Swedish Symphony: A Saab-Powered Volvo Amazon

Engine swapping a classic car can be tempting for anyone who seeks more power from their old time capsule.

However tough the drawbacks might be, it’s often the end result that gets people talking. And Christian Hjukström‘s 1966 Volvo Amazon certainly does that.


Christian has always been loyal to one Swedish car brand: Saab. The 36-year-old from Stockholm has modified several Saab models over the years, so when it came time to choose a suitable engine swap for his vintage Volvo Amazon, he knew exactly where to look. Can you see where this is going?


Christian took a real gamble purchasing this car in the first place. He placed a bid on an online auction with not a whole lot of information about the Amazon’s overall condition, but it ultimately paid off. When Christian picked up his purchase, it was in far better shape than he expected it to be.


On the outside, the Amazon looks like it’s in need of some work, but that’s totally by choice. Christian didn’t want to build a show car; his plan was always to use the classic Volvo as a daily, and not having to worry about wear and tear on the bodywork was a big part of that. But really, Christian just isn’t a fan of pristine panel and paint.


The Amazon’s bodywork is totally original, warts and all. The patina gives the car its own character; every scratch, dent, rust spot and faded paint spot telling the story of its life of use and ownership. For anyone who doesn’t know the full story, they’d simply see the Volvo as an old, rusty car from the 1960s, and there’s something cool about that fact too. It’s totally unpretentious.

Anyone who looks closer though, will see the telling signs that this is no ordinary Swedish classic. The wheels and brakes are the most obvious giveaway.


These old Volvos have the same bolt pattern as current-model Teslas, and as Christian’s friend had a full set of Model 3 wheels kicking around, the choice to fit them was an easy one. The Tesla wheels measure 18×8.5-inch and are wrapped up in 235/45R18 Nankang AR1 semi-slicks at all four corners.

Behind the front wheels you’ll find 4-piston Brembo callipers from a Volvo V70R, which are attached with custom mounting brackets. The hubs were slightly modified, but no re-drilling was required because the front rotors are from Nissan, and they too have the same 5×114.3mm bolt pattern. Out back, you’ll find a Ford Explorer brake setup with upgraded rotors and pads.


Why such a thorough brake upgrade? Well, you only have to pop the hood to see why.


Say hello to what some Swedish car enthusiasts might call blasphemy. Not me, and certainly not Christian, who’s named his creation the Saabazon. 

Sitting in the bay is a 2.3L DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder turbo Saab B235 engine that’s been built up with a number of parts right out of Saab’s spare parts catalogue. That includes pistons and rods from a B234 – the pistons having been machined down 1.1mm to get enough clearance for the MLS head gasket – and B202 camshafts, which give the engine all the characteristics Christian was looking for. The B235 made just under 260hp in stock form, but Christian wanted a lot more.


And that’s where the upgrades come in, the most prominent being the Maxspeedingrods GT3071 turbocharger boosting 1.85bar (27.2psi), mounted on a custom manifold, and the modified intake plenum. There’s a big front-mount intercooler in the mix too.


E85 fuel is stored in a custom tank that Christian fabricated himself from laser-cut aluminium plate, and is supplied by dual Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pumps. One pump is enough for the current setup, but the supply capacity is there should Christian need it in the future.


The engine is backed up by a BMW 6-speed manual gearbox, which required the transmission tunnel to be modified in order for it to fit. Tenaci Motorsport supplied the clutch – a 240mm Black Series pressure plate paired with a sintered disc capable of holding 780Nm (575.3lb/ft) of torque. That might sound like overkill, but when the car was dyno-tuned and tested, 700Nm (516.3lb/ft) and 536whp was seen. Christian says there’s more in it though, and at least 605hp could be easily realised.


Suspension-wise, the Amazon now features a custom 4-link rear end with QA1 shock absorbers and adjustable coilover springs. To get the most out of the wider wheels, the rear end uses two right-rear axles from a Ford Explorer that have been shortened to suit.


You certainly won’t find a roll cage (for now), race seats, nor a custom interior when you look inside Christian’s Amazon. He’s stuck with the ‘daily’ concept by only making minor adjustments. Save for Saab electric memory seats and a ’60s-era steering wheel, a digital tablet that provides all the engine information and an OBP adjustable pedal box, the interior remains all-original.

It’s safe to say that this Amazon has ruffled a few feathers in both the Volvo and Saab enthusiast communities of Sweden. There’s a bit of an unwritten law that says you shouldn’t mix the two brands, but so far the majority of people in both camps have only had good things to say about the Saabazon. And really, how could they not.

Alen Haseta
Instagram: hazetaa



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Now that's a dope ass car! Kinda like a BMW-swapped Merc lol

Christian Hjukström

Beautiful write up and pictures Alen! It's a true honor to have my build documented by you and featured here on Speedhunters! /Christian

Vincent Conker Auger

Christian, your car is an amazing piece of kit. When he says you are using it as a daily, it's for summer only, right ? An old, original and mostly unprotected body would not survive long during long winters with the salt and everything, right ?

Christian Hjukström

Thanks!! No it’s not used in the winter and to be honest not as a daily in the summer either. But it has a daily style at least


Amazing work


Tom Trana and Eric Carlsson shake hands. Bravo.


Very curious! What is the box with the intake tube from the firewall up to the windhsield cowl area?

Christian Hjukström

Thats where fresh air is drawn into the car. Originally there is a big blower and heater there but it was not possible to fit with the new transmission tunnel so repkaced it with some leftovers from the intercooler piping