Fans of the 1960s TV show The Saint should get their bums on a plane to Germany for the Techno-Classica show later this month.

That’s because Volvo will be for the first time be displaying the P1800 Coupe driven by the late Roger Moore which became his personal car.

The 1967 Volvo 1800 S can be viewed at the Volvo Cars Heritage stand at the show in Essen from March 21-25.

The back story to this is noteworthy because the Volvo wasn’t the producer’s first choice for Moore who played the dashing spy, cum-playboy Simon Templar.

The makers wanted a Ferrari, or E-Type Jag or something equally sexy, but couldn’t come up with one at the right price.

Legend has it Volvo found out about their predicament and immediately offered its new P1800 sports coupe, which they gladly accepted.

The car gained legendary status as a result of its appearances and, even to this day, is known as ‘‘The Saint’s car.’’

The P1800 made its first public appearance at Brussels Motor Show in January, 1960 and stayed in production until 1973.

It was based on the floorpan of the Volvo 121/122S, but it had a shorter wheelbase. It was initially called the Volvo Sport, but later became known as the P1800.

Production of the new sports car which had Italian styling began in 1961. Moore’s car was built at the Volvo Torslanda plant in Sweden in November 1966.

The 1800 S in Pearl White is equipped with Mini-Lite wheels with the rare original ‘truncated’ spoke design, Hella fog lamps and a Volvo wooden steering wheel.

Inside, the car still has details from the filming of The Saint, such as a thermometer on the dashboard and a separate interior fan, used to cool the actors during studio filming.

Moore is the documented first registered owner. The London registration plates, NUV 648E, were issued on January 20, 1967.

Moore signed the registration papers two weeks later and they have followed the car since.

In The Saint, the car sported the famous ‘ST 1’ plates and made its debut in the episode ‘A Double in Diamonds’, filmed in February 1967.

Moore reportedly sold the car to actor Martin Benson, who played Mr Solo in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger.

Several owners followed and in the early 2000s the car was rescued and carefully restored to near-original condition.

As its name suggests the car was powered by a 1778cc B18 engine from 1961-68, but graduated to a 2.0-litre from 1968-73.

The first engine was good for 74kW (100bhp), then moved up to 80kW (108bhp). An S model raised this to 85kW (115bhp) followed by the 2.0-litre at 97kW (130bhp).

When this engine was fuel injected in 1970, it produced 100kW (135bhp).

The Saint was a character created by author Leslie Charteris in the 1920s that spawned a series of books, films and later the popular ITC television show.

Roger Moore had apparently earlier tried to buy the production rights to the Saint books himself, and was delighted to be able to play the part.

The show aired for 118 episodes from October 1962 until February 1969 and enjoyed great success in the UK and the USA, and was later syndicated in more than 80 countries.

Moore went on to produce and direct several episodes himself when the series moved into colour in 1967.

The actor was reportedly offered the role of James Bond at least twice during the series, but turned it down both times due to his TV commitments.

It was not until 1973 that he finally succeeded Sean Connery as 007 in the film Live and Let Die.

Volvo had another crack at fame with the C70 coupe in the Val Kilmer remake of The Saint in 1997 — but with dismal results.

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Showtime for The Saint's show car

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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