KATY, the Volvo P1800

Ta da! And here she is!

KATY :) Our classic VolvoP1800, which Mike, aka our Mr MECHANICLONDON, restored himself in a real labour of love and to a detail, which is just phenomenal!

A well and truly transformational journey! Literally! As it’s certainly not just the car that went from rotten and rusty to glorious and shiny, but on a personal level confidence, self-belief and overall sense of achievement have all overshadowed any doubts, fears or lack of belief in ever finishing this mammoth project.

And that’s not just the case for Mike himself, but even I, the storytelling, assisting and witnessing wife, aka Mrs MECHANICLONDON, can honestly say that my ‘world of impossible’ has most certainly become much more of a world of possibilities and opportunities along this car restoration journey … and one of sharing our noble stories via the MECHANICLONDON chap  :)

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison.

Over to KATY’s life and story …

The first 38 years

Planned in Sweden, designed in Italy, unveiled at the car show in Brussels, built in Britain initially and then later on in Sweden, and a huge success in the United States, the Volvo P1800 was built 39,414 times between 1961 and 1972, and is Volvo’s most internationally renowned model, not least as it rose to fame as Simon Templar’s (Roger Moore) car in the British mystery spy thriller television series of the 1960-s “The Saint”. (Sources: https://www.volvoclub.org.uk/history/p1800.shtml, https://www.media.volvocars.com/us/en-us/media/pressreleases/49435)

Built and registered (KYT 764D) in 1966, our KATY is a Sweden model so to speak, and although we can’t claim any Simon Templar affiliations (not even as a double LOL), we can say that she’s creating her own legacy these days as you will see below.

We don’t know anything about KATY’s first 30 years, however approximately in 2000 she was acquired by a gentleman Jamie, who kept her in the driveway at his Hertfordshire home, that is until about 2004 … when one day she was gone (stolen)!!!

Missing for ten years!

The years may have passed, but Jamie never gave up hope of finding her and it was some time at the beginning of 2014 when that red VolvoP1800 popped up on his ebay search.

He recognised the number plate, went to view the car with his friend, realised it’s his and reported to the police. The police went and got the car, returned it to Jamie’s driveway and said: “Here’s your car, sir.”

In 2014 she found a new home and became our KATY

As Jamie’s private situation had changed and the car needed work (to say the least!), he put it up for sale and that’s when in July 2014 – around the time we were talking honeymoon destinations #justsaying – the Volvo P1800 caught Mike’s classic car infatuated eyes, and after much debate we agreed to go ‘nowhere’ for our honeymoon.

Because it’s far more exciting – and memorable – to buy a well rotten, rusty and decaying car and to have the prospect of going in it to some dreamy and romantic place when it’s roadworthy and shiny again … if it ever will be that is!

Fast forward 5 years …. and bucket loads of hard work and sweat, and roller coasters of ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures, excitement and doubts …. and Mike has done it!!!

  • Stripped the car into all its parts (as far as they were not falling apart on their own) down to its shell, … while still keeping it rolling by the way
  • Welded, primed, painted, powder coated, sprayed, stripped, detailed, cleaned, repaired, replaced, fitted, installed, tested, ….
  • Completely rebuilt and reconditioned the whole engine, brake system, fuel system, cooling system, suspension, …
  • Researched and ordered screws, trims, wiring, lights, wind screens, wheels, … from all over the world (to name only a few: UK, Greece, Poland, America)
  • Outsourced the bodywork, the chroming of various parts, as well as the upholstery and instruments for the interior …
  • Put it all back together: bit by bit, part by part, bumper by bumper, wire by wire, trim by trim, screw by screw, …
  • Revamped the whole interior – from the seats and carpets, to the sun visors, door trims and handles, headlining, speedometer and dashboard, …

A mammoth project, which is really hard to describe, but which Mike luckily documented in form of a YouTube diary – for the classic car lovers especially, but also for anyone who likes to see what is possible if ‘you love what you do’ :)

In September 2019 KATY was officially reborn

The big day when we took KATY in all her glory out on her first spin was on 14 September 2019 to Regents Park, London – a quite nice date as we thought as it coincided with the 30 year anniversary of our garage business. And five years of marriage :)

You can watch our inaugural video and give it a big thumbs up here!

The future adventure with KATY

Project KATY has taught us so many things such as

  • to follow your dreams and never give up
  • that if you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work, and you will succeed
  • that there’s no such thing as overnight success; overnight success takes at least 5 years ;)

so we don’t want her – and the achievement – to be hidden away in a garage and saved for special occasions only. Quite the opposite, KATY is our own reminder of what is possible when you set your mind on something, and if she – together with the MECHANICLONDON chap – can help carry our message of ‘belief in yourself’ and ‘you can do it’ and inspire and motivate others as well to pursue their goals and dreams (car-related or not!), then …. Well then she’s another VolvoP1800 with a legacy!

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” ~Steve Jobs

To see more about KATY’s transformation, or follow some of our adventures in her, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel, and for ongoing inspiration, entertainment and glorious photos of KATY, please do join us on Facebook and Instagram!

MECHANICLONDON is the storytelling self of a London-based mechanic and his wife on a mission to inspire happy ways. Because there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. #THEMECHANICLONDONWAY

If this MECHANICLONDON story sparked some inspiration or brought a smile to you, please share it to plant more seeds of joy and hope for others as well.