QUICK BRICK

TEN-SEC­OND VOLVO SLEEPER

NZ Performance Car - - Con­tents - WORDS: JADEN MARTIN PHO­TOS: MATILDA KÄL­STRÖM

Ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion. Ki­wis un­der­stand that sen­ti­ment best when it comes to drag rac­ing. Hot rod­ders of old were revered for their abil­ity to take seem­ingly noth­ing, mash a bunch of parts to­gether, and go out and break records on the strip. This has al­ways meant that as the lust for speed grew, we looked over­seas to lap up the styles and trends that evolved out of years of lo­cal sup­port and adapted them to form our own unique flavour and avail­abil­ity. Nowa­days, you can find a mod­i­fied ex­am­ple of al­most ev­ery brand from far off lands roam­ing our streets and strips.

But if we said the words ‘drag car’ here on home soil, we wouldn’t blame you for not think­ing in­stantly of Volvo. How­ever, hop on a flight to Swe­den and say the ex­act same phrase, and you’ll be met with noth­ing but the brick’s brand name, as a re­sult of strict im­port laws that pro­tect lo­cal manufacturers. This has meant that, like us, our Swedish brethren have been forced to make do with what they have on hand.

Luck­ily for them, what they have is a shit­load of Volvos, and fairly loose mod­i­fi­ca­tion laws when it comes to age­ing ex­am­ples. That’s what sparked Swede and avid NZPer­for­manceCar reader Per Gus­tavs­son’s own 1975 Volvo 242 build: “I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in cars, and my pre­vi­ous build was a Volvo as well. They are easy with parts, and peo­ple like to mod­ify them here,” he says. “From the start, it was sup­posed to be a bud­get build, but soon it be­came more se­ri­ous when I read about the Pro Tour­ing trend.”

He wanted a car that looked dis­creet, some­thing that your grandfather would drive to cruise down to the lo­cal dairy for milk and a pack of smokes — a car that doesn’t stand out but has the per­for­mance and han­dling of a more mod­ern ve­hi­cle. Luck­ily for Per, Swedish mod­i­fy­ing laws are pretty lax for older cars, and as he tells us: “Up to 1975, we can ba­si­cally do what we want with the car, and still get it street le­gal — V8 swap, turbo, what­ever.”

The only re­quire­ment that you need to meet is a power-toweight cap of 15kW per 100kg of weight (and some emis­sions rub­bish — a 4.5 per cent max CO2 value). Nat­u­rally, ’75 Volvo tech isn’t where you’d look for power, and Per binned the 67kW four­cylin­der car­bu­ret­ted motor that was fit­ted his 242 in favour of a 1995-spec B6254 straight-six from a Volvo 960. In fac­tory form, the non-turbo 2.5-litre makes 130kW, but, work a bit of black magic in the form of Franken­stein­ing var­i­ous Volvo in­ter­nals into the block, slap­ping a turbo on the side, and chuck­ing fuel at it, and you will end up with a boosted stro­ker good for 500kW or more. Per tells us: “The stro­ker thing on this motor is well known here in Swe­den … I did the motor as­sem­bly my­self, and a lo­cal com­pany did the ma­chine work.” To sup­port such am­bi­tions, Per took the B6254 block — which he de­scribes as be­ing like a “cas­sette”, wherein the cylin­der sleeves are hol­lowed around the perime­ter and prone to warp­ing and crack­ing — and had it fit­ted with al­loy rods to fill the void. A set of Wiseco 850 Turbo-spec pis­tons and rods be­fore be­ing con­nected to a Volvo B6304 three-litre crank­shaft. This mish-mash not only in­creases ca­pac­ity to 2.8 litres but also de­creases the com­pres­sion ra­tio to that of the lo­cally revered Volvo 850 turbo, with a fi­nal ra­tio of 8.5:1 — per­fect for a touch of boost.

That boost — all 38psi of it — comes by way of a Pre­ci­sion SC6266, cho­sen for its abil­ity to spool quickly and still pump chuff up top. “I wanted a turbo that [was ca­pa­ble of] pro­duc­ing a lot of power and spools re­ally quick,” Per says, “so I’m su­per happy with the Pre­ci­sion, but I think it has reached its limit now … maybe I’ll change [it], but I don’t want to lose that nice spool.”

In­side the bay, you won’t find a spaghetti plate of wir­ing and fluid lines, as Per was very par­tic­u­lar about hid­ing ev­ery­thing from view — an ex­am­ple bet­ter than some show cars we’ve seen. “I wanted no ca­bles [to be seen], or as few as pos­si­ble. I also tried to use as many OEM parts as pos­si­ble to get the [fac­tory] look so it would look like Volvo built the car like this,” he says. That pur­suit of per­fec­tion also saw the com­pleted boot-mounted fuel sys­tem — which con­sists of a 56-litre fuel cell, four-litre surge tank, and triple Bosch 044s feed­ing Bosch 1300cc in­jec­tors on a Nuke Per­for­mance fuel rail — yanked back out af­ter see­ing an ex­am­ple on­line that ran al­loy lines in­stead of Per’s braided ver­sions: “It was much cleaner, so I ripped the fuel sys­tem out and re­placed it with al­loy pipes, new fit­tings, etc. … it prob­a­bly cost me around NZ$1200 ex­tra.”

At Per­for­mance Cen­ter Syd in Swe­den, the fi­nal pack­age pro­duced 503kW on 38psi (drag tuned) run­ning E85, and it has a sec­ond pro­file for street use that brings the party back down to a mod­est 230kW on 8.7psi — a sim­ple work­around for the Swedish power-to-weight cap to al­low the brick to be ped­alled on the streets legally.

With the per­for­mance side of the equa­tion taken care of, Per fo­cussed on get­ting the old girl to han­dle like a drag car. This saw the brick fit­ted with Bil­stein Club­sport coilovers up front, AVO coilovers down back, and Mill­way Mo­tor­sport springs at all four cor­ners. The fac­tory con­trol arms were switched for cus­tom tube ex­am­ples, while a Volvo 1031 limited-slip (3:31:1) solid-axle diff has been slot­ted in place at the rear with a cus­tom Watts link­age to elim­i­nate tramp­ing. Sell­holm knife-blade sway bars can also be found un­der­neath.

To achieve the dis­creet look that Per wanted, the body re­tains fac­tory styling, with a few sub­tle de­tails to ac­com­mo­date what’s go­ing on un­der­neath the skin. The rear guards and arches have been widened to fit 17x9.5-inch steel­ies shod with 275/40 Hoosier drag ra­dial rub­ber for streeter du­ties, and 15x8.5-inch

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