ONE BAD BRICK
ZAK DENMAN TAKES US TO SCHOOL FOR A LESSON IN HOW TO BUILD A BADASS VOLVO
We will be the first to admit we know f***k all about the Volvo platform, and until we saw Zak Denman’s 240 estate being thrown around, we really had no idea you could do such a thing to the Swedish brick, nor — if we’re brutally honest — did we see why anyone would ever bother to. But when you have grown up around a certain manufacturer then you’ll see things in those cars that others simply can’t, so for Zak, who grew up riding in the back seat of the ‘world’s safest family car’, modifying a Volvo was never an odd thought.
Zak has owned and modified a few examples over the years, and this estate was purchased to use as his daily driver, while he built up a 240 sedan. A set of aggressive 15x10-inch Diamond Racing wheels with a good dose of low had the wagon looking good straight off the bat, but it was a year later that the project really started to go off-course down that all-too-familiar spiralling path.
The very underpowered Volvo lump was removed in favour of a built SR20. Thanks to the SR’s very similar dimensions to the Volvo engine, the conversion was rather easy to achieve, although the real issues would surface a few years later when Zak decided to go all out on the project while he had no licence, committing the estate to a path that would make it a dedicated track car.
The plan included going much lower, much wider, welding in a cage and removing any weight that wasn’t needed. The fact the SR sat so far forward had always bothered Zak, so addressing that was added to the list, until the requirement for
new mounts prompted him to step up his game and drop a 1JZ-GTE in there instead. The same rules applied for the 1J as they did the SR — keep it as far back as possible and retain a full-sized wet sump. Solution, notch the firewall, gearbox tunnel and crossmember. While they were at it, the front rad support was removed and replaced with a tube structure for ease of repair should the unthinkable happen.
As you would suspect, there aren’t a whole lot of offthe-shelf drift bolt-ons for any Volvo chassis, so when it came to achieving that all-important low stance, custom was the only way to go. Coilovers were pieced together using Saab 900 shocks and HSD springs, top hats and platforms. The crossmember was raised 50mm, and both the steering and LCA pickup points were moved. The rack has also been raised, and due to the extended LCAs, longer Land Rover tie rods were used. Thankfully there are a few off-the-shelf parts available out of the States from a company known as Kaplhenke. Zak was able to pick up a set of its quick-steering stub axles, which allow for steering pickup adjustments, while also acting like a drop axle. The combination allows near parallel arms at a ground-scraping 10mm ride height.
On an untested, unconventional vehicle like this, getting things like spring rates and sway bars perfect straight off the bat will always be a bit of a gamble. After a few changes Zak has settled on 12kg front springs, with a combination of 10kg springs and a 30mm sway bar on the rear. “It has taken a while to get it set up, but now it really just goes where you want it to, with plenty of lock, and very smooth through transitions,” Zak explained to NZPC.
The 1JZ isn’t overly modified, although the KKK twinturbo upgrade has netted close to 300kW at the wheels. That’s plenty of power to have the car doing its thing at events like the Queensland Matsuri, an event that has sort
Zak decided not to go through the complexities of a single turbo conversion, so a Blitz twin-turbo kit was sourced, with a pair of KKK K26 turbos. The kit also includes twin Blitz wastegates
of become the debut for each of the Volvo’s transformations over the years, and saw a huge push leading up to the 2013 event. After a string of late nights, the car was tuned the night before and a few teething issues like a seized wastegate surfaced. But Zak pushed on and got it to the track, managing to sneak in a few laps on the Sunday without power steering and without an alignment. “Sunday woke up with a killer hangover, but the guys talked me into trying to get it out there. We bled brakes and chucked in the harness and I went out … the car felt awesome to drive with the extra power, and even though I had no power steering it felt so rad. I did blow third straight away though, I knew it was going to happen eventually, but was hoping for at least a few track days out of it.”
The next year saw a ton of teething issues sorted, all of which had arisen at the 2013 Matsuri, including rebuilding the wastegates and turbos and replacing the R154 with a bettergeared R155 from a later-model Hilux. Work continued in order to perfect things ahead of the 2014 Matsuri, only this time the car made it there in a much more ready state, and looking a whole lot more badass thanks to the aero Zak had been chipping away at. This included a later-model Volvo 850 front bar, side skirts with custom extensions, a rear diffuser, large bolt-on flares and a shaved boot. Add in the chrome graphics and super-concave Superlite wheels, and you have a recipe for an internet-breaking Volvo.
After years with the build Zak has now decided it’s time to move on to new challenges, and has parted out the running gear and stashed the shell away for a rainy day. “I have stripped all the running gear, fuel system, and ECU from it and it will go away in storage for a couple of years. I did plan on selling it, but I think I would always regret it. This way I can do other things and come back to it down the track for another rebuild/reincarnation of it.”
Looking at it now, the mind boggles as to what Zak will dream up next. We do know he has some new wheels and massive Katayama flares sitting there, but we doubt that is all he has planned. We just hope it’s not too long until the build kicks off again, as the drift world needs more out-of-the-box thinking like this.
There is just so much detail we can’t cover off in this article, so if you want to see more of this machine, jump onto Zak’s blog, streetkarnage. com, to check it out
290kW (389hp) tuned by Next Up Performance
SHOES WHEELS: (F) 15x10-inch Performance Wheels Superlites (-26) (R) 15x10-inch Performance Wheels Superlites TYRES: (F) 195/50R15 Federal 595 RSR (R) 195/50R15 supplied by Gas Wheels and Tyres
EXTERIOR PAINT: Factory Volvo bright red ENHANCEMENTS: Fibreglass overfenders, raised front and rear guards, fibreglass rear diffuser, custom side pods, fibreglass sideskirts, 180SX carbon fibre bonnet vent, fender mirrors, Volvo 850 lower bumper and valance, E-code headlights, shaved tailgate deleted trims, polycarbonate rear window, red tail lights, color-coded bumpers, custom chrome graphics designed by Zak and applied by Stickit Wraps
The dash was taken from a Toyota Soarer, of all things
INTERIOR SEATS: (F) Racetech RT1000, Sabelt harness STEERING WHEEL: 15-inch Mooneyes red metal flake INSTRUMENTATION: A’PEXi temp gauge, Adaptronic Vidigauge EXTRA: Gutted doors, fully stripped, Fabulous Fabrication gusseted chromoly roll cage, window nets, Toyota Soarer Z30 dash, Powered By Lash custom steering column
HEART ENGINE: Toyota 1JZ, 2500cc, six cylinder BLOCK: Stock HEAD: Stock INTAKE: Twin K&N filters, Fabulous Fabrication intercooler piping, Calsonic GT-R intercooler EXHAUST: Dual two-inch dump pipes into three-inch system, single muffler TURBO: Blitz twin high-mount turbo kit, two KKK K26 (larger rear compressor wheels), Blitz high-mount cast manifolds, braided oil-feed lines WASTEGATE: Dual Blitz external wastegates BOV: GReddy type FV FUEL: E85 fuel, 40-litre polished fuel cell, VL Commodore lift pump, dual 044 Bosch main pumps, Aeromotive FPR with gauge, BPP fuel rail kit, 1600cc Bosch injectors, Aftermarket Industries two-litre surge tank with twin pump bracket, Five Ten Automotive AN fittings and braided lines, custom hardlines IGNITION: Factory 1JZ-GTE ECU: Adaptronic E420c COOLING: PWR oil cooler, Peterson oil filter relocator, Five Ten Automotive AN fittings and braided lines, Alloy radiator, dual electric fans, 65-degree thermostat EXTRA: A’PEXi AVCR, full rewire, Endless Fabrication tube front end, shaved engine bay, open wheel tubs
DRIVE GEARBOX: Toyota Hilux R155 five-speed, R154 bellhousing CLUTCH: NPC ceramic-puck clutch plate and heavy-duty pressure plate FLYWHEEL: Machined flywheel, ARP bolts DIFF: Locked factory Volvo
SUPPORT STRUTS: (F) HSD custom coilovers, 12kg springs, shortened Saab 900 shocks, Kaplhenke QSRC drop knuckles, Land Rover tie rods, Superpro bushes, 40mm extended LCAs, raised power steering and LCA pickups on subframe, 50mm raised crossmember, shortened column (R) Summit coilover spring and adjuster, shorted Summit shocks, custom 30mm rear sway bar BRAKES: Wilwood pedal box, modified cable handbrake (F) Factory (R) Factory With a such a square body shape, getting a body kit that suited the wagon was a real struggle. But we think Zak has managed to find that sweet spot thanks to the super low, extra-wide side skirts and fender flares which help the rounded 850 front bar all fit in together on the very square body
DRIVER PROFILE DRIVER/OWNER: Zak Denman AGE: 27 LOCATION: Queensland, Australia OCCUPATION: Architectural draftsman BUILD TIME: Two years LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Six years THANKS: Over this build I have had so much help, I can’t list everybody, but I have been lucky enough to have some of best guys around put their skills into this car: Fabulous Fabrications, Stickit Wraps, Five Ten Automotive, Next Up Performance, Endless Fabrications, and too many others to list, but I would just like to thank everybody who has done anything for me and this car along the way and last but not least my DAD for everything!