Category Archives: Collector Car Watch

Collector Car Buzz: Volvo P1800, The Next Big Thing?

When I saw the Gooding and Company auction catalog for their upcoming Scottsdale, AZ sale one car caught my eye. A 1967 Volvo P1800S in red. The auction catalogs says it has original paint, one long time owner, exceedingly low miles – just over 10,000, nice patina on the original leather seats, a real survivor, fully serviced, ready to drive and enjoy. Auction estimate: $50,000 – $70,000. (See their complete auction catalog description by cliking this link)

What causes a car that’s been largely ‘off the radar’ for many enthusiasts in the collector car hobby for years to start attracting attention?

1) It seems to start with a few high profile auction results that bring higher than ‘normal’ sale prices. There was the 1971 Volvo P1800 in white at Rick Cole’s 2014 auction in Monterey that sold for $81,400. Bonhams Auctions sold a 1974 P1800ES Wagon for $92,400 (wagons are rarer than the coupes and usually bring more money, but still… a big number for any Volvo).

2) Collector car pundits start writing about them, how they won’t be ‘affordable’ for very much longer. They start talking about what they might cost in the not too distant future and what seemed like crazy high auction prices just a little while ago will be the new norm (see Wayne Carini’s thoughts about the P1800 below). ‘If you want a good one, you better get one while you still can’. They they show up in magazine columns and on websites… These guys might even buy one for their own collection (see Keith Martin’s column below).

Wayne Carini chimes in on collector cars to ‘Buy, Hold and Sell’ in 2015′ – from Forbes Life – December 2014 (click to view full size)

It’s not all that common to see such a mainstream publication such as ‘Forbes Life’ report on cars, I suppose they’re trying to cover all the things their readers might ‘collect’ as there was a wine, art and watch expert that contributed to the one page feature on collectibles.

Sports Car Market Magazine (my favorite of all the collector car publications) publisher, Keith Martin, devoted his ‘Shifting Gears’ column in the December 2014 issue of Sports Car Market to share with readers how he just purchased a 1964 Volvo P1800 for his personal collection. Sports Car Market is the car magazine for real car guys, Keith went into detail about the particular car he purchased and how he came to own it. He also referenced some of the finer details of the car and the robust vintage Volvo subculture in the collector car world. Click the photo below to see the whole article, full size. And if, somehow, you’re reading this and you aren’t an SCM subscriber, follow this link to their website and get a subscription, whatever it costs these days, just get it. I’ve been a subscriber for, jeez, 15 years now. It’s a must read, every month.

Click above to see the whole article, then click the little icon in upper right corner to enlarge to full size.

The collector car spotlight continues to shine down on the Volvo P1800 – It was the subject of their featured story in this week’s “Hagerty Classic Cars – Weekly News” email blast. Hagerty is one of the nation’s foremost insurers of collector cars and boats. They put together a video ride along featuring the Volvo P1800 owned by Angus Forsyth, Managing Director of Hagerty International. Angus bought his car in 1982, when he was just 18 years old. Click on the video below to see his 1964 P1800S in action, and thoughts about the car from its long time owner.

Hagerty also maintains a very informative collector car pricing tool that’s available free on their website. I insure my 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL with Hagerty. Their ‘agreed value’ rates for collector cars are reasonable and everyone I’ve ever talked to who’s had to make a claim has had good things to say about their service.

While the Volvo P1800 might be a car that’s just coming out of the shadows for some people, Irv Gordon of Long Island, NY has been a fan for a long time. Irv currently holds the Guinness Book of World’s Records’ “title for the most miles logged on an originally owned car” with over 3 Million miles on his red 1966 Volvo P1800S. That just about covers the question of reliability and longevity for the P1800.

Irv Gordon with his 1966 Volvo P1800S with over 3 Million miles!

The P1800 was designed by Pelle Petterson, a Swede and son of Volvo PV544 stylist Helmer Petterson while he was an employee at the Italian design firm Frua, a Ghia subsidiary at the time. It was produced from 1961 – 1973 in several iterations. For the first few years Volvo contracted with the Jensen company in England to build the bodies of the cars, but for the 1964 model year Volvo moved production to Sweden citing quality control problems at Jensen. A couple of different engines were used over the years, the 4 speed manual transmission was offered with overdrive by the mid 60s. By the early 70s the interior of the P1800 was redesigned and fuel injection replaced the twin SU carburetors that had been standard to that point.

Opinions differ as to which P1800 is ‘most desirable’, it really comes down to why you want a P1800 and what you’re going to do with it. Purists seem to prefer the earliest Jensen bodied cars with their two piece ‘bull horn’ or ‘cow horn’ front bumpers used through 1963 as opposed to the straight bumpers used on later models. The cars of the early 70s with their fuel injection are preferred by others for the more modern fuel delivery system. The interiors of these cars through 1967 are wonderful. Keith Martin calls them ‘art deco’ like in his December 2014 ‘Shifting Gears’ column (above). Chrome bezels around the gauges, teal green background on the instruments, classic steering wheel, they’re just gorgeous. In 1968 the more classic metal / plastic rimmed steering wheel was replaced with a completely molded plastic / rubber piece, losing some of the vintage charm of the earlier models. 1970 brought the introduction of the fuel injected models and a completely new interior. Fake plastic wood covered the dash, the instruments were redesigned and the P1800 came into the 70s, leaving all the true vintage charm of the 60s interior behind.

There is a great Volvo P1800 Photo site that shows cars, inside and out, from each year of production and explains the progression and changes of the P1800 from the beginning through the end of the production run. Check it out by clicking this link.

So what might all this buzz mean for the 1967 model with just over 10,000 original miles that Gooding and Company is offering at their Scottsdale sale on January 16th and 17th? It’s hard to say, but it wouldn’t surprise me that with all this buzz around these unique and robust cars from Sweden if it didn’t just get bid right past the fairly conservative high estimate of $70,000 and actually sell closer to $100,000. Original, ‘preservation class’ cars like the one Gooding is offering are the kinds of cars discerning collectors prefer today, and as we all know, ‘they’re only original once’.  If this car does break Gooding’s high estimate, Wayne Carini will look like a fortune teller worth paying and that light metallic green Ferrari Mondial Cab Keith Martin bought a while back will fade away even further in the rear view mirror of his P1800.

3 Car Road Trip to the HAWK Vintage Races at Elkhart Lake and Road America

On Friday, July 18th I met a friend of mine at about 5:15 in the morning on a highway exit to meet up and drive to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the home of Road America, and this particular weekend, the HAWK Vintage Races with Brian Redman. See photos below, or more than 100+ photos in this album on my Flickr page.

Mercedes Alfa Romeo Porsche Road Trip
Gas stop somewhere in Wisconsin.
HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Mark passes me in the 356.

As I pulled into the parking lot we had decided to meet at, I saw my friend Kevin’s 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider (top down) coming down the off ramp to collect me in my 1966 Mercedes 230SL. He drove in, circled around me and with a wave of his string backed driver’s gloves, off we went with a simple yelling of ‘let’s go’ over the sounds of our revving engines.

HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Ex-John Paul Jr. Porsche 935 squeals away in downtown Elkhart Lake Friday night.

We wanted to beat any rush hour traffic that might come along on a Friday morning, it was still dark outside, I knew we’d miss all the poor slobs driving into work, it was so early. Our plan was to take Kevin’s regular route east out of the Twin Cities and then southeast into Wisconsin where we would pick up the last man in our classic car convoy and take back roads for about 7 hours to Elkhart Lake, arriving in time for the Friday night race car Concours d’Elegance on the streets of downtown Elkhart Lake. They actually drive the race cars the three or four miles from the track, on public roads, into Elkhart Lake where, basically, a big street party ensues until dusk when the cars (many without headlights) roar back to the track to the delight of the onlookers lining the streets.

HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Colin Comer in his Lister Knobbly.

About an hour into our drive we crossed over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin where we picked up the third participant in our convoy… my buddy Mark in his Champagne Yellow 1965 Porsche 356. We stopped at a gas station briefly where Mark passed out our newly acquired Cobra ‘Walkie Talkies’ so we could make ridiculous small talk while weaving our best ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ CB lingo into the conversation… they proved to be a lot of fun.

HAWK Vintage Races Road America
The 230 parked in the paddock (false grid in background).

I was scheduled to work, as usual, as an SCCA worker this weekend, on the false grid, lining cars up for the next practice session or actually gridding cars in their numbered grid positions based on qualifying times, I’ve been doing that with the SCCA for about 15 years now I guess.

HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Pretty 246 Dino in front of Siebkens Saturday night.

It was, as usual, an insanely cool weekend of great cars from all over the country, from pre war cars to ALMS cars that were racing competitively just a few years ago, and everything in between. And, of course, the cars parked at the track and in downtown Elkhart Lake (especially Saturday night for the Street Car Concours) were just as cool as what was on the track all weekend.

This event is like the Monterey Historics in the mid-west, many of the same cars, owners and drivers come to this event, it’s absolutely a blast and you should put it on your calendar and attend at least once in your life.

Kevin and I drove back Sunday, Mark came back Monday… none of us had a single mechanical problem, our (almost) 50 – 50+ year old cars performed flawlessly on the long drive to and from Elkhart Lake. On the back roads, in those old cars… a few times, I could have sworn it was the mid 60s. These cars really can be like time machines, not that I much new what the 60s felt like… while the other guys I was with sure remember them… I wouldn’t be born for another decade.

HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Driving home Sunday night as the sun sets in the West.
Porsche 356 corral.
Barn find Jag in the paddock.
Street car concours, downtown Saturday night.
HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Flat radiator Morgan pulls onto the grid.
HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Marv Primack in his ’47 Lester MG.
HAWK Vintage Races Road America
Downtown Friday night.

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Gooding and Co. Sells 1971 BMW 2002 Cabriolet by Bauer for $68,200 at Amelia Island

Gooding and Co. is offering a number of desirable and classic BMWs at their Amelia Island sale today. One of the most unusual and desirable (for my taste) is this 1971 2002 Cabriolet by Bauer. These are rare cars, especially here in the U.S. and they don’t come onto the market very often.

Charlie Ross hammered this car sold today for $62,000, total sale price was $68,200 with buyer’s premium.

This is a manual transmission example (as most 2002s were) that was restored to factory specs at some point pre 1990, as they mention the restoration was ‘freshened during the late 1990s’ so today could be considered ‘an older restoration. Regardless, the car presents well in red and will surely garner looks and admiration at the next BMW CCA car show.

The auction is being streamed live online at Gooding & Co.’s website.

Barrett Jackson 2014 – Best Buy! 1993 Bentley Continental R Coupe just $33,000


Late Saturday night, at about 10:30, this very nice looking 1993 Bentley Continental R Coupe rolled over the block at Barrett Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction with no reserve and sold for just $33,000 including buyer’s premium. These early 90s Continental Coupes were made in small numbers, about 1,300 total and were horrendously expensive when new, the auction catalog claims a base price of $268,000. As with so many late model ‘just used car’ exotics heavy depreciation has taken its toll on this stately Bentley, but given its relatively low miles and well above average condition it looks like a lot of car for the money to me.

It still looks modern today.

I always liked the rakish coupe design of this particular car, and with a 6.75 liter turbo charged V8 it’s the ultimate ‘gentleman’s express’ built for the open road. Everyone will question the cost of ownership and the big Bentley turbo maintenance costs, but at this price what’s the harm? I wouldn’t expect any sort of appreciation in the near future as it is still viewed as ‘just a used car’ today… while not a true collectible, it has wonderful presence and would still probably garner a front spot when you valet the car at the fancy steak joint Saturday night.

I call it a lot of car for $33,000, enjoy it for a few years and sell it for what you paid… or maybe a few thousand more.

Saddle leather interior was in excellent condition showing very little wear.

Photos courtesy of Barrett Jackson.

Rare 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale


During my regular ’rounds around the web searching for my next great collector car find I stumbled across this rare 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal on Craigslist in Atlanta.

It’s described as a recent import from France where the same gentleman owned it for 27 years. You can see the amber yellow headlight lenses peeking out from the front brows. Apparently the silver paint is fresh and a new cream colored leather interior was just installed. It’s said to have been well maintained and it runs beautifully, the asking price is $59,000.

While the car’s chassis and running gear was borrowed from the Alfa GTV, the Montreal’s exotic Bertone body and low production numbers (just under 4,000 total units built between 1972 and 1975) will always set it apart from other modern Alfas. $59,000 is no steal, but considering a similar 1973 model sold for $99,000 (well above the auction company’s estimate of $55,000 – $75,000) at Gooding and Company’s Pebble Beach Auction in August, chances are Montreal prices will continue to increase.
Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale

Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale
Still sporting its French license plates.