When we think of classic Volvos, boxy wagons come to mind, reliable and safe. However, there’s also the Volvo P1800, which is easily one of the most beautiful European sports car designs of all time. Now there’s a restomod called the P1800 Cyan. It’s made of carbon fiber, comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder from a race car, and recently got invited to Jay Leno’s Garage.
Eight years ago, Leno drove a 1967 Volvo P1800 owned by Roger Moore and driven by him in the TV show The Saint. This isn’t anything like that; it’s an extreme restomod built by a company called Cyan Racing in Sweden. Think of it as a Gunther Werks Porsche 911, except it’s a Volvo.
In fact, Jay Leno even makes a comment about the P1800 reminding him of the 1963 Porsche 356 that he owns. It has to do with lightness, precision, and the way 60s cars drove. I love a good restomod, an F-Type, a Stinger, a Ringbrothers Mustang or even an Eleanor.
However, the P1800 is a little different because it’s not what we think of when talking about Volvo. The company has always been about practical innovation, about making cars convenient, but not fun. Unlike the 911, which has always been at the core of the Porsche brand, this was a flagship meant to lour people into showrooms where they would find a lineup of very safe family cars.
While the P1800 looked about as sexy as a Porsche or a Jaguar, it never drove the part. It took corners like a luxury boat and with a 1.8-liter engine couldn’t pull the scales of a herring. Early models made about 100 horsepower and would hit 60 mph in about 13 seconds.
The Volvo P1800 Cyan doesn’t drive like the 1960s classic. It’s a typical European restomod where no expense was spared. The $500,000 vehicle is a toy for the ultra-rich, unlike the affordable model of the 60s. It’s made by Cyan Racing, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, this is the company formally known as Polestar before Volvo bought the rights. So you could even call this the P1800 Polestar… but it’s illegal.
They are touring car experts, and I love how Hans Baath, the Managing Director at Cyan Racing, doesn’t brag about any of this stuff. He just lets the stunning car do all the “talking.”
The chassis of the donor car is reinforced to make it stiffer. All-new suspension is installed, cutting-edge double wishbone tech with the best Ohlins adjustable dampers. The external shell is all-new and made from carbon fiber. None of the panels are the same, since the wheelbase and track have been modified, but it still looks like a 1960s Volvo sports car.
All the chromed elements are actually machined out of aluminum blocks, and even the wheel design is bespoke to this car. Amazing what you can do when you’ve got a race shop. The engine has certain components shared with a normal Volvo 2.0-liter turbo. However, it borrows tech from the touring car and produces about 420 horsepower. No ABS, no traction control, no brake booster, just pure man-and-machine technology.