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Dave . . . a Volvo hobbyist. I've been playing with Volvos
(mostly 240s) since 1988. My pages here are an
attempt to share
my experiences with other Volvo
hobbyists and to chronicle the knowledge and information I have
gathered over the
years so it may be passed on to others.
I've owned 10 Volvos since 1988. So I thought I'd list some of them below....
<<< My second Volvo (first 240). A white 1983 244 DL. I bought it in 1990. Non-sunroof car, roll-up windows, auto trans, marginal AC, ok gas mileage. It was exceptionally clean with only 50k miles when I found it in Huntington Beach, CA. Cost me $5,000. Already being an avid iPd customer, it soon got their anti-sway bars, sport springs and Bilstein HD shocks, as well and a few other fun goodies. I bought the back half of a 240 Turbo exhaust and installed it from the cat-back. That was a really nice improvement. It originally came with 14 inch steels wheels with beauty rings and hubcaps. I installed the 15 inch alloy wheels from my '88 760. I drove this car everywhere for 6 years and put over 100,000 miles on it. In 1996 I gave it to my daughter when she got her drivers license. Unfortunately it was destroyed a few months later when some nit-wit pulled out directly in front of her in a Chevy Caprice. She couldn't avoid the Caprice and she hit it broadside at 50 plus mph.
My current driver. I
beautiful black 1984 242 Turbo
in 2003. I'm the 4th owner and I still own it and drive it
and leather interior has stayed very nice because the car was always garaged and still
It's very important for a car like this to live indoors if you want it
to stay nice for this many years. This car was a rare find
and it is a great car
to drive and own. It was all
original and stock when I got it. I initially resisted
the urge to modify it for a few years, but slowly that urge began to win.
has also gone
through a few changes, but not nearly
drastic as the
245 did below. The Eiker rims (Polaris replicas) seen at
the left were imported
Finland in 2004. These Eikers are 17 x 7.5
inches and were
215/45-17 rubber. A
Finnish friend arranged for the purchase and shipping from Eiker
Finland. It wasn't cheap, but I loved these wheels. A few years later
these wheels became available
U.S. from iPd. This car also has iPd
TME sport springs, Bilstein HD shocks and
struts, and iPd
bars. The engine is still the original B21FT with a few
added features, such as SDS programable EFI and ignition and a Mitsubishi
TD04HL 15G turbo (from an 850 Turbo) mounted on a later exhaust
manifold. After the original
auto trans failed
more than 100 miles from
home (during a road-trip to the annual Davis Volvo Show), I replaced it with an
M46 4-speed plus overdrive transmission. Then more recently I installed
WC-T5Z 5-speed, which now sports a hydraulic clutch setup. The rear spoiler is a
very rare Volvo 240
Zender in the 1980's.
<<< Here's a pic what this 242 looked like when I first bought it in 2003.
And eventually I grew tired of the traditional "coffin-hood," so in 2010 the car received a flat hood and matching flat grill.
<<< And then some nice new taillights.
That kept me content for a little while....
<<< In 2011 I decided to go old-school on the front grill just for fun. The 7 inch round lights are Sylvania Xenarc HID units with an integrated H-1 high beam (see pic). These are no longer available and now pretty rare.
<<< These photos were taken during a trip down the Northern California coast in 2011. The first one was on the famous coastal Mattole Road south of Ferndale. The last one in Humbolt Redwoods State Park.
<<< Those are NOT standard GT fog lamps. Since I wanted some mega killer driving lights for long road trips, I painstakingly enlarged the fog light buckets in a 242 GT grill and fitted a set of Dick Cepek 5 x 7 inch 100-watt off-road lamps. They light up the night like the sun!. That's a nice bonus on long, dark roads.
<<< In 2012 I decided it was time for some new wheels. The Eikers were on there for more than 7 years and I wanted a change to something I wouldn't see on lots of other 240s at each Volvo event I attended. These mesh rims are 17 x 7.5 wheels, same as the Eikers, but have a BMW bolt pattern and use custom billet adapters made custom for me by http://www.motorsport-tech.com. Tires are 235/40-17 Goodyear Eagle F1. If you fit a tire this wide on the rear of a lowered 240, you will be trimming some of the inner rear fender metal to make room. The back half arch will typically need to be trimmed by about 1/2 inch or more, depending on your ride height. I went even further. See the diagram at right for how I did my rear fenders for perfect clearance all the way to bottoming out the suspension >>>>.
The reason I decided on BMW bolt pattern wheels with adapters is because there are MANY more wheel styles to choose from for BMW than for Volvo 240. To adapt the 7.5 inch wide -35mm ET wheels, I chose 20mm adapters in front and 40mm in back. These worked nicely for me with the rear inner fender work, since that offset put them very close to the fenders. Most custom adapter makers will tell you their minimum recommended thickness is between 19 and 30 mm. www.motorsport-tech.com will tell you their minimum is 19 or 20 mm. So the wheels you choose will need more negative offset to compensate for adapter thickness. Also keep in mind that a wider front wheel will get very close to the front strut tube and offset should be compensated for wheel/tire clearance.
<<< Here's a recent underhood shot. Lots going on in there, but most of it is pretty reliable and keeps my car going as a daily driver needs to.
<<< In October 2013 I packed up the Volvo and moved 1400 miles from California to North Texas.
Thule gutter mount racks are really stong. There's close to 600 lbs on top in this photo.
<<< The weather in Texas can sometimes be fun.
That's from a record setting ice storm that hit North Texas in December 2013 and shut down all the roads for about 4 days. You'll never see a pic like this again, because the car has always been and will always be garaged. This was an anomaly.
- P A S T V O L V O S -
245 beginnings..... My first 240 Turbo. I bought this 1984
back in March of
1997. I paid $3200 to who I think was the second owner in Rialto,
California. It was completely stock and original. When I
started to do a
few little modifications, I really had no idea the direction it would
eventually take. This
first 240 Turbo, so I found
myself in a strange new world when it came to understand things like K-Jetronic
fuel injection. I had
no clue what made it tick, but I was learning.
I wanted to modify.... It was not fast enough. But this car was my daily driver, so as many of you know, there are limits to the kinds of mods you can do to a car that needs to get you to work in the morning. For those of you who were into modifying Volvos in the 90’s, you'll remember there were not many sources for performance parts. I was no stranger to hot-rodding, having previously owned a ‘66 Chevelle (my first car) and then a ’67 BMW 1600ti Alpina former German Group 3 racer (see photo)... complete with box fender flares, racing suspension, roll-cage and dual Weber 45 DCOE carbs. By 1997 I had already been a customer of iPd for a while and they were the best (often the only) source around for Volvo performance improvement parts. So mods started getting done slowly as I could manage.
A funny thing
happened about the time I bought this
245.... I got the internet and soon
discovered a few other Volvo people out there who also
had the internet. Turbobricks
was a brand new concept back then and I remember spending hours
email digests and learning new ideas. I
learned an enormous amount from others who shared
their experiences. The original
list is now extinct. As great as that old list was, the latest Turbobricks
has it beat. And I'm
still learning about these cars.
You'll notice that my 245 began to move away from the original stock 240 wagon look. I made a few cosmetic and functional adjustments. As it progressed, I found it important to work on the aesthetics as well as the performance. The first major step was the elimination of the old original wagon roof rack, which was done by a body shop (all holes welded shut and the roof repainted to match). Pretty early on I exchanged the original "coffin" hood for a flat hood and matching flat grill, both of which came from a junked ’83 242 Turbo SE “flathood” I stumbled across in a salvage yard one day. The "SE Flathood," which was known for this flatter nose, was a special edition 242 Turbo built in 1983 for North America. Volvo built 500 of them to satisfy the FISA requirements for factory homologation for European Touring Car Group A racing, the most notable being the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC). More info on Volvo's Group A racing effort with the 240 Turbo can be found here at Volvo 240 Group A Racing. I prefer the look of this sleeker nose over the original North American import pointed hood. And of course, the headlights were eventually changed to the European (E-Code) lamps. They work so much nicer than the original US DOT approved lights found on all USA import Volvos back then.
In 1998 the internet supplied the connections which helped me import the Bross body kit from Sweden, originally obtained from Hallsjo Styling of Sweden. It's no longer available from them and it became impossible to find for a few years. It was then offered by other companies in Europe, however they have vanished.
1999 I was dissatisfied with
the performance of the B21FT motor and I began gathering parts for a
new 2.6 liter
stroker turbo motor.
It was based on the B23FT block from the 1984 760 Turbo. Due to
involved, it was nearly two years before that motor made its way into
car in the spring of 2001.
The motor was equipped with a programmable
digital electronic fuel injection system from Simple
Digital Systems in
Calgary, Canada. The
turbo was a Garrett Super 60 from Turbonetics.
And a huge intercooler was custom built by Spearco to fit in the
position (more info is available in my Spec
This car was originally equipped with an automatic transmission and I considered my options for something that would hold up to more power. I settled on a custom race-prepared Volvo AW-71 auto trans built by Art Carr Racing Transmissions (now California Performance Transmissions) in Huntington Beach, CA. Once installed, the new drivetrain seemed to run pretty well, logging a zero to 60 time of 5.9 seconds while running about 14 psi of boost. But from the beginning I felt the new motor was not running to its desired potential. The ignition was still stock and I remember spending a lot of time trying to get the primitive mechanical boost retard system to mesh with everything else. It never did that very well. As is always the case with modified cars, it's never enough. In 2003 I upgraded the SDS fuel injection to include a crank-triggered ignition system that was fully programmable. It helped a lot. I also installed a coil-over spring package I got from MVP (no longer available). I was very impressed with the handling improvement. Things were stiffened up a bit. I opted for 200 lb. front springs and 175 lb. rears, since this car was still a daily driver. I had a chance to take the car to some VCOA track days at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California and the coil-overs really seemed to make the handling better for the car. There are more photos of this installation in my Spec Sheet Page.
|After experiencing some problems with the suped up AW-71 transmission (it started slipping at 11,000 miles... bummer!), I decided in 2004 that I was long overdue for a manual transmission. The Volvo M46 manual (4 speed plus OD 5th), which was normally optioned in a 240 Turbo, simply would not do. The M46 is well known for breaking when subjected to high torque levels. By this time I had found my stroker motor was making well over 300 lbs. of torque at the wheels. Once again, the guys on the Turbobricks forum came though and led me to a great transmission swap based on the Ford T5 gearbox. I chose a new Ford Motorsport T5-Z five-speed gearbox from Summit Racing. This gearbox is rated at 330 lbs. of torque and typically survives behind V8 engines with much more than that, so I felt it would be sufficient. It was mated to a modified Volvo M46 bell housing with an aluminum adapter plate. Doug Kauer’s 242 Turbo (you can find it here) was the original Guinea pig for this conversion and it worked so well for him that I had to try it for myself. Strangley I had never owned a manual transmission Volvo before this, primarily because I never found the right one when hunting for them. I never knew what I was missing. The increased control and fun factor was no real surprise as I had owned other manual trans cars over the years. The jump in fuel mileage was a pleasant surprise. I knew it would increase a little, as I was used to gas mileage figures in the 16 to 18 MPG range. I suddenly found the car getting 26 plus MPG on the highway... exceptional considering the bigger displacement and my lead foot. I was also surprised at how much cooler the engine ran. The manual trans puts a LOT less demand on the motor.|
like this is NEVER done.... so to keep that concept
alive, in 2004 I
front brakes. These were adapted from a 2004-2007 S60R.
photo at left is the mock-up a friend (Paul Jones) and I put together
using a junkyard strut assembly, before
actually installing the brakes.
The aluminum adapter brackets were designed by Travis Kijowski
Maryland. I had the pleasure of putting
together the first 240 on the planet
with R brakes. The
installation of 13 inch front rotors and big 4-piston calipers from the
transformed the braking on this car. More info and photos about
how and why I did this can be
found in my 240
Big Brakes Page.
While my 245 stopped being a daily grocery getter, it was still very much a road trip machine. I made quite a few long trips to Volvo meets and shows in California and Arizona, Oregon and Washington and it never stranded me. With so many modifications, I crossed my fingers each time. In the summer of 2003 I drove in air-conditioned comfort 1,100 miles each way to the West Coast National Volvo Owners Meet in Olympia, Washington. The 245 won First Place and Best of Show in the modified division that year.
1980 242 DL back in
2000 in non-running condition. It was a very basic, non-sunroof
car (I prefer a non-sunroof car). The car had been abandoned by
previous owner outside a local repair shop because he couldn't afford
repairs. It was eventually towed away and I found it in the tow
storage and bought it for $150. I tracked down the previous owner
and gave him a
little money for
the original keys, which worked out quite nicely. He told me
the car had belonged to his daughter and it over-heated. I pulled
the head off and found it was cracked and warped. After
rebuilt head (plus a few things to freshen
it up, like a new engine harness, vacuum hoses and such), it
served as a
great daily driver
for several years
bought the black 242
2003. I gave the DL
to my son when he turned 16. He kept it for a while and did some
of his own, like the 16 inch wheels. After a few years, he bought a new car
and traded it in.
The first two pics above were
after it was towed home and dropped in my
driveway. The next pics were more
recent after applying new
Scotia Blue), 1984 bumpers, black turbo beltline
trim, new black trim above the bumpers
and around the windows, later style headlights (Cibie hi-watt E-code), a "new"
interior, a nice "new" uncracked dash, freshly powder-coated
Virgos, full iPd suspension (TME
springs, 25mm sways and Bilsteins HD's), all new suspension
bushings, and lots of other
|<<< Here's a red
1990 740 Turbo
I bought used in 1996 at San Diego Volvo. It also soon became
with IPD sport springs,
25 mm sway bars and Bilstein HD shocks. It was a great driver and it
handled beautifully. The auto transmission failed at about 100k
miles. That was expensive. It eventually got traded
2002 for a brand new S40.
<<< And here's a pic of my very first Volvo... a black 1988 760 Turbo. I bought it brand new from the showroom floor of Riverside Volvo in Riverside, CA (this dealer is now gone) in March of 1988. I later added 100 watt killer driving lamps, Fittipaldi 15 x 7 wheels (they were the hot ticket back then and the ONLY aftermarket wheel available for a Volvo at the time), iPd anti-sway bars (with the rear IRS type bar that is no longer offered), and a factory Volvo rear trunk-lid spoiler, which I got the dealer to throw in free. It was a very nice car, but it had a few imperfections later. It suffered badly from the well known door panel problem, where the vinyl at the top would come loose and shink/peel back. It started happening when the car was less than a year old. This car was sold with a 12 month bumper-to-bumper warranty and after that, the limited powertrain warranty. I was a little late in getting the car in for its 12k mile service (13 months after purchase). I showed them the bad door panels and after the dealer talked with their Volvo rep, they called and said Volvo would not cover the defect. I couldn't believe it. The dealer generously offered to sell me new door panels for about $400 each. I had a neighbor who worked at Orange County Volvo (next county over). He also couldn't believe it and told me this was a very common problem with the 700 series and Volvo should have covered it. He called me a couple days later and said their Volvo rep had authorized new door panels for the car without any fuss. Makes me a bit suspicious of that Riverside dealer. Anyway, I never returned to that dealer and they went out of business a few years later.
Here's the 2005 S40 T5 I bought new in the summer of 2005 after trading in the 2002 S40. This was the last new Volvo I bought.
This 2005 was a pretty nice car, but not nearly as trouble free as some of my other Volvos had been over the years. It got traded just before the 4 year warranty expired after a few electrical failures (sensors, computers, etc) and motor mount failures. One electrical failure, a month before the end of the warranty, was invoiced by the dealer to Volvo for $3500. Not a chance I was going to keep this car past its warranty.
This car also suffered from what I believe was mis-engineered rear suspension geometery. It allowed for too much rear negative camber, which destroyed tires prematurely. I discovered this in December 2007 after burning through the first two sets of tires in under 30,000 miles; first set lasted just over 15,000 miles, and I didn't really notice (this car was almost exclusively driven by my wife). I figured Volvo cheaped out on the tires. Seen that before. The second set lasted just over14,000 miles, and I did notice why this time. These were very good 40,000 mile tires, so I was NOT happy about that. When I looked closer, I discovered the extreme wear on the insides of the rear tires (see photos). The tires had been getting regular rotations by the Volvo dealer during regular check-ups (every 5000 miles), but no one at Volvo seemed to notice the inside tread area on two tires was worn slick when I had them perform a 30,000 mile service (and a tire rotation) a week before taking these photos.
<<< Here is one front and one rear tire. The middle and outside tread still had about 60-70% left, but the inside tread on the rear tires was worn slick. After buying and installing a third set of tires, I took the car to the Volvo dealer and asked them to check the alignment. The service manager told me that the camber setting for all four tires was "within factory spec." When I demanded to know what it was actually set at, they had to put the car up on the rack to check again. It measured negative 2.1 degrees on both rear wheels (this is a lot of camber and it was visibly obvious when viewed from the rear). Apparently, Volvo considers up to negative 2.5 degrees to be acceptable for this chassis and "within spec." I certainly disagreed and so did my tires. The rear camber on a Volvo S40 is not adjustable or correctible without changing parts. I was pretty disappointed when they repeated that they considerd the camber to be OK and there was nothing that could be done. They checked the front camber too. It was negative 1.0 degree, which I believe is closer to what the rear should be from the factory if it's reasonable. Since this dealership was rotating my tires every time I brought it in, I asked the service manager if their techs should have noticed the tread on the tires was worn smooth? He wouldn't give me an answer.
It became evident that not all Volvos with this chassis have this issue. While at the dealer waiting between aguments, I spotted an identical 2005 S40 pulling into the service area, so I checked it out. I got down behind the car and could see it obviously did not have as much negative camber as mine did. The difference was clearly visible. I could see the tires on this other S40 were nearly worn out, but they were EVENLY worn. I then asked the owner about his car. He told me he bought it new in 2005 (several months before I bought mine). He had 40,000 miles on the car and those EVENLY WORN tires were his ORIGINAL TIRES. After I brought the service manager outside and showed him, he seemed more confused than ever at the significance, so I collected my car and left.
After continuing my research, I discovered through a confidential Volvo insider (it helps to know a few insiders) that Volvo knew about this defect and there was even a Technical Service Bulletin in existence (but no recall). The fix for this problem was a new, re-engineered set of rear control arms that were available to correct this (apparently common) problem. I again checked with the dealer and they said they knew nothing about a TSB on the issue. After I pointed them in the right direction, they contacted Volvo Corporate and verified the existence of the bulletin and replacement control arms. The dealer called me back and told me Volvo had agreed to replace the control arms free of charge.
While Volvo eventually owned up to this, at least for my car, I should NOT have had to fight so hard to get this defect corrected. Volvo needs to improve vastly in this respect! After being corrected, the rear camber was measured at a more reasonable negative 1.1 degrees. Since the S40 shares the same platform as the C30, C70 and V50, some of them will be affected too. I had a close look at several new C70s in the showroom that day and they ALL had way too much rear camber.
In February 2013 I received an email from a Volvo owner regarding this: "I read of your rear alignment issues with your S40 and I had about the same experience with a 2010 V50. I just traded that V50 for a 2011 with the T5 and it had the same problem. The local dealer replaced the control arms under warranty. This was also a problem on my wife's 2011 C30 and we just had the dealer replace those control arms under warranty (after buying a new set of tires at 18k miles). Too bad Volvo did not just fix this one part early on. I know the Mazda 3's have the same problem , too." S. R., Nindle, VA
Reference Material: Uneven Rear Tire Wear, Correction of Excessive Negative Camber; Retailer Technical Journal RTJ15309-2009-12-16. This RTJ calls for the replacement of the rear upper control arms with PN 31201356, which reduces the camber by ~ 0.7 deg. It is applicable to: C30 2007-2010, C70 2006-2010, S40 2004.5-2010, V50 2005-2010. In 2012, this RTJ was updated to include the listed models through 2012. A fellow Volvo owner sent me a copy and here it is for you to read and use if needed: http://www.davebarton.com/pdf/RTJ15309.pdf
Volvo RTJ19674 Wheel Alignment Specifications : http://www.davebarton.com/pdf/RTJ%2019674-2010.pdf
Volvo TSB Listings: http://www.carproblemzoo.com/tsb/volvo/
More Volvo TSB Listings: http://www.faqs.org/car/volvo-s40n-2005/
Copies of TSBs may be obtained here (paid subscription required): www.eautorepair.net/app/TSBS