1965 Volvo P1800 (LEKAM)

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The Volvo P1800 sports coupe seemed to come out of nowhere. It took everyone by surprise when it arrived in 1961 because Volvo was considered a sober Swedish automaker known to most Americans for plain-looking, rugged family cars.Gabrielsson arranged to have California’s Glasspar outfit, which made fiberglass bodies for the zoomy Kaiser-Darrin sports car, built a prototype Volvo sports car using PV444 components.

The rather awkward-looking Sport debuted at the Brussels Motor Show in 1955, and brochures for the car were printed for the U.S. market. But few here even knew about the PV444, so there were hardly any takers for the Sport.

 

Only 67 were made in 1956 and 1957 before the car was dropped. But the Sport’s failure didn’t discourage Volvo, which continued to eye the booming U.S. sports car market. Helmer Petterson, who had styled the 1944-57 PV444, convinced new Volvo chief Gunnar Engellau to try another sports car for the U.S. market. Engellau felt  the new car—the P1800--would have a better chance of succeeding if styled in Italy, the world’s exotic sports car capital. Thus, Italy’s veteran exotic car design outfit Ghia and its subsidiary, Frua, were contacted.Petterson’s son, Pelle, had gone to work for Frua and, as it turned out, Engellau selected a P1800 design done by young Petterson. The design carried the Ghia stamp, and Engellau didn’t know young Petterson had been involved.

 

The P1800 didn’t look like the Sport or an old Ford. It had a beautifully shaped low roof and curvy lines. Up front was a Ferrari-style “eggcrate” grille, and modest tailfins at the rear seemed to hover above bullet-shaped pod taillights.Dashing actor Roger Moore, who later became famous for portraying James Bond in movies, was widely seen racing around in a P1800 in episodes of “The Saint” television series  of the 1960s.

A 1966 Volvo 1800S and its owner Irv Gordon of East Patchogue, New York, USA own the Guinness world record for highest mileage in the same vehicle he has been driving since 1966, He has driven about 26,000 of those miles outside of the U.S., in Canada and Mexico, as well as in Europe. "In Sweden, we drove to Volvo's global headquarters to see where the P1800 was born", Gordon said.In 1987 he reached the one million miles mark.In 1998 got registered by the Guinness Book of World Record with 1.69 million miles for the vehicle with the highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in non-commercial service.In 2002 he reached the two million miles mark.On April 2, 2002, Gordon and his 1800S were guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, after reaching the two million milestone.In January 2011 Irv Gordon and his Volvo were featured on PBS's Nova scienceNow and in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Magazine in November 2011.As of June 2013, the car had reached a little over 2,996,012 miles, VCNA launched an unprecedented PR campaign valuing the performance (volvocars.3millionreasons.com) and the car surpassed the 3 million miles mark in Alaska in September 2013

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