Early in 1959, Volvo presented a new sports car, two years after the previous attempt with the Volvo Sport, with a body made of fibreglass-reinforced polyester.
The new car became known as the P1800, with later designations being P1800S/1800S and 1800E. This new sports car had Italian styling and production began in 1961.
As Volvo did not have the capacity to build the car itself, production during the first years was contracted to England. A company called Pressed Steel made the bodies, while final assembly took place at Jensen. Assembly of the P-1800 S was then transferred to Göteborg and Lundbyverken 1963. Body production too was transferred to Sweden and Olofströmsverken. This was in connection with the 1800 E in 1969. The Volvo P1800 was based on the floor pan of the Volvo 121/122S, but it had a shorter wheel base. The car also had an entirely new 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder engine, which initially developed 100 bhp, later 108, 115 and 120 bhp.
Over the years, the car was developed primarily by the introduction of new engine alternatives. In the autumn of 1968, a 2.0-litre engine with an output of 118 bhp was introduced. It was followed in 1969 by a version with fuel injection and an even higher output.