An Apocalypse-Proof Volvo
Ratsto-mod 242

A few weeks ago I was Facebook creeping my local car clubs when a grainy looking iPhone snap of an apocalypse-worthy Volvo grabbed my attention. After some random messages and a quick Instagram investigation, I tracked down Phil Moul, the owner and builder of the extraordinary steel monster.

For just over six years Phil has been in possession of the 1979 Volvo 242 GT, which despite its appearance now started out as a stock, collector-plated car.


Phil did some bolt ons and power upgrades, but the turbo four-cylinder setup left him desiring something more powerful. A Ford 351ci V8 was slated to be dropped in and adapted to the Volvo chassis, but before a proper plan could be hatched a steal of a deal showed up on the local Craigslist, and Phil couldn’t pass it up.


From the hulk of a wrecked 2014 Mustang GT came a fairly fresh 5.0-liter Coyote V8 motor with ECU and wiring harness, and a Getrag MT-82 6-speed gearbox and driveshaft. Phil then sourced a crusty but solid 8.8-inch rear axle from a Ford Explorer to handle the 5.0’s 420hp. As far as fitting the motor into the Volvo’s bay, Phil said it wasn’t too bad aside from having to make custom motor mounts and offsetting it slightly in the chassis to match the stock firewall and trans tunnel.

Before swapping in the Coyote engine, Phil had already started to transform the Volvo into the wide-bodied, wasteland battle-ready beast it is today. He started out by cutting up a pair of 242 fenders and flipping them left to right with some nifty angles for just the right fit. Extra sheet metal was grafted into the front fenders to pull them out and give the car its wide and menacing look.


The car rides on Bilstein dampers and stock springs, sans a few coils thanks to a cut-off wheel. Phil took the time to fabricate a pedal box out of billet aluminium, and he also cut his own steering wheel quick-release out of aluminium and made it fit an aftermarket wheel. (If you check out Phil’s Instagram you can see the beauty that is his custom CNC and machine work.)


In the cabin, Phil has a few gauges from Auto Meter as well as a cage that he wanted to practice welding and tube-notching on. He reused the stock Volvo dash, carpet and one door card to semi-complete the interior. The seats consist of a Sparco Torino and an old bucket from his uncle’s Baja Jeep that was raced back in the ’70s. Anyone brave enough to ride shotgun in the vintage Jeep seat has been asked to sign the still-intact stock headliner with a silver Sharpie marker.


There’s nothing quite like this insane 242; Phil’s imagination and hard work definitely shows as the Swedish steel grumbles around the Vancouver area. His “Ratsto-mod” turns heads at every intersection and scares the faint of heart into thinking the end is near.

Not only is Phil one of the nicest dudes you could ever run into, his skills and humble nature have churned out a car that he truly enjoys and has fun with every time he turns the key. And he didn’t even have to do an LS swap…

Andrew Ritchie
Instagram: ridic_u_loose

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Richard Brown

I love this! So happy to see a coyote swap, can't wait to do mine.
More Canada!
Well done, the railroad spike photo stands out for me.


Thank you, Andrew, for risking tetanus for the sake of a good shot.


Just was thinking that this exact photo should be the opening image.


If each time i have to ride in this doomsday Volvo i'll leave no more space for the others (i problem i'm too far away). How can anyone pass a ride in it?

Andrew Ritchie

I don't think many people do pass up the opportunity


hahaa fun and cool build!


Oh wow, Coyote swap!
I saw someone posted this on IG before, I thought it's just 302 or something.


Love it, but never understand why people bother to build a car with all this stuff and then throw the worst tires they can possibly find on them. It all starts from the ground up...


i don't know if continental's specialized winter tyre brand is bad?


what is this? Death Race!


Can the suspension and tires even handle all that??


Perfect in case of zombie apocalypse


Aren’t all old Volvo’s apocalypse-proof from the factory?


If you're talking about the body, it's only some aesthetic changes to meet the builder's taste.


No, just that those old Volvos seem to be bomb proof and capable of going on after driving through a brick house. Ideal base to build an “apocalypse-proof” car.


I've seen a 240 rolling over and another "French kissed" a big rock (around 200kg) and pushed it away 1 meter, then in both cases they hit the road like if nothing happened that's why i'm saying it's some "minor" details to meet the builder's taste.


So good to see more of the genuine, low buck fun haver stuff of BC.


Excellent article and amazing photos!

Point of contention, though. A roll cage includes A-pillar support. If it's just behind the B-pillar, it's considered a roll bar. (It's a pretty good lookin' one, too. Especially for someone who just wanted to "test their skills!")


It baffles me why someone could go to all the effort of an engine swap, roll cage, making their own and then think "I know, rather than buy some decent springs, ill cut these ones". Its like painting a masterpiece then just drawing a =) when you get to the face because its quicker to do that than put the effort in and do it properly. I am disappoint.






What does "collector plated" mean? Does that mean something decent got trashed? If so, that's a bit of a shame but it's cool to see something a little different.


Just that it's of a certain age and qualifies for special insurance. Depending on your area, that insurance might limit the number of miles you're allowed to put on the car every year.

Jasmine McCarthy

Awesome I want to put a coyote in xf Ute went to buy a crate and got told by suppliers to not even attempt it great to see that someone has been successful


1) Why do apocalypse cars always have to look like such piles of crap? Will no one want a nice looking car going into the end-of-days?

2) Shouldn't a true apocalypse car be as free of electrical dependence as possible? You know, like in the event of something like an EMP? Stick some faithful old carb'd Chevy 350 in there or something. And lift the car for when Mother Nature reclaims the cities, don't drop it!

I really don't understand this trend.

Trs berlinetta

Well on the first one, how are you going to keep a car looking nice in the apocalypse? I think the rattiness is rather fitting. As for the electrical dependence, I agree with you. I think a 350 or old Ford Windsor would fit the whole "apocalypse" vibe better, something common and dead simple like that.


It's rad, but the article tag line is silly; I'm pretty sure a stock 240 would be more apocalypse proof than that. Impact bumpers, mechanical fuel injection (or carb), non-interference motor, parts compatibility over 15-odd years manufacture and so on.


Phil has been building and modifying cars for as long as I can remember (high school). Since 2004 I think this is his 3rd or 4th Volvo build and this has been the most exciting to follow on his instagram. One of the most skilled and cool dudes I know.