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Me and my car - Mike Tomkins – Volvo P1800

22 August 2011

Ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to own a Volvo P1800. I remember the first time I saw one was in the 1960's series "The Saint" starring Roger Moore. The car is so unlike all of the other Volvo's produced over the years - it is an absolutely stunning design.

I have always loved cars, both European and American brands.

My car for local use is an immaculate 1969 Morris Minor Convertible. I have owned the car for several years and it has only let me down once. For anything longer I have an all wheel drive Lexus 460 (the only four wheel drive version in the UK). I have owned three Lexus cars and they are utterly reliable and comfortable albeit somewhat clinical!

I purchased the P1800 in the spring of 2009 at Brightwell's auction in Leominster, Herefordshire.

I spent a couple of months intensely researching where to get the car completely restored. Sadly I didn't feel totally comfortable with the small specialist Volvo restorer's that I visited around the country.

Through further research, I found the Aston Workshop and talked through the project with John Gray, their Workshop Manager. Although the request was slightly unusual I felt that the car would be in great company with all the wonderful Aston Martins being restored there.

I insisted that I wanted the Volvo to be re built to the same standards as an Aston Martin. The project was started in May 2009 and took just over two years. It ended up being quite a grand project with two new front and rear wings required due to rust.

All in all, every aspect of the car was completely re-built by hand, and I feel proud to have contributed to such a fantastic British company creating and sustaining British jobs, and I hope that the skilled technicians of Aston Workshop enjoyed working on a different car for a change?

It was both informative and fun to watch the car being restored via the Aston Workshop website. I guess that my only frustration was I couldn't have the car finished in six months!

I collected the car in June 2011 and was absolutely delighted with the restoration. I drove the car home to Cheshire with my son and it covered the 180 miles with ease. It has a 130 BHP 2 litre engine - not quite Aston Martin territory but enough to get you around comfortably.

I also tried to obtain the registration P1800 but the DVLA told me that this was impossible as it had been assigned to a write off in the 1960's, but I did manage to procure 1800P!

My nearest major town is Wilmslow, and every Saturday it plays host to a vast array of expensive Astons, Porsche's and Ferrari's - However, it is the Volvo that gets all the attention!

There are very few P1800's left in the UK and certainly none built to this standard. When you drive down the street you literally see people walking into lamp posts staring at the car!

The car is currently back at Aston Workshop for some initial snagging - nothing major. I intend to use it for most day to day journeys and to simply enjoy it. My son is very happy to be dropped off to school in it (unlike the Morris Minor!)

I hope to keep in touch with the Aston Workshop team because I really admire what they are doing and perhaps John Gray will be able to convince me to buy that DB6 sooner rather than day of these days John!