Images of a mysterious Volvo P1800 prowling the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden, in full prototype regalia sent enthusiasts on a frenzied search for clues in August 2020. Cyan, the company that built the resto-modded coupe, has laid dozens of rumors to rest by introducing the car and detailing the numerous modifications made.
Let’s begin with what it’s not. Although it started life as a Volvo, and it’s still registered as one, this P1800 was not developed or built by the Swedish firm. It’s the work of Cyan Racing, a privately-owned team founded in 1996 specifically to transform Volvo’s safe, solid, and predictable models (like the 850) into full-blown championship-winning racers capable of fending off more exotic rivals. It was known as Polestar until Volvo purchased the name in 2015 and began alchemizing it into a standalone brand. And, while most of the speculation hovered around electrification, the only battery you’ll find under the body is a 12-volt unit that powers the electrical system.
“Obviously, we could have built an electric P1800 filled with all of the latest technology, comfort, and luxury. But that was not what we wanted,” clarified company founder and CEO Christian Dahl. He explained his team’s main goal was “to take the best from the golden 1960s and combine it with our capabilities of today, keeping a pure yet refined driving experience.” It’s much closer to Singer’s 911s than to Volkswagen’s battery-powered e-Bulli.
Starting with a 1964 P1800, Cyan made the body wider and repositioned the greenhouse. It also used high-strength steel and carbon fiber to reinforce the original structure’s weak points. With the bases covered, it turned its attention to the design. Up front, the P1800 gains a pair of air intakes, a splitter, and a two-piece bumper. Out back, the fins that characterized the original car are toned down and the exhaust tip moves to the middle.
Images of the interior haven’t been released, though peeking through the windshield reveals the coupe receives a roll cage and sport seats for the front passengers. The dashboard-mounted rear-view mirror remains.
Cyan evaluated a wide range of engines, including the original B18 four-cylinder, the sonorous five-cylinder used for many years, and the 2.0-liter found in most of Volvo’s modern-day cars. It ultimately chose a direct-injected, 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to develop 420 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 355 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. Shared with the SC60 TC1 race car, among others, it spins the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission, a carbon fiber driveshaft, and a limited-slip differential. Performance specifications are not available, but Cyan’s P1800 should be extremely quick because it tips the scale at 2,182 pounds. Put another way, it’s about 160 pounds lighter than a 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata yet it has more horsepower than an Audi RS3.
Bigger brakes hidden behind 18-inch wheels keep the power in check, and Cyan proudly stated its P1800 is not equipped with ABS, traction control, or even a brake booster. Suspension modifications round out the chassis upgrades. Here again, the company started from scratch and leveraged its race car-building experience to design a fully-adjustable setup made largely with aluminum components. It notably replaced the live rear axle that equipped the P1800 when it was new with an independent suspension developed in-house.
“The most challenging part of the project was to find the balance between staying close to the authentic analog driving experience of the 1960s and what is achievable with the advanced engineering and performance levels of today,” a spokesperson for the company told Autoblog. On paper, it looks like Cyan pulled it off.
Cyan’s resto-modded P1800 is not merely a one-off model built to fuel this week’s pub talk. It plans to sell the coupe to the public. While production isn’t limited, the company predicts its hot rod will be a low-volume model. It’s already taking orders, and Autoblog can reveal pricing starts at $500,000 before options are factored in.