Polestar used to be Volvo’s racing division before it refocused on hybrids and EVs. However, in keeping with the Swedish automaker’s oft-hidden performance streak, Volvo didn’t abandon racing completely. Part of Polestar remained invested in racing and became Cyan Racing. And now, it’s created a road-going restomod based on one of the automaker’s early stylish hits: the Volvo P1800.
The Volvo P1800’s history
The 1960 Volvo P1800 is actually based on an earlier model, the 1956 P1900. It was created to break into the US market by cashing in on the British roadster trend. But while it aped cars like the MGB and Austin-Healey Sprite in form, it didn’t offer the same performance or handling. Plus, at the time, it was more expensive than a contemporary Corvette.
Its successor, the Volvo P1800, was significantly better-received, Automobile reports. Instead of a creaky fiberglass body, the P1800 has a steel one. It’s also a 2+2 coupe, making it more practical than a convertible. Plus, although it initially came with hydraulic front discs and rear drums, eventually it gained discs at all 4 wheels. And it offered styling not-unlike a contemporary Aston Martin for a quarter of the price, Hagerty reports.
Though to be fair, the first Volvo P1800 was more of a GT or a cruiser than a sports car, Hagerty reports. Initially, the rear-wheel-drive P1800 came with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 100 hp. In 1968 it was bumped up to 108 hp, before being replaced in 1969 by a fuel-injected 130-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder, Classics World reports. At that point, the Volvo P1800 had become the P1800E, before being replaced by the hatchback/shooting-brake P1800ES.
However, the Volvo P1800 was plenty fast enough for Roger Moore. Before he played James Bond, Moore starred in a British TV show called The Saint. And his character’s car was a white P1800.
Clearly, though, Cyan Racing thought this stylish 60s coupe could use a dose of extra speed.
The Volvo P1800 restomod by Cyan Racing
At the end of July 2020, a camouflaged Volvo P1800 was spotted around Volvo’s Swedish proving grounds, The Drive reports. Many speculated that this was some form of electric restomod, Autoblog reports, or possibly a P1800 body dropped onto a Polestar 1 powertrain. However, that camouflage was really a disguise for Cyan Racing’s Volvo P1800 restomod, Hagerty reports.
The design brief was simple, Roadshow explains. Cyan Racing wanted to create a P1800 that looked like it had a racing team’s full support. Something that could take on the Ferraris and Jaguars of the time. Based on the spec sheet, it’s safe to say the restomod is a qualified success.
The Volvo P1800 Cyan has a redesigned wider body, and a chassis reinforced with carbon-fiber and high-strength steel, Road & Track reports. Instead of the original independent front suspension and live rear axle, it has new fully-adjustable double-wishbone suspension all-around. That suspension uses Cyan Racing’s hydraulic dampers. Also, the Volvo P1800 Cyan has 4-wheel AP Racing disc brakes and 18” wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tires. And inside is a titanium roll cage, The Drive reports.
Under the hood is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the S60 TC1 race car. It makes 420 hp and 335 lb-ft, Motor Trend reports, sent to the rear wheels via a dog-leg 5-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. Which, in a car that weighs 2182 pounds, and has no ABS, traction control, or stability control, is significant. That weight is even more impressive given the original P1800 weighed 330 pounds more.
Getting one of your own
As of this writing, there’s only one Volvo P1800 Cyan. However, Cyan Racing can and will build more. Unfortunately, the price is likely firmly in the ‘if you have to ask’ range.
Luckily, a classic Volvo P1800 is significantly more affordable. You can find a good-condition example for about $20,000 on Bring a Trailer. And reliability shouldn’t be an issue. One P1800, owned by the late Irv Gordon, famously traveled over 3 million miles.
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