The Volvo is Eating Our Wallet

Jan 31, 2013 update to the Volvo 1800S project car

The Volvo at John Fitch’s birthday earlier this year: It looks so great on the outside that they parked it in front of Wayne Carini’s Bentley 3-liter.
The carpets look even worse in person having had someone attempt to dye them in the past.
Cracked door bolster needs to be uncracked.
Our 1800S emblem needs replacing.
Our ugly incorrect pitted mirror needs fixing up.
Worn drip rail—this is supposed to be shiny.
Worn and incorrect later style seats. Coming soon: correct seats.
Check out the worn trunk latch.

After painting our Volvo, we decided to take on the interior and really finish the car correctly. This means a replacement of every part of the interior except our dash, which is thankfully in great condition. Sadly this is costing thousands of dollars to do correctly, but we think it’ll be worth the effort.

If you look at the before pictures, you’ll know why we decided to tackle this. Our interior is in fair-to-poor condition at best, and we want the car to be perfect. Since we spent all the money on our paint and new trim pieces, the interior really needs to match the rest of the car.

This interior job includes replacing the entire three-piece door panel assemblies, including the arm rests, the top of door bolster cap, and the upper and lower door cards. It also means replacing our worn and incorrect carpet set with a correct red cut pile carpet set. The final part will be replacing the incorrect later model 1800S front seats with period-correct 1966 seats in new leather without headrests. Our rear seat vinyl is nice, but the straps under the bench are stretched so we’ll be replacing these as well.

We’ve strayed quite a bit from our idea of a nice driver and are now making it a No. 2 condition show-winner. All this is costing quite a bit, with the door panel replacement parts alone costing $1000 per side. Add to that the $895 carpet kit and the cost of Eastwood’s sound deadening mats we’re adding both in the doors and the floors, and we’ve spent quite a bit of money. We are almost at the point where we may as well just set up a direct deposit from our bank account to our parts guys. We know the car will be amazing when it’s done and well worth it, but right now it’s just expensive.

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Reader comments:

Toot None
Feb. 15, 2013 11:34 a.m.

I have restored a 1971 1800E and it regularly takes top three in community shows. Two years ago it took second in class at the Elkhart Lake, R&T Concours d'Elegance. At the last VCOA at the Gilmore it took first place out of approximately twenty 1800's. You are overspending for this restoration. I suspect I know your sources and you are receiving excellent quality, but you could have saved significantly by contacting a few individuals who regularly part out cars. Being in the loop requires networking through the local chapters of VSA and VCOA and reading their publications. The 1800 should be one of the least expensive automobiles for a restoration based on availability relatively inexpensive components. Keep up the good work with your fine publication. John Tuteur, Northbrook,IL

Andy Reid
Andy Reid HalfDork
Feb. 27, 2013 2:01 p.m.

Hey Tot, I did not want to use used parts on it and also did not want incorrect year parts for the car, especially on the interior bits. The correct style door panels are expensive no matter where you do as are the arm rests. I could have opted for used ones but the new ones look so much better.

The seats were very inexpensive compared to bodywork and such.

I am also the guy that has no issues spending a bit more on parts if the parts are correct and the customer service is awesome, both of which I get from Don at and Mike at I-Roll. Besides that, these guys have been very helpful in determining what is and is not correct for the car as well as helping assemble and disassemble different parts of the car for free.

My take is that you tend to get what you pay for, especially when it comes to support.

Feb. 27, 2013 6:26 p.m.


Mike and Don are outstanding resources. You'll see Mike's logo on my '62 1800 race car at Are you going to bring your car to the Mitty? That's where our season will start, and there will be a goodly contingent of 1800 street cars there. I'm even trying to talk John Tuteur into joining the fray. Getting him to drive that bucket of his more than a state away is a challenge though.

Feb. 27, 2013 8:42 p.m.

You've definitely hooked up with two of the best resources that there are for Volvo 1800s. Mike & Don do both know their cars of choice. I understand that the Mitty will also have the local chapter of the VCOA in attendance as well. Now all I need to make sure that my ES is ready to roll in. I presume you've hit the documentation website for the 1800? That would be Karl Eric Malberg's

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