Sir Roger Moore, who died this week aged 89, is best known for playing secret agent James Bond in seven feature films between 1973 and 1985. During this time, he immortalised cars such as Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me), AMC Hornet X (The Man with the Golden Gun) and Citroën 2CV6 (For Your Eyes Only). However, much before he played Bond, Sir Moore had already glorified a Swedish marque. In the television series The Saint (1962 to 1969), Simon Templar, his character, would often save the day in his white Volvo P1800.
It so happened that after Jaguar spurned the opportunity to provide the series with the Mk X saloon car, a fleet of P1800s was used for The Saint, helping people all over the world connect with the Swedish company. The P1800 was a two-passenger, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car manufactured and marketed by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. There were two petrol engines on offer—a 1778cc and a more powerful 1986cc. It was not a usual sports car, but one known for its durability and longevity.
The proof of that is the enviable world record the P1800 enjoys. According to a Bloomberg report, the “world record for most miles driven on a private vehicle owned by only one person belongs to a 1966 Volvo P1800. The coupé has run more than 3 million miles (4.8 million km), farther than travelling to the moon and back six times. It did them all on its original engine.”
That man is Irv Gordon, a native of New York. Today, however, if you want to experience this legend of a car, you can do so by visiting the Volvo Car Demo Center on the outskirts of Gothenburg in Sweden, where the company still provides drives of its vintage cars, subject to certain conditions. And if you want to own one, you can contact auction companies such as Bonhams.