It’s been four decades since Volvo first introduced the 240 and its 242 two-door sedan and 245 wagon variants. While the ‘Vo’ has perhaps been the butt of a few jokes for most of the world, in its ancestral home of Scandinavia, this brick-ish, stout workhorse is beloved and has enjoyed constant enthusiast attention.
Nowhere will you find this more evident than the Bilsport Performance & Custom Motor Show, which we revelled in just last weekend. Inside these show halls, you can find the best Volvo 240s in the world – big power, fire-breathing monsters, perfect restorations, tidy resto-mod street cars and history-steeped legendary racers. Although there were dozens of nice examples, we decided to sit down over a beer and pick our five absolute favourites from the show.
Edward Blom’s 1975 Volvo 242
The first car on our list is a great example of a well-rounded package. Built by Edward Blom, the 242 coupe looks brutal in a simple blood red hue, sitting low on German Azev Type A wheels that hide bigger Turbo model brakes.
The Volvo runs a full cage and race-ready interior that uses Sparco parts throughout.
But it’s the engine bay that really caught our attention. Check out that intake plenum! The setup runs a straight-six BMW M50 engine and Holset HX40 turbo, backed up by an E36 M3 gearbox.
With some serious weight reduction, the car only tips the scales at 1,040kg (2,292lb) – not bad!
Pelle Nilsson’s 1985 Volvo 242 DTM Champion
Recently restored by Pelle Nilsson, this 242 Turbo is something a little special.
The car took Swedish ace driver Per Stureson to outright victory in the 1985 German DTM championship, 17.5 points ahead of Olaf Manthey in a Rover Vitesse.
After racing in Europe for much of the ’80s, the car went on to compete all across the world – Macau, Thailand, Japan and even the famous Wellington 500 street race in New Zealand – with the even more famous Stig Blomqvist behind the wheel.
We can’t get enough of these Ronal Racing centre-locks – just perfect. This car was a treat to take in with our own eyes, and it’s great to see such a thoroughly well-used workhorse restored to its former glory.
Christoffer Israelsson’s 1975 Volvo 242
Perfectly ’70s-esque paint? Check. Garish tan velour interior? Check. Enough power and torque to give even the most seasoned racers the willies? Most definitely. Christoffer’s ’75 242 DL is fast, clean and perfectly styled.
Whilst you might have spied drag wheels and a parachute – the car does run mid 10-second quarters – straight line racing isn’t the only thing this 242 is capable of. It’s also both street legal and heavily set up for track use using an E46 M3 front end, KW coilovers, tubular A arms, adjustable blade-type sway bars and big Brembo brakes.
The big stoppers will probably come in handy any time Christoffer uses the throttle, which is connected to this brutal turbo LS1 set up. The 5.7-litre Chev V8 is completely forged, and is fed air by a huge BorgWarner S480 turbo that has been rebuilt using all billet parts – 80mm compressor side and 96mm exhaust side. Using a MaxxECU, the setup is currently tuned for 780hp and 1070Nm at the rear wheels.
The motor is backed up by a super-strong Tremec T56 6-speed ‘box running straight-cut gears and dog-rings from G-Force. Although the set up makes a lot of power as is, Christoffer told us he’s going to re-tune in May, when he plans to push the power figure up past the 900hp mark and aim for 9-second quarters. Hopefully we can convince him to take us for a spin soon after!
Joakim Olsson’s 1986 Volvo 245
We’ve featured some badass 245 wagons in the past, and even have one as a staff project car, so you can imagine our joy at spotting Joakim’s 1986 example in a corner of one of the huge halls. We’re loving the tough fender flares, the widened steel wheels and gloss brown paint, and it all contrasts with the bright pink of the rollcage and turbo compressor housing.
The huffer is a Holset HX40 and it feeds a Volvo B230ft 2.3-litre inline four cylinder. Thanks to its simple design and factory forged pistons and crank, the slant motor – which was originally fitted to the Volvo 700 series – is well known for its ability to take an absolute beating and a fair amount of boost. Joakim uses a Link G4 ECU, which helped the engine push 384hp and 514Nm at the rear wheels last year. The setup has since undergone more extensive modifications, so although more power is expected, it has yet to be back on the dyno for a further tune. This is one wagon we’re looking forward to seeing in action at Gatebil!
Christoffer Börjesson’s 1975 Volvo 242
Sure it’s not the most powerful of the bunch, but Christoffer Börjesson’s muscular, pumped-out 242 street car works for us because it’s a clean and refined street/show build that sticks within the family.
By that, we mean that the mint engine bay still houses a Volvo motor, although the cylinder count has since doubled. This is a lightweight alloy B8444S 4.4-litre V8, built under license by Yamaha and originally offered in the XC90 and S80 models. In those cars, the motor is actually transversely mounted and makes 311hp, while this car has it mounted in the more traditional north-south arrangement, backed up by a Toyota Supra gearbox.
A peak in the back reveals that the car has been semi-tubbed, converted to a 4-link rear end and fitted with air suspension, while a fuel cell now replaces the low-hanging factory tank. Smooth power, a refined look and a super low stance… It just works.
Choosing the cars on this list was definitely a hard task and you can be sure we’ll be taking a closer look at some of these machines soon, but until then, check out some of the 240s that we’ve we’ve already featured, many of which were also on display at the show.
Additional Photos by Arslan GolićCutting Room Floor
Well, today is my birthday and this is truly a nice gift from speedhunters. I'm still looking for an old 245 wagon with round headlights to modify....I hope they didn't all just died....
greenroadster I'd quite like to own a 242 coupe, even just a thrasher just for fun
I like old Volvos, thanks for excellent article!
Center-bolt wheels, so impractical, but so cool! Can anyone ID the ones on car #26. I've seen them before, but can't remember the make.
Waxhaw Brad tough call, those Speedlines are very cool, but I just can't get past the Ronals on the DTM car. In terms of a more modern option, I love also really like the BBSs on the S40 BTCC car, just something really tough and chunky about them.
The best article on Speedhunters ever.. miss my 240 so bad right now.
Waxhaw Brad Oh, the BBS e50s on the Castrol #10.... hnnnnnggggg
MOAR WAGONS! lol I love my wagons
2 door sedan is not a coupe. 262C is the only 200-series Volvo coupe. Just wanted to point that out.
Cool Volvos. Especially that blue striped touring car brings back some childhood memories of watching flame spitting Volvos and Ford Sierras battle it out.
I love how the Scandanavians can create tire warping, flame spitting, banshee screaming motors out of old BMW's inline 6's, and Audi and Volvo 5 cylinder lumps.
Super resourceful and inpriational.
@zz Totally agree.
Around here people use the old audi EA 837 engines to create 1900cc 300 to 500ish street 4cyl engines too, its at least intersting to watch (they build also 1000hp in full race trim out of the same engines, for drag racing into the 7 to 8 second range)
Maaan, that military green 242 Coupe looks awesome! It would be nice to see more of that car!
Great article Peter, awesome cars!
Ya ya ya you've all seen it but I feel it's high time to wheel this out again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ0nkStZnWo
Stop calling it a brick it is boxy yes, but it is a cool car.
@zz I have a dream. And that is a ratty looking 242 with a volvo straight five spitting flames and popin the inner wheel during the transitions and more.
mbretschneider I'm deeply inspired to start building things like you all Scandinavians do. I've been searching for old used 5 and 6 cyl BMW M50/2 engines, and Volvo 5 cylinders to swap into just about anything, namely an S-Chassis.
Seriously though, a 242 with an uncorked turbocharged T5 inside sounding like an R8? Nobody in the United States would've known what hit them.
Your use of these engines are perhaps the best thing in the automotive world IMO.
I live in a land where I see at least three 240's a day (Ithaca). Used to be more...lots of old, higher educated hippies.
None are like this. Saw a Bertone, once...
I never took volvos seriously until I met a guy from smallenstanner. It's like their mustang or something. Except just looking at them you would never assume they could be this awesome lol. Boxy at it's best.
Any more on that Francevic car? Is it the actual Mark Petch entered 240T from down these ways, or a very faithful facsimile? Either way, gotta swell with patriotism at the Kiwi connection!
koko san MatsNorway hahahahahaha
@zz s38b38 from an m5 are like a cult there. 2jz euro equivalent
SnoozinRichy It's a replica Mark Petch.
paddycomyn Frikkin' awesome.
neilmbriscoe paddycomyn LS-engined-set-square-Swedish-designed visions of want right there.
Let me know when you are gonna show the top 700 series picks...
the car was very good
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I have a 240 and i am loocking for overfenders like the have here does someone know where i can ge them from ? Ore tell me under what name i finde them
So. Much. Win.
I miss my brick even more now.