The Saint was an ITC mystery spy thriller television series that aired in the UK on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It centred on the Leslie Charteris literary character Simon Templar, played by Roger Moore as a suave and sophisticated Robin Hood-like adventurer. The character may be nicknamed The Saint because the initial letters of his name (ST) are also an abbreviation for the word saint.
The engine was the B18 (B for the Swedish word for gasoline: Bensin; 18 for 1800 cc displacement) with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp (75 kW). This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963.
The Saint stars Roger Moore as Simon Templar. The fictional detective and thief was created by Leslie Charteris in the 1920s and featured in many novels and novellas over the years. Moore drove a white Volvo P1800 on the show with a license plate reading ‘ST1’. He was reportedly offered the role of 007 at least twice during the run of the series, but had to turn it down both times owing to his television commitments. In one early episode of the series, a character actually mistakes Templar for Bond.
A version of the car story seen elsewhere says that Jaguar were indeed requested to supply the (then new) E type as an ideal ‘typically British’ steed for Simon Templar, also typically British in the early sixties, Jaguar were bedeviled with strikes and parts supply, and could not deliver on time. Commencement date was looming and finally Roger Moore volunteered his personal car, the now famed Volvo P1800,