Ads on Test: 1971 Volvo 1800E

Very solid and with lots of period features, this ‘Saint’ isn’t quite perfect but benefits from fuel injection says Paul Hardiman

Price £23,995

This 1800E has had only four owners – the last, who owned it since 2007, had restoration work carried out in 2015 and 2016. The car retains its original service book showing four stamps to 29,202 miles in 1974. The odometer is now showing just over 91,000.

The structure looks factory-correct and rot free. Underneath, the floors and chassis members look untouched by accidents, welding or jacks, with a perfect boot floor. The seller says it’s had sills, and they’ve been properly done with all the drain holes clear. Underneath there are new brake calipers all round, a newish exhaust and a nice, clean gearbox with new overdrive solenoid. There are no leaks from the engine, transmission or rear axle.

It’s been repainted and the finish is shiny but with a few dust marks and a few tiny bubbles where the C-pillars meet the rear deck. Some of the brightwork strips look either new or replated. The front bumper is lightly scratched and almost polished through, and the front numberplate plinth and door handles are slightly pitted, but that’s in keeping with its age and gives a nice character. This is mirrored by the very period original-spec Dunlop alloys, slightly corroded, wearing beauty rings and shod in 2010-dated Firestone F-560s, with a matching, unused spare. The rear bumper is slightly dinged, however.

Inside, the front seats have been retrimmed in leather, with original vinyl on the rear bench. The dash is original and good, headlining and carpets new, and there’s a period wood-rimmed steering wheel, eight-track player and Volvo radio.

The motor is clean and tidy rather than concours, completely stock and with the standard mechanical fan. Oil is golden in colour and just over the maximum mark, the coolant just visible but an indeterminate colour in the overflow bottle. Inner wings and bulkhead are excellent, though there’s a little rust in the battery tray. The steering column collapsible UJ rubber looks a little perished on the surface but still serviceable.

The D-Jetronic injected four-cylinder starts without fuss, and it drives smoothly with a refined chassis. It’s typically low-geared in that Sixties sort of way, but the overdrive (which has been rebuilt by the selling dealer) is here to help, and engages/disengages promptly in third and fourth. The brakes need a bit of a shove, but the all-disc system pulls up straight and the handbrake holds well. Oil pressure was only 35psi, just a quarter of the way up the gauge, but we don’t necessarily believe that because the clock didn’t work and the temperature gauge flicked over to ‘H’ (maximum) as soon as the ignition was on, so electrical troubleshooting is clearly needed. There were no smells, fumes or other unpleasantness and the car behaved itself perfectly, starting easily when warm.

It comes with the original instruction book and steering wheel – and if you don’t fancy the Dunlops, it can come on a new set of replica Minilites, still in their wrapping when we saw the car. This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.

Engine 1986cc fuel-injected ohv four-cylinder Power 118bhp @ 6000rpm Torque 123lb ft @ 3500rpm Top speed 112mph, 0-60mph 9.6sec Length 4325mm Width 1690mm Fuel consumption 25mpg