Images and video are courtesy of Volvo Cars.
“I designed the Volvo P1800, Roger Moore made it famous.”
Pelle Petterson, son of Volvo executive Helmer Petterson, had only recently finished his education in Brooklyn, New York, when his father helped him get an internship at Carrozzeria Frua in Turin, Italy. Volvo Cars Heritage files explain how this young Swede would go on to draft this automaker’s most famous model:
Design proposals were ordered from Italy, where Volvo consultant Helmer Petterson — who was deeply involved in the planning of the new car — helped his son Pelle secure a job at Pietro Frua thanks to Pelle’s degree in industrial design from the Pratt Institute in New York.
“When the time came to unveil the four proposals to Volvo’s board in 1957, Helmer snuck in his son Pelle’s fifth design — and that was the one that everyone picked. Engellau, in particular, liked it since he had definitive views about wanting an Italian-designed car. That is precisely what he got, but it was penned by a 25-year-old native of Göteborg who would later make his mark as a boat designer and win Olympic medals in yacht racing.
“Eventually, the truth behind the winning design proposal emerged. The choleric Engellau felt he had been hoodwinked and promised that Pelle would never be acknowledged as the car’s designer. And, indeed, many years went by before Pelle Petterson received due credit for designing one of the world’s most attractive sports coupes.”
It was Pelle himself who recently uttered the quote above, in reference to the 1960s TV program, The Saint. On the air from 1962 through 1969 — and still popular today through syndication — this show starred British actor Roger Moore in the role of Simon Templar, with Templar’s wheels always being a white 1800.
In the film below, Pelle pays tribute to Sir Roger Moore, who died at age 89 one year ago today, on May 23, 2017. For the very first time, this car’s stylist gets behind the wheel of the 1967 1800S originally owned by Sir Roger and driven by him in the series, wearing the famous “ST I” plates.
This very special 1800 — the last of four 1800s reported to have been used in the show — was restored by former owner Bill Krzastek, and since 2016, it has belonged to Volvo Cars North America, who recently displayed it at Techno-Classica Essen in Germany.
The world-famous star-car remains a tribute to both its gifted stylist, and its talented first owner/driver: rest in peace, Sir Roger.