- The Volvo P1800 Cyan is the car Volvo should have made 60 years ago if we had carbon fiber and Helinger axles back then…
- It looks languid and beautiful and you won’t see another P1800 all day long.
- The only drawback is the sticker: 700,000 dollars!
What do you do after winning five world championships and turning Volvos into race cars? you branch out And start making money.
“We’d be lying if we said we weren’t inspired by Singer,” said Hans Baath, general manager, cars, at Cyan Cars. “I think Singer kind of created something. I mean restomods or whatever you want to call them have always been there, but something happened when Singer did her project.”
Yes, what happened was that people started making absurd amounts of money repairing old sports cars!
The Singer “project”, which incidentally is still ongoing, was to take regular old 911s and reinvent them down to the last detail, rebuilding, redesigning and restoring cars that once cost less than 50 grand on the used car market, and turn them into half-million-dollar-and-more works of art on wheels that also happened to drive better than the original, and perhaps better than almost any car ever made.
That was certainly part of the inspiration that led Cyan Racing to revamp Volvo P1800s, and the half-million dollars certainly didn’t hurt. It might turn out that people would pay upwards of half a million dollars for a restomod. Singer did it, Gunther Werks did it, LA Workshop 5001, Emory Motorsports, dammit, Shelby American might have started it all. And now a company called Cyan Racing does it. Only it’s not just half a million dollars. Cyan is asking for $700,000.
Wait Cyan Who?
Cyan Racing started as a racing team from Volvo.
“Cyan Racing was formed in 1996 to run the Volvo factory team in the inaugural season of the Swedish Touring Car Championship,” according to Cyan’s corporate literature. “Success was imminent when driver Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson clinched the STCC title at the wheel of a Volvo 850 Super Touring.”
26 years later, by the end of 2021, the team had won five World Touring Car Championships and won races in Sweden, Europe and Australia. So what to do next? Maybe build a road car?
In 2010, the company manufactured a Volvo C30 under the Polestar brand from Volvo. Two years later, this evolved into a 580hp S60 Polestar concept car and “…the Polestar performance optimization program continued to grow…” according to Cyan, who led Polestar performance programs. In 2013 it launched the production version of the S60 Polestar and made 100 cars for the Australian market, where touring cars seem to be very popular. In 2014, the S60 sedan and V60 estate were launched in eight markets worldwide. Then, in 2020, Cyan built this.
“The Volvo P1800 Cyan is our interpretation of what could have been if we had been there as a racing team in the 1960s, driving the P1800 and turning our race car into a grand tourer version.”
Yes, what could have been if the racing team had carbon fiber in the sixties. Ha ha. But we get the idea.
To build the wild P1800 you see here, Cyan remade almost the entire car. Aside from some parts of the floor pan, transmission tunnel and some door handles and bonnet release, almost everything else has been revised to go beyond modern standards. Even the proportions are different.
Cyan replaced the P1800’s original live rear axle with their own lightweight double wishbone suspension. The rear end is a Holinger differential. The transmission is also Holinger, a five-speed manual with a dogleg in first gear. It rides on 18-inch center-lock forged wheels and 245 Pirellis in the front and 265 in the rear. Rack-and-pinion steering with electric power assistance on the steering column keeps you facing forward. The carbon fiber body is bonded to the underside with high-strength steel to increase rigidity. The whole weighs 2182.5 pounds. It’s stopped by AP Racing brakes and powered by a 420hp direct-injected inline-four turbocharged engine – with Borg Warner EFR engine management – powering the rear wheels.
“The standard Volvo engine has variable cams,” said engine man Mattias Evansson. “Of course we removed that because we don’t need the low-end torque.”
What? First red flag! A race car doesn’t need low-end torque, a road car does.
The car’s rack-and-pinion steering was originally not supposed to have any assistance, but the team added a column-mounted electric power steering system for maneuvering in parking lots.
The roll, camber and tip have all been set up more for racing, which comes with its own awkwardness. As we would soon find out.
The generous people at Cyan had the car in LA and let select journalists drive it. Last Friday I talked my way into a driveway up the Angeles Crest Highway to go to the Good Vibrations Breakfast Club at Newcomb’s Ranch.
It takes a minute to climb through the roll cage and into the car. I had the four point harnesses out of the way which helped with boarding. The seat was more upright than I would have liked, but there was no backrest because, race cars. The engine started right up, which was nice, and idled reasonably well, which was nice too. To release the parking brake, you had to get your fingers stuck between the roll cage and the side of the seat, which was awkward. Then you had to stop the thought that this was someone else’s $700,000 car and just drive off.
It was loud, not the loudest I’ve driven, but louder than a sophisticated modern sports car. Visibility was fine, no major blockages from seating position, roll cage, or a brand new windshield.
Despite the lack of variable cams, there was enough low-end torque to get around without having to rev the four-cylinder excessively, so maybe Evansson was right and you don’t need variable cams. But the suspension wasn’t adjusted to my liking. It banged a little too much. And the steering wandered off center, requiring constant micro-corrections in long corners. While most “modern” cars return to center when you let go of the wheel, this one required attention all the time. When loading or unloading the rear, I could only feel a small moment of yawing. Again, all things that you would tolerate in a race car, but in my own worthless opinion I wouldn’t want in a street car, especially if I’d paid $700,000 for them.
But then, like all these resto makers, they can set up yours exactly how you want. For example, the Guntherwerks Porsche 911 that I drove last year was only designed for the track and I drove it on the same road as this one. Likewise a race-ready Fiat Abarth I drove a few years earlier which was totally impractical for the daily commute but would have been great for time trials. To each his own – and my own doesn’t include a 700 grand budget.
“Each Volvo P1800 Cyan is built exactly how the customer wants it,” says Cyan. “Anything from a lightweight, high-performance café racer to a grand tourer to enjoy on winding roads on early summer mornings. The opportunities for customization are numerous and customer satisfaction is the whole purpose.”
When we arrived at the Good Vibes Breakfast Club it was all taken. The car immediately drew a crowd of all these car-savvy enthusiasts who all thought it was pretty cool. Social media posts about the P1800 also received many positive comments. Everyone loved it.
and it was Pretty cool. Even in cool car-saturated LA, you won’t see something like this every day or ever. Cyan says it can do 100 of them and you’ll be able to see this one at The Quail along with the first US customer delivery car at Monterey Car Week. If you can’t catch it driving around LA, look for it there. And now start sorting out your own suspension, steering, wheels and tires. The rest is insanely cool and maybe even worth all 700 Gs.
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