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Saints alive - a Volvo icon

Motoring icon: Gordon Hunter's restored Volvo P1800 which is on display at Holden Motors over the winter.

Motoring icon: Gordon Hunter's restored Volvo P1800 which is on display at Holden Motors over the winter.

Andy Russell

If it wasn't for Gordon Hunter's crush on old Volvos that would have been the fate of this 1966 P1800.

The iconic Volvo coupe – the car driven in the original TV series of The Saint in which Simon Templar was played by Roger Moore – is now on display at Holden Motors’ Barker Street showroom in Norwich where it is being stored for the owner.

Gordon, who saved the P1800 from the scrapyard crusher 10 years ago, did much of the £8,000 restoration himself over the next two years including changing the colour from green to cream. He says the car, which has been used in an episode of TV detective series George Gently, is now worth about £14,000. He has even managed to get P1800 designer Pelle Petterson to sign one of the sun visors.

Gordon, who keeps track of P1800s for the Volvo Owners Club and organises an annual event for them, also makes body panels which are no longer available for old Volvos and carries out vehicle inspections.

Gordon, from Leicester, drives a V90 as everyday family transport but fell for the “wow factor” of the P1800 when he saw one in a transport museum in Glasgow in the 80s.

His love affair with the brand continued when he was given a 240 estate many years ago when the family’s Ford Sierra was stolen.

“I just loved it, the build quality and the feeling of safety,” said Gordon who drives between 2,000 and 5,000 miles a year in his P1800.

And they aren’t the only Volvos in his life for he is restoring two more he saved from being scrapped – a 1968 131 Amazon two-door coupe saloon and a 1968 Amazon 220 estate.

Replacement panels, even when available, aren’t cheap – P1800 wings are about £700 – which is why he thinks people have not taken much interest in restoring old Volvos and instead scrapped them. Now prices are starting to rise – he reckons a P1800 is going up about £500 a year – making restoration more viable.

His P1800 has covered about 145,000 miles – not a lot given that a P1800 owned by Irv Gordon in America holds the world’s highest mileage record at nearly three million.

Any P1800 owners who want to get in touch with Gordon can contact him on 07592 620926.

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