P1800 reborn in carbon, steel and 420 horsepower

Cyan Racing calls on its Volvo history to update the iconic Swedish sports car

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Cyan P1800
World Touring Car racing champions are bringing back the Volvo P1800 with modern underpinnings | Cyan Racing photos

The beloved Volvo P1800 is back, but this time with a steel-and-carbon-fiber body, independent and fully adjustable chassis, and 420 horsepower from its 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. And it’s coming not from Volvo itself but from Cyan Racing, the three-time World Touring Car champion and former Volvo vehicle development partner.

“Our company was founded in 1996 to race Volvo cars in Sweden, and the Volvo P1800 Cyan is closing the circle for us,” Christian Dahl, Cyan Racing founder and chief executive, is quoted in the team’s news release.

“We claimed our first world title with Volvo in 2017 and have since then won two further world titles with two other manufacturers. The first world title was a milestone for us, and we felt it was a good time to reconnect with the past and to those before us racing Volvos. The first Volvo P1800 Cyan carries our blue and yellow racing colors to mark our heritage.”

The new version also is a solution to what might have been had Volvo’s fate worked out differently, Dahl said, noting that the original P1800 launched in 1960, a year before the Jaguar E-type, two years before the Ferrari 250 GTO and three years before the Porsche 911.

“The Jaguar, the Ferrari and the Porsche are all cars with a continuation,” he added. “That (fact) left us with inspiration to create what could have been if we as a race team had been there during the sixties, racing the P1800, and got to design a road version of our race car.

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“We have done that before with three of our race cars, the Volvo C30, the Volvo S60, when we were known as Polestar, and last year the Lynk & Co 03 Cyan. The Volvo P1800 Cyan is our interpretation of what could have been.”

Dahl said Cyan could have done an electric-powered P1800 “filled with all the latest technology, comfort and luxury. But that was not what we wanted. Amid this paradigm shift we decided to slow down time and freeze a part of it in our own time capsule. To take the best from the golden ’60s and combine it with our capabilities of today, keeping a pure yet refined driving experience.”

According to Cyan Racing’s announcement, the team “decided to treat the design and engineering of the sixties with care, moving it forward in a delicate way.”

“We decided to apply our expertise in engine, aero and chassis design for a car that delivers on the Cyan engineering philosophy in terms of predictability and intuitive driver control, yet keeping the light weight, analogue driving experience of the ’60s,” said Mattias Evensson, project manager and head of engineering for Cyan Racing.

The news release notes that the P1800 Cyan has no electronic stability control, ABS or brake booster.

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“The Volvo P1800 Cyan is about clearing away anything disturbing the direct connection between driver, tires and the road,” Evensson added. “Our objective has been to keep that undisturbed sensation whilst refining it with the best technology of today.”

Compared with the original, the new version has a wider track, larger wheels and repositioned greenhouse. The car weighs less than 2,200 pounds, Cyan Racing said.

Several engines were considered, the team said, before selecting the 4-cylinder that debuted in the 2011 Volvo C30 world touring car. The engine links to a 5-speed Holinger transmission. Instead of a live rear axle, the car has a racing team-designed independent rear suspension.

Touring car champion and Cyan Racing development driver Thed Bjork notes, “The car goes where you point it. You can be brutal going into a corner and still find your apex and exit within millimeters.

“The settings of the car are not aimed at fast lap times but rather to deliver an enjoyable and exciting driving experience,” he adds. “I feel my smile widening each time that I control the drift angle of the car through a long turn.”

Cyan Racing was founded as Polestar, but Volvo Cars acquired that name in 2015. The team acknowledges that Volvo also holds the trademark to the P1800 name and that Cyan will market the Volvo P1800 Cyan independently from Volvo. Pricing of the Cyan P1800 will be shared with prospective customers.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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