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The New York Auto Show has a number of fascinating Volvos to look at, but few more interesting than the white 1967 P1800 that once belonged to Roger Moore.
The former James Bond bought the Volvo during his tenure as Simon Templar, the protagonist in The Saint. The series ran on the BBC from 1962 to 1969 and was based on a series of books of the same name.
In the books, Simon Templar drives an Hirondel, a fictional car. Faced with a tough casting decision, the creators were torn between the Volvo and a Jaguar E-Type. In the end it was money that made the decision as Volvo was willing to give the studio its cars for free, unlike Jaguar.
The car was evidently such a hit with the show’s star, Roger Moore, that he bought one for himself. Intriguingly, Moore allowed his car to be used by the show, so this particular car has the unique distinction of being a celebrity owned by a celebrity.
Despite its provenance, the P1800 was allowed to languish in the care of owners with too many projects (let that be a lesson). It languished until Bill Krzastek bought it.
Krzastek and the Volvo were featured on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage in 2013 (above) in which he gives a full account of his reasons for buying the car and what went into getting looking like new again.
When he bought the P1800 it was in bad shape, suffering from years of neglect, but was still known as “The Saint car.” As a result, despite its condition, Krzastek still had to refinance his home to buy it. Indeed, it was an expensive, nine month restoration completed with the best English know-how.
But the result was a remarkably clean, remarkably original restoration. A few items had to be changed, like the magnesium wheels which had cracks in them, but some original parts, like the radio, were tracked down and put back in.
The Volvo still bears evidence of its time on set, too. A fan places behind the driver’s seat was installed by the studio to cool Moore under the studio lights. A temperature gauge was also installed on the dash (right of the ash tray) to ensure that the P1800 wasn’t overheating.
And at the show, the car still stands out. It’s a testament to the brilliant design of Volvo’s cars that new and old can all be on the stage together, but with all its provenance, you could be forgiven for giving this classic a little more attention than the new XC60.
The only problem is that the door is locked, so you can’t put your buns where Roger Moore’s once sat.