Can an old Volvo be cool?
If you live in Sweden, it really depends on where. If, like me, you’re from a small town, then you would have certainly been in contact with Volvos in your younger days. Why? Because there are a lot of Volvos in Sweden and they are reasonably cheap, making them a good candidate for a first car.
So, what’s the story with my Volvo 242? Well, I bought it back in 2004 and it’s a 1975 car. It was pretty solid, so not that much rust.
My original idea for the 242 was to build a budget, street legal car, but not spend a lot of time doing it. This was at a time when the pro touring trend was getting big, so I wanted something like that. An old car with new technology. Coming back to the idea though, I only stayed true to one of those things.
I didn’t constantly build the car. In fact, some years I just grew tired of it and even wanted to sell it. Unfortunately, there are too many cool projects that never get finished and that’s a shame. Time, money, dedication and true grit isn’t always that easy.
So, when the budget plans went out the window, I set my sights on a car that could be king on the street, the track, and the drag strip. One thing I learnt throughout the years is that you cannot build a car that is killer for everything. However, I like to think that my Volvo is a pretty good allrounder.
Looking at the exterior, the custom bodywork I’ve done isn’t that easy to pick if you aren’t familiar with the 242 model. The rear fenders are widened in the lower parts, the gas cap and all the door handles are shaved, the emblems are removed, and the bumpers are modified for tighter fitment. All of this gives the car a much slicker look.
To get a factory look, I used as many OEM parts as possible. The paint is an old Volvo color from the ’70s as well, which is pretty ugly but spot on for this car.
Under the hood is a 2.5-liter B6254S engine (from a Volvo 960), that’s been strengthened and fitted with Wiseco forged pistons and H-beam connecting rods.
The turbocharger is a Precision SC6266, and all the supporting modifications for E85 fuel are there. On its drag tune the engine makes 739hp.
Getting that power to the ground is a BMW 530D 6-speed manual transmission and a custom Volvo/Ford 8.8-inch rear end.
I didn’t rush the details. Hiding all the wiring and making nice tubing took a long time and a big dose of patience. The car went through the Swedish SFRO (Sveriges Fordonsbyggares Riksorganisation) -which is like a technical check for heavily modified and scratch-built cars – without any problems, meaning it is 100% street legal.
The car was ready for a test drive 2016, and I drove it that year in primer paint just to sort things out. In early 2017, I stripped the car completely and we painted it everywhere.
At first, I had some fancy 19-inch rims, but I switched to 17-inch widened steel wheels with center caps from Volvo 142 for the old school look. You could call it a sleeper; I actually spent over three hours painting the roll cage just to cover it up with black vinyl because it was too obvious from the outside.
I’ve taken my Volvo to many car shows both in Sweden and abroad, and I really like it. It’s nice to make so many new friends and see so many cool cars. That’s a big reward for me; meeting people who like what I’ve done with the 242 keeps me pushing.
So far, it’s been drag racing and competed in half-mile events. A goal with the car was to run a 10-second quarter mile, and I’ve achieved that with a personal best ET of 10.74 @ 222km/h. I remember the first 10-second run – I was so happy and it was a big relief. Hopefully there will be some track racing soon, so I can test the chassis.
But for now, the car mostly sees the street on the weekends. It feels finished; people often ask me why I don’t put more power into it and I always give the same answer: It works so good without failures; I can drive it to the track and run a couple of 10-second passes and then drive home. That’s worth a lot for me and my wallet.
1975 Volvo 242
Volvo B6254S, Wiseco forged pistons, Wiseco H-beam rods, B6304 crankshaft, bottom end strengthened & modified, Precision Turbo SC6266 turbocharger, Precision Turbo PW46 wastegate, TiAL Q blow-off valve, custom exhaust manifold, OEM head & intake, 3.5-inch exhaust, 56-liter fuel cell, surge tank, 3x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Aeromotive A1000 fuel pressure regulator, PWM module, Bosch Motorsport 1,300cc injectors, E85 sensor, MaxxECU
BMW 530D 6-speed manual gearbox, Samsonas shifter, rear axle mixed with outer tubes from Volvo & center section from Ford 8.8-inch, Moser axles, custom-built prop shaft
Suspension & Brakes:
BILSTEIN Clubsport coilovers (front) Strange double adjustable dampers (rear), custom tube front control arms, Sellholm Tuning knife sway bars, 4-link, Watt’s linkage, Brembo Mitsubishi Evo VI front brakes, Volvo V70R rear brakes, Carbotech XP8 pads, IPSCO handbrake calipers, line lock
Wheels & Tyres:
Steel wheels 17×7-inch (front), 17×9.5-inch (rear), Federal 595 RSR tires
Custom 8-point roll cage, Cobra Monaco Pro seats, 5-point Simpson harnesses, RRS steering wheel with snap-off hub, Speedhut gauges, tablet display
Sponsors & Thanks:
To my family, friends and most of all my girlfriend Vanja for their patience with this project – no one mentioned no one forgotten. A special thanks to Sven Schulz for giving me the opportunity to show the car in Europe.
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.