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Updated: Volvo 1800s Series IV: Front Suspension, Brakes and other Restoration Work

Updated: Time flies by and it has been over ten months since the last update on the 1967 Volvo 1800s project car and since that time quite a bit of work has been accomplished on it. The lead image by Richard Campbell shows the car back on the track at Lime Rock Park located in Salisbury, CT, for the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) Sprint Sprint Races held on May 3rd and 4th 2019. Less than a month later we returned to the track and entered it in the VSCCA and VRG Empire Cup races on May 31st and June 1st. At both race meets it performed well and there were no problems with it to speak of.

We will return at a later date with more coverage on the races after catching up with a couple of posts restoration work and repairs preformed on it since the winter of 2017 and up to the present time. In the last two years since the project began in the summer of 2017, it has traveled over ten-thousand miles on the road, three hundred miles on the race track, and over sixty miles of hill climbing at the VSCCA MT Equinox hill climb in four competition events.

  • This photo was taken in Camden, Maine back in the fall of 2017 on a four day fall foliage tour.

Scandinavian countries for the most part began importing US made cars in the early 1900s. After becoming accustomed to general American automotive design practices the Swedes used them on the first Volvos prototypes built starting in 1926. The Volvo ÖV 4 followed and entered the market place in 1927. Many of the cars produced by the Automaker up until about 1968 followed both American styling cues and mechanical design and even included fasteners with common inch-sized SAE thread pitches and bolt head and nut sizes.

Because of the manner Volvos from this period were designed we are covering the work being performed on the 1800s here as much of it is applicable to US made cars manufactured during the same period that many of our readers own.

The thin plastic rim of the original steering wheel was given an old-fashioned competition wrapping with two layers of different types black butyl rubber tape. It has since smoothed out and has acquired nice dark and mellow patina from use.

The Lucas headlight switch failed and n.o.s. units are close to impossible to find as it is a one off unit built only for the 1800 series cars. It was rebuilt using the best parts from it and another switch. The sliding stamped brass contact plate visible in the center bottom of the image was worn through on the headlight contact point and was replaced with one in better condition during the overhaul.

After contacting the Volvo Historical Department located in Sweden for a copy of the original build sheet, we were delighted to find that all of the numbers including the engine and gearbox match and the car is as it left the factory in 1967. This is rare for a Volvo as many of them have covered hundreds of thousands of miles and the engines and transmissions where often changed instead of the more costly option of rebuilding them.

The late Irv Gordon became known worldwide after covering over three million miles in his 1966 1800s. His car still retains its original engine, gearbox, and rear axle, all of which have been rebuilt. View the video (above) to learn more about his accomplishment. The mileage he has covered with his Volvo shows just how tough and durable the 1800 and 122 series automobiles are.

This car has spent most of its years here in New England and the surviving original paint on the upper and lower control arms and pivots was still in fairly good condition. This attests to the care this car has had in the past and the fact that was not been subjected to road salt in the winter.

The front end was completely rebuilt and the original rubber and steel control arm bushings were replaced due to the rubber having deteriorated after over fifty years of use. The lower control arm bushings were removed and replaced by using a old arbor press (above) here in the shop. The lower control arm bolts were in perfect condition and reused.

The front axle is a mid-1950s design that in part followed American car front suspension layout of the period and is equipped with four unequal length control arms, coil springs and an anti roll bar. The rear axle is the same Spicer unit that is used on some Studebaker and Jeep models and the rear brakes are Lockheed, both are designs manufactured by US-based companies.

  • New lower control arm bushings in place and one of the unworn original bolts which were reused.

  • New upper and lower ball joints, upper control arm bushings, outer tie rods, inner tie rod ends and lower control arm bumpers and other pieces that were renewed.

  • Upper control arms and pivots, idler arm, ball joints and other components after painting.

  • New Koni adjustable shock absorbers and Swedish Lesjöfors progressive rate springs were installed on both the front and the rear.

  • View of an upper control arm that also received new pivot bushings.Visible on the far-left is the end of the anti-sway bar and its connecting link to the lower control arm are visible.

The original brake rotors are in excellent condition and within spec and the original Girling (UK) brake calipers were rebuilt with new rubber seals and new pistons. A new nickel alloy brake line was used to replace the original steel line to the caliper. All of the flexible rubber brake lines had previously been replaced with modern teflon-lined hoses covered braided stainless steel mesh.

A Halibrand heat-treated chrome moly alloy pin drive wheel adaptor is visible (above) attached to the front hub and a forged aluminum knock off that holds the wheel on. The original front and rear wheel bolt pattern is 5 x 4.5 inch, the same as used on some Ford models and by other domestic automakers.

Share with us what interests you in this feature. The earlier parts of the Volvo 1800s series can be found here. We will return with more restoration work that has been performed in the near future.

  • View of the complete front end (below) after an alignment, and road testing. The original paint on the front of the crossmember has survived in good condition and was preserved instead of being repainted.  

17 responses to “Updated: Volvo 1800s Series IV: Front Suspension, Brakes and other Restoration Work

  1. I’ve enjoyed this series immensely . I’ve owned 1 P1800, several 0f the 1800S (including a ’69- B20) one 1800E and one 1800ES. It’s always interesting to see a project like this.

  2. Love the Volvo stories and photos ! I have a 55 Studebaker coupe (with the same look wheels as yours ) that I love dearly, but would probably trade in a heartbeat for one of the wagon versions of your car. Keep these stories coming sir !

  3. Well it’s nice to see a car with a recognizable shape and in a color that’s not the anonymous monochromatic hue of the 21st century. Better still that it was designed to be serviced, and not merely a tribute to the modern stamping & extruding arts.
    The Lucas headlight with is a case in point. David’s taken it apart and fixed it. I think the bad rap on Lucas derives in part from the fact that it’s lasted so long. A little under-fused on the cheap & cheerful two-seaters maybe, but where, Pray Tell, are the 50 year old Toyotas ?

    • What about the 1967-70 Toyota 2000GTS (and its follower the Datsun 240Z).
      Maybe because only 61 of these cars were made for the LHD market, the other 289 were produced with normal RHD.
      One of these cars is now worth just over $1,000,000.
      Not bad for 50 years old car.

  4. Sorry to hear Irv Gordon has passed. Talked to him at many car shows and he was the consummate spokesman for the car.
    On another subject, I just discovered the “Old Motor” site, and was taken aback by the art deco convertible in your header. Breathtaking car. What is it?

  5. David….U R one hell of a “smooth” writer. Found this site when I got home (noon today) and see the obvious supreme quality photos, and general feel.
    Soryy we couldn’t connect tis past weekend. Next time I get to Boston I will specially set aside a day to visit.

    ps…Enjoyed Larz Anderson site……lovely 1938 Bugatti. Peter

  6. Keep us up-to-date on your 1800S racing and modifications. Good to see some parts of my old 1800S racer living on in yours!

  7. David, thanks so much for the p-1800 photos. I still have my 71 1800E after forty years of fun. Now taking it to my daughter and her husband to enjoy for many more years. Steve

  8. I think Irv Gordon is a little optimistic saying he has traveled 3,000,000 on 8,600 tanks of gas. That comes to 348 miles per gallon. I think he meant 86,000 tanks of gas. That would make it 34.8 miles per gallon.

    • I withdraw my statement above. My math is in error. The fuel consumption comes to 348 gallons per tank, not per gallon. Sorry Irv.

      • I still got it wrong. It’s 348 miles per tank, not gallons per tank. Sorry again Irv. I’m 77 years old and my thinking just isn’t what it used to be.

  9. David,

    I was looking at your photo here, of your 1800 cross member, and where the shock mounts at the top. It looks as though the upper bushing you have here is a bit heftier than what might have come out of the box (?). It looks like you have something quite a bit stronger, or more suited to do more than the usual job (?). Also, you have a nice rubber cap or sleeve that fits over those threads. It’s all clean, pretty, and does not look like what I might see for fasteners and bushings out of the factory shock box. Maybe that came with the KONI’s ( But I have a pair of Koni’s on another car). It just does not look familiar to me. Any comment?

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