Unfinished Business:</br> Where Did I Go So Wrong?
I Didn’t Think About This…

Long term projects invariably don’t start out that way, and in my case what was meant to be a reliable daily driver has turned in to a noisy, uncomfortable, unreliable and often frustrating exercise. And those are just its good points.

What’s even worse, I should have seen this coming all along… I mean come on, I spend my days speaking to owner/builders/professionals all over the world, who quite often echo the same sentiment.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (28 of 29)

Looking back to how it all started I can only put it down to p*ss-poor planning, or a complete lack of planning if I’m totally honest. Although that’s changed over the years and I’ve since learnt, literally on the job, it’s now time to finish things off and do it right for once.

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So why now? I recently got married and I’m fast approaching that stage in a feature car article when the owner turns around and says, ‘that’s when life got in the way’, whilst explaining why no car stuff happened for a number of years. That’s not to say my wife is trying to stop me from doing anything, no, I just really want to build a house! And I know that’s going to take all my time and money. Spare or otherwise.

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But to just sideline the Volvo is not an option, so I’ve decided to face up to some home truths and right some wrongs. To be realistic for once and make good. To accelerate the process of getting stuff done.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (29 of 29)

If I’m honest, if I had the last 13 years with the Volvo again, I would have stripped the shell a decade ago when it stopped being my daily, and fitted an LS V8, T56 gearbox and a BMW M3 back end. The interior would still only have two seats, but it would be more complete – a nicer place to be. But I didn’t, so that’s enough of that.

Hux Huxley Motorsport Celica  (9 of 9)

That’s not to say I don’t get a kick out of the turbocharged Volvo B230 motor, because I genuinely love it. The Volvo engine always makes me come back to the reason the car looks the way it does today. It’s all a result of the journey we’ve been on together. It wasn’t laid out on a desk, planned and precise, it’s organically evolved over the years and is the combination of all the different decisions I’ve made as I’ve grown and changed.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (4 of 13)

So here we are, an experienced motoring journalist and a butchered Volvo wagon. Is this a mechanical representation of myself? My skill set and attention span mixed in to one mismatched, eclectic, hotch potch of parts and inspiration? I think it might just be.

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Bearing in mind that I have two other fully-fledged projects in the workshop, I’m not going to dwell on the philosophical side of things for too long. The fact is, I’ve been away from home a lot since I last showed you the Volvo, which was just after I’d fitted the RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs, but I’ve been busy making sure that the list of problems are being solved one way or another.

I Got This
Strip club Volvo wagon update (10 of 13)

First up is the engine. Volvo specialists are far and wide, but luckily for me this engine was built up by a previous owner to a good standard with uprated internals. So with some extra boost, fuel and cooling I knew at some stage I’d be able to up the power. I like to keep things local if at all possible and I’m very lucky that living in the centre of England means I’m firmly camped out in a part of the country that’s rich with engineering talent, so I can pick from some of the best.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (9 of 13)

Forge Motorsport, who built one of our favourite Mk1 Golfs, are within an hours drive, and nearly two years ago they fabricated a gorgeous radiator and intercooler combo for me, with hard pipes and silicon hoses from their sister company, Hosetechnic. I still get a little excited every time I see it because it’s indicative of the quality I want for the rest of the car.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (13 of 29)

So that’s the cooling taken care of, but Mike who put together the Volvo wagon which my engine came out of had used Motronic LH2.4 engine management from a later model. This is all well and good but it’s never going to provide the stable tuning platform which I am looking for. So inevitably I’ve been looking at aftermarket ECU systems for a couple of years now.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (4 of 29)

Amongst the many I’ve considered is OMEX. In the summer of 2013, when the engine swap was first completed, I met Richard Wragg who owns OMEX Technology, who liked the Volvo and suggested we take a look at some solutions. I’ve finally got round to going to their head office (again under an hour away) and I think we’ve come up with something that will work very well. It doesn’t support a tablet-based dashboard which is something I really wanted, but it was great to get some sound advice on what the next step should be.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (7 of 29)

So it looks like I’ll be ditching the distributor and going for a coil pack, and hopefully then I’ll be well on the way to sustainable, reliable power. And anti-lag… It’s all about the anti-lag.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (5 of 13)

Remember what I said about the comfort thing? Yeah that. I stripped the Volvo out originally to make it faster, but now I have additional power with more on the way, I can look at adding back in some comfort. First up are the carbon bucket seats which I’ve done well over 30,000 miles in. They’ve held up remarkably well, but the trim is looking a little tired, plus the shape isn’t as supportive as it could be, with the laid back head rest area designed to accomodate a crash helmet.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (8 of 13)

I’ve looked at getting these retrimmed or buying something like Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X Recaros, but the trouble is neither would be exactly what I wanted and both would cost a good chunk of money that could be put into a new pair. Once again, an hour up the road are Cobra Seats, I know, right? How convenient! And if they’re good enough for our own Scion Tuner Challenge FR-S then I’m done. The other reason for choosing Cobra is that my first pair of bucket seats 20 years ago were made by them, plus the more I’ve seen of their custom trimming and embroidery the more I want it. And as these will hopefully be the last seats the Volvo sees, I’m hoping I get this right! I’ve got something unique in mind that should look good and wear well too.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (7 of 13)

I’m also going to take a look at how seats are made whilst I’m there -something I reckon a few of us should be interested in, right? Material choice and seat strength is something we see pop-up in the comments section from time to time, and it’s something I’ve never really known much about, so it makes sense to have a poke around as we’ve got the chance.

Final Frontier
Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (20 of 29)

So this time it’s all about doing it right. I’ve got plenty of other things to attend to as well – some simple, like adding sound deadening and cleaning up the polycarbonate windows, which are getting more and more scratched as time goes on. Others are a little more complex, like stronger engine mounts, a silencer for the exhaust and some fuel system mods. But they’re happening and I’ll be able to tell you more about them in a couple of months.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (1 of 13)

You may have noticed the Volvo isn’t that clean in any of these pictures, apart from maybe the one where I’m actually cleaning it… Oh, and the one taken at the excellent Wheel Whores indoor show last November.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (9 of 29)

And that’s because the UK in winter means wet skies, sometimes freezing, and you can get sun and snow in the same hour, let alone a day. I think that’s why I went for three of our coloured windscreen banners, and layered them up, just so I could have something bright on the Volvo! Keeping everything shiny is pretty much impossible if I actually want to drive it though.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (11 of 29)

And I do. I properly adore this car and although it means stuff gets scratched or worn, it really is all about the driving it for me. Whilst out and about I spotted this clean Datsun and obviously it made me think of Larry and Ole Orange Bang, another Speedhunters project car that gets abused. Right now I’d happily take balmy SoCal and some canyons.

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (10 of 29)

Whilst taking the shot of the Datsun sat at a junction, Scooby and crew drove past. I’m not sure where Fred thought he was going to find some waves around here, and the downsizing of the Mystery Machine must make it a squeeze in there. But it’s good to see the guys are still out there. Those crazy kids…

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (1 of 29)

The other thing I’ve been messing about with is a custom mount for a Tarot T2D GoPro gimbal. The plan is to do as many track days and ‘fun’ driving as possible this year, so naturally I want to be able to record as much of that as possible. But solid mount GoPro footage can sometimes be shaky and annoying, hence this upgrade. I would have some sample video for you but the gimbal decided to stop working just after this photo! Next time, I promise.

Strip club Volvo wagon update (13 of 13)

When faced with having to make a custom mount, I thought to myself, what would Keith do? Mr Charvonia, our resident car builder, has a painstaking attention to detail, but I however, do not. With a little bit of Arizona inspiration though, I broke out my combi grinder and modded a genuine mount, the last thing I need is a cheap knock-off job failing because I’ve weakened it. Nah, I only ruin genuine products!

Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (25 of 29)

So that’s where I’m at right now. I never thought it would come this far all those years ago and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t think too hard about it. Who knows what would have happened if I’d have stuck to a plan? Or even had a plan at all!

As ever it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. I do know that from now on there are going to be no corners cut or compromises though.

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: Speedhunterbryn

Cutting Room Floor
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Volvo 240 wagon Rays TE37 (24 of 29)
Strip club Volvo wagon update (6 of 13)
Strip club Volvo wagon update (11 of 13)


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Love seeing the brick! Gives me hope i may someday do something with mine.


always loving car with right handed! 
RHD for love! :D


I just notice your Volvo still have the spare tire section at the back , most people shaved them .
I quite like the intercooler & radiator stack together , and I just realize your car don't have A/C , because race car , I guess ? haha


Im sorry to say but having an interior like this in a Volvo wagon is just silly.. The exterior and the engine is badass, but a wagon with two seats, stripped interior and rollcage.. Whats the point.


RDS  ...because it's an old car and I haven't seen one with A/C in Europe...I guess. And in UK maybe you don't need A/C anyway.


This Volvo is actually the only reason I like Bryn. Please take care of it and keep us posted with the mods. And I love the 2 seats only setup and roll-cage everything (BTW, you still have room in there to transport something, right? :)))))


They weren't Cobra Sidewinders were they? I can remember a time when they were THE seat to have! 

Also this it's fantastic there's some progress happening, and i'm really please it's staying Volvo powered.


Why don't you put on a crash helmet and hit the track.

Seems someone isn't content with what he has... For some weird reason.

For what its worth I have a gx90 Toyota mark 2, you know, those 1994 Toyota chaser/mark 2/cresta jzx90 platforms.
Being a gx90... it doesn't have a 1jz engine... just a slow and smooth 1gfe engine. 2L straight 6.

All I've done is add old HKS adjustable suspension, patina spec Rays Mazdaspeed 787b replica wheels and wrapped them in second hand 245 wide Continental Contisport tyres, stripped the rear half of the interior and removed all the crap in the back.

I clocked 50,000km in it last year... that's roughly 5 years worth of mileage in one year. i drove that whore every single day, to study and back and took it out for a spin at night on the windy roads, I've still got the whore, albeit rocking a little more scars and character since 6 months ago. It doesn't drift, it isn't fast in a straight line, heck its not even manual... but i'll kill you in the windy bumpy corners.

It may seem like i'm rambling, but the point is, I'm content? I'm happy with how it is... Nothing more needs to be done to have fun... And i'm getting my value out of it... 

Unlike my mates with 500hp drag spec street cars that they don't drive... Unlike people who spend a lot of money, only to drive it on occasion, or sell it... Unlike people who don't know how to make the most of what they have... You know, people like you.

I could be completely wrong.


AdamBezzegh as if you need to ask......


It is tough to stick to a single thought stream, especially as a creative person.  The mind is constantly flowing from one focus to the next, all with endless possibilities and how they can be applied to your personal projects.

My wife gets driven up the wall by my constant tangents, it can become quite confusing for those in conversation with me, as I dive from one subject to the next without being able to fully articulate what is going on in my head.    

So I feel your pain.   It is good to see you are planning something a little more structured for the car now, collecting the hardware so it can be applied without time to deviate from the mental plan.  I have managed to stick to the path with my Celica so far, just some little updates here and there are technology previously out of reach becomes obtainable.  Trying to steer clear of anything too hardcore so that the car remains usable.

Good luck buddy, and keep us updated :)


B230FT? FK? Used to have a 940 with B230FT (from what I remember a late one with oil squirters), Garrett T3/T4 hybrid set to 14 psi with some basic MBC, ported/polished head, some ol' Benz 300D intercooler, custom intake and piping, straight 2,5 exhaust, 940 TD clutch and few other cheap additions. Of course the M90 gearbox. Great engines, red blocks are seriously bulletproof. Oh, and forgot about that obnoxiously loud Sun Motorsport blow off... Loved that car to bits. A true burnout machine. 
Bigger horsepower shouldn't be a problem. Bottom can take it easily. I have some serious love for there, but my dream would actually be a Amazon, with the engine/trans/drive package that I had in the 940. Damn, that thing was raw!


Bryn, how much would a custom upholstered bucket seat set you back over the original price of the seat? I'm looking at Cobra Suzuka's. Thanks!


westhave I'm off to see them next Tuesday so I will know more about the pricing then, I have a pretty specific thing in mind which I don't even know if it's possible! I'll be able to tell more in the next update, best bet would be to email them direct with your own requirement I guess :)


@FunkyChild Sounds like a great combo, I've got an M90 gearbox in the shed, another upgrade I should probably do at some stage! In an Amazon would be killer, I love the shape of the wagon. My grandmother had one from brand new until the late 90s, still annoys me I couldn't buy it when she gave up driving.


James_Turbo I agree with all of that! The other issue for me is the constant inspiration I'm faced with, I spend my days surrounded by amazing automotive tech, people and projects. As I have the attention span of a 12yr old it's a bad combination!

Oh the woe, the hardship! :) :)


@Captain Obvious Haha, you could be completely wrong! I totally get where you're coming from, but now imagine you keep your project for another 12yrs, all that time you progress through a long line of hot rods, sports cars, off roaders... But you come back to your GX90 and realise it's all you really wanted. 

As ungrateful as I might have sounded, I'm really not. With age has come perspective though, as to putting a helmet on and hitting the track, I think that's exactly what I said was going to happen!

There's a lot to be said for messing about with old cars and moving on to the next one, maybe that's the problem here. I shouldn't have fallen in love!


Love the wagon. Also great choice on the Cobra seats. I have a Cobra Suzuka Pro GT(wide) in my miata and it is the most comfortable racing bucket I've ever sat in. Even for extended periods of time.


J45ON Haha, no they were even older than those, Cobra Clubman I think. Black and grey, I had them in a Morris Minor!

I'm pretty happy about the progress too!


greenroadster Haha, thanks man! If we ever meet I'd better be driving it then! And yes, still got plenty of room for carrying stuff. Although the days of sleeping in the back of it are over, it's just a bit hard in the back there now :)


MikeDonnelly Thanks! And glad to hear you like the Suzuka, that's provisionally what we've talked about for the Volvo, so that's great news!


AdamBezzegh Well first up I'm not a taxi, so need for more seats and the suspension is set so it's firm but not rock hard. That way I still have some movement in the back end but clearance is an issue, so any large weights would mean it rubbing like a bitch. 

Then there's the 850BTCC car... That :)


greenroadster RDS I've considered cutting them out, but the back end would look higher then. I could add some aero underneath but to do it properly would mean side skirts and a smooth floor, way too much work for what I need. 

As Greenroadster says, AC wasn't widely available back when these were new and there's no real need for it in the UK!


rdevereux Don't leave it too long :)


I am glad you introduced us to this project and frankly enjoy the rough planning involved, as mentioned in a comment below I think it can be very hard to lock in on a solid long term plan when you have so many ideas floating around and the tendency is to always push your ideas and look for that solid plan. I love how unique the Volvo already is and am looking forward to seeing it come together in future articles now that you are starting to approach the project more aggressively.

I also had a good laugh trying to imagine you driving around in a crash helmet as a daily with the current seat set up.....definitely not ideal. Can't wait to see what you'll be doing with the Cobra upholstering! Digging the GoPro set up as well, nothing worse than jarring in-car track footage. 

Thanks for the article Bryn!


Great wagon! I've got a (P2) V70 R but I've always liked the old/new vibe of the 140/240 boxes, very tempting to just find one somewhere and get to it. What the tire size by the way?


matthewyaa Thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)


squidlyness Ooh, V70R is nice! Don't lose faith in me just yet, but funnily enough I've been looking at V70 XC's recently. I think that one might make a really nice daily. Matt wrap and some KC's on the front end, with some knobbly tyres.


Dear Bryn,

I literally fell in love with your gorgeous Volvo wagon, and in turn with the Volvo 240 cars. I might've found my second dream project, first one being a secret. ;)

Enjoy driving it, drive it hard and well, that's why cars are made.


SeBaBunea Haha, thank you, that's very kind!


mrwicksy AdamBezzegh Thats a racecar. This is a road legal road car. Seeing a bit of difference there..


Speedhunters_Bryn Clearance issues with those bolt on fenders :) Good one haha. But ye, i understand.


Speedhunters_Bryn rdevereux Eventually going to do a motor and driveline swap for a turbo 5 pot quattro. eventually......


AdamBezzegh The mini wheel tubs inside the bolt on fenders are what's really restricting suspension travel at the back. They are about as big as you can go without cutting in to the rear door line, ideally i'd two door the body, then it wouldn't be a problem! :)


Nice Bryn! Whereabouts do you live in the UK?


Wow your just like a hillbilly swede. I dont get it, when some many gorgeous well balanced fun cars with racing heritage there is to buy, upgrade and cherish like the datsun you mentioned, porsche 944 or 924, s13, 14, alfas, subarus and so on.


AdamBezzegh mrwicksy  Really? whats the difference? You just don't get it essentially, do you look at a caged GT3 and wonder why anyone would drive such a ridiculous thing?


This wagon of yours was awesome! Finally someone with wheel archers and other rims than the usual. I've been wanting something like this on my 240 wagon for over a year now. But engine must be running first, a b230fk with some small tune-ups. Love it!


Man I love this thing. Bryn, if you ever sell it.....


Nice article. Just don't stress over the way-too-much-marketed so called turning point in life: after you've built A house and THE garage you might find yourself in a situation that you've got kids drifting their plastic trucks around the fireplace on your nearly new and foremost perfect wooden floor. After you get over the "damn 'em kids" moment you notice that hey, did someone just ask when WE can start building on that old race car that daddy (you) has in the barn not so far away... That's when life turns around as a car enthusiast: small hands come to help and they shout to learn more and do this and that and whatever. Of course it's nice to have a personal hobby, but man it's great to get back to the hobby after some years of building (house, garage, career, whatever people do build) with the kids and notice that there's a small possibility that daddy gets a ride even after the coming 30 some years in a built-up car that does not run on atomic power and sounds like someone would be shredding a barrel with a chainsaw. And what all there is to happen during that 30 some years: just can't wait to see that! (and btw. you have to learn the basics in Swedish and Finnish so you can dig in to the real B230 tuning world: there's no need for a V8 or 2JZ with that engine. Just find a B234F head with cams, call Sten Parner and Timo's Motor in Sweden and order in the surprisingly inexpensive upgrades for engine internals, throw in an DTA Pro EMS or similar and bolt on a HX40 Super - and start smiling...)


Speedhunters_Bryn greenroadster  Yeah, it's your better half indeed :)))


loslogo AdamBezzegh 
Exactly my thoughts - people do it because they want to and because they can. I find it mildly amusing that you're so dismissive about this car on a site such as Speedhunters, which is basically a site all about this sort of madness (or was before the Liberty Walk HYPEHYPEHYPE and Stance stories became more common on here)


Speedhunters_Bryn greenroadster RDS 
"AC wasn't widely available back when these were new and there's no real need for it in the UK!"
x2, we might get a week or two where being stuck in traffic means being sat in a mobile greenhouse but that's it. The Air Con pump broke in my Caddy van 5 years ago and I haven't bothered fixing it. KW suspension was more important ;)


Out of interest:
Just how ridiculously difficult is it to fit the E34 rear end?
I absolutely love these cars but that rear suspension is what keeps putting me off them


OMG! I saw that Datsun and the scooby van just the other day!  I work less that 100m away from where you took that picture :)


Who makes the wheel arch extensions you have fitted ?  - they may be what i am looking for on my project.


Speedhunters_Bryn You should have went with a Megasquirt! I'm completely replacing the gauge cluster in my Lexus with a tablet, all powered by a Megasquirt MS3X


AirLift_Lucas Yeah but Lucas, you're a brainiac when it comes to that sort of stuff. I have Megasquirt on one of my other cars and I've struggled with it, I know when to accept I'm not good at something! 

That dash does look the nuts though!


ihb33 They're made by a guy called Ranger Bob in the UK, he makes a variety of sizes, GRP and in carbon too. 

You'll find him through this forum, http://retrorides.proboards.com/thread/66146


maxvr6 Haha, no way! Yup those pictures were taken on Monday when I popped over there. Omex are a short drive away. The Datsun looked really clean, I wonder what the story is?


econti Not sure on the E34, I'm actually looking at an E92 M3 back end, it has four location points, so in theory it shouldn't be too hard. A custom propshaft would be needed, but all in all it's very achievable I think. I just have to double check the width.


Mikkofin Thanks for the kind words, I'm cool with it all really :) I appreciate the tip off with the names too, it would be good to use some Scandinavian expertise!


KeithCharvonia If I ever get to live the dream and ship it to the States, I want to road trip it to Bonneville and SEMA. You can have a drive ;)


@vasvikingen Thank you!


@Jaydawg I know right? Except if I was a proper hillbilly Swede Volvo driver I'd hate Saab, and I really quite like them! You're quite right though, I nearly bought a brand new M3 in 2002, but spent the money elsewhere. Imagine what that could have been like by now!


LukeEVOVIII In the Cotswolds, slap bang in motorsport country :)


Speedhunters_Bryn KeithCharvonia I'm in!


Oh rigbt, I'm in a little village called Wickham Market on Suffolk :)


Is that lip custom? I want it for my 245. How would I go about obtaining one.


Speedhunters_Bryn Great write up and progress. 

Question about the Tarot GoPro mount, you got more info on this and why you're using this and the advantages/disadvantages for running a gimbal setup incar?


Wouldn't the window goes foggy in rainy day ?
IRL , the only reason for me to use A/C is rainy day . XD


Michelle and I will console you with cake the next chance we get :-) keep up the Stirling work here and make sure you divide you time wisely ;-)


Speedhunters_Bryn At least buy something like this instead and keep the rims.


Brycey86 The gimbal is designed to eliminate the rattly, shaky footage you usually get with a solid mount GoPro. I've made the mount so I can secure it hanging over the edge of a bonnet, on the side of the car etc. The native smoothness you get improves the quality of the footage before it even gets near a computer, so it's got to be worth a go. Here's a video using the same gimbal on a motorbike helmet, obviously the effect of having a horizon stable image is more dramatic when shown on a leaning motorbike, but I like the possibilities. 



@pmsingchicken It's a home brew, the black lip part is BMW E36 M3 and the alloy extension is home made after putting the bumper on top of a piece of alloy and drawing a shape I liked! Chop and bolt together :)


Johan666 Why would I want to do that? I like the 140 series, but Greg did a great job of putting that one together. I'd prefer to do a Duett :)


RDS Speedhunters_Bryn Because we don't have the humidity that you might, when it's raining, it's generally cold enough to turn the heat up and get the blower on the screen.


And here was I hoping there'd be some cheap upgrades coming on the market for my Volvo 240 wagon... when you started parting yours out!!


Speedhunters_Bryn squidlyness We have owned a V70 XC 98 for the last 15 years and with no maintenance at all its at 110k miles. 4sp auto and suspension is horrible though! Id have a 2.3 V70 over it any day.


Updated again,it is still unforgettable that day I had a sit in this car.Kind of my fream car.