V8-Swapped Volvo Wagon

This V8-Swapped Volvo Wagon Does Street Rod to Scan­di­na­vian Style

Hot Rod - - Contents - Evan Perkins Bran­dan Gil­lo­gly

hBrand loy­alty starts young and, of­ten, it’s less about the badge and more about the mem­o­ries they evoke. For Greg Carn­forth, the au­to­mo­tive moniker tied most closely to his heart strings is Volvo. The Swedish car­maker was his mother’s fa­vorite, and the ap­ple cer­tainly didn’t fall far from the tree. “My mother, from the early 1970s on, had Volvo wagons, and I’m just in love with them—they’re tanks,” Carn­forth says. “When my three kids came of age, each one of them had a [Volvo] 240 wagon.”

Volvos have synched an inar­guably solid rep among the auto crowd as a re­li­able, safe, and rel­a­tively in­de­struc­tible form of trans­porta­tion. Sporty and stylish? For most–true or not–those de­scrip­tors aren’t syn­ony­mous with the brand. Carn­forth’s build puts that stigma to rest. We love dif­fer­ent and “this” is “that.”

The build be­gan as so many do, with a cur­sory search through eBay. “I was look­ing for some­thing to build, and I wanted a street rod,” Carn­forth says. “I live in Louisville, Ken­tucky, where the street rod na­tion­als have been for about 10 years in a row. It’s a good street rod scene around here.”

He hap­pened across a Volvo Ama­zon wagon, and the project wheels started turn­ing. “It’s a cool old car, but the only prob­lem was that they only came in a four-door. That’s a lit­tle cooler now than it was three years ago.”

The Ama­zon was lo­cated in Waco, Texas, and serendip­i­tously, Carn­forth had some work out that way. His day job is build­ing stain­less-steel rooftop pools for ho­tels and casi­nos—the ex­act kind of day job you’d ex­pect from a guy who built (and now flies) an air­plane in his base­ment. No, re­ally—it’s a Van’s RV7 that cruises at 190 mph!

“I called my brother, who’s my part­ner in crime—he’s quite a bit younger than I am. He’s got a lot of style, is a good fab­ri­ca­tor, and grew up in the cir­cle-track scene with me. I told him, ‘I found this car, it’s al­most rust-free, but it hasn’t run in a cou­ple years. How about I split the cost of the ticket and we fly down and see how far we can get it back. We’ll rent a truck and trailer if we need to.’”

The seller got the car fired and met the Carn­forth boys at the air­port in Dal­las. What be­gan as an in­ter­net project-car

search had snow­balled into a thou­sand­mile, four-state road trip in a car that hadn’t run in years. What could go wrong? Against all odds, noth­ing.

“We had a blast,” Carn­forth says, laugh­ing. “It was OK at 55 mph, but it had quite the shake and rat­tle at

57 mph. We stopped by Gas Mon­key and drove through Memphis. I have a picture in front of the Gib­son Gui­tar.”

Once back in Ken­tucky, the car was low­ered via a spring chop and some ad­di­tional miles were added to the odome­ter cruis­ing be­tween lo­cal shows and events. That didn’t last long. The tiny hot rod­der on Carn­forth’s shoul­der was awash with ideas, and soon the car was com­pletely cut apart.

“This was a uni­body car, and be­fore you knew it, I had all that cut out of it and had a chas­sis built and un­der­neath it,” he says. Carn­forth and his brother are cir­cle-track rac­ers at heart, and that fab­ri­ca­tion knowl­edge was put to use build­ing a cus­tom frame and sus­pen­sion for the Ama­zon. “The chas­sis was the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of the build. I’m big on getting the ge­om­e­try right,” Carn­forth says.

All of the fab­ri­ca­tion was done in­house by Carn­forth and his brother. For the pow­er­train, a crashed 2004 GTO gave up its LS1 and T56 trans­mis­sion. The en­gine was aug­mented with a re­build, a Texas Speed cam and head pack­age, and an LS6 in­take man­i­fold. It made 473 hp and 456 lb-ft of torque on the dyno at Auto-Mo­tion in Louisville.

Func­tion is key, but no street rod is com­plete with­out a lit­tle of the owner’s per­son­al­ity. Af­ter the heart trans­plant, the car went un­der the knife again, where Carn­forth gave it a door-ec­tomy, re­mov-

ing the rear pair and smooth­ing the metal seam­lessly. “I no­ticed that the ar­chi­tec­ture on the front doors of a coupe were the same as the wagon, so I cut the back doors off and took a Sawzall to it,” he says.

He made filler pan­els and used wooden bucks to flaw­lessly craft the swap. Next in line was a trip to Danny Tay­lor Au­to­mo­tive Art, where the Ama­zon re­ceives a glossy splash of color.

The last stop was LB In­te­ri­ors, where the orig­i­nal seats were re­uphol­stered along with all of the in­te­rior pan­els. The wiring was up­dated with a Pain­less har­ness and the ra­dio was deleted be­cause “you can’t hear it any­way,” Carn­forth says.

So what’s it like to drive a V8-pow­ered Volvo Ama­zon? Few will ever know, but ac­cord­ing to Carn­forth, “It’s been a blast! My fa­vorite part is that it’s a Volvo. It’s been a part of my fam­ily, and my mom’s still around. It’s a bit of a trib­ute to her.” The miles are rack­ing up and the Volvo has turned sev­eral heads at au­to­mo­tive events across the coun­try—soon to be “countries,” as the Volvo has been in­vited to the Power Big Meet in Scan­di­navia (one of the world’s largest car shows), where it will mo­men­tar­ily re­turn to its roots.

01] The pow­er­plant in the Volvo is anLS1 sourced from a wrecked 2004 GTO. It was treated to a full re­build with forged ro­tat­ing com­po­nents and had its out­put beefed up to a dyno-ver­i­fied 473 hp and 456 lb-ft of torque with a set of Texas Speed stage 2.5 heads, a TS camshaft, and an LS6 in­take man­i­fold.

01] The orig­i­nal Volvo en­gi­neers likely would have never imag­ined mon­ster, Boyd Cus­tom HR-99 wheels, mea­sur­ing 8x18-inch front and 11x19-inch rear be­ing tucked un­der the body. The rub­ber is Miche­lin’s Pi­lot se­ries and the car has no trou­ble spin­ning the 325mm rear set. The brakes con­sist of Wil­wood Dy­nalite-se­ries calipers and ro­tors on each cor­ner.01

01] Stick shifts are more fun, and Carn­forth set­tled on a Tre­mec T56 for the job. It has been beefed up with a B&M shifter and Mon­ster clutch.01

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