I Got 99 Problems.</br> But The Volvo Ain’t One…
We used to be so good together…

This months theme is all about projects, so I figured I’d practice what I preach and kick off by talking about my own. Although in all honesty, it was whilst reading through Sean’s update on Leroy last month that alarm bells rang in my mind – and not the good kind either. The kind that wakes you at night and make you wonder what you did wrong. Then I remembered. Oh yeah, I buried my Volvo project in a barn…

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I have long been guilty of taking on more than I can handle; writing talent cheques above my pay grade and generally chancing my luck. But in more recent years I’ve begun to reel in my habitual over extension of skill. My project cars seemed like as good a place as any to start this streamlining exercise, yet I still sometimes feel like I’ve got a long way to go. For example, it was just over a year ago that I first told you about my 1990 Volvo 245 – my long journey with it – and how much it’s changed in the time we’ve had together.

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So you’d think I’d look after it a bit better, wouldn’t you? Although I would say this is actually an attempt on my part to do so. Honestly.

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Last year blasted by in a blur of car shows, road trips and err… lots of other car related stuff. As I start to feel guilty about my apparent neglect of the Volvo I console myself with the thought that I was on the road for total of 23 weeks in 2013. That’s quite a long time and some of it was even spent in the Volvo! So that’s good, right?

Car guy excuse: The lower front airdam and splitter are removed in this picture.

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This update actually kicks off mid-summer 2013 just before the excellent Players Classic event at Goodwood.

One thing that has always annoyed me about the Volvo was the mismatched colour of the interior that can be seen in this picture from my first article, which still shows its GLT roots and the original blue that it came in.

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After the Volvo came back from having its engine swapped at Huxley Motorsport the whole thing had moved up to a new level. Hux had sprayed the entire engine bay and inner arches in a subtle, solid grey colour, or ‘Hux Grey’ as it’s known at his local paint supplier. You can see more of it on his own Volvo build that we featured in December. That gave me the final kick up the arse to sort out the interior and cover it in a similar hue. I specifically went for the grey because it means I can swap the external colour as much as I want and keep it neutral inside – perfect if I go for a wrap or just get bored one night and break out the rattle cans.

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Next up was some show prep – something I’ll admit to being not overly familiar with given my propensity to just get in and drive. But it’s a little known fact that I actually like cleaning cars. Too often I don’t see the results from the work I do, so the immediate impact from physically cleaning something is really rather satisfying. Plus it happens so rarely there’s a strong chance the results will radically transform whatever I’m cleaning.

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Instant gratification? Yes I am a ten-year-old child and I need pleasing that simply! Thankfully, Kleers hooked each Speedhunters team member up with a care package and it pretty comprehensively covers everything I can think of. Although, I’ve since found out there’s a bunch more stuff to discover yet, and boy did the Volvo need some help…

So where did it all go wrong?
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Now the summer is in full swing and I’m blasting the Volvo wherever I can – shopping trips, shows and just generally annoying my eardrums whenever I can. Which is what owning a modified car is all about, right?

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The trouble is, to enjoy an omelette you have to break some eggs, by which I mean some damage will occur. However, I would say coming back to the Volvo in a supermarket car park one day and finding this, didn’t instantly start me issuing death threats to every other driver around me. It’s one of those things and it amuses me when you see people ranting and raving over minor scratches or dents that they pick up along the way. I’ve done far worse to my own cars, so let’s just get it fixed, eh?

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Which is when I realised how hard it’s becoming to find 240 parts. I mean, come on – where did they all go? This makes me realise that in the 13 years I’ve owned the Volvo it’s gone from being a familiar sight on the British roads to becoming an increasingly rare one, which means there are less and less of them in scrapyards now too. My problem was compounded by the fact that I bought aftermarket clear lenses around seven years ago. And could I find any again? Not until I stumbled across one on eBay, and in a stroke of good fortune the correct side for the same price I’d paid for a pair all those years ago. Which quite obviously didn’t stop me for a second. Take my money!

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When this piece of hockey stick trim above the front bumper decided to abandon ship at high speed, another hunt ensued which ended on a retro car forum. Although worryingly, I’ve yet to see what my £20 paid for. I should probably chase that up…

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So am I babying it? Of course not – that would be a chronic waste. Although I did put it away for the winter and that’s when I took my eye off the ball. Or the Volvo in this case.

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Where I live there’s a workshop, but that’s taken up with other projects at the moment. So this is where the Volvo spent the cold and dark months; wrapped up under a car cover with a protective layer of oil sprayed on to anything that looked like it was thinking of rusting. So you see, I did try and protect it.

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There was actually only one flaw in my plan – I’d underestimated just how sneaky the farm cats are and how dedicated they are at finding somewhere warm to sleep. Somehow they managed to figure out a way up and under the cover, and then – and this is the one that really amazes me – they also figured out I’d left one window partially open, enabling them to park their stinky, muddy asses on my lovely bucket seats. They might as well have buckled up in the Takata harnesses and gone on a mouse seeking mission, the dirty b’stards.

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So this is what greeted me when I uncovered the wagon and re-installed the battery. Nothing a vacuum cleaner didn’t sort out with some well spent elbow grease. But really? Like there’s not another 1000 places for them to sleep! The main thing is, the Volvo was out of the garage and the next stage in its evolution could begin.

Let’s not get too carried away now…
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There are a couple of reasons why I needed to get the Volvo out, the first of which is to do something about the wheels. I’ve long been a fan of the Compomotive MOs that it wears, but I’ve had them for seven years now and they need a refurb. Plus and probably more crucially, as the Vehicle Art Director working on Need For Speed said, “The fitment makes me cry.” Which is true. They were made for a standard road car I had at the time, and I could really do with more width than the eight inches I have now, plus my offset game is weak. I’ve been looking at a few different styles across an equal amount of manufacturers, so hopefully I can actually make a choice soon. But gah, it’s not an easy one to make. I have and will live with the Volvo for a long time yet, so any decision has to be considered.

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Well almost every one… One thing that was a no brainer, was to source a GRP replacement bonnet when the opportunity came up. The original hinges were removed from my standard bonnet and it’s held in place by four pins, which means removing it on your own involves counter balancing your body against it’s weight whilst balancing the leading edge on your thighs. Which although it might sound hilarious, isn’t much fun. Plus weight saving is good!

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Because the bonnet was a good price (read: cheap) it needed some work before I could spray or wrap it. So the first part of the prep was to give it a dust coat of satin black aerosol that I had lying around.

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I’m no bodywork expert, but the theory as I understand and have practiced it, is to fine sand the surface so that any imperfections will be left in black for me to see clearly.

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So along with some wet and dry paper, I used some car shampoo and made with the flatting.

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This the result so far. These indents will need filling and sanding again before I’m happy to finish the surface off. I’ll cut and reinforce the holes for the bonnet pins first though, then I’ll be able to remove it from its mounts without popping a vein in the side of my head!

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One other issue I’ve got is my oil cooler mount. I had Forge Motorsport install a new intercooler and radiator last year to handle my intended power increases, but I never got around to dealing with this bad boy. So it’s yet another thing on the list that I really need to address. Along with the knackered rear suspension, aging carbon fibre bucket seats that really aren’t doing my back problem any good… The list is long my friends. Long and sh*tty.

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Yes, I’m easily distracted, but so you don’t leave this article thinking I’m a complete loss at getting anything done I’m going to make you aware of more reasons why I’m a little bit behind schedule with the Volvo. This is my early Range Rover. I love it and it loves me because I fit new gearboxes and diffs to it, band the standard steel wheels and redo the interior. Can you see why I get distracted?

Cortina Bryn April 2014-18

Last year, some of those weeks on the road I spoke about earlier were spent in this Cortina which I drove 2500 miles back from Finland to the UK, via the mighty Gatebil event at Rudskogen. The fact that the bottom six inches were made from rust and hope didn’t stop me, but it does stop me getting it road legal in the UK. So that needs sorting too. Thankfully Hux from Huxley Motorsport is very competent in old Ford metal as well as Volvo, so it’s in his workshop getting the required welding done.

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But the Volvo is out of storage and will be done (some more). As with any project it’s a fine balancing act between actually using the thing and improving it as you do. I’ll say this: as much as I like using it I also like improving it, and after almost a decade and a half of ownership there’s still a long way to go. I just don’t know how far yet… Hopefully not too far. Is that even a place?

#joyofmachine? Yup, got plenty thanks!

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: speedhunters_Bryn



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Seems to me, a case of the shoemakers children have no shoes. At least its out of the garage. Step one complete. Good luck of the future endeavors.


My problem's always been buying the project, collecting the parts then... buying another project and collecting more parts. Nothing ever seems to get finished around here so my wife tells me screamingly.


Next project post about the Range please!


Perhaps some new shoes from Fifteen52 will fit the volvo?


makes me wanna go pull the pukestain out of retirement and get cracking!! good read.


RichardVaa  the pukestain sounds like an... interesting build ;-)


I'd love to see a bit more about your 4x4. Your project seems to be making good progress actually. I loved it when you featured it before and I'm still waiting for you to share the story about your shift knob :-)


Thanks Bryn, for humorously illuminating the hypnotic abyss that is the project car.
I think its time for some new stickers to show some solidarity with my brothers and
sisters on the other end of the modified car spectrum.
Heres some ideas:
#I'll Sell It When I Die


whitehatchback  It sounds like you and Bryn have something in common. (The having too many project cars part, not the screaming wife part!) :P


I've personally never had the mad love for Volvos (I think I hear 30 Swedish men crying right now), but I do appreciate a good car story. Sure it's been a cat bed for the winter, and has skinny wheels, but it brings a smile to your face when you get out in it, that is all that really matters.
Now to have a workshop big enough to hold two of your projects, rather than just half of one... I salute you!


vroomtothetomb  and in some cases #sorryit'snotforsaleI'mgoingtodosomethingwithitsomeday


This is speaking my language to be honest... and what about the buggy? Still got that?


That Range is rude!


MatthewUrch  It was almost my daily for a while, there's a 2.8 Isuzu TD under the bonnet and a late model five speed manual so it's pretty civilised.


SnoozinRichy  Haha, I'm totally with you there. I have three sets of wheels for the Volvo that have been hung on hubs and never got further. I nearly bought three engines before settling on this swap... I've got three steering wheels for the thing! In fact there are more accessories lying around the place than I know what to do with. 

And yes, the buggy is and will always be not far away. It's very close to having the engine back in, lots of work has been taking place recently, in fact I was wrapping the exhaust last night :)


Kirk_B  Yup, I think this transcends Volvos :) I've waited most of my adult life to have a workshop where I live. It's by no means a great one, but it's getting there.


SnoozinRichy vroomtothetomb  Haha, great idea! 



robzor  Don't distract me from doing more Volvo based stuff! I didn't mention the beach buggy or other old Range Rover I have... Gah, I need a clear out. 

I've told all I can about where the shift knob came from ;)


robzor RichardVaa  That's some name, tell us more.


@zz  One of the styles I've been looking at are from their range, when spending my hard earned cash though it has to be right as they'll be staying for a long time. It's a big decision!


@Philipp Ulrich  Like I replied elsewhere, I need to focus... On, err. That's it, the Volvo.


Taryn Croucher whitehatchback  Nothing wrong with that as long as you actually get something on the road, all too often you get caught in a trap of only having projects. Make sure there's always one on the road and you'll not go wrong. If that's not the case, sell whatever you need to and get out there.


@Johnny  !


prazzi  Yup and builders live in unfinished houses! It looks a lot worse than it is, thanks for the kind words :)


The fitment still makes me cry a little inside :)


Bryn Alban  It's not putting me on the frontline of the Brynvasion is it... ;)


Speedhunters_Bryn Bryn Alban  If it put you on the frontline you'd be fighting a good fight for wheel fitment. No sir, you're on slop duties :)


The posts makes me falling in luv wit volvos more and more...
Any links on whr to find tis rear lights? http://tenwheel.com/imgs/a/a/n/g/q/1992_volvo_240_gl_sedan_4___door_2___3l_automatic_sun_roof_7_lgw.jpg
Thx n keep it up!


Speedhunters_Bryn SnoozinRichy vroomtothetomb  #It'sNotScrapPleaseDon'tAskIfYouCanHaveIt


Speedhunters_Bryn Kirk_B  Oh, I'm sure you have a few years left in you to enjoy the workshop. :)
My projects are on hold for a move, so I've had to keep the workshop show quality clean. It's killing me not to be able to work on anything more than a compressor assembly. What is it about opening up mechanical objects that make us so happy?


Speedhunters_Bryn MatthewUrch  i may have missed something, but...isuzu td?  what gives?


nugundam93  MatthewUrch It's been converted to run one, so there's now an adapter plate between the Isuzu motor and LR gearbox :)


3 pages and 200 pics and none of the car clean or doing anything...


Put the volvo on some deep 15" SSR mesh wheels, shakotan style! It would look hilarious


Speedhunters_Bryn MatthewUrch   good work, sounds epic, I like to see some pics of that. I got a soft spot for the old landys, I just sold mine but im already looking for another.


Nice volvo,glad to see your showing the tina some love too need an update in cf


zooatlanta  What, you didn't think I was actually going to drive it did you? Perish the thought...


JoeWhaler  When you say hilarious, you mean awesome, right!


turbom  Update on it's way ;)


Bryn Alban You'll be pleased to know action has taken place to remedy this.


I would love for this to happen. It would look like the sexy Group A 240s.


OMG dude, the cats! Brilliant. Welcome to my world bruv.


sean klingelhoefer #maximumcountryside #farmproblems


Annnnnnd I want to see more of that classic Range.


Max_Ryde  It's proving pretty popular huh? Maybe I should do an article about the rest of my tat!


Speedhunters_Bryn Max_Ryde  DO IT!!!


Juggernaut677 Speedhunters_Bryn Max_Ryde  Do it.


In the right offsets i think white MOs would look perfect on your Volvo. Someboidy needs to have a word with Compomotive about their sizing...


Last time I saw this was at Castle Combe for Forge's Action Day, I took a shot of it without knowing it was yours! Knowing where it was parked you'll know I have some great taste ;) I hope to see it again there this year, preferably on track with some new dancing shoes.


yeah, so you washed your car.. :)


Fabulous car but those white wheels really suck icm this beautiful adorable 240


What year is your Range Rover