NNot many cars have nicknames, just special ones. The Volvo 1800 ES, which came onto the market in August 1971 as an offshoot of the Volvo Coupé, is commonly called the Snow White coffin, although it is no longer possible to determine who was the first to use the term. The occasion is obvious, however, the 4.39 meter long, two-door body of the only 1.28 meter high car closes with a filigree rear, framed by two long side windows, the roof and a glass tailgate. Everything that lies in the trunk is presented like Snow White in his coffin, which in the ES should be a good 1.50 meters long when the two rear emergency seats are folded forward. In September 1971, the FAZ wrote of a trunk like a small tool shed and attested a load volume of more than 1000 liters.
With this unusual creation, Volvo wanted to appeal primarily to American customers who had repeatedly complained about insufficient space in the coupé. The problem was now solved. It was also the loyal American customers who had given the pretty coupé such a long life, as the development of a sporty Volvo was initiated in 1956 after the flop of the P 1900 convertible with its plastic body – only 68 units were built. In 1960 the first prototypes were shown at auto shows in Europe and the USA, and in 1961 the coupé went on sale as the P 1800. The sober Swedes still name their cars with letters and numbers, nicknames such as Jakob, Buckel, Amazon or Snow White’s coffin show how popular the Swedish brand is, whose auto division is now part of the Chinese Geely Group.
Specifically, P stands for passenger car, 1800 for the size of the engine. At the time, the 1.8-liter was a new development; the coupé was initially built by Jensen in England because the main plant near Gothenburg did not have enough capacity. Production later came to Sweden, the cars lost the P and from then on were simply called 1800 S. S not for sport, but for Sweden. Occasionally the coupe is dubbed the Simon Templar car. After all, the private detective Templar, alias Roger Moore, drove the 1800 in 117 episodes in a successful English television series.
The step of adding a second version to the 1800 after ten years, so to speak for the final chord, was certainly brave, and it was only partially rewarded. Despite a number of improvements that had taken place – the engine now had a displacement of two liters, there were disc brakes all around – the coupé was no longer technically up-to-date, and with its many flourishes it looked very old-fashioned. In 1972 it was discontinued. It was ES’s turn a year later, so it only danced for three summers. The “Freizeit-Coupé” (FAZ) might have been built longer, but new crash regulations in the main US market put it off. To meet them would have made too large and therefore too expensive interventions in the body structure necessary. Only 8077 ES were ultimately built, on the other hand 39,407 coupés rolled off the production line in the eleven years.
The Snow White coffin is therefore the far rarer car, and yet coupes are not traded lower than the station wagon. If you want to buy one of the sporty Volvos, you have to bring at least 20,000 euros, although the ES is of course the more practical car due to the larger load volume. Good copies cost 30,000 euros and more.