on my part. However chop off the top and drop in a modern turbo volvo motor and all will be good… lol As much as i miss the car i am enjoying air conditioning, power steering and brakes plus 0 to 60 times under 2 days in my new ragtop.

    • Jamie, Glad to see that you found the ideal BMW for yourself, and thanks for selling the ’67 to me, its in good hands.

      I agree with your statement about “most beautiful car ever designed” but there were also number of other 1950s to ’60s GT designs which were equally as attractive as the 1800s, Cheers.

  2. A number of years ago one of my Big Cannons (an important customer in the vernacular) asked me to find him a car which needed nothing, explaining to me that at age 85 he didn’t buy green bananas, either.
    One thing we tend to learn over time is that as much fun as it can be to put something interesting together, it’s generally a whole lot cheaper to let someone else do the work and then just buy it from them and drive it home.
    Oops ! Isn’t that what you just did ? Nice color, too. In my world on car like that we call it “Arrest Me Red”. Pay attention to those mirrors.

  3. Love those wheels on there, and the lack of bumpers. I would go with an old school Air Dam up front also, in flat black. It would enhance both the profile and front views (of the car) and hide the front cross member. The bottom of it would be at the same height as the bottom of the rocker panel so not too low.

  4. Might I suggest, with the best of intentions, that Jamie let any seller’s remorse give way to the good feeling one gets when a treasure moves to a new home where it will be cared for and appreciated. We can’t keep things forever, but we can be good stewards, and make sure our cars end up in good hands.

  5. I’m really hoping that you knew about the Campbell Carriage Factory Museum which is 1/2 hour from Moncton in Sackville, New Brunswick. It was a carriage manufacturer ended in 1838 and closed in 1949 and was left undisturbed for 50 years until it was opened as a museum. Going in there is just like you walked into the place back when it was building horse drawn carriages.

    If you didn’t know about it I’m going to apologize for not having told you about it before.

  6. Congratulations on finding a car you’ve sought for so long. I’ve had many old cars, and sold each as things my family needed, or that the kids’ education funds required , cropped up. I hope some day to get a 59 Cadillac back in my garage. I held on to the last one longest, I’d loved that car since seeing one on my paper route as a kid. Having finally secured a straight original coupe I thought I’d have it forever. I’m glad when people are able to get what they long for, especially someone that has taken the time to share as much of their time and talent for the hobby as you. Enjoy it!

  7. What a beautiful car, I had a one that I never got around to having road worthy, hope to have one some day. There may be something to buying finished cars and not another project. When you walk around it do you see Ferrari and early Mustang fastback features? Bob

    • Hi Bob,

      Thanks, yes they are quite attractive in my mind also and gauging by comments made by people that see it out in public places or on the road it seems to be universally liked.

      In a number of ways to myself it looks like a Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta from the back of the doors forward w/changes to the rear bodywork.

      “There may be something to buying finished cars” In this case it don’t have the time for another project, and the Canadian dollar was down by about 20% at the time and Jamie was a Acker was a motivated seller. At the end of the day it was bought for only about $2-3ooo more than a 1800s in the US that needed rust repair, paint, chrome, interior work, and mechanically repairs which might have ended up costing as much as $30-40K. In the end I ended up with a much better car this way.

  8. People might hate me for saying this but I cant help but be reminded somehow of some of the Italian design studios when looking at this car.

  9. David, a beautiful car. I’m not a fan of red cars, but you may have converted me. Bumperless is best. Can you imagine taking bumpers of a modern car? There’d be nothing left. I am floored by the wheel conversion. Just wonderful and similar to the Avantis of the time I think. I am currently on the hunt for an 1800 and would be very grateful to you if you could point me in the direction of the wheel and hub source. Don’t know if I can now own one without them. Thanks, Jim

  10. Love it! I had a ’66 1800S in #11 Light Green. It was a true beauty….unfortunately I had a “stupid moment” and sold it. Regretted that daily.

  11. NICE RIDE ! Any Volvo will be a fun car. I believe the body was built by Jensen and shipped to Sweden for final finishing and assembly. Have fun.

    • Only the 1st 6000 bodies were built and the car was assembled by Jenson in England. Volvo ended the contract early do to poor build quality late in 1962 and the bodies for the 1800S (1963-’69 the “S” stands for Sweden) built by the Pressed Steel Co. in Scotland and shipped to a Volvo plant in Sweden for finishing and assembly.

  12. I bought my 1800 S at the factory in Gothenburg over 51 years ago. Because of indecision and raising a family of a car sat in a heated building for years and has accumulated les than 65,000 miles. It still has the original ,paint ,interior – etc. Back in 1967 I put a set of Crager wheels on it and remove the grill replacing it with 7 inch Lucas flamethrowers.Just recently I put it back on the road by replacing all the rubber parts and the tires with a date code of 1969. It’s amazing to me how good it looks versus contemporary cars and other cars of its era.
    The attention I get is amazing.

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