In 1953, with his eye firmly set on increasing their export market, Volvo boss Assar Gabrielsson set off on a visit to the United States to get a feel for the market.

Not only was Gabrielsson encouraged by the warm reception he received, and the new contact made, he also was surprised to observe how traditional European-built sports cars had become Stateside.

Gabriellson rapidly decided that Volvo could also benefit from having a sports car in their range and wasted little time in finding and commissioning a company which he tasked to design, engineer and produce what would be the first Volvo sports car.

The company chosen by Gabriellson was the California-based Glasspar , while the name chosen for Volvo’s debut sports car was the P1900.

 

Debuting in 1954, the Volvo P1900 was a straightforward 2+2 convertible on a Volvo chassis with its Glasspar designed and produced the polyester body.

Due to an interminable list of production problems, the first Volvo P1900s only began to trickle of the production lines in 1956, with just 44 produced in its first year.

The same 1.4-litre powered the Volvo P1900 (86 cu in) B 14 engine fitted on the PV444 with a power boost coming from a pair of SU carburettors that increased the car's power to 52kW (70bhp).

This impressive powerplant was twinned to a standard Volvo three-speed gearbox.

 

Despite some critical approval from the motoring media, it soon became apparent to the powers that be at Volvo that Gabrielsson's entry into the sports car market was both premature and ill-advised.

Just 67 P1900s were sold during the two years that the car was in production before Volvo called a halt on the adventure.

Ironically, because of their polyester body, most of the P1900s produced have remained intact, and gone on to become collector's items.

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