When I was just a kid back in the 60s (yes, I know I don’t look that old), I used to dream of one day growing up to become the next Saint. Crazy I know, but fair play, Simon Templar (played by Roger Moore) had it all and then some back in those days. He was charming and sophisticated, with endless amounts of pocket money. All the girls swooned over his good looks, and perhaps way more importantly (especially to a kid who was not quite ten), he drove some pretty cool cars!
I say cars, because in the Return of the Saint
(1978/79), Ian Ogilvy, Moore’s somewhat unworthy replacement, piloted a first-generation Jaguar XJS. What’s quite interesting about that is Jaguar had reputedly turned down the opportunity to supply the first series with an E-Type back in 1962. Yet here they were, a decade later, attempting to cash in on the success of the show.
Of course, Mr. Templar’s most famous automobile, and the one which he will always be associated with, was the rather rare Volvo P1800. And what a lovely little car it was.
However, what some of you may not know is that the P1800 was almost consigned to the history books before it ever saw the light of day. Designed for Volvo, the Swedish company searched for other manufacturers to actually produce the vehicle for them. Famous Italian & German names were bandied around, and the project was almost dropped until Jensen Motors of England came on scene.
Yes, those early Volvo P1800
models were all built in Britain, its unibody shell being formed in Scotland, before final assembly took place in West Bromwich, England. That’s probably why the British TV production company viewed the vehicle as a suitable car for our Mr. Templar.
Of course, while Roger Moore went onto bigger and better things, like changing his name from Simon Templar to James Bond, Volvo, after discovering quality issues with the Jensen plant, moved production home to Sweden.
At this time, the P1800 became the P1800S which was then followed by the P1800E and perhaps my favourite of all, the P1800ES station wagon. Now that really was a pretty looking and quite practical sports car!
By 1973, however, total sales were still running shy of 50,000 units and with strong competition from other manufacturers including the Jaguar E-Type, Volvo’s sports coupe finally went into retirement.
Naturally, over the years, there have been several rumours of Mr. Templar returning to our TV screens but, apart from the rather lame & loosely based 1997 movie version starring Val Kilmer, we have yet to see this happen. Of course, if it ever does, you know who’s going to be putting his name forward for the starring role. Come on now, I even have the right accent!