The Volvo P1800 played a big part in 1960s pop culture. Now, it has been reimagined by the Cyan Racing Team with the best of present-day engineering, while at the same time remaining true to the original.
The 1960s was an eventful decade: the human race first walked on the moon, the Beatles were top of the charts and the first Ford Mustang was brought to market. Another famous element of pop culture was Simon Templar, famously played by former James Bond Sir Roger Moore, in the hit British TV-show The Saint (also remade into a movie in 1997 starring Val Kilmer). Like most iconic TV-shows of the past, the hero’s personality was defined by his all-important ride.
Think of the Ferrari Daytona Spyder in Miami Vice, the Dodge Charger a.k.a. “The General Lee” in The Dukes of Hazzard or the talking, Hasselhoff-driven Pontiac Trans Am called KITT in Knight Rider. Up there, along with these other icons, is the car driven by Simon Templar in the Saint – the Volvo P1800. But, far from being a relic of times past, you can now own one of your very own, lovingly brought into the 21st Century.
Cyan Racing, the reigning triple World Touring Car Champions, has recently revealed the Volvo P1800 Cyan (“P1800 Cyan”), its interpretation of the iconic Volvo sports car from the sixties, brought to you by the same team responsible for Volvo’s first world title-winning race car, the Volvo S60 TC1 Cyan. As a nod to its heritage, the first P1800 Cyan will be fully decked out in Cyan Racing’s familiar blue and yellow racing colours.
The team at Cyan Racing decided to re-create what the P1800 could have been as a race car, while also being road worthy – those who would look into owning this classical piece of machinery would prefer that it provides a pure driving experience as it did in the sixties, but have it refined further with resources available today.
Respecting the design and engineering of the sixties, Cyan Racing applied their expertise mostly in engine, aero and chassis design. This way, they kept true to their engineering philosophy in managing predictability and intuitive driver control whilst ensuring a lightweight, analogue driving experience, resembling that of the sixties. The P1800 Cyan will have no driving aids like stability control, ABS or brake boosters that can potentially ruin what is meant to be a pure driving sensation. This is as authentic as it gets, with only minor refinements using new tech.
The laborious process of creating the P180 Cyan began with a 1964 Volvo P1800 that was subjected to a long list of redesign work to accommodate to a wider track, larger wheel and repositioned greenhouse. The goal was always to reinterpret an iconic design with modern technology but never having it lose its original character.
One of the first problems the team saw with the original vehicle was with its body structure – it was filled with weak points and flexing steel quality largely common with cars from the sixties, preventing it from delivering a precise and intuitive driving experience. To solve this conundrum, Cyan Racing redesigned the car’s shape and structure, strengthening its weak points using a method known as triangulation, with high-strength steel and carbon fibre body integrated into the chassis structure. This entire process not only adds structural rigidity to the vehicle but also lowers its weight to a total of 990kg and increases its responsiveness.
The P1800 Cyan comes with a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that churns out 420 horsepower and 455Nm of torque, with a redline at 7700 rpm. It is designed to allow drivers to experience the thrill of driving in the sixties but with more enhanced performance and precision, achieved through its strong mechanical base and different combustions system.
Transmission wise, a five-speed bespoke Holinger gearbox gives the car the same mechanical feeling as its original counterpart but with greater precision in gear change and renewed capability in handling the P1800 Cyan’s increased torque. The rear axle is also replaced with a Cyan-designed independent rear suspension, and along with a torque-biasing limited-slip differential so the entire transmission system enables the car to achieve performance excellence.
Speaking about the car’s bespoke and independently adjustable chassis, Cyan Racing’s development driver and WTCR champion, Thed Björk, said that the level of grip and precision achieved by the chassis, coupled with responsive steering, allows the car to go exactly where you point it while making it fully capable of handling fierce turns. It is perfect for an enjoyable and exciting drive but is not intended to shatter fastest lap records.
The P1800 Cyan is a product of an advanced engineering process involving the same people that designed, built and developed the world title-winning Volvo S60 TC1 Cyan. Furthermore, it was benchmarked against Cyan Racing’s first road car, the Volvo C30 Polestar Performance Prototype. With two decades of experience in developing race cars and over a decade in developing performance road cars, it is no doubt that Cyan Racing was well-equipped and well-experienced to reimagine the Volvo P1800. The result, you will agree, is something the Saint would be proud of.