Volvo P1800

 

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It’s odd what you forget and your memory needs to be jogged by a friend’s comment. A recent example is that of a favourite TV series from the late 1960’s.

I had forgotten that it’s hero, Roger Moore’s rather wooden “Simon Templar” aka “The Saint”, – cue title music – dodo dodo dadodo –  drove a very early white Volvo bearing the registration “ST1”. Long before they became super sensible Volvo, yes a Volvo, agreed to sponser the design and constructed later versions of the far from ordinary and wholly iconic Volvo P1800.

Available from 1961 to 1973, it was designed by Pelle Peterson – seen below with his creation – later to find fame as a decorated yachtsman and yacht designer – and featuring the styling of, Pelle’s tutor, Pietro Frua, a leading Turin-based car designer who’s work is seen particularly with Maserati.

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In 1957 Volvo sought a sports model to compete in the US and European markets. The concept for the car came from Pelle father, Helmer, an automotive engineer and consultant to Volvo. Volvo were insistent that the car had to designed by an Italian coach-builder and the resulting P1800 was what was then known as a “stylish tourer”.

It was initially intended to build the car at the Osnabruck (Germany) factory of Karmann but, it is thought Karmann’s major client, Volkswagen, may have insisted that Karmann refuse the work.

The car was finally presented at the 1960 Brussels Motor Show and it was initially assembled at the Jensen Motors factory in West Bromwich (near Birmingham, England).

Production moved to Sweden in 1963 and the car was renamed the P1800S – “S” for “Sweden”.

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Over its production run more than 47,000 cars were built. In addition to a couple of engine sizes – the 1800 denoting the 1778cc initial spec. engine – the P1800 was available as a neat two seater coupe or as a three-door “shooting-brake” or sports estate – the P1800ES. This acquired the affectionate nicknames, the “Fiskbilen” – Swedish for the “Fish-van” – and in other parts of Europe, the slightly sinister,  “Cinderella’s Coffin”.

Although Volvo themselves didn’t produce a convertible version of the P1800 the car was recognized by others for its perfect lines for this treatment. Notably, Volvoville in New York saw this opportunity and produced a highly desireable convertible version.

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In September 2013, a 1966 P1800S, having obtained an entry in 1998 Guinness Book of Records for the highest mileage private vehicle at 1.69 million miles – exceeded three million miles.

In the 2013 adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s excellent book “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” the leading character Allan Karlsson (played by Robert Gustafsson) is shown – in a Swedesh city location – driving a P1800S.

If you have ever been tempted to buy a Volvo P1800 can I suggest that a Eseential Buyer’s Guide is a good starting point – click the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy.

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Volvo P1800/1800S, E & ES 1961 to 1973: Essential Buyer’s Guide

Once you have purchased your Volvo P1800 you will surely need the required Haynes Workshop Manual – click on the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy

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Volvo 120 & 130 Series (and P1800) (61 – 73) Haynes Repair Manual (Classic Reprint Series: Owner’s Workshop Manual)

I do understand, as opposed to buying the car you may like to show your allegiance to the Volvo P1800 by wearing a T shirt with pride. If so, click on the AMAZON link below the image to get yours. – there are several colors to chose from.

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STUFF4 Men’s Large (L) Burgundy Round Neck T-Shirt/Stencil Car Art / P1800

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Phot credits – with grateful thanks Gooding & Company

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks

Globe-Trotter suitcases

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They may give you the appearance of an extra from a 1950’s spy movie or that you are about to embark on a trip by luxury train from a smoked filled station to some exotic destination Compagnie Internationale des Wagon-Lits – Travel posters but Globe-Trotter suitcase, in their trade mark navy or brown, have been an essential part of British kit and an iconic design for more than a hundred years.

Founded by David Nelken in Lower Saxony (Germany) in 1897, the company’s core product range consists of strong but light-weight suitcases made from vulcanised fibreboard – multiple layers of bonded paper. Heroically strong and, unlike many new items, they age very well gaining an added patina from clumsy baggage handlers.

In 1932 the company moved to the UK. Today’s products are made and repaired in Broxbourne, (Hertfordshire UK) using original manufacturing methods and some machinery dating from Victorian times.

The core Globe-Trotter range is now complemented by the addition of a hand-crafted leather collection.

It’s not surprising that Globe-Trotter has become the luggage of choice for explorers including Captain Robert Scott and Sir Edmund Hilary. Globe-Trotter has also made its appearances alongside James Bond in ‘Spectre’. Aston Martin DB4/DB5

 

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

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I am giving serious thought to the expression “Favourite Car” in response to an enquirers question to name mine. Now, I thought I had a long-term and completely harmonious fictional relationship with a 1965 Porsche 911 Targa. See here our previous past Porsche 911 Targa 

No question my pulse quicken and my throat dries a little at the thought of those classic lines, that ticking engine and those long lazy sunny days mastering the hairpins down to La Corniche. Then, as if to upset the harmony of a steady relationship, a perfectly formed little nose nudges you and with winking classic headlights clears its throat and ask you if, perhaps with a little hesitation and possibly some disappointment, whether you have forgotten them.

They remind you of the mid-1970’s classic car magazine collection “On Four Wheels” – which to the best of my recollection ran for about three years and with each edition – after the usual “magazine-crack” two for one introductory offer – became increasingly more expensive. They remind you of this endless summer days with your childhood pal, Mike, when you’d visit car showrooms, argue about the merits of Italian cars versus German or French ones and write to “concessionaires” asking for brochures often to be inundated with coffee table sized promo materials featuring sleek new sleek Lamborghinis and Maseratis. Mike still has his collection of brochures stored in a garage – Ebay anyone?

One such car is Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia – especially the Cabriolet version. My Godmother has a hard topped version in grey and she was quite cool so that was how this pretty car became locked in my evolving psyche from the mid-sixties.

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The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – based on the classic and mechanics of a first model Beetle – see our celebration of this amazing car here Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined –  was debuted as a design concept at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. Following launch, it was available in 2+2 coupe versions (from 1955 to 1974) and as a cabriolet (from 1957 to 1974).

The Karmann Ghia was a collaboration that featured the styling genius of Luigi Segre, of the legendary Turin based coach-builder, Carrozzeria Ghia (now owned by Ford), and the hand-shapes panelling  of German coach-builder Karmann – who VW had commissioned to develop the car. A massive success with over 445,000 cars built, the Karmann Ghia was extensively exported, particularly to the US market.

The VW Karmann Ghia Cabriolet was first introduced August 1957.

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The Cabriolet has, along with many cars in the VW range, been featured in a series of classic Doyle Dane and Bernbach (DDB) print media adverts in the 1950s and 60’s; so much so that DDB’s work with Volkswagen, who they have represented since 1959 (opening an office in Germany in 1961) was voted the No. 1 campaign of all time by Advertising Age’s 1999 “The Century of Advertising”.

A classic DD&B poster from the early 1960’s:

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In the early 1970’s, in response to increasing vehicle safety requirements, particularly in the US, the smooth chrome wrap-around bumpers were replaced with energy absorbing bumpers. By the mid 1970’s the model was phased out to be replaced, initially, by the Porsche 914 – never a particular favourite.

STOP PRESS: In the Gooding and Company Scottsdale Auction in January 2018 a 1963 hard topped version of the Karmann Ghia achieve a respectable $37,400 which whilst is not cheap does suggest that this fine German brand is an everyman collectible – see this lovely example and read here the Gooding and Company report Gooding and Company Karmann Ghia

Seen and loved the car – now get the T shirt – please click the AMAZON link under the image 

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VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1970 STENCIL MENS T SHIRT CLASSIC CAR (XXL(50-52), RED)

Read more about the history – here.

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Volkswagen Karmann Ghias and Cabriolets: 1949-1980

Essential mantelpiece material – a die cast model to keep those juices flowing!

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Minichamps 155054031 1:18 Scale “1970 VW Karmann Ghia Convertible Black” Replica Model Toy

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Karmann Ghia Type 14 Logo T-Shirt Oldtimer Car Cars Collector Driver Ralley Osnabrück Coupé Cabriolet 17156 – Grey – XX-Large

If you are lucky enough to find a Karmann Gaia in reasonable condition – and at a reasonable price – grab it! If successful you’ll need the iconic Haynes Manual to tell you just what to do to keep your beautiful car in fab condition.

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VW Beetle and Karmann Ghia (1954-79) Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Images by West Coast Classics, Doyle Dane and Bernbach, Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios and Gooding and Company with grateful thanks

Aston Martin DB4/DB5

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What connects my pal Russell – an Apostle lookalike – with one of the most successful film franchises in the history of film making and one of the most beautiful and iconic car brands? The answers are, of course, James Bond and the Aston Martin.

On 9th January 1965 “Goldfinger” featuring the silver-birch Aston Martin DB5 (registration BMT 216A) was launched in US cinemas.

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In the late 1980’s Russell discovered in the shed of a Sussex farmhouse a trophy but unloved Aston Martin DB4, a convertible version, designed by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera of Milan. The Superleggera  system consists of a structure of small diameter and lightweight tubes that form the shape of the car’s body over which thin alloy panels are attached to cover and strengthen the framework.

Russell lovingly restored this beauty with a light magnolia/blue piping hide interior, and amazing metallic blue paint-job. A bunch of mates posed endlessly in her on London’s Kings Road. Truthfully this was on the cusp of an era when classic cars became assets and their values shot up. He tells the story of turning down an great offer from “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve, who was living in Fulham, and really wanted to buy the car.

The Aston Martin story dates back to 1914, are year after Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin founded their company and chose to re-name their car business (founded in Henniker Mews, London SW3) with a name based on a combination of Lionel’s surname and a celebration of his success at the hill climb trials at Aston Clinton (Buckinghamshire, UK).

By 1947 both founders had left the business and David Brown bought the business for £20,500. His initials were used to establish the “DB” brand  with DBR1 competing at the Le Mans 24 hours in 1959.

The DB4 went into production in 1958 – at Aston Martin’s new facility in Newport Pagnell – until 1963. The DB5 went into production – also designed by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera – in 1963 and was launched in 1964.

In another starring role, Michael Caine’s character “Charlie Croker” in 1969 film “The Italian Job” is seen sitting at the wheel of a silver Aston Martin DB4 convertible – virtually identical to Russell’s – which had been stored in a car park whilst ex-convict Croker had been away “shooting tigers in India”. The same car appears to be thrown off the cliff by a Mafia bulldozer but, thankfully, a fake was used. Amusingly, at the time of making “The Italian Job”, Mr Caine hadn’t yet learned to drive and apart from the scene in the car park at no point in the movie is he shown driving.

The Ford Motor Company acquired 100% ownership of Aston Martin in 1994 and sold it in 2007 for a reported $848m to a consortium of investment bankers, Kuwaiti investment companies and both Ford and Mercedes Benz retained small percentages.

Images by Car and Aston Martin