Volvo 1800ES
8:30 PM | August 20 2021

Model Retrospective: Volvo 1800ES

‘Shooting brake’ wagons are coming back into fashion. Fifty years ago, Volvo produced such a striking two-door wagon spin-off of its legendary P1800 sports car.

It was the last and lesser-known version of one of Volvo’s most famous cars.


The 1800ES introduced in the European autumn of 1971, almost exactly 50 years ago, was a sport wagon spin-off of the suave-looking P1800 coupe.


Also known as a ‘shooting brake’ style, the ES’s body shared two doors with the 1800 sports car but distinguished itself with a flatter and longer roofline more reminiscent of a wagon.


The squarer-looking 1800 with elongated side windows also featured a hugely distinctive frameless glass tailgate – an elegant design aspect that would be recreated in 2006 for Volvo’s handsome three-door C30 hatchback.


While sharing the front end of the 1800 coupe – including front bumpers that were now straightened from the original ‘cow horn’ shape – the ES’s newly designed rear brought useable rear-seat space and, naturally, a significantly larger boot.


The increased luggage capacity provided extra space for golfing and hunting equipment, while also transforming the 1800 into a viable family car.

Volvo V1800ES
Above: The 1800ES’s elegant, frameless glass tailgate would inspire the designers of the Volvo C30 hatch 35 years later.
Under the ES’s skin were the same mechanicals from the rest of the 1800 line-up, including the 2.0-litre four-cylinder OHV engine with Bosch fuel injection that replaced the former 1.8-litre as part of a 1969 update.
The most popular transmission was a four-speed manual with floor-mounted gearlever, with the alternative a three-speed automatic with steering-column-mounted gearlever.
An electrical overdrive turned the 1800ES into a relaxing long-distance cruiser, reducing engine noise at higher speeds while also helping fuel economy.
The 4.4-metre-long vehicle’s top speed was 185km/h (115mph). For effective braking performance, hydraulic disc brakes featured all round.
The 1800 coupe and shooting brake versions were produced simultaneously in 1972, though a year later the ES became the last variant to be produced of a car that made people take notice of Volvo more than any other model of the time.
With just over 8000 ES versions built over two years, production wound up in 1973 due to the prohibitive costs of redesigning the 1800 so it could comply with increasingly rigorous safety requirements, particularly in the USA.