Labour of love: the comeback of an iconic Volvo

Labour of love: the comeback of an iconic Volvo

‘Is that a Volvo?’. The elegant design of the P1800 – driven by Roger Moore in the 1960s TV series The Saint – continues to surprise and impress people to this day. Find out how it was lovingly restored to its original glory and returned to its roots in Volvo’s home town of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Bill Krzastek from Waynesboro, Virginia, is a passionate collector of classic cars. But to earn a spot in his garage, a car has to feel right; not just look nice.

– I've restored a few cars that, after I drove them, I said, ‘I don't really like driving this car’.  What I keep in my garage is representative of vehicles where I not only like the art and design, but also the driving of it. And if it has personal connotations, or an interesting history, that’s definitely the crowning achievement, Bill explains.

A car that truly fits the bill (no pun intended) is the 1967 Volvo P1800, which caught his attention as a young boy watching The Saint on television with his father.

– I hadn't seen anything quite like that before. So decades later, I wondered whatever became of those cars. That's what started the search, which ended with me becoming the seventh owner of this particular car. The first owner was actually Roger Moore himself.

And unlike many other older cars, the P1800 would still function as a day-to-day car, says Bill:

– It drives very smoothly. People who’ve tried it have even said it's the smoothest running Volvo they’ve ever driven.

Watch the full interview with Bill Krzastek and Hans Hedberg, Heritage Manager at Volvo Cars, in the video above.

A timeless elegance that remains an inspiration 

The perfect balance of the design is what lends the P1800 its timeless elegance, according to Bill:

– The front end looks very Italian, while the tail fin in the rear came about through American taste. So you have a real mix, and it works extremely well.

Hans Hedberg, Heritage Manager at Volvo Cars, confirms that the design remains a source of inspiration at the company:

– It’s very crunchy. When we show it to new employees, they're astonished. ‘Is this a Volvo?’ If you look at some of our more recent models, those elegant lines have been picked up again.

Matching numbers after 40 years

When Bill purchased the P1800, it was pretty far from its current near-mint condition, he recalls.

– It was sitting in a warehouse in a museum and hadn’t been used for many years. It needed a complete mechanical and body restoration, which required quite a lot of time and money. But with such a unique history, it was well worth it.

During his twelve years of ownership, Bill has done a truly impressive job of getting parts from around the globe to restore the P1800 to its former glory. The single biggest achievement? Tracking down the original engine, which was found outdoors, under a piece of tarpaulin in England, and putting it back under the hood.

– Matching numbers after 40 years. That’s pretty incredible, says Hans Hedberg.

Back to the roots – and into the eyes of the public

Bill explains that he never considered the P1800 as a personal investment. Instead, his main purpose was to bring the car out from the warehouse and into the public eye.

– I wanted the world to see and remember it with the same memories I had. Over the years, I’ve leant it to several museums, as well as to the shooting of a movie version of The Saint. It even made an appearance in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage.

True to this spirit, Bill rejected offers to auction the P1800 off to another private collector, and instead sold his gem to the Volvo Museum in 2023. In doing so, he’s returned the iconic car to its roots in Volvo’s home town of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Hans Hedberg is grateful for Bill’s contribution to preserving Volvo’s automotive heritage:

– We’ve been manufacturing cars here for nearly a hundred years. As a Gothenburger, a Swede, and a Volvo fan, I'm really glad that you did this job for us. And for the world.

Watch the Volvo P1800 get taken for a spin in this video: