Right now Rod Chong is annoying me in a way that only he can, something I will soon expand on given his status as the one who observes all here at Speedhunters. In July 2012 I rolled my Volvo 245 project car out complete with turbo motor, cage and some other tricks. It felt good, I was proud of it and was eager to get out and drive. Now a year later I’m stood at the Gatebil event in Norway, feeling slightly dispondant and lack lustre. Had I never seen the glazed and jam-filled doughnut sat before me, I would have been happy with the plain one. Trouble is now I want the whole damn metaphorical bakery in my face.
Rod recognises this and calmly continues to pour awesome in to the Speedhunters Instagram feed, as I gnaw at my camera strap in mounting frustration. As a team we had discussed shooting feature cars at Gatebil and Rod nonchalantly mentioned a Volvo wagon, “Oh maybe you should shoot that Bryn”. That would work I think to myself – you know, see how somebody else has approached a similar project and maybe get some tips? Only now I’m looking at the magnitude of the work that Magnus Opsahl has undertaken, I feel like I’ve let myself down. My report card would have read ‘could have done better’. Because from where I’m standing on the tarmac at Ruskogen Motorsenter, I reckon the only panel he hasn’t modified is the roof. Maybe.
The thing that I immediately admire about Magnus’s approach to building this wagon is his freedom. Take a quick look around the Volvo and it’s obvious he’s just gone for whatever he wanted that would best suit his needs. And when your needs are driving grip or drift and you’re Norwegian, that means power – and lots of it.
With such a seismic shift from standard, it’s hard to know where to start on our visual journey through the build. It’s not actually finished yet, which you can see hints at in some of the pictures, but did that stop us from shooting it? Of course not. Would we want to be responsible for denying you this wagon? No.
In some ways I wish Magnus hadn’t had the chance to lay the original shade of Volvo Amazon grey over the whole shell, that way we’d be able to see the magnitude of what he’s done. Every slice and weld would be visible for us to fathom.
For a start there’s the early front end conversion, commonly known as a ‘flat front’ due to the lack of prominent grille that on later cars sticks further out. Another easy way of spotting this difference are the round headlamps. Magnus started with a 1993 shell – the last year of manufacture – but this sheet metal would have been found on a late ’70s/early ’80s car originally. It’s a nice little twist that adds a simplicity to the feel in an otherwise complicated build.
Magnus has done it properly too, as you have to swap out the panel below the windscreen to match the earlier bonnet. Like he didn’t have enough body work going on already.
This is another slick trick – the bumper is from the later car, but it’s been smoothed and sprayed straight black. It looks factory, huh? Well almost.
Behind the grille comes your first clue as to the power plant. Big alloy parts usually mean one thing – a turbo.
The intercooler has the front end exclusively to itself due to the rear-mounted radiator you may well have spotted further back in the article, but we’ll work our way around to that in time. It feeds a healthy Garrett T51 turbo, which in-turn fills a Chevrolet-sourced LS1 V8 with lovely lumps of boost.
I’ve always thought there’s something good about the visual symmetry you achieve with a boost pipe that runs in to the centre of a ‘V’ bank of cylinders. Making full use of the Volvo’s fairly large engine bay, a clever packaging solution has allowed the heat-wrapped exhaust to snake around the alternator.
To help with weight distribution Magnus wanted to get the LS motor as far back as possible, which meant cutting the factory bulkhead out and replacing it with his own sheetmetal.
Looking inside you can see just how intrusive that tunnel is over standard. I reckon it’s roughly twice the size of the original.
With the shifter for the Tremec T56 ‘box and hydraulic e/handbrake lever all within easy reach, there’s a very simple, business-like feel to the interior.
Twin Cobra Suzuka Pro seats and six-point QSP harnesses keep Magnus safe along with that impressive cage. Looking up at the roof here I remind myself of the complete sh*t of a job that is removing the sticky black, tar like sound deadening panels on the inside of the roof. Which I still haven’t done… Seriously Rod, it’s tormenting me now.
Now take another look at that seating position, see how far back it is? This is another bonus of Volvo 240 ownership. Magnus has had to extend the column to deal with the engine and box location, but the original Volvo chassis design helps with this. Why?
Most people would assume the main hoop of the cage would be somewhere near the B pillar, when in fact the strongest place to pick up from is the rear seat base riser. Meaning you get double the protection when you take in to account the aforementioned pillar. Although side vision might be a little bit impaired, you have to pay the cost to be the boss.
The Volvo might not be finished, but we got the world’s best graphics guy Mad Mike to apply one of our Speedhunters banner decals, which alone will add 10 percent increased throttle response across the rev range*
*This isn’t true. Although that is Mad Mike.
Aside from the crazy wide flares that I’ll be looking at in a minute, the biggest stand-out feature for me is that meshed rear lower tailgate. As the Volvo hasn’t run yet we’re not sure how effective it will be, but if the theory works the tumble effect you get from the slab back end will draw air in through the aperture. Plus there’s nothing more purposeful than watching a car which is trying to suck in the atmosphere around it. Much better than the family luggage and dog that probably resided in there at one time. Oh and there’s no fancy editing going on here – someone just happened to be doing a massive burnout in the background with red-tinted tyres. This is Gatebil after all.
You can see here just how large the radiator is. You can also just make out the reflection on the polycarbonate divider between the cabin and the rear load area.
The lower half of which is made from steel, adding more rigidity of course. Given the LS is expected to deliver somewhere around 700lbs/ft of torque, the shell is going to need all the help it can get. In the middle is where Magnus has snuck the Aeromotive fuel cell. Again cleverly keeping all the weight as centred as possible.
So what about those crazy flared arches? The Volvo was blessed with quite wide slab sides from the factory and Magnus has managed to keep the overall feel quite standard. Until you get closer…
… and realise there’s an extra 20cm either side at the rear…
… and 15cm at the front. He’s achieved this by filleting the panels at the front and rear, then adding metal to give the width. As you can see here he’s also left the rear of the front wings open, a nice nod to race car-ism.
This angle really shows the whole Incredible Hulk effect off for me, as though that rear door is going to burst open at any second and muscle is going to rip out in lumps. You might not consider it to be the prettiest solution, but oh man is it hard as nails. Slightly brutal, slightly freakish. Yet look at the curve at the top and how Magnus has managed to maintain a factory feel, it’s very clever.
So why the added girth? You won’t find any outrageous spacers here, just hardcore underpinnings sourced from a 1994 Soarer. Aside from the obvious fitting issues it’s a smart way of modernising the running gear without having to work with the Volvo kit. So here we have the superior front end, which is far more adjustable than the Volvo.
It might seem like a mountain of work, but fitting the Soarer/Supra independent rear end allowed Magnus to bin the live axle set-up and replace it with something more fitting of the power. Plus he’s now got a wider choice of decent diffs and bushing etc. When you think about it, once you’ve dropped the original axle and cut off all the mounts, if you offer up the Toyota cradle, it sounds straightforward. I’ve considered fitting a BMW M3 back end to mine and another friend has fitted an S14 front end to his, so it’s good to see that even in Norway, Volvo tuning parts aren’t that available for things like suspension.
This route obviously gives you Toyota brake upgrade options too, Magnus choosing K-Sport 356mm/330mm disc kits front and rear.
Looking across at the composite bonnet I get all jealous, I have the same arrangement but mine is still steel. Volvo steel at that, which is approximately twice the weight of normal steel by the way, so I have to do a stupid cantilevered pose everytime I want to take it off. Magnus casually tells me these parts are actually very affordable in Norway, costing roughly £100 or $150. Now he tells me…
From the simple, informative dash layout.
To the impressive cage, I’m envious of it all. I know it won’t be to everyones taste – and even some Volvo people won’t like it – but that’s not what this build is about. Magnus has built this wagon to haul ass at time attack events, drift events, in fact anything he wants to attend.
Which is very much in keeping with the whole ethos of the Gatebil event it was photographed at. It’s a pure build, and by that I mean Magnus took elements from around the globe that worked best for him and created what will undoubtably be a formidable weapon when fully completed.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to move a lot faster than this freewheeling shot I grabbed just before the guys headed back down to the paddock.
The upshot of this is that I’ve realised if I came here looking for inspiration and tips on how to better put my own Volvo project together, then this is my begrudging conclusion. Do it again. Sell what I know, open my mind up and free it of all the nay sayers and vision stealers then build something that registers on the Richter scale of personal satisfaction. Except of course Magnus already did that. Cheers Rod. Back to the drawing board it is then…
Magnus Opsahl’s 1993 Volvo 245
2002 Chevrolet LS1, ARP connecting rods, Garrett T51 single turbo, alloy fuel rail, 30-row oil cooler, Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, Fragola fittings & hoses, radiator in rear cargo area, 4.5in wide intercooler, 3.5/4in stainless steel exhaust
Ace Racing flywheel and clutch, Tremec T56 gearbox, welded Toyota Supra diff
1993 Toyota Soarer/Supra front and rear subframe, XYZ coilovers, K-Sport 356/330mm disc brakes, OBP hydraulic handbrake
18×8.75-inch & 18×9.75-inch XXR 530, 215/40R18 & 265/35R18 Federal SS & RS
Early model 245 ‘flat front’ conversion, side panels custom flared, tailgate lower half replaced with mesh, Volvo Amazon grey, body widened 20cm at rear with raised wheel arch, widened 15cm at front, custom rear spaceframe, WRC-style cage gussets in sides
Weld-in roll over protection system, big transmission tunnel, new recessed bulkhead, alloy sheet dash, polycarbonate firewall in place of rear seat with extra bracing, two Cobra Suzuka Pro Seats, 6-point GSP harnesses, DASH2 dash pod, Optima Redtop battery, Aeromotive A1000 stealth fuel cell
I NEED HELP! I Have a Volvo 850 wagon NON-turbo. Is it still possible to boost it? or get an engine swap? I just want more power with it.
Wow, very cool. Killer bodywork. My 1993 240 Classic Wagon with 315k just departed ways. I knew that car well: tarpit slow, and I appreciate your solid stab of irony.
I grew up racing a green 4 door 850, the first car I have memories of besides my dad's jeep Cherokee was a 740 volvo wagon. This is what I always wanted my own volvo to be, but could never afford when I was younger. Awesome car and for me a sentimental feature.
The only thing I'm curious to know is how there is such a huge discrepancy between peak HP and peak TQ figures, especially for a turbo LS. Are they encouraging air flow in the bottom end of the rev range and choking it off on the top end with the type of cam being used or what? That is one of the lowest horsepower figures I have ever seen on a turbo LS. Very peculiar.
apparently the internet really is srs bsns, you guys are writing essays down there.
Sick whip. I like his choice of wheel, they're a wear item--no point in hooning around with uber-rare forum boys jacking you off 'real' wheels. They look good too. I've been looking at 80s and early 90's wagons for about a year now, they can be had for almost free. That will change now that they're on people's radars. How effective will that rear radiator be? Very clean implementation, but the LSx might need a little more air.
I don't know how much time I spent looking at this last week, but it was a hell of a lot. Maybe my car of the year so far! Totally amazing. Nice feature Bryn.
Damn Bryn, just when I'm looking to sell my daily driver '79 245 in the name of too many projects, you go and share this. Your 245 dreams aren't the only ones being reshaped by this car! My wife's gonna kill me, but thanks for sharing nonetheless.
Is Marc Huxely your friend who fitted a S14 front end to his Volvo? He seems to fit S14 front ends on everything!
As a volvo 240 owner, its cool to see a feature like this. Volvos definitely don't get much of the spotlight, especially the older, better models. Great feature guys, no matter what some will say. Although, as a big hater of "fake" brands, I really hope those wheels get changed out lol
Thank you for posting all these great builds, they are truly enjoyable to read and an inspiration to all those wrenching away in their garages.
Where's the rear diff? Is it tucked way up high into the rad? Because in the picture of the rear cradle there's nothing bolted to the bushings that usually hold the diff!
Were the panning shots done by pushing/rolling the car?
Oh wait. This is another Volvo from Gatebil. Cool. Now we need another car model with an Audi engine or 2JZ swap. Sure, we have seen a vast amount of them photographed at the same track (zero originality in terms of shooting locations), but lets do this again for continuity's sake.
The OGs of tuning, who are the real trendsetters, are based in Japan, US, Germany. There is too much hype for Scandinavian builds right now but it will fade out eventually. Just give it some time. Mark my words. SH car of the year will be the Ben Sopra 380sx and not a Scandinavian build. In the US region, AMS has built the fastest GTR, but this is an insignificant accomplishment compared to what the Scandinavian tuning scene has to offer. Have you seen the drift trains consisted of 8 cars plus the Team Burst cars in Meihan circuit? Yes, but lets pretend that Gatebil drivers are better, although they are unable to tandem. Get yourself together and refocus to the ones who bring groundbreaking mods and have been leading the tuning scene for years.
@John You may just need to live with the reality that you have a slow car. Not that it can't be a fun car, I would invest in the suspension. Rigid up the whole thing so you can take it much faster through the corners. If you have a manual, you can get plenty enough power in the 2nd and 3rd gears to drive it fast, but you won't ever get put back in your seat. Sorry.
@JoeWhaler Correct! Hux put the engine in my car and did some other stuff too, his current Volvo shell is my old car too. Small world huh?
@jbab This is very much a budget build believe it or not and Norway is unbelievably expensive, better to have built it than to have not because of the brakes I say.
@GrantC Hey Grant, if you look at the panning shot you'll see I wrote that it was done whilst free wheeling back to the pit and I also referenced that the car wasn't finished, a few hints at that being in the pictures. So you passed! :)
@GrantC you are right! I had to take a second look. No bolts or studs from the rear bushing poking thru. Probably the car is not finished yet. I think this is an excellent built, and God forgive me, but even the LS turbo swap looks good in there. What I totally dislike is the garbage brakes this car has. Relying on Chinese power to slow you down is a very risky business.
@super_mut Hey super, this is a budget build, 'Farmen Performance' is a play on the fact it was built on a farm, given the money involved I'm amazed we're looking at a car so out there.
@alpinaweiss I don't have a paint code, but it's from a mid 60s Volvo 122/23 or 'Amazon'. Head to your paint store and they should have it listed somewhere, RAL also do a similar set of shades.
Sure, just ignore the fact that almost all cars from the "Scandinavian" month were built in some garage (or farm) and with a very strict budget. Just ignore how much of a big deal that is. Also, let's ignore the amazing quality of those same cars, or how they are made by people who think in a very different way from Japanese or American folks. Let's also forget how expensive it is to own a car in Scandinavia. I know that if I saw a similar car in my country I would go crazy, because I know how hard and expensive it is to build something where the laws try to prevent you from doing so. I know that I'm sounding like a youtube commenter, just trying to piss you off or something, and I also know that seeing feature after feature from a scene that is not your favorite is frustrating (shit, I now I have been pissed with some "month themes") but you're missing the point. What is truly amazing is how a country that shouldn't have a car scene at all manages to put on a great show every year, a show that has some of the most crazy cars I've ever seen (notice that maybe you've seen better, I'm talking about my experience). I don't know where you are from, but from your comment I suppose it's somewhere with a large car culture. If so, please try to understand how I feel. I know that I'm beeing boring, but please try to. I live in Brazil, here importing a car was strictly forbidden from 1976 until 1990. Ok, maybe we didn't lose so much thing in that period, but when the imports became a reality it didn't get any better. We never had Supras, AE's, S-chassis, Integras, Mustangs, Camaros, Bimmers, Audis, Miatas, rotary mazdas, Zettos, Lancers or Imprezas (or anything else for that matter) and to make it better you can't import a car unless it's brand-new or over 30yo. You may think that people can still get around with the cars that are sold there. Well, you would be wrong because cars here are something outrageously expensive. Like US$40.000 for a Corolla, wich by the way is sold as a luxury car over here, with makes sick. Anyway, I'm getting of track. The point is: imagine living in a country where everyone think it's normal to pay that much for a car, no one custumizes anything (the laws provide that part) and NO ONE know what JDM, S-chassis or MOPAR is. Know imagine that you live in a place like that and sudently you find out that in a country where the laws are as strict as in your home but people have a crazy-ass event in the summer and lots of people love cars and make insane creations in their garages. You can read all this in think that you've just wasted your time? Sure, but I really hope you understand what it means for these people when outsiders reconize their work and present it to the world. I know that if someone from speedhunters came to Brazil and found a crazy machine to present in the web I would be not only very happy and proud, but also very inspired to try and build something myself. I know for sure that it isn't the case, and I'll probably have to live in some other place to fulfill my automotive desires. Looking back I've realised that I just made a long-ass text, but maybe now you realise that it's important to focus in scandinavian builds from time to time, just because owning a car over there is different from owning a car elsewhere. If you don't realise that, well, then fell free to choke on a brick or something 'cause if so you're an ass.
I think it is unfair to compare builds from big companies like Ben Sopra and AMS to what is mostely homebuilds ("the Scandinavian tuning scene").
"Have you seen the drift trains consisted of 8 cars plus the Team Burst cars in Meihan circuit? Yes, but lets pretend that Gatebil drivers are better, although they are unable to tandem."
"Gatebil drivers" as you put it, are people from all over the world, everybody is welcome, even you. Comparing a drift team to a bunch of strangers who are on the same track (which, in general, "Gatebil drivers" are), thats just dumb.
@Seeking Perfection - groundbreaking mods and leading the tuning scene for years? You mean the UK and it's far domains surely? Please tell me what was occurring wheelwise in thirties Japan whilst chaps in caps were burning across Europe in Bentleys at a ton+ with just waxed fabric to protect their bulging mantackle from obliteration... there's a far richer documented history of innovation and radical engineering on this side of the seven seas that you seem happily ignorant of. I feel for you - you must be so sick of Euro power- builds and then SH monkeys bung yet another B-Em in your mailbox... no, hang on it's rice-motored. The bare-faced bloody cheek of those innovative Nordik pretenders!
Hi, I appreciate your feedback and I get where you're coming from. It's hard sometimes when you're looking in from the outside so it's good to converse on the subject. First up, I know, another Volvo. However for me, it's the same when I see another S chassis being featured. As features go, Volvo ranks pretty low in the number of times we've focused on that marque and what I would like to think is that people strip away pre-conceptions and simply look at the content.
So we've got a powerful, modified engine, a common body shape that's been modified to an extreme with entirely swapped running gear and some tasteful (and necessary) modifications.
As for shooting locations, yes I'll give you that one and a discussion was had behind the scenes about how severely limited the choices are at Gatebil. If I were to tell you that the pictures you see are shot in the only available location outside of the pit (also pictured for reference) and in a 1hr time slot pre-allocated to us by the organisers, would that sway your judgement? Probably not I dare say, and in part I'd say you're justified. However I'm not going to stop featuring great cars because the location has been used before or it's a body style we've seen. Again, just for the record this is only the second 245 we've featured.
I would then disagree with your comment about the OGs of tuning, far from it. Motorsport has continually been fed by an army of British engineers, the level of ingenuity I've seen in New Zealand far outstrips that of other countries you name. Sure those regions are well known, so wouldn't it be easy to dispatch Dino to Meihan and shot another 8 car drift train? Sure it would, original? No.
As for the driving standard at Gatebil, I swear I've watched drifting live on four continents and this was right up there for quality, consistency and commitment. Ask any of the international drivers present and they'll agree, the speed involved in some of the driving I saw over that weekend was immense, far greater than I've seen elsewhere and often in traffic! Tandem? If that's what you want to call 5-13 cars drifting together then yes.
The internet is a big place and plenty of other people will continue to bring you the content you already seem to be well aware of, we do this too by the way but always seek out new territories and variety. If there was any doubt to this, take a look at the front page right now.
Lastly, thanks for reading. It shows you care and so do we... Maybe we have something in common :)
@Seeking Perfection It's so annoying that speehunters covers something new and fresh instead of the same old mainstream tuning industry. So annoying. How dare they cover something unique from a lesser known part of the automotive world. Seriously, how dare they..
I know, right? How dare we run Scandinavian content during the middle of a Scandinavian themed month!
@Harry f allstar I am talking about the tuning scene and not motorsports. You are the one who is oblivious and decides to talk about something different. It seems that you were an avid reader of Max Power before it went out of business. Relax and drink your bloody cup of tea.
@Vittorio Jano Show it once, show it twice, show it as many times as necessary when it has something fascinating to offer. Showing the same thing again and again is boring. Discover new angles when covering events, feature a car that will change the tuning society.
@PaddyMcGrath Do not become so defensive, man. You did it at the Lotus post. It turns out that it is not as popular as the mint condition red Corolla. Check the Facebook likes for evidence. It has been almost 2 months and you are having the same theme. Furthermore, from what I understood the next month is going to have the same theme too. Am I right? I am giving you some valuable feedback here. Take it or leave it.
@Driveitlikeyoustoleit My bad, it just kept coming. hahahaha
@Seeking Perfection... Again you show your ignorance of the International scene. Max Power was a comic with pretty pictures and is no more for countless socio-demographic/financial reasons, one being that many, like myself - no tats, no hoodie, no dog on string - didn't buy into it. But, I wasn't so blinkered as to not understand the relevance of the mag and it's importance to the late 80s early 90s tuning scene. Likewise, Gatebil is as relevant and important to our scene as any form of motor sport whether you like it or not. Personally, i applaud anybody that thinks outside the box in their pursuit of maximum horsepower, speed, smiles and fun - big budget or poverty build, it really doesn't matter does it? Take a deep breath, drop the attitude and enjoy the ingenuity that goes into the builds whether they're your bag or not. Because, sure as eggs is eggs, they'll be another S-chassis drift train along in a moment just for you...
@JDMized @Seeking @Vittorio i honestly dont see what the issue is here. I come to Speedhunters for the content they provide. There are aspects of the motorsport's world that they don't cover for whatever reason, so i follow the other blogs that cover that aspect of the game. the internet is a large place, full of just about everything you need. You can't expect one blog to cover it all and frankly i dont know that i would want it to.
@Seeking Perfection @Vittorio Jano this is the third Volvo we have EVER featured on the site since the start of the year. Compare that to all the GT-Rs, S-Chassis and AE86s we have featured in the past and you'll see there really isn't much repetition going on right now.
@Seeking Perfection @Vittorio Jano I left Speedhunters for this exact reason. Like you, I used to read/post daily. It's been a while since I read something on here. The reason, because despite what they tell you (that they listen to their audience), they keep posting the same events over and over again, year after year. It's predictable and fucking annoying. I told them that changing things up, and have a different variety of events would make the site more enjoyable, but they don't listen. I grew jaded, and said, "fuck it!" Dino we all know covers his Daikuko Futo night meets, Mike the hot rod scene and occasionally throws in the Japanese museum visit. Larry covers the FD.... Oh I forgot, the S13/14/15 days right, in January, as well as the AE86 day in August (so brace yourself for that), and the just recent RX7 day (which Dino covered a while ago).... Then there's the 24 LeMans (which is super cool) and maybe the SPA circuit. Oh, Gatebil EVERY damn year too!!!! Because a global coverage consists of Norway, Japan and US.....the rest of the world? Nah forget about it! Other events and car- builds-not important. I'll see you in few months :)
@Seeking Perfection not sure what your argument is here. We have an incredibly wide range of cars on offer this month. The only thing they all have in common is the region they are from. So please stop complaining!
@PaddyMcGrath I do prefer the Japanese cars and culture, but this does not mean I do not appreciate a few Scandinavian builds like the epic Lancia. Why do I like this Lancia? Because it is over the top. A Lancia with a pushrod suspension is radical and pushes the boundaries to a whole new level of awesome. Simple as that.
Do you just prefer Japanese cars & culture? We're not forgetting about the Japanese scene at all, but we do like to show the complete world of car culture so that sometimes means we need to showcase different regions for a bit.
More so than most might imagine, we're always quite conscious about overloading the site with content from a specific region or background. We do read and listen to every comment too, and they're always taken on-board so don't feel like you're being ignored. A lot of readers are still enjoying these stories, but you can rest at ease that there's only a few days left of this particular theme :)
That's not to say that there won't be more Scandinavian features in the future mind you...
@PaddyMcGrath I am reading every single article in here. What is the purpose of skipping any of them or just looking at pictures? I know that the Corolla is a Gatebil sourced car. I just mentioned it as reference for your defensive attitude towards builds like the Lotus.
You don't like Gatebil or how we present it, that's fine. You're perfectly entitled to feel that way. But nobody is forcing you to read these stories and post what feel like the same comments over and over again, right? It just feels like you're purposely trying to derail the conversation each time.
The Corolla was a Gatebil sourced car by the way...