Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare: The Volvo Hemizon

Ok, I’m going to be completely straight with you. Before this shoot, I didn’t know a huge amount about gasser cars. So this was an incredibly cool experience. It also transpired pretty quickly that this wasn’t actually a gasser – simply a car that has elements of the style. Actually this car has lots of styles going on. So what is this Volvo thing, then? It’s a baptism of fire! That’s what it is!

Take a good look at this picture above. The car you see, is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the wildest vehicles I have ever got to spend some time with. Cars are sometimes considered to be pieces of art by some, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this jaw-dropping Volvo Amazon with Hemi motor deserves a place in the history of time. I genuinely think that this will strike a chord with each and every one of you.

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a lover or a hater of this vehicle on face value, you can’t help but get drawn in by it. You immediately want to take a closer look. The first feelings for me were mainly that of confusion. I mean, what the hell is going on? That jacked-up front end, those mega-wide rear tyres and the monstrous intake up front… it’s a sight to behold. I mean, this thing looks hungry! It’s a scary looking contraption. I say contraption because it’s not technically a Volvo model any more. The Chrysler Hemi motor sees to that. So what is it then if it’s not a Volvo?

It’s a Hemizon! The huge Hoosier stock car slicks have been installed for one purpose and one purpose only: BURNOUTS! And that’s what this car is all about: going crazy! With that in mind, and like many Scandinavian builds, form is dictated firmly by function and the wheel fitment is proof of this. As I read that last sentence back it almost seems more sensible to use the term body fitment, rather than the usual wheel fitment descriptive. It looks to me like the bodyshell is almost an afterthought to the rolling chassis, but I can assure you that is not the case.

No, in fact, everything was an afterthought to the engine. I want to talk you though the car’s heart – its crazy soul – much more but I’ll come to that a little later on in this feature. First let’s explore the roots of this gorgeous-looking shell.

The owner and builder of this car is interested in things of the metal variety. Always has been. And it shows. Henrik Larsson is his name and he’s the owner of Larsson Customizing. Henrik’s a super cool guy with a great sense of humour. When I asked him why he liked gasser cars – he simply laughed and said that he’s not really into them! Or at least he wasn’t until this build. Henrik’s passion is Pro Street Cars and hot rods. But he has a very open mind.

A mind so open in fact, that he allowed Emanuel Sandél, who works for Larsson, to bring some gasser craziness into his thought process to create this hybrid of tuning styles. And crazy this build most certainly is. But it’s almost more stunning than it is crazy. It’s stunning in more than one way as well. Yes, it’s a visual assault, but it’s a visual assault that was almost never to be. Why? Because it was pulled from the junk yard. It was almost crushed. “There was no trunk, no fenders, seats, windows or any of the parts that made it a car. Just a shell,” Henrik explains.

So the shell itself has been brought back from the dead. The Hemizon is actually a zombie! If you’re familiar with gasser cars you will know that weight reduction is often employed to allow for fast quarter mile times, and items like fibreglass body panels and plexiglass windows all play a part of this build.

Often the new lightweight glass would be coloured for added stupidity. Henrik admits, laughingly, that the green hue can make you feel a little bit nauseous and disorientated after a long time of being in the interior. As you can see, the innards of the Hemizon are as radical as the exterior. The interior in Henrik’s creation almost looks poisonous though! But nothing is quite as intoxicating as the motor…

There are four pipes poking out of the wings and towards the sky, which suggest that this car has a serious bark.

Taking a step back and working your way around the vehicle brings the enormity of the motor into full view. It’s something to be impressed by.

And here is the imposing power plant. The size of it is actually considered to be small. Yes, you read that right – this is a 331 cubic inch Chrysler V8 Hemi motor from 1954. The engine was purchased from a customer who was removing it from his race car. At the time Henrik had no clue what he was going to fit the motor into, but he knew he had to have it. Why? Quite simply because of the noise it made. That, to me, seems like a perfectly good reason!

For quite some time, the 331 Hemi sat on a stand in the corner of Larsson Customizing. It wasn’t left unused though. Oh no. Every Friday, Henrik and his team would get some fuel and start it up on the stand to listen to the V8 roar into life and sing angrily until the fuel ran out.

“We love Fridays!” smiled Henrik. “What about the shop upstairs?” I asked. “They hate Fridays!” he laughed. So it was motor first and everything else later. It’s a plan that you’ve got to admire.

Facing the Hemizon square on is kind of scary. It looks hungry.

The super big intake could potentially eat you.

To hear this car start up is insane. To see the Hemizon move is a beautiful experience. It’s art in motion.

This ’54 lump is also kind of special because it’s the last year Chrysler made that motor. It’s also the only year that the extended bell housing wasn’t employed on the 331.

The pre-’54 motors had extended bell housings which could be more challenging to fit into other cars. The power output is beefed up by an old GMC 6-71 blower with on-the-top double Edelbrock 650 carburettors.

The power’s not huge: 400-500hp is expected once it’s fully developed. But it’s the brutal delivery that’s impressive. Just the bark of the motor displays how incredibly instant the throttle response is. This of course, makes this motor perfect for laying down rubber.

The front axle is an old hot rod set-up combined with some drag racing parts from 1960 which include some very skinny wheels of unknown origin.

The lightweight front axle is complemented by a small fuel tank which keeps weight down. Interestingly, Henrik is talking about fitting the radiator system at the rear to allow for a further transferring of weight.

As previously mentioned, Henrik’s passion is metalwork and the art of creating panels and parts. He showed us how it’s possible to make pretty much any body part for a car with just four tools. We’ll bring you an in-depth shop tour story detailing this impressive skill. But in the meantime I just want to show some appreciation for the lovely way this metal body has been crafted. It’s so raw and yet so well executed. Don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s something kind of sensual about metalwork like this. It’s honest and true.

Speaking of honesty and truth: Henrik opted to leave this classic piece of rot that almost all Amazon’s suffer from. The cars collect salt and the result of that is this corrosion just about the headlights. These particular headlights are convex items from the older Volvos. Henrik installed these because they look cooler.

The rear axle is an 8.75 Chrysler item from 1950-1960 and the back end is pretty sparse as you can see. There’s still a bit more development to go on out back. The language barrier was a bit of an issue, but from what I can gather from Henrik, his main objective is to do the very best burnouts possible!

The inside of this car is a beautiful array of metalwork fabrication. These door cards have been hand-rolled by Henrik to create what can only be described as a kind of faux-leather diamond quilt. Albeit made from sheet metal. They’re stunning and completely unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. The skill involved to create such perfectly crafted panels like this is very impressive. A dying art? Maybe so. But at least there’s people like Mr Larsson who are still extremely passionate about sheet metal. So much so, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vehicle with so much creative fabrication. Nothing is rushed with Larsson; everything is very thoughtful.

And so to the driver’s seat. This is where Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare takes place. Rod and Henrik joked that this car would be a super-intense dream gone wrong for Rat Fink. During his sleep Rat Fink would experience a succession of images, concepts, emotions and sensations. He’s supposed to be in a hot rod, but in actual fact he’s in this Volvo’s driving seat. This car breaks the rules and it’s so wrong – this nightmare drive shouldn’t be happening to Rat Fink!

This car is so off-key it just shouldn’t work. On paper it doesn’t add up. But Henrik Larsson’s managed to pull this off perfectly. It seems to me that the Scandinavian people love to break with convention. Whether this is on purpose or not, I haven’t worked out yet. I don’t know if these guys are even aware of the rules to be honest, or maybe they just don’t like them.

To me, though, this car isn’t a nightmare at all. It’s a vehicle that rhymes with sensory overload. I absolutely love the way Henrik and the team at Larsson Customizing have brought the shell back from the dead. I admire the skill involved and the fabrication work. And I’m very excited to see this car used with no mercy whatsoever. It might be Rat Fink’s Zombie Nightmare, but for me, and anyone that’s into fantastic stupidity in its greatest form, this Hemizon is positively dreamy.

Words by Ben Chandler
Twitter: @Ben_SceneMedia
Instagram: @ben_scenemedia

Photos by Paddy McGrath
Twitter: @PaddyMcGrathSH
Instagram: speedhunters_paddy
paddy@dev.speedhunters.com

Rat rod stories on Speedhunters

Other gasser stories on Speedhunters

Henrik Larsson’s Hemizon

ENGINE
Early Chrysler Hemi 331 from 1954-1955, GMC 6-71 supercharger, double Edelbrock 650 carburettors, exhaust through front fenders.

DRIVELINE
Three-speed automatic transmission (TH350) from GM/Chevy with adaptor to fit from hotheads early Hemi parts.

SUSPENSION/BRAKES
Custom rear shocks and fully custom front end set-up from hot rod/drag car.

WHEELS/TYRES
15×10-inch Slot Mag wheels (rear) with NASCAR slicks, custom wheels and drag car tyres (front).

EXTERIOR
Volvo Amazon body, complete new floor, custom firewall, trunk floor, all manufactured one-off by Larsson Customizing.

INTERIOR
Full custom interior by Larsson with a really old steering wheel of unknown origin.


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92 comments
ozbroz
ozbroz

It has so got front suspension! 

The pic from above the engine bay clearly shows the tranverse leaf spring, shocks and the brackets mounting the engine/tank to the chassis, NOT the front axle, it's you typlical ( and fully functional ) old skool hotrod/gasser front end.

This is a tribute car, a tribute to everything that is crazy, off your nut and in your face about a Gasser!

Coolest car I have seen for a loooong time.

Cano
Cano

Speed Hunters REALLY needs a hot rodding expert to write these cars, so something worthy but usefull will be said about them. The guy that wrote it, having no idea, certainly can't give any insight on why and how several things that are a nod to hot rod history are there. The car is not serious at all and there are more things wrong than right in it, but as a shock rod, which is precisely what it is, it excels. Crazy scandinavians.

 

But seriously, SH REALLY needs a hot rodding expert. The hot rod articles that have been coming about lately in this site have great photography and certainly enthusiasm, but they do need more knowledge to be as good as the other japanese or euro-themed articles.

65Gasser
65Gasser

It's just a conversation piece. That's not the only "piece" it is! Or, as some say, It's a work of art! LOL

FrodeOlsen
FrodeOlsen

Oh Lord! THose doorpanels! Nice Touch!

apex_DNA
apex_DNA

Wow, just wow...you guys @ SH have really stepped up the game with the last few articles on hot rods, cruisers, gassers, and what not. 

MichaelKN
MichaelKN

How to stop this thing? Are there any brakes or it's not running yet?

mooersvolvo
mooersvolvo

This is awesome guys. Do you mind if I post one of these images on our Volvo Facebook page. I'll link to Speedhunters and give you credit of course. :)

65Gasser
65Gasser

Wow, pretty crude and dangerous. That thing is going to kill someone!

PhilippUlrich
PhilippUlrich

"Power is not huge" - ahem, around 500 horses in an Amazon that has front wheels which seem to have started life on a bicycle is plenty enough in my book :D It's the most bonkers car I have ever seen and I do think it has some strange appeal to it.

RS779
RS779

The nicest thing on here is the Kinsler aluminum fuel cell. The builder obviously can't TIG weld. Even the scoop is steel?? Nice glue job on the Amazon emblem. Matches the rest of the "crafty metalwork".

ClaytonPayton
ClaytonPayton

all this talk of burnouts and the tires still have the manufacture stickers on them. lets see some smoke!

K's
K's

Wow crazy!

I really want to ride in it.....

if it had the same wheels & fitment in the front end as well it would look awesome

 

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Built to emulate a gasser style? I've seen actual gassers with less style than this thing! Awesome job dudes! It makes me want to finish mine!

RS779
RS779

Is thing is the biggest piece of crap. There are so many things wrong to even list. This guy is not a great sheet metal fabricator and the author obviously knows nothing about drag cars or fabrication. For Christ sakes, look at how the shifter is mounted and the inconsistent radius where the trans tunnel meets the firewall. The wheel tubs are junk also! This car is a deathtrap and should never be driven. No drag strip in the world would allow that thing to run. I don't even want to get into the suspension problems...

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @ozbroz

 I see a shock mounted to the front axle. Don't see any leaf spring? That chassis hacked off a 50 year old dragster does not resemble any gasser's I've ever seen (I've seen a lot!) Can you explain the steering setup?

RS779
RS779

 @ozbroz

 Its a front end from a 1960 dragster. It does NOT resemble a 60's gasser. There is no leaf springs up front. What "Chassis" are you referring to? The 1/2" O.D. tubing? If you can't see the motor mounted to the front axle....then you're blind!

Ben Chandler
Ben Chandler

The story was more to share my experience of being around the car. I do agree with you that if this article was written by someone with an eclectic knowledge of hot rods, then no doubt it would have been taken in a different direction with some more more history about hot rodding. Appreciate the feedback.

apex_DNA
apex_DNA

@Cano Not just hot rods, but cars in general...you learn more about cars on Grassroots Motorsports Magazine's forums than on this hype-fest...especially when it comes to said "Japanese-themed articles", namely Hondas or any FF for that matter...and I'm sure others feel the same way who aren't part of the hellaflush-stance-VIP-RWD-drift crowd.

RS779
RS779

Like I was saying all along. It's just a big model that can't do anything. You are right, the writer has no clue what he is talking about.

RS779
RS779

 @MichaelKN

 It's not like front brakes are going to do anything with tires that skinny. That, with the fact that the front of the engine is mounted to the straight axle, front brakes are useless. But as everyone says, "that's not the point of the build". lol

65Gasser
65Gasser

Would also look better with the rear end narrowed and some drag slicks. Get rid of the stock car tires!

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@RS779 you realize the car isn't finished yes?

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@Driveitlikeyoustoleit a bit of Altered, AFX, Rat and Toon Rod styles mashed in there too for good measure.

Ben Chandler
Ben Chandler

 @RS779 You're completely missing the point of this build. But it's ok if you don't get it.

TheDude69
TheDude69

 @RS779 I think thats kinda the point of the whole build......

RS779
RS779

And this guy can't roll a bead to save his life!

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @ozbroz

 I also love the crooked steel scoop and the way its mounted to the carbs with flat strap. Why would you build a steel scoop? Answer: Because you can't weld aluminum.

ozbroz
ozbroz

 @RS779  @ozbroz

My optometrist disagrees, he says that I a definitely not blind yet, just nearsighted.

Since I am just a fan of gassers and too young to have seen them in action, I would appreciate it if you RS779 and 65Gasser could use your selfproclaimed vast expert knowledge of vintage Gassers to correct my mis-conceptions about what I am seeing in the pictures of Hemizon.

 

Please take a look at this picture:

http://sites.google.com/site/ozbroz/kustomz/misc/Hemizon_has_a_chassis_and_the_engine_is_not_mounted_to_the_axle.jpg

and correct me on what I have got wrong.

 

I also threw in a couple of period pictures of 55 Chev gassers with single transverse leafspring suspension to pre-empt any "they never used single transverse leafspring suspension in gassers" claims.

Thanks.

 

RS779
RS779

 @RodChong  @RS779

 I realize its not done. Read what I said. What's left to finish?

Justin Lapriore
Justin Lapriore

 @Ben Chandler  @K's Give us sound. SO much talk of the sound of it, I kept waiting for a sound file or video or something. You can't show me sound.

RS779
RS779

 @Ben Chandler  @RS779

 Yes I really do understand the point of this build. They could have got the same look and feel doing it the right way. So build a car that is completely useless? Ok, burnouts only. With that front-end setup you couldn't go 50 mph without the thing falling apart. Tell me what diameter the frame rails are? 3/4"? Using the engine as a frame rail and mounting it to the front axle is not right and extremely dangerous. Please show me a car or a gasser with this setup.

RS779
RS779

 @TheDude69

 To stick everything together with a MIG welder? That thing would fall apart before it got down any track. No front suspension? Rear end housing isn't gusseted. 1/2" rear suspension travel before cutting the tires.

RodChong
RodChong moderator

 @TheDude69  @RS779 quick and dirty... Not meant to do full passes on the drag strip... just big burnouts.

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @RS779

 Lol. Don't be mean. The way the shifter is mounted right to the sheet metal leads me to believe there is no driveshaft loop. Which makes sense since the rest of the car is dangerous as hell. And you're right, in the States this car would be worthless. No dragstrip would tech this car to run and it's not street legal. Looks cool, but what do you do with it?

Scotty
Scotty

 @RS779 Just because you don't like it, doesn't make it a piece of crap matey. And so quick to judge someone else's workmanship, care to share some pics of your own builds and your work?

ClaytonPayton
ClaytonPayton

 @ozbroz  @DBrogie1 I agree with you ozbroz. there IS suspension components. now the usefulness is up for question but i digress. 

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @ozbroz  @DBrogie1

 The length of that spring and the way its mounted might give you an inch or so of travel if you're lucky. Nothing like the 6 inches of travel the real gassers had. What about the rear suspension? 1/2" travel?

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @ozbroz  @DBrogie1

 Yep looks identical to a 60's gasser front end. LOL. Try to find a picture of an old gasser with wire spoke wheels and no brakes. What a moron!

ozbroz
ozbroz

 @DBrogie1

 What I label 1/2" steering and suspension components are the radius rods and the draglink, nothing to do with frame rails. 

I'll take a wild guess that 99% of the 60's gassers have this setup, some may have had the more modern rack'n pinion steering, but since US car manufactures did not start introducing rack'n pinion steering until 1974, the 60's gasser builders would have had to have sourded the rack'n pinion from imported european cars, so I'll stick with my 99% guess.

DBrogie1
DBrogie1

You don't see any difference? You obviously know nothing about chassis construction. Look at what you label 1/2" steering and suspension components. Basically 1/2" frame rails under a full-bodied steel car. Show us a 60's gasser that has that setup. Of course you won't notice the wheels wont turn now. The steering setup won't allow the wheels to turn.

Ben Chandler
Ben Chandler

 @RS779 Yes, show cars in London all run Hemi motors and have green windows... hahahaha!

RS779
RS779

 @Ben Chandler  @RS779

 I'm not angry..entertained..but not angry. lol. Guys MIG welding junk together and the editor praising their horrible work. I guess this would be a show car in London? LOL

ozbroz
ozbroz

 @65Gasser  @tenpennyjimmy  @Ben Chandler  @RS779

 Oh, I don't think I'm a genius, but thanks for the compliment.

From the pictures I would say the steering setup is:

Steeringwheel connected to steering column connected to steering box connected to pitman arm connected to draglink connected to steering arm connected to spindle connected to tierod arm connected to tierod connected to tierod arm connected to spindle.  Can't see anything unusual.

ozbroz
ozbroz

 @65Gasser  @tenpennyjimmy  @Ben Chandler  @RS779

 Come on guys, look at the pics!

  It has typical old skool gasser/hotrod transverse leafspring front suspension, and the engine is mounted to the chassis, not the front axle.

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @tenpennyjimmy  @Ben Chandler  @RS779

 @tenpennyjimmy.......You took the words right out of my mouth. They could have made it look the same but done it right! This pile is a deathtrap!! Show me an old gasser that has the motor mounted to the front axle!!!??? No suspension in the front? All gassers had suspension in the front, most of them had leaf springs.

 

tenpennyjimmy
tenpennyjimmy

 @Ben Chandler  @RS779 Yes i think it looks cool. And i do get what you are saying this car is not - so no, i am not missing the point. But i have to say, to me it's more of an insult than an homage to real gassers.

Ben Chandler
Ben Chandler

 @RS779 It's crystal clear in the story that this is not a gasser. In fact, in my opinion, it's not even really a car - it's a piece of art. It's nonsensical. And that's what's so great about it! Why so serious?

RS779
RS779

I guess if you don't know any better, you mount the hemi to the front axel that has no suspension. lol

RodChong
RodChong moderator

 @RS779  @TheDude69 I'll need to report back to you what goes down at the Swedish Hot Rod Reunion then...

RS779
RS779

 @RodChong  @RS779  @TheDude69

 I've seen all the videos. And 99% of those cars use a line lock or front brakes to get the tires spinning. They sit there spinning the tires and smoking them, then they let go of the brake and take it down the strip.

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@RS779 @TheDude69 the car is designed to run at an event in Sweden called the 'Swedish Hot Rod Reunion' As far as I can tell, the 'dragstrip' they use isn't sprayed down. Google the event and you will see lots of cars doing burnouts down the line. This combined with the oval racing rear tires may get the desired effect. We will have to wait and see. I'll try and go to the event to see what goes down on the car's debut. It's important to remember here this car is ment to be a bit of fun. Nothing serious by any means.

RS779
RS779

 @RodChong  @RS779  @TheDude69

Burnouts with no line lock or front brakes? That car would spin the tires for a few feet and they try to hook. It's not a 5,000+ horsepower nitro funny car. I would like to see a video of this car just rolling under it's own power,, got any??

RodChong
RodChong moderator

@RS779 @TheDude69 clarification: burnouts passes down dragstrip.

RS779
RS779

Scotty, where in any pics do you see nice craftsmanship? Either you're blind or know nothing about nice fab work. Who has ever mounted a motor to the front axle......cut off of a 1960 dragster? What diameter ARE the frame rails? That thing will fall apart on the trailer.

RS779
RS779

 @RodChong  @King Dingus  @RS779

 Now that Falcon is a nice car. Big difference in craftsmanship between the Falcon and Hemizon. The Falcon has brakes, suspension and the engine isn't mounted to the front axle. Lol

Scotty
Scotty

 @RS779 Haha, perfect example of another loud mouth internet hero. Well done matey ;)

 

65Gasser
65Gasser

 @King Dingus  @RS779

 The metal work on this car is rough. Just a hack with a MIG gun. I'm very familiar with 60's gassers. But show me a gasser that has the motor mounted to the front axle, with no suspension, and wire wheels.

King Dingus
King Dingus

 @RS779 Most of those "best fabricators" are just Bondo Jockeys who stick-weld shit and then just apply filler to smooth it out and make it pretty. I've seen cars so many US-built cars that barely hold together thanks to bird shit spatter, crap penetration on welds, slap-job rough-cut plate-over-the-rust hack jobs. While the US has some VERY, VERY good fabricators, don't forget that you have a shit-load of terrible ones, too. As for the car, it's more of a "car"-icature of a gasser. Speedhunters should throw up a history of gas/altered cars and how they led to the modern funny car ;)

RS779
RS779

Well if you think that thing is nice, you obviously don't know shit about cars or fabrication..Matey? Where are you from? Not the US where we have the best fabricators. I guess this is nice for Skandanavia?? lol


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