The 1960s was the golden era for sports cars and automotive design. It would be a feature in itself to name the icons from that period but to name drop a few, that’s when we got the Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari 250 GTO. Yeah. So, it would make sense if a few names got lost in the mix and the Volvo P1800 is one such sports coupe. It actually came out before the likes of the Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911 and yet unlike those legends, the Volvo never got a continuation lineup.
Winners of multiple World Touring Car Championships, Cyan Racing decided to bring the P1800 into the limelight again. As a racing team founded in 1996 to race Volvos, who better to build this project. These were the people who were formerly known as Polestar and built the racing versions of the C30 and the S60. For the P1800 Cyan, the team had the choice of updating it with an electric powertrain and modern comforts but instead opted to pay homage to the sixties and combine it with modern racing expertise.
Using a 1964 P1800 as the donor, Cyan upgraded the bodywork by reinforcing the structural points and the chassis with high-strength steel and carbon fibre for better driving dynamics. As a result, the final car weighs in at 990kgs (lighter than a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento). There are a fair few design tweaks as well, most notably around the arches to house the wider and larger tyres. Under its modernised shell, the P1800 Cyan also gets adjustable front and rear suspension with bespoke lightweight components. It’s built to be a pure driver’s car and as such it has no modern nannying systems like ABS or traction control. The 18-inch forged rims are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tyres that are wider at the rear.
The heart of the beast is a Cyan Racing classic: a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that only drives the rear wheels. It is tuned to put down 420hp and 455Nm and can sing all the way till 7,700rpm. To keep the experience somewhat retro and engaging but without compromise, the P1800 Cyan gets a bespoke 5-speed Hollinger gearbox. The limited slip-diff is said to be tuned to offer good track performance while also being civil enough for road use. Interested buyers can get in touch with Cyan Racing if they want one built to spec and figure out the costs. I’d say if you’ve got cash to splash, then this is a project car worth considering.
While the P1800 Cyan is a racing team’s technical exercise in engineering, it also serves as a reminder of what most modern cars are missing. Even before I read about the performance or the carbon fibre reinforced chassis, the P1800 had got my heart beating faster. Why? Because of how it looks. It doesn’t look mad fast and nor do I recall it from some famous movie franchise but its shape gets me excited. While I am in awe of how quick and how capable modern day sportscar are, they don’t give me the same feeling while looking at them as I got with this P1800 Cyan. In fact, I liked it so much, I immediately went and sourced a 1/64 scale Matchbox diecast model of the original P1800 so I could admire it even more. I’m not saying carmakers should GO backwards but they definitely need to LOOK back more. Perhaps there needs to be a line of cars that are inspired by old-school design and don’t have appalling grilles or are optimised for performance gains. Not restored classics for millions of dollars, but just stylish cars that are amazing to look at even if they don’t go very fast. I don’t even mind if they’re electric, like what Jaguar is offering for old E-Types. I just miss cars that make you swoon even before you know anything about them. Don’t you?
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