Stu Spencer’s Volvo Page

Note:  I copied this material from the Geocities site: “Stu Spencer’s Volvo Page” in early 2009 after Yahoo announced that it would be shutting down Geocities permanently.  The site was originally written by Stu Spencer, and is presented here in its unabridged form, albeit with all material on one page.  I have created an index to help manage what turned out to be a fairly long page:

1. General Information

2. Photo Gallery

3. Engine and Transmission

4. Suspension

5. Other Modifications

6. At The Track

7. Painting

Stu’s Volvo Page

“Better Living Through Turbocharging”

This page is intended to document and share information on modifications to my 1981 245GLTi
This site is best viewed in 16 bit (high color) at 1024×768 or better resolution

General Information


* 1981 GLT 245 ‘Limited Edition 25 Years in the US’ (that’s what the little dash plate says!)
* Silver with orignal blue cloth interior
* Dealer installed power sliding sunroof from American Sunroof Corp. (ASC).  Picture
* Chassis Number 326199
* 230k miles as of February, 2002


I bought my car in the spring of 1996 from the second owner for $1000.  The interior was/is in really great shape and and it had a sunroof (I didn’t know at the time that wagons do not have sunroofs from the factory).  The silver paint is not the best paint to withstand time so the car needed a paint job to look it’s best.  In ’81 the GLT wagons had everything that the turbo cars had like cruise, AC, vented disks, except the turbo!  The car looked like a turbo but just didn’t have the get-up-and-go it needed to have.  I found a complete 82′ turbo motor with computers and transmission for a transplant and then the madness started!  I joined Turbobricks and the idea of just dropping in a tired, used motor started making no sense at all.  I took the plunge ($$$$) and did a complete rebuild of the motor and did a ‘few’ modifications along the way to turbocharging my car.  I’m very happy I didn’t just drop in the used motor because once I took the bottom end apart I found out how bad a shape the motor was in.  Picture of a couple of the connecting rod bearings.

Who am I?

My name is Stu and I live in the Portland/Vancouver area in the great Pacific Northwest. At this time I am a 31year old Mechanical Engineer working at Hewlett-Packard designing printer parts, husband to one, and Dad to two. If you are ever at a Volvo event in the Pac NW, please say hello. I look like this if you suprise me at my desk (family pictures removed for privacy).

General Philosophy about Modifications:

My goal for this project is to have my little 2.1 put out about 225 streetable (wife will still drive this car too) horsepower and the handling to match.  I want this car to be quick, not necessarily fast, and to handle very well.  In other words, I want a kick ass 0-60 time but am not so concerned about the 1/4 mile and therefor am more concerned about torque than top end horsepower.  Most of the ‘races’ I have been in are from light to light and you don’t have very long to keep at WOT.

Others may wonder why the hell I would want to hotrod a Volvo, and a station wagon to boot!  I have always liked the looks of the 81-85 240s and after I sold my truck, I needed something that could haul stuff too.  Anyone can hot rod an American V-8 (probably for less money too), but I like to have things that not ‘just anyone’ can have.  Contrary to what some others on Turbobricks may think, this car will never beat a Porsche on a road course or whip up on a built Z28 in the quarter mile, but it will kick the crap out of a lot of cars out there.  Even if I don’t beat the other car, I’ll leave them scratching their heads that a Volvo station wagon kept up with them for so long.  My modifications are intended to give me a respectable and reliable level of performance without having to get too crazy and reinvent the wheel.

Keep in mind that I do drive this car just about every day but my commute is short.  I would not endorse all mods for a car that is driven long distances every day.  My car can seem noisy and rough riding after a long commute in traffic on not so perfect roads.  Don’t get me wrong, I love driving this car, it goes like crazy and handles great too.  Every modification has its trade-offs.

Preparations To Transplant The Turbo Motor:

Because the wiring is different between the NA and turbo cars, I went to a U-Pull yard and removed the complete engine management wire harness and labeled all the termination points.  I then took this home, using a DVM verified the connections on my car.  To my surprise only hand full of wires were different.  The  #7 on the Lambda computer needed to be moved on the engine plug and a wire for the oil pressure needed to be added.  My car had the constant idle system wiring already installed, so I just had to plug in the CIS computer.  I added the overboost switch for the fuel pump relay, the 3 psi enrichment switch, and the cold start relay (mounted by the ignition module on the turbo motor) also.  The connection for the frequency valve needed to be extended to reach the new fuel distributor.  The turbo Lambda computer plugged right in place of the old Lambda computer.

Because the ignition module and windshield reservoir in my car was mounted behind the passenger headlights they needed to be moved for the fuel distributor of the turbo motor.  I extended the wires for the ignition module and got a bracket to mount the module on the driver’s side strut tower.  Because my car is a wagon, I have that little spot in the rear wheel well to put my windshield reservoir.  I didn’t like the way the stock turbo washer reservoir sits and the plumbing for the squirter already was there.  Now it just pumps forward instead of backwards.  Picture of the reservoir.

This small description in no way shows how much work this really was. Rebuilding and transplanting a motor takes time, patience, and MONEY.  It took me over a year and a half to find all the parts I needed like the APC, intercooler, B23 intake, 90+ exhaust mani, to completely rebuild the motor, and do all the research for wiring and such.  If you take you car to someone else to have your oil changed, I would recommend against doing an engine transplant.   In retrospect, I should have just bought a turbo car in the first place and saved myself lots of time.  If I knew what I now know, I would have also converted to a 1988+ B230FTi so I could have EFI and all the associated advancements in engine management.  I have not included very much detail about this conversion because if you get it into your head that you want to transplant a motor, every car is different and will need different details to make it work.  If you have any questions, drop me a line and I’ll try to give you some advice, but I did not want to write a “manual” on how to convert from NA to turbo.

Photo Gallery

When I First Got the car:

In the driveway (rear)

In the driveway (front)

In the driveway (front)

At 2001 IPD Garage Sale:


me in the car

My friend at work playing with PhotoShop:

Caught in the act

Exhaust Pipe end:

Me and the other car guys at work are always joking around about our cars and who is going to make their car look like the Hondas with the big tail pipes and lots of stickers. One day they decided to make an exhaust tip and mount it on my car. Since I normally back into my parking spot, I could not see that they had put this thing on my car. I drove all the way home (15 min) with this silly thing on my car. When I went outside to play with my son I saw it and laughed my butt off….

Exhaust tip #1

Exhaust tip #2

Exhaust tip #3

Exhaust tip #4

Exhaust tip #5

Pictures of My Engine:

Old engine

Empty engine bay

Remember, these pictures are of a new engine. I keep the engine bay very clean, but not this clean!

On hoist #1

On hoist #2

Engine – front #1

Engine – front #2

Engine – left #1

Engine – left #2

Engine – left #3

Engine – right #1

Engine – right #2

Engine – right #3

Intake and valve cover close-up – left

Intake and valve cover close-up – right

Engine and Transmission


General Engine:

* Dyno Results below
* 1982 B21FTi
* Totally rebuilt in September 1998, just about new everything
* All rotating and reciprocating assemblies balanced to 1/10th gram
* Crank and rod bearings clearanced to 0.002″
* 8:1 custom 93 mm JE forged pistons (I bought Milo’s spare ones).  About 30% lighter than stock.
* Sealed Power (#E497KC) rings
* TechLine thermal coatings on piston tops, combustion chambers, valve faces, exhaust manifold, turbo exhaust housing, and downpipe.
* Turbonetics water cooled Super 60 turbocharger with .48 A/R standard trim exhaust housing
* Modified turbo oil drain line.  More info below
* B23 intake manifold. More info below
* 59 mm big bore throttle body from Maximum Vehicle Performance
* Late model exhaust manifold from Performance Turbo Specialties.  More info below
* Saab APC system for boost control  More info below
* Terminal 11 Trick for more fuel at high boost More info below
* Melling high volume oil pump (#M181, cheaper that stock too, $100 from Summit Racing)
* Remote oil filter. More info below
* IPD oil pump reinforcing ring
* 70 amp alternator
* MSD 6AL BTM ignition system. More info below
* Mr. Gasket 16″ electric primary fan.  More info below
* IPD 3 core radiator
* 700 series compressor bypass valve.  More info below
* 700 series IC tubing (modified).  More info below
* Modified airbox (Jon Glommen style).
* New wiring harness
* Magnecor 8.5 mm spark plug wires
* ‘T’ cam (stock)
* Rerouted PCV hose
* B230 oil filler cap

Transmission, Clutch, and Rear End:

* M46 with Redline MTL
* ‘early’ 8.5″ flywheel, stock weight
* Centerforce I clutch
* “Short shift”. More info below
* Volvo OE Limited Slip Differential with Redline 75-90W. More Info below


* Full turbo to tailpipe 3 inch exhaust from Maximum Vehicle Performance

Dyno Results




I thought after all these modifications that it would be a good idea to see if my money had been ‘well’ spent.  I know that estimating one’s horsepower is a beloved pastime of any automotive enthusiast but I decided to make sure.  I went to Austin’s Pro Max in Tacoma, Washington where they have a Dynajet Chassis Dynamometer.  It costs $55 for 2 pulls and they give you tabular and graphical printouts of your performance.  It is really weird standing next to your car, staring at your motor doing 5500 RPM.

Basically my car pulled a SAE corrected 200 ft lbs of torque and 165 hp at the rear wheels.  Depending on if you use 80% or 90% efficiency, this comes out to be between 222 to 250 ft lbs of torque and 183 to 206 hp.  I was pretty happy with this level of performance with the stock T cam.  You can really see from the graph that the T cam dies at about 5000 RPM.  I am looking for a cam to replace the T and can now use these pulls as a baseline for comparing future mods.

Tabular data for pull #1

Tabular data for pull #2

Graphical data for pulls #1 and #2

Modified Oil Drain Line

When I mounted my 90+ exhaust manifold, it seemed like the oil drain line from the turbocharger didn’t quite line up with the hole in the block.  Other members of Turbobricks had also reported that they had had alignment and therfor oil leak problems.  Rather than relying on that seal in the bottom of the block, I went with a more closed system.  The 3/4″ end of a 3/4″ to 1/2″ copper pipe union (solder style) fits right in that hole in the bottom of the block.  I epoxied one of these into the block with steel reinforced epoxy putty (good for 600 F).  I then cut the original drain pipe about one inch after the bend where the pipe starts to point to the hole in the block.  I then used about a 6″ piece of Aeroquip “Socketless” blue hose to connect the old pipe to the nipple on the block.  Since this side of the oil system is not under any real pressure I just used good hose clamps to hold the hose onto the pipe and nipple. This system is almost 4 years old (as of Feb 2002) and I have had no problems with it.





B23/B230 Intake Manifold Conversion For B21FTi
By Stu Spencer

This page is intended to help guide you through the preparation of a B23/B230 intake manifold for your B21FTi.  Because of the configuration of the inlet of the B23/B230 manifold, you MUST have a intercooler for this setup to work.  This conversion assumes that you will be using the original fuel injection system on your 240 and not converting to EFI.  This conversion also uses the B23/B230 throttle body instead of using the B21FT throttle body.  The B23/B230 intake manifold is a more efficient and free flowing manifold than the B21FT.  It has better tuned and sized runners, and a large plenum compared to the flat runners of the B21FT.

Anytime you work on your car’s fuel system or electrical system it is recommended to disconnected the battery and relieve the fuel system’s pressure (look in your manual)

DISCLAIMER:  As always, any modification you choose to do on your car is your choice, for better or worse.

Just click on a photo if you want a bigger view.

Parts Needed

From B23/B230 manifold:

NOTE:  The manifold and TB are essentially the same for all B23/B230 motors.  You don’t have to get a manifold off a turbo model.  The throttle body bore is the same for all these motors.  Volvo used the same TB size on all ‘red’ engines; 55mm from ’76-’95.  You might actually get a normally aspirated intake manifold cheaper because it is not from a ‘turbo’ car.

  • manifold
  • throttle spool (need double spool if you have cruise control, single spool is shown)
  • bracket for throttle cable (has throttle and kick down)
  • bracket for cruise control cable (if needed)
  • throttle body (complete with TPS and linkage)
  • throttle cable
  • electrical plug and  leads for throttle position switch (TPS)
  • manifold to engine block bracket
  • IC to TB metal tubing, rubber IC connector, rubber TB elbow, and clamps. (these will need to be from a B23FTi or B230FTi



This is what the manifold looks like right off the car.

From B21FT manifold:

  • cold start injector and mounting screws
  • block off plate with tube for Constant Idle System (CIS) from TB
  • CIS idle speed motor and bracket
  • original CIS tubing

From B21F car:

  • CIS idle speed motor bracket, bolts, and washers (I have found them on ’81-’82 240s with CIS.  They are mounted on the valve cover)


  • aluminum reinforced epoxy putty (I used ‘Quik Aluminum’ bought at Home Depot)
  • head/manifold studs and nuts (2)
  • seal for shaft, P.N. 419568
  • seal (O-ring) for TPS
  • gasket for throttle body manifold, P.N. 1271488
  • gasket for block off plate, P.N. 463766
  • gasket for cold start injector (make your own)
  • vacuum hose, plugs, clamps, and caps
  • intake manifold gasket
  • Goodyear 17415 (41.5″ long) belt for power steering.  This belt may also be listed as 13AV1055 (13x1055mm).


Prep the manifold:

  • Remove throttle body, spools, brackets, and vacuum nipples (optional) from manifold.
  • Clean manifold with degreaser.
  • Sandblast manifold (optional, but recommended for adhesion of epoxy putty).
  • Fill EFI holes with aluminum reinforced epoxy.  (Some people have wanted to keep the option open of using the EFI injectors later, so they have either used carriage bolts to ‘temporarily’ plug the holes, tapped the holes with a M14X2 and plugged, or just kept the old injectors in the holes.  I plan on running a 5th injector so opted to plug the holes)
  • Port the manifold if desired.

Here are the EFI injector holes before and after being filled:





A clean manifold and a tube of the epoxy putty:



Rewire the TPS:

Because the TPS idle switch is a Normally Closed (N.C.) at idle and the B21FT needs a Normally Open (N.O.) at idle, the TPS must be ‘rewired’.

  • Remove the TPS from the throttle body
  • Open the TPS by gently lifting the tabs around the case.  The case seems to be epoxied or sealed so it takes some work.
  • With the main plug pointing towards you, the idle switch is on the right and the wide open throttle (WOT) switch is on the left.
  • Unsolder/cut lead from #3 on Idle Switch and solder this lead to #2 so that the main plug terminal #18 is connected to Idle Switch #2.  If your Idle Switch does not have terminal #2 you can go to an electronics store like Radio Shack and get a microswitch and wire to the N.O. side

This is what the TPS looks like with the cover off.

Terminal Connections in TPS BEFORE Modifications

Main Plug Idle Switch WOT Switch
18 1 1
2 3 Not Connected
3 Not Connected 2

Terminal Connections in TPS AFTER Modifications

Main Plug Idle Switch WOT Switch
18 1 1
2 2 Not Connected
3 Not Connected 2
  • Using a continuity tester, verify that all connections are good.
  • Close and reseal TPS.  This is important because the TPS ‘seals’ the end of the butterfly valve shaft in the throttle body.  A poor seal will result in intake air leaks.

Prep the Throttle Body (TB):

  • Clean throttle body with degreaser.
  • Replace gasket on throttle body shaft.
  • Replace gasket (O-ring) and reattach TPS
  • On the B21FT throttle body there is a small plate with a tube that the constant idle speed (CIS)  tubing connects to.  It is in the same position as the idle speed adjustment screw assembly on the B23/B230 TB.  On the back of it there is a small post about 3/8″ tall.  Cut this post from plate so it can be transferred to the B23/B230 TB.
  • Remove idle speed adjustment screw assembly and replace with modified block off plate (use new gasket).

The idle speed adjustment assembly.

Editor’s note:  Using the B23/B230 TB has the advantages of being able to use the TPS (WOT switch can be used to activate other stuff) and it has a lip to help hold the IC tubing on.  The disadvantages are that you need to add nipple(s) for the CIS hose routing and you need to move the cold start injector.  If you would rather use the B21FT TB, it will fit, but you will need to transfer the linkage from the B23/B230 TB so the throttle will rotate the correct direction.  Also, if your car is not equipped with the CIS system, keep the idle speed adjustment screw assembly and just reroute the ‘S’ shaped hose from the auxiliary air valve.  A reducer collar may need to be used.
Mounting Bracket for Idle speed Motor:

  • Using the bracket from a B21F (normally aspirated) with the Constant Idle System, remove the ‘rear’ rubber mount (you won’t need it).
  • ‘Flip’ the bracket and attach the idle speed motor.  You will need to rotate the motor in it’s bracket so that the arrow points toward the manifold side connection and away from the pre butterfly connection.



Idle speed motor bracket before and after.

  • Remove old manifold (duh) and label all wires and hoses.  (This is a good time to clean out the oil trap, check all those sensors, and look at the wiring harness.)  Plug holes in the head with rags to keep crap out of the motor.
  • Remove old throttle cable from car and replace with B23/B230 throttle cable.  It is easiest to do it now.
  • Reassemble TB, and brackets onto manifold.
  • Adjust TPS on TB to ‘click’ just as the butterfly is opened.
  • Mount idle speed motor and bracket onto the manifold.  The holes in the manifold are spaced a little closer than the bracket so you need to get both bolts started before tightening.  I recommend using washers on the top and bottom of the rubber mounts.
  • Replace nipples (if you removed them).  Using teflon tape helps seal the threads.
  • Install cold start injector where the old diamond shaped plate was.  Either make a new gasket, modify a new block off plate gasket or get a big fat O-ring to plug the hold around the injector.
  • Route CIS hoses.  Make sure the arrow points the right direction.

Editor’s note:  The routing of the CIS tubing will be dictated by your personal taste.  If you don’t like the routing of the tubes ‘over’ the manifold, you can either find pre bent rubber hoses from another car or machine out the blank spot by the vacuum connections on the TB and add a nipple like the B21FT TB.  Whichever tubing you use, make sure it does not collapse under vacuum at idle or overrun.

  • Put 2 new manifold studs into the head.
  • Wire electrical plug and leads for throttle position switch (TPS).  You need to connect to #18 and #2 on the main plug.  Connect #18 to ground and #2 to the yellow wire.
  • Preliminarily mount manifold onto head using new gasket.
  • Attach manifold support rod to front two motor mount bolts and to the manifold.  (some people don’t like the look of the stock support bracket and have replaced it with a nice piece of 1/4″ stainless steel bar stock from the #1 runner straight down to the block.)
  • Connect supply line to cold start injector.  I basically straightened the line out, then put two 45 degree bends in it so it runs between #1 and #2 intake runners. Careful not to kink the line.


Supply line routing for cold start injector

  • Plug in idle speed motor, TPS, cold start injector, and attach ground wires.
  • Torque everything and attach throttle cable(s).
  • Attach vacuum connections.  The brake booster connection is now at the rear of the manifold just behind the TB.  The TB connections are the same as the B21FT.  There are a few ‘extra’ ports on the plenum section when you’re all done.






Note:  These pictures show the double spool and ‘extra’ bracket needed for if you have cruise control.

Connecting to the IC:

I chose to use the 700 series IC tubing that I pulled from the motor I got the manifold from.  Others have used a combination of the B21FTi, the 700 series and some custom tubing.  However you choose to do it, just make sure the connections are tight and the tube sizes stay about the same.

Because the power steering pump is rocked so far away from the motor it interferes with the 700 series tube. (I believe the 83-84 700 series tube ‘bends’ around the PS pump because it had the B23 engine.  This tubing should be able to be used without much modification at all).  I used 85+ tubing.  To get the PS pump out of the way (rotate towards the motor), purchase a shorter belt, I recommend the Goodyear 17415 (41.5″ long).  This belt may also be listed as 13AV1055 (13x1055mm).  There is a small nipple on the metal tube on the TB end that needs to be capped with a large vacuum cap.  Make sure to use a clamp to keep the cap from blowing off..  With the PS pump out of the way install the 700 series IC tube as shown.



Manifold and IC tubing installed


  • Check that everything is clear, clean and tight.
  • Once car is running, check for leaks and set base idle

90+ Exhaust Manifold
Here are pictures of the 90+ exhaust manifold I purchased from Performance Turbo Specialties. The manifold has round runners and better flow direction where the runners come together. The manifold is usually connected to a Mitsubishi turbocharger with 8 mm studs. To connect to the Garrett T3, the opening is enlarged to match the T3 and the studs are upgraded to 10 mm (requires enlarged holes on turbo exhaust housing). My exhaust housing is flat faced and does not have the Volvo flange so the manifold was machined flat to match. I used a gasket from a mid 80’s Saab 900 Turbo on the mating surfaces to insure a good seal. To better support the manifold, I added a support bracket at the bottom of the manifold on the flange that mounts to the block. There are two blank bosses that I drilled and tapped with 8 mm threads to attach the bracket.




Saab APC System On B21FT

The Saab APC system is a boost control system that regulates boost based on a knock sensor and a pressure transducer.  For a compete description of the operation, required parts, and wiring please see John Bertram’s old APC Site (no longer).

Locating the Knock Sensor:

On the 700 series cars there is already a knock sensor used by the EZK ignition module so piggy backing the APC knock sensor is easy.  On the 240s there is not such a convenient place to mount the knock sensor.  On the B21FT block there is an undrilled boss located between #2 and #3 on the intake side near the top of the deck that is essentially the same place as the 700s.  Since I was rebuilding my engine and it was at the machine shop, I had them drill and tap the boss for the knock sensor.  The boss is very close to a head bolt hole and breaking into this would be bad, so keep the depth to 1/2″ max.  The threads on the bolt that comes with the sensor is M8x1.25 but a M8x1.0 bolt could be used also.  You do not have to have the engine out of the car or even remove the head to put this hole in.  The boss can be acessed by removing the intake manifold.




Mounting the Control Module:

The engine bay of my 240 is rather cramped.  I didn’t feel that I could mount the control module a place that would be protected from heat, accessible for adjustments, and allowed me to use the knock sensor lead as is (no splicing needed).  Because of these ‘restrictions’, I decided to mount the control module under the passenger side dashboard on a piece of aluminum sheet stock .  To keep my wire runs to a minimum I also mounted the pressure transducer with the control module.  The a tight fit, with the control box plug touching the top of the firewall.  I got power for the whole system from the fuse box and ran the wires for the knock sensor and the solenoid out the engine harness grommet on the passenger side.  I initially had the RPM signal coming from the tach signal from the coil but later disconnected the RPM signal for the APC (see below).





I mounted the solenoid right next to the fuel distributor and the overflow tank.  This seemed to be the best place to keep the hose lengths the shortest and not be exposed to too much engine heat.  For the “R” port that needs to be plumbed back into the intake, I just drilled a hole into the metal elbow before the turbo and shoved the vac line in.  I made the hole tight so it wouldn’t pull in unfiltered air.



Knock ‘Light’:

If a LED is connected to power and the ground leg of the LED is connected to terminal 19, the LED will light for 0.5 seconds when knock is detected.  I mounted my LED in the little blank plate above the headlight switch.  I used a 12VDC LED from a local electronic parts store.



Performance and Troubleshooting:

When I initially installed my system, the boost curve had a ‘step’ in it.  If I stomped on it below 2500 RPM, the boost would jump to the max I had the APC set for.  If I stomped on it and the RPM was above 2500 RPM, the APC seemed to completely open the solenoid and I would only get the 5 psi that the wastegate is set at.  This was really annoying, I wanted all the boost all the time!  John Bertram helped me swap a few parts and nothing seemed to work.  Because I have an MSD ignition I thought that it might be ‘interfering’ with the RPM signal and causing the APC to act funny.  I tried all kinds of combination of MSD, stock ignition, and RPM pick-up points and it still had the ‘step’.  In a moment of frustration, I unplugged the RPM signal all together and, viola!, it worked, max boost at any RPM.  I have talked to John Bertram about this problem and he is taking a look at it.  If you install an APC in a 240 and get a good RPM pick-up point, please let me know.

At one point during part swapping to try to find the problem, the solenoid would cycle for a very long time at idle.  It made a noise like a loose engine valve   It was found that the pressure transducer was bad and causing the APC not to see the manifold pressure, thus causing the cycling.  I replaced the pressure transducer and the extended cycling went away.

UPDATE: I have actually disconnected the knock sensor amd am running the APC just as a fancy boost contoller. The sensor was just too sensitive to my engine. I just keep an ear open for detonation and adjust the timing on my MSD BTM when it is hot or I run regular (rare)

Terminal 11 Trick

Running out of fuel on your 240 turbo with CIS?  At about 12 psi, the average 240’s Lambda system starts to let the engine run leaner and detonation can occur.  This can ‘easily’ be solved by adding a 5th injector controlled by an Additional Injector Controller (AIC) or just changing to a full EFI system.  These solutions start at $250 for an AIC and can run over $1000 for a stand alone EFI system.  If you are looking for something a bit cheaper to squeak a few more psi out of your CIS system, then consider the ‘terminal 11 trick’.

Under non-boost conditions and up to 3 psi, the Lambda system varies the duty cycle of the frequency valve on the fuel distributor to control the air/fuel (AF) mixture based on the O2 sensor.  The duty cycle varies as the computer tries to keep the mixture at stoiciometric (perfect mixture).  The lambda system has built in logic for enriching the AF mixture while under boost.  The ‘pressure’ switch that is mounted on the engine compartment triggers at 3 psi and causes the frequency valve to run at 70% duty cycle by grounding terminal 7 on the Lambda computer, thus enriching the mixture. By grounding terminal 11, you can get the duty cycle to go to about 90%.

Parts Needed:

  • An adjustable pressure switch with normally open contacts.  The Saab overboost switch from any 80s turbo is an ideal switch for this application.
  • 2′ min length of 14 gauge min wire with connector for Lambda computer.  It is easiest to go to a ‘u-pull’ auto parts yard, open up a Lambda main connector and remove a connector with a length of wire attached to it.  The connector is easily released from the main connector by depressing the small locking tab on the connector with a paper clip or dental probe.  If your car is a factory intercooled (84.5-85) you do not need this wire because terminal 11 is already ‘connected’








Adjusting the Saab Pressure Switch:

The switch seems to be originally set to come on at 14 psi and turn off when the pressure returns to 11 psi. There are normally open and normally closed contacts.  The main screw adjusts where the on/off range is and the smaller screws adjust the width of the on/off range in relation to the main adjustment.  It is easiest to perform initial pressure set points with the switch out of the car.  Note:  The numbers on the pressure switch shown have been marked in black to highlight their location.

Terminal #1:       common
Terminal #2:       normally closed
Terminal #3:       normally open

Screw #1 ‘average pressure range’
CW = higher switching pressure
CCW = lower switching pressure
Screw #2 ‘upper range’
CW = decreases the upper switching point
CCW = increases the upper switching point
Screw #3 ‘lower range’
CW = decreases the lower switching point
CCW = increases the lower switching point

By adjusting screws #2 and #3 an operating window can be set around the average pressure setting of screw #1.  A range of 1-2 psi is recommended.

Remote Oil Filter
Because the oil filter on the B21FT is in such a convenient spot, NOT!, I thought that a remote oil filter would make my future motor manitence much easier. Since the engine compartment on the 240 is really crowded, I couldn’t find a spot that would keep the filter level (keeps spills to a minimum) and away from exhaust heat. Based on these criteria, I decided to mount the filter behind the front bumper on the passenger side inside the fender. The filter is ‘above’ the bottom surface of the bumper so it should be protected from road debris and stray critters. In a hard front impact the oil filter might be damaged, but if the impact is that hard, you’ll probably need a tow anyway. The hoses are run from the motor along the inside frame rail and pass through an opening in the splash pan then to the filter. I used a 90 deg bent piece of 1/8″ aluminum sheet to allow the filter mount to be attached from the top. I also installed edge protectors wherever the hose might be abraided by the sheetmetal edges.

I bought Perma-Cool stuff for my remote filter out of the Jegs catalog. I used the ‘dual port’ single filter mount (#771-2791, ~$18) that allows for the hoses to come in from the side rather than the top of the mount. The spin on adapter (#771-111, ~$9) goes on the block and a got Spectre 1/2″ braided oil line with those fancy end fittings/covers. I got the barbed fittings from Home Depot and sealed the threads with teflon tape. Whichever brand of filter mount and adapter you go with, just remember that the threads are 3/4″-16 and are usually listed as “Ford/Chrysler” threads.





MSD 6 BTM (Ignition)


The MSD 6 BTM (boost timing master) is a high performance multiple spark ignition amplifier that allows the the driver to retard the ignition timing based on the amount of boost being produced by the turbocharger. An engine produces the most power right on the edge of detonation, so the closer to the edge you can keep it, the better. The timing is adjusted from a dash mounted knob and can be retarded 1 – 3° per pound of boost with a maximum of 15°. I run between 0.5 and 0.75° per pound of boost. There is also a built-in adjustable ‘soft-touch’ rev control to protect the engine from over-rev damage.

Stock Timing Retard Disable:

The stock ‘retard under boost’ is performed by the dual action diaphragm on the distributor.  I believe that the stock retard is about 5 degrees or so and tops out at relatively low boost levels.  On a modified, high boost motor (10+ psi), the stock timing retard can’t make the most of the situation.  Because I did not want the stock diaphragm actuated timing retard and the MSD retard to wrestle for control or overlap, I disabled the retard portion of the diaphragm.  Because the diaphragm is also needed for vacuum advance, I needed to only disable the retard side.  I removed the diaphragm from the distributor and epoxied a piece of aluminum to a pin on the backside that would keep the actuation arm from moving under pressure but would be free to move under vacuum.


Mounting the Module:

Because the MSD ignition module is pretty good sized, I had to move some stuff around to mount it within reasonable distance to the stock ignition module and the coil (MSD Blaster 2).  I moved the stock ignition module to the battery box and mounted the MSD onto the stock bracket with a piece of thick aluminum sheet stock.  My battery box is a plastic marine type that has been cut down to about 3/4 height of the battery and is pushed forward toward the headlights to give more room for the MSD.  Wiring of the MSD is a simple follow-the-included-insturctions operation.  For the pressure transducer inside the MSD, I tapped into the line that goes into the cabin for the overboost switch and turbo gauge.



Mounting the Retard Control:

The retard control that comes with the MSD is sort of goofy looking.  It is a simple adhesive backed plastic box with a big red knob.  I felt it would look a little out of place mounted on my dash and that the whole thing would look better if I could mount it in a ‘stock’ location.  I removed one of the blank plates from my console and had a machinist buddy mill in the lettering to duplicate the original lettering.  I also replaced the large knob with a smaller instrument style knob when I transferred the potentiometer from the MSD retard control.




Rewiring the Fuel Pump Relay:

I plan on replacing the transistorized relay with a standrd relay and wiring in an inertial kill switch for safety.

Radiator Fan

To reduce the noise and parasitic drag of the stock cooling fan, I replaced it with a Mr. Gasket 16″ electric fan. I purchased the fan from Jegs catalog for about $100. The fan is rated at 2100 CFM at 11 amps. Since I live in Washington State and don’t run the AC very much, I feel that a single fan of this CFM will be adequate. The fan came with thru-the-core ties, but I didn’t want to put strain on the fins and tubes. The mounting points were just the right size to mount directly to the frame of the Nissen 3 core radiator from iPd.



I tried a electric adjustable thermostat but was not happy with it’s performance. The circuit board blew in it and I don’t know why. I had planned on getting an original equipment style sensor (T fitting in radiator hose) and wire it to a relay. After more thought, I still wanted adjustability but wanted the repeatability of having the temperature probe in contact with the coolant. Based on these criteria, I went with a Flex-A-Lite bulb/capillary tube mechanical adjustable fan switch from my local parts store (~$25).

So I could have a rough idea of what temperature the fan was coming on at, I ‘calibrated’ the thermostat using a good cooking thermometer and a glass of boiling water. As the water cooled, I marked various temperature on the case. The marks seem to be evenly spaced at 20F.

I mounted the control module to my battery box, ran the bulb into the upper radiator hose, and closed her up. I went with constant 12 volt power from the battery so the fan can cool the motor after it has been shut down. I had a little leak past the ‘gasket’ that comes with the thermostat and had to crank it down. The next time I was in the cooling system, I used a little silicone to get a better seal at the edge of the gasket. I adjusted the thermostat to be about 190-200F. This temp setting seems to keep the fan from running when the car is moving (plenty of cooling) but kicks on when sitting in traffic for a while. I know that the stock temperature gauge is compensated so It doesn’t move much, but the temp never gets above ‘normal’. The fan will turn on about 1 minute after I have parked the car for about 5 minutes.





Compressor Bypass Valve (CBV)

To help decrease turbo lag between shifts, I installed a CBV from a 700 series turbo. A CBV is a valve that recirculates air from the turbo outlet back into the inlet when the manifold is under vacuum (like during a shift). This allows the turbo to pump air back to itself and stay spooled up. Without a CBV, when the throttle is snapped shut during a shift, the pressure from the turbo smacks against the butterfly, bounces back, and hits the compressor wheel. This causes the turbo to slow down, thus requiring the turbo to re-spool when you get back on the throttle. This buffeting of the compressor wheel also causes axial movement and wear on the turbo bearings. In severe cases (20+ psi) it can actually destroy the compressor wheel.

Aftermarket CBVs can be purchased and installed but I chose to install a ‘stock’ CBV because I got it cheap at my local U-pull. I also got the 700 series IC tubing cheap. If I wouldn’t have got a good price on the CBV, bracket, delay valve, and tubing, I probably would have opted for an aftermarket Bosch (0 280 142 103), Spearco, or similar unit. I have been told that the stock CBV is really only good to about 15 psi.

The CBV basically mounts and connects the same as in the 700 series car. I first mounted the CBV in the same place on the head as the 700 series motor. I installed a couple of washers to space the bracket so it would mount nicely on top of the existing bracket that holds the fuel lines. I cut into and removed the ‘J’ shaped hose from the 700 series rubber turbo intake elbow and attached it to the bottom of the CBV. To get the maximum hose length I actually cut into the elbow to remove as much of the ‘J’ as possible. You could probably use the whole 700 series rubber intake elbow in place of the stock metal elbow if it is in good shape (the one I got was rotten right at the turbo). To connect to the metal 240 elbow, I added a 1″ aluminum nipple and bonded it in place with aluminum reinforced epoxy.

I then used the metal 700 series turbo outlet elbow in place of the stock rubber one. The metal elbow has a nipple to connect to the inlet (side) of the CBV. Because the 700s don’t have the fuel lines in the way the elbow is mounted lower. To clear the CIS lines, I extended the turbo outlet hose with a piece of heavy duty blue silicone (1/4″ wall, 2″ ID, 5″ long) tubing form Turbonetics. Now because I moved the whole elbow up about 2 inches, the tube between the outlet elbow and the CBV didn’t match up. I needed an ‘S’ shape to do it right. To connect these two points I went to my local parts store and looked through their preformed hoses. I found that a Goodyear #61284 hose fit quite well.



CBV mounted showing ‘J’ hose connected to 240 turbo inlet elbow



Stock turbo inlet elbow with nipple epoxied in place



700 series turbo outlet elbow with extended tube and ‘S’ shaped hose to connect CBV

To finish the installation, I connected the vacuum/pressure line to a spare nipple on the manifold. The connection must be on the engine side of the throttle body and the arrow of the ‘delay valve’ must point toward the manifold to function properly.

700 Series Intercooler Tubing
When I installed my intercooler I knew that I wanted to also add a CBV and convert to a B23/B230 intake manifold. Since this setup was more like a 700 series than a 240, I decided it would be easier to modify the 700 series IC tubes rather than the 240 IC tubes. I used the metal turbo outlet elbow, IC inlet rubber tube, IC (same as 240), IC outlet rubber coupler, metal IC to TB tube, and rubber TB elbow from a 700 with a B230FTi.

Because the 700s don’t have the fuel lines in the way the elbow is mounted lower. To clear the CIS lines, I extended the turbo outlet hose with a piece of heavy duty blue silicone (1/4″ wall, 2″ ID, 5″ long) tubing form Turbonetics.

700 series turbo outlet elbow with extended tube

Because the power steering pump is rocked so far away from the motor it interferes with the 700 series tube. (I believe the 84-85 700 series tube ‘bends’ around the PS pump because it had the B23 engine. This tubing should be able to be used without much modification at all) To get the PS pump out of the way (rotate towards the motor), purchase a shorter belt, I recommend the Goodyear 17415 (41.5″ long). This belt may also be listed as 13AV1055 (13x1055mm). There is a small nipple on the metal tube on the TB end that needs to be capped with a large vacuum cap. Make sure to use a clamp to keep the cap from blowing off.. With the PS pump out of the way install the 700 series IC tube as shown.



Manifold and IC tubing installed


Final layout of IC tubes

Short Shifter For M46

I wanted to decrease the length of travel during shifts in my M46.  I thought the easiest way to do this was to increase the lever arm length below the pivot on the stick.  I cut and welded in about 3/4″ of material right below the pivot.  If you do this modification, make sure you mark the orientation of the lower connection point to the transmission actuator arm so it can be aligned later.  If you can add a dowel pin or something similar to pin along the long axis while welding would also help. If you want to add more than 3/4″ of material, you will also need to bend the transmission actuator arm to clear the case.  While I was working on the linkages, I replaced all those wore out rubber grommets and nylon cups to keep the shifter more firmly located.

NOTE: Make sure you do a good welding job! My first try lasted about 2 years then broke at the weld while my wife was driving. Needless to say she was not happy.




Limited Slip / Locker Options for 200 and 700 Series Volvos

Differential Options:

So you want to spin both tires, huh?  Tired of that open differential letting one tire spin itself into a slick?  If your car was not lucky enough to come from the factory with an “anti-spin” differential, you have 2 basic differential options to allow you to better distribute power to both tires (short of welding the spider gears); limited slip or locking.  All 200 turbos and most 700 turbos (with a live axle, sorry no multilink) came with a Dana 30 differential in either the 1030 or the 1031 rear end.  This is the same differential that came in many late model Jeeps.  Because of this ‘commonality’, any competent 4X4 or differential shop should be able to install a traction aiding device for about 2-3 hours of labor depending if you have all bearings and seals replaced too (recommended). MVP now sells and installs LSDs. Give them a call and they can hook you up too.

I personally have a NOS (new old stock) Volvo LSD in my 81′ 245GLTi that I got for a very good price.  I think it was some of the best money I have spent on the car.  Now I can take a corner without lighting up the right rear.  It does take a bit of getting used to when you are in a fast corner, under full power, and both tires start to break loose.  Overall, it has increased the smile factor when driving my car.

According to the SAM catalog for the LSDs they sell, the differentials break down as listed below.  The cars listed in the same column use the same differential part number from SAM.  It looks like the only real difference is in the ABS tone ring  In the early late 80s and 90s, Volvo went to a locking rear that locked the rear at about 25 MPH.  There is no LSD listed for cars with multilink rear suspensions (88-90 764 and some 900s).

I got some mail from “C. Gravatt” about ABS:

“Regarding the difference between ABS & non-ABS locking diffs….. When Volvo was testing locking differentials (prior to introduction in their production cars) the “prototype locking diffs” for “test vehicles” were delivered with two different slotted rings. Fewer and larger slots (or teeth) for the electronic speedometer pick-up on non-ABS equipped cars and much more numerous (about 4 times as many) smaller teeth on the ABS equipped cars. I seem to remember that the ABS modified the signal (reduced the number of pulses) that was eventually “read” by the speedometer. The Installation of the wrong ring would result in an extremely high reading or non-functioning speedometer on the non-ABS equipped car and inoperative (the ABS would detect a rear wheel speed signal fault and shut down) ABS on the ABS equipped cars. Don’t know if this is the reason for the differences in your catalogue, but those differences might simply be an indication of which ring type of ring is fitted to the diff. Hope this helps, C. Gravatt”

Without ABS With ABS With Volvo ‘locking’ rear
240  -1991 240  -1991 240  1992+
740  -1988 740  -1988 740  1989+
764  -1987 764  -1987 765  1988+
765  -1988 765  -1988

There are pros and cons to every style of traction aiding devices.  For a very good summary of each style, please read the Traction Aiding Devices FAQ. Remember, this site is based on 4X4s, so not all the devices mentioned are available or practical for our cars.

1.  Limited Slip Differential (LSD):

    The ‘positraction’ or LSD is recommended for road driving and for moderate racing applications. They are the most driver friendly.  There are two basic styles of LSD that can be put into the Volvo Dana 30; friction based and torque sensing.

  • Friction based units such as a Dana “Powr-Lok” and OEM ‘anti-spin’. These units use clutches to allow some speed differences, like while turning, but will ‘bind’ the wheels together starting with a specified amount of torque.  Typically you might get a 70/30 power split between wheels or a 60/40 with a really tight LSD.  One major drawback is that eventually the clutches wear out and require replacement.  The harder you use the LSD (more burnouts, etc.) the shorter the life of the clutches.  Usually a friction modifier is added to the differential oil to extend the clutch life and reduce chattering.  This style of LSD is the most commonly used in Turbobricks member’s cars.
  • lsd

  • Torque sensing units such as a Tractech “TrueTrac”.  These units use worm gears to ‘bind’ the wheels together before slip occurs but allow some speed differences like while turning.  They apply more torque to the wheel that has the best grip.  One drawback is that because the Dana 30 is a ‘small’ differential, these units must be very compact and therefore small gears must be used.  Some 4X4 shops I talked to said that under high torque these smaller gears may fail.  An advantage of these units is that there are no clutches to wear out.  Talk to your 4X4 shop for their opinion.
  • truetrac1

    Here is a letter I recieved about a TrueTrac:

    “I am writing to tell you that I have just had a Tractech ‘TruTrac’ torque sensing rear diff installed in my 82 242ti. It was installed on Monday and yesterday with a 6 inch snowfall happening on the way home it got the acid test. I have to agree with you about this being some of the best money I have ever spent. The car was fantastic, with traction to just take off and drive. I also use real winter tires which have been very good but the addition of the diff really made it happen. I know that some people expressed concerns about handling the torque of a high output turbo. But, a turbo does apply the torque of the engine more progressively than a N/A engine and this diff is designed to handle more torque than my volvo is going to put to it. So, I went for it and am very happy with the result. It was a more labor intensive installation than other vehicles because of the emergency brake setup. If you are going to be a long term owner and are modifying your car it really is adding another level of traction to the car. So, now you can tell others that you do know someone that has tried the torque sensing diff with good results. Hope all is well with you and your enjoying the ride. Best regards, Dave 82 242ti 247k mi.”

2.  Locking Differential:

    Most ‘locker’ differentials basically have mechanical teeth which are meshed together to lock the axles together.  An advantage of a locker is that they are tough as hell and don’t ‘wear out’.  The locking differential is recommended for heavy duty racing.  There are two basic styles of locking differentials; automatic and manual.  Some lockers replace the entire carrier and others only replace the spider gears.  If only the spider gears are replaced, the ring and pinion does not have to be reset.

  • Automatic ‘locker’ differentials are controlled by where the torque is being applied, not necessarily by whether or not you are turning a corner (although this is a good example).  If the torque applied by the engine to the differential via the driveshaft is greater than the torque applied by the ground via the wheels, then the locker will lock and force both axle shafts (and both tires) to rotate at the same speed.  If the torque applied by the ground to one of the wheels to the differential is greater than the engine torque, that shaft will unlock and allow that wheel to rotate free. Not all corners will elicit this unlocking action.  If the road surface is slippery and you are applying engine torque, the tires may very well spin instead of unlock (‘tires’ because you can never spin just one tire with a locker, it’s both or none).  An automatic locking differential may bang, clunk, or hitch when going around corners and may cause some slippage when turning in icy or slippery conditions.
      Turbobrick member Philip Bradley commented: “I just took the 242T on a 500 mile road trip.  The EZ Locker works fine, just as it is supposed to.  It is not, however, just like a limited slip but with no clutches to wear out, as it is sometimes advertised. The noise is heard only at very low speeds, usually between 0 and 10 mph, when turning.  Sometimes when coasting on a very slow turn, the rear will snatch and grab, causing the car to buck.  There is not really anything to adjust to get rid of this.  In fact, the brochure and instructions warn to use light throttle rather than coasting in slow turns.  So one has to remember to use a little gas rather than back off completely (or push in the clutch) and then you cannot really tell the EZ Locker is there.  In a straight line, there is a solid, 50/50 lock that sends equal power to each wheel.  I have tested it so far only on dirt roads.  The car moves forward under power, however.  When I had the open differential, I could just spin a wheel on a dirt road without increasing speed much.  I should have the car at the drag strip soon for a proper pavement test.  I will obviously keep the EZ Locker, but it is less streetable than a limited slip, although perhaps more durable.  To anyone who lets others regularly drive the car, or does not want any odd sounds from the rear, or does not want to alter very low speed driving techniques on turns, I would not recommend this style of rear.  The 50/50 lock is better than a limited slip, however, as those are often 25% TO 40% lock.”
  • detroit powertrax

    Automatic lockers such as the Tractech “Detroit EZ-Locker” or a PowerTrax “Lock Right” are available.  There is a new “Detroit Geroter” from Tractech that is advertise to have eliminated the noise and jerks associated with the standard locking differentials.  The Tractech are more expensive but are reported to be more durable than the PowerTrax.

  • Manual lockers lock by engaging a sleeve that connects both axles together via an air valve (ARB “Air Locker”) or an solenoid (PowerTrax “C-Locker”). This is the only type of differential that allows full control. You can choose the predictability and handling of an open diff, or the ultimate lock of a spool.  Installation requires some extra wiring; either airlines and an compressor (Air Locker), or electrical wires (C-Locker).  To my knowledge, no Turbobrick member has installed a manual locking differential.

Purchasing and Installing a LSD/Locker:

Before shelling out your hard earned money, talk to a local 4X4 or differential shop about your install.  Unless you have lots of specialty tools, setting up a rear end is not for the amateur.  The average shop may look at you weird when you ask about a Volvo but once you inform them that it is ‘just a Dana 30’, they should calm down.  If they want to charge you extra because it is a Volvo or has disk brakes, go somewhere else.  The disk brakes are easier to remove than the locking hubs on the front of a Jeep!  Most shops can set up the differential with it still installed in the car, although the rear sway bar will need to be removed.  You can purchase the differential from your local shop or try Reider Racing or West Coast Differentials on the web.  Check to see if the unit comes assembled or if you get a box of ‘guts’ and a ‘carrier’.  You can sometimes get a pretty good price if you play one company against another; “So and so has that differential for x$, can you beat that?”

You will need to specify the gear ratio when purchasing to insure that the LSD/Locker is correct for your ring and pinion set.  Differentials will have different carriers for ranges of ratios.   I have been told that gears  from the factory on a 240 Turbo are 3.73 with a manual and 3.91 with an auto.  740 Turbos had fuel economy gears of 3.54 for a manual and 3.73 for an auto.  To verify the ratio, there is a label on the axle (picture below).  When viewed from the rear, it is on the driver’s side just to the right of the spring.  If you can’t find the label, “jack up one tire if you have an open diff, or both tires if you have a working posi or locking differential. Rotate the tire one full revolution for posis and lockers and 2 full revolutions for open diffs. Carefully count the number of full revolutions the driveshaft makes. This is your gear ratio. In other words, if the drive shaft turns 3 ¾ turns, you probably have a 3.73 gear  ratio. Turning the tire for twice the number of full revolutions and dividing the drive shaft revolutions by two will give you a more accurate reading.” (quoted from West Coast Differentials)


If you have a car with an electronic speedometer, and your LSD replaces your current carrier, you will need to replace the sensor wheel that signals the speedometer impulse sender with the Volvo PN that corresponds with a stock Volvo LSD for your year of car.   Early model 700s use PN 1220844.  If you are installing a Dana “Powr-Lok”, the new sensor wheel should fit correctly because Dana made the OEM LSD too.  If you are using a locker that only replaces the spider gears, like a  PowerTrax “Lock Right”, your current sensor wheel will stay as is.  Any other style of LSD will require some creative problem solving to attach the sensor wheel to the LSD carrier.  If you come up with a method that works (or does not) for a particular LSD, please let me know.

Although you don’t have to, it is recommended to replace the outer bearings, outer seals, inner seals, and the carrier bearings.  Replacing all of these components will add about $200 to your install.  At a minimum you should replace the inner seals to keep the new differential fluid from washing the grease out of your outer bearings.  Check with wherever you buy/install your differential to see if they can get the bearings and seals cheaper than from Volvo.  After the initial break in period (~500 miles) change the differential oil.  Red Line has a 75W90 synthetic gear oil which already has a LSD friction modifier in it.  You can also use Amsoil 75W-90 or 75W-140 that work in LSD’s (or any type of differential). Check with your differential manufacturer to see if a friction modifier is recommended.

Good luck and in the words of Turbobrick member Dave Barton, enjoy your “tire glue”.

If you have any questions, comments, testimonials, or found a good supplier, please e-mail me.

Thanks to Paul Schuh, Dave Barton, Jarrod Pilone, Peter Linssen, and Philip Bradley for input on this article.


General Suspension Modifications:

  • IPD lowering springs (1.5-1.75 inches)
  • IPD swaybars.  25 mm front and rear
  • IPD polyurethane torque rod bushings
  • Custom tower-to-tower brace, ‘GT’ upper chassis braces, ‘GT’ lower chassis braces.
  • Bilstein shocks.  HD setting, Front – P36-0081, Rear – B46-0296
  • all new (1996) rubber bushings

In general I really like my suspension setup.  I really noticed the change in the handling of the car right away, it is definitely smoother in the corners with very little body roll.  The tower-to-tower brace and GT chassis braces improved the feel during long sweeping corners.  I originally had the Boge Gas Turbo shocks because they were relatively cheap.  The ride of the Boges was decent but seemed a bit mushy at times and I knew there was better out there.  I got a good deal on some Bilsteins and love them.  The ride is more firm, but has a better feeling than the Boge.  The only real ‘drawback’ to the suspension that is sort of annoying, is that the large swaybars tend to make the car rock from side to side when you go onto uneven surfaces.  This is most noticeable in situations like leaving a parking lot that has one of those little ‘dips’ where it meets the road.  The ride is very firm and on rough roads begins to be sort of annoying.  I would not recommend this level of bracing, shocks, springs, and swaybars if you are doing regular commuting or travel on a lot of uneven surfaces.


  • ATE Power Disc (grooved) vented front rotors
  • Brembo solid rear rotors
  • PBR brake pads
  • IPD stainless steel braided brake lines

I really like the brakes on this car!  It stops on a dime wet or dry.  Every other car I get in has crap for brakes compared to the Volvo.  The SST brake lines were not a night and day difference but they firmed up the pedal a bit when you really get on it.

Wheels and Tires:

  • Mille Miglia II 16×7.5 wheels from the Tire Rack
  • Firestone Firehawk SZ50 205/55R16 from the Tire Rack

I decided since my car never gets used in the snow, that I’d try a high performance ‘summer’ tire instead of an all season high performance tire.  These are very good tires.  When I went to driving school, they handled everything I threw at them.  They do handle very well both wet and dry.  It is hard to tell the difference between many high performance tires while dry but the wet traction is very impressive and is immediately noticeable.  I had Les Schwab put them on and they scratched two of my rims, then denied doing it!  Because of this, I will never, ever buy another thing from Les Schwab, even if I break down in their parking lot! My previous tires were Dunlop D60A2 205R55.  For an all season M&S tire, I loved those tires!  They were not super high performance but I pushed those tires pretty hard and they never disappointed.  They lasted for 45K miles before I ran one flat and ruined a tire.  I think they would have lasted another 10k if I would not have pulled such a bonehead move.

Strut Tower and Chassis Braces





Strut Tower-to-Tower Brace:

Because of the configuration of the B23/230 intake and turbo outlet elbow on my motor, most tower-to-tower braces would not fit my car.  I needed a bar that would fit in front of the throttle spool but behind the turbo outlet elbow.  Most ‘commercial’ braces looked like they would hit something on my motor.  I didn’t really feel like getting a brace then having to ship it back if it didn’t fit.

One day while junk yard diving I found a set of plates mounted to the top of the struts of a 78′ GT.  The plates were the perfect base to build the tower-to-tower brace because they had the correct center and slotted holes.  These ‘support plates’ are Volvo PN 1247816.  I had a machinist friend make the ‘ears’ for the rod end and weld them to the tower plates.  I located the ears relatively far forward on the plates to allow full camber adjustment.  I purchased the 1/2″ rod ends from McMaster supply catalog and threaded the 7/8″ 6061-T6 aluminum rod myself.  To give the whole thing a professional look, I gave the aluminum rod a brushed finish and had the tower plates powder coated gloss black. The rod ends I bought are only black oxide coated and are starting to tarnish a bit.  I plan on ordering some stainless steel ends in the near future.

Adding the tower-to-tower brace did not make a night and day difference in the handling of my car.  It did however make long sweeping corners, like freeway on ramps, feel more tight.



‘GT’ Firewall-to-Tower Brace:

I purchased the stock Volvo braces from my local Volvo dealer and had them powder coated when I had the tower-to-tower plates done.  These braces can be also purchased from Maximum Vehicle Performance.

Volvo PNs for the braces:

    240 upper strut brace (one side)  PN 1246228
    240 upper strut brace (one side) PN 1246229
    240 upper strut brace bolt (2 needed) PN 945444

‘GT’ Lower Chassis Brace:

I purchased the stock Volvo braces and related hardware from Maximum Vehicle Performance.


Volvo PNs for braces:

    240 lower strut brace (one side, need two) 1229483
    240 lower strut bolt (need 4) 946441
    240 lower strut locknut (need 4) 971083
    240 lower strut washer (need 4) 960148

Other Modifications


  • VDO Cockpit 2 1/16″ 30mm-hg to 15 psi boost gauge.   (PN 150 061)
  • VDO Cockpit 2 1/16″ 5 bar (80 psi) oil pressure gauge and sender (PN 350 080)
  • VDO oil pressure sender 5 bar, 7 psi warning contact, stamped ’30/2′ on base, M10x1 threads (PN 360 006)

Both of these gauges fit right into the opening in the dash, no modifications are needed.  You might need the little rubber feet from you dealer, PN 1259737, to hold the gauges.  The 5 bar sender, I believe, is identical to the stock sender, so if you need to replace yours, they are only about $35 compared to $70+ from the dealer!  I bought both the gauges and the sender from Summit Racing.



Homebrew Air/Fuel (AF) meter:

I got the diagram for this AF meter from the diy-eif projects page.  It is a National Semiconductor LM3914 LED driver circuit that is adjusted to read the 0-1 VDC from the O2 sensor in the motor.  I used a blank plate from the console and mounted the LEDs and the circuit board so that it looks ‘stock’.  I also added a switch so I can turn off the meter when I wanted to (The constant fluctuation of the lights due to the Lambda system can be annoying).  I believe the Inteletronix (Cyberdyne) AF meter works along the same principal, but I didn’t have space to mount the gauge since I have my stereo in the upper part of the dash.  The gauge was not ‘magic’ to build, but I do have access to soldering equipment, voltage supplies for calibration, etc. at work.  If you have space for a round gauge, and don’t have access to the required equipment, I  would recommend buying a commercially made gauge.






120 MPH Speedometer:

My car only came with a 85 MPH speedometer.  Even though I rarely drive faster than 85 for any length of time, I wanted a 120 MPH speedo like the 84’+ cars have.  I found the only 120 speedo at the u-pull yard for $15 and happily took it home.  After getting it home and inspecting it closer, I discovered that the ratio was incorrect for my car.  I needed to stay with a 0,980 and I had bought a 0,960 ratio.  The ratio is printed on the face of the speedometer, right above the odometer.  The ratio, as I understand it, is related to the number of revolutions needed to go a unit of distance.  Different rear end ratios require the appropriate speedo ratio.  After talking with John Laughlin, he had a 0,980 speedo but needed a 0,960, viola!, we traded and I got the correct speedometer.

Swapping the speedometers was very straight forward; just remove and replace.  The new speedo had the aux. speedo cable for the mileage counter box, which I didn’t need, so I clipped it off.  I also transferred the pick-up for the cruise control (two screws).  To get the mileage of the new speedo the same as the old speedo, I partially removed the pin that holds the odometer numbers and rotated them to the actual mileage of the car.

Power Mirrors:

My car did not come with power mirrors from the factory.  With the standard mirrors, you are always bumping them in the garage and adjusting the passenger side mirror while driving is just plain dangerous.  I was at the junk yard and while I normally ignore the 6 cylinder 240 cars, I noticed that they all had power mirrors.  The mirrors are easily removed with an allen wrench.  The wiring harness is ‘separate’ from the main harness and is easily removed along with the switches in the parking brake console.

The Volvo mirror switches are mounted very low on the console and tend to fill up with goo that always seems to fall between the seats.  Because I needed to drill holes anyway, I decided to mount the switches in a more accessible part of the console.  Another drawback to the Volvo switches is they are sort of ugly little sticks.  While looking through some Saabs, I noticed that their switches are essentially the same (can’t use the Saab switch in a Volvo, they don’t operate the mirrors correctly) but they have nice looking boots.  To spruce up the appearance of the Volvo switches, I added the Saab boots to the Volvo switches using a bit of sealant.



Saab switch on top with boot, Volvo switch on the bottom



Volvo switches mounted in the console with Saab boots

At The Track

Because I built my car as more of a 0-60 car than a 1/4 miler, I don’t know when I might go out to the drags. I would like to attend as may ‘driving schools’ as I can convince my wife I should go to. I may also try my hand at a bit of Solo II autocrossing.


Here are the events I have gone to so far:

March 1999 driver training school through Team Continental at PIR

This was my first ‘driving school’ that I took while driving my wagon.  I smiled for days afterwards!  It was a TOTAL BLAST!

I talked 4 friends of mine into going to “Road and Race Car Driver Training” at Portland International Raceway sponsored by Team Continental.   Each student gets a senior instructor who rides with you, teaching you late braking, apex, exit, and throttle technique.  There were three classes; Group 1 (total beginner), Group 2 (some driving class experience), and Group 3 (licensed or former race drivers).  We got 4 sessions each about 15-20 minutes long.

I, of course, was in group 1.  My ‘competition’ was my co-worker Jeff Mathena in a twin turbo Supra, my co-worker Kathleen O’Neil in a Mustang 5.0, my co-worker Jon Barrett in a 96′ Camaro, a race prepped Camaro, a couple of BMW M3s, a BMW Z3, a Nissan 300Z, a 850 T-5, and a Prelude Type SH.  By all means I was the low man on the totem pole in terms of power (still at 11-12 psi) but did pretty well in the corners.  I don’t think I convinced anyone to go out and race prep a Volvo wagon, but I got a couple ‘faster than I thought’ comments.  Peter Linssen of MVP was in Group 3 with the ‘Big Boys’ where he got to race with about 5 Vipers and various other fast cars.  It was great watching him come into turn 9 in a pack of Vipers.  His car was going like a bat out of hell.  A good driver really is worth 100 hp.  Very impressive.

This was not a ‘race’, but once I got the ‘being passed’ flag because the Prelude SH was behind me.  He barely got past me on the straight and was actually slower in the corners.  So, he would pull out ahead of me on the front and back straights, then I would catch right back up to him in the corners.  This was a kick!

My car performed better than I expected actually.  Very flat in the corners (for a wagon) and neutral handling.  The motor held up well to running at 5500 RPM for the 1/4 mile, 100+ MPH blasts down the front and back stretches (did not use OD).  I had not run the car super hard since the rebuild.  This was a true test of the car.  I pretty much killed my brake pads though.  I have the ‘low dust’ (high fade) pads from IPD but when I was done, my rims were black and boy does asbestos stink.  When I go out again, I’m changing to grooved rotors or cross drilled and maybe the Hawk Black pads.

Anyway, It was totally worth the $105 fee and a set of new pads.  If you have the chance to ever go, DO IT.  Check with your local track or race car club.

Go here for video clips. Site may not be available all the time since Geocities limits the file transfer per hour. Good luck

August 1999 driver training school through Cascade Sport Car Club at PIR

This was my second ‘drivers training’ at Portland International Raceway sponsored by Cascade Sport Car Club.  It was even more fun than the first time I went!  We got to run the ‘Festival Curves’ (chicane).  This time I was in group two (some experience and/or really fast cars).  My ‘competition’ was a prepped 5.0, a Toyota Celica, a Miata, a 300ZX, a turbo Eclipse, my co-worker, Jeff Mathena in a twin turbo Supra, an NSX, a RT Neon, a race prepped Prelude, and a 4 pack of race Rabbits.  Once again I was against some true sports cars, but this made it all the more fun.  When we all first line up in the morning pregrid and look each others cars over, I get all sorts of funny looks.  After the first couple of laps they definitely are thinking twice about giggling at the wagon.  Sure I get passed, but I make them work for it.

In the second session the Neon, I, and one of the Rabbits were nose to tail for the last part of the session.  This was a total kick!  The Neon driver and I talked later and he kept saying how hard he was pushing so that he didn’t get passed by a Volvo wagon.  We laughed how I couldn’t pass but he couldn’t get away either.

In the third session my instructor let me go out by myself (sort of scary) but I was going like stink.  I don’t know if I was still pumped from racing with the Neon or what.  I was at the front of the session and actually lapped the Celica and the Miata.  The Mustang and one of the Rabbits were tearing up the track and were the only cars to pass me.  I was pounding on the car pretty hard.

The fourth and final session I decided to be a little less brutal on the car and not push so hard.  The guy driving the NSX did not take a very good line in the corners and it took him a couple of laps to get around me.  I still lapped the Celica and the Miata but I got passed by more cars this last session.

I was running a borrowed VX cam and I liked the way it ran.  A couple of times I had to run the heater to keep the temperature down (it was close to 90 outside).  I ran stock Volvo pads on ATE grooved rotors in front and stock rotors in the rear.  The stock pads had very little fade and didn’t stink like the low dust pads.  Having good brakes allowed me to run harder with a lot more confidence that my first driving school.  I would definitely recommend this setup for the ‘weekend warrior’ as an alternative to pricey racing pads.  My Firehawk SZ50s ran very well.  They have great feedback and grip for a street tire.

It was totally worth the $95 fee and few thousand miles off the tires.  If you have the chance to ever go, DO IT.  Check with your local track or race car club.

Go here for video clips. Site may not be available all the time since Geocities limits the file transfer per hour. Good luck

1999 VSA National West Coast Volvo Owners Meet track day at PIR

Always on the lookout for being able to have fun with the wagon, I signed up for the track day ‘with IPD’ at the VSA National West Coast Meet.  For $40 we were able to run the track and then get timed for comparison against each other in each class.  Due to family commitments I was unable to go to the other festivities on Saturday and Sunday though.  During tech, the guy put me in the stock 140/240 class.  I asked him if I should be in the modified class because of all the stuff I have done to the car, but he just looked at me like I was a moron, so stock class it was.

There were mostly P1800s, 122s, and 140s at the track since that is what VSA is geared towards.  There were a few PVs, an S80, a couple 70 series, a couple of 700s and a half dozen 240s. There were several P1800 race cars that were going very well.  It is fun to watch ‘real’ race cars on the track.  One of the 240s was a pro rally car that had a late model PRV 6 cylinder that was turbocharged.  I think he said he had close to 500 hp or something like that.  His lap times backed up that claim.  My best lap time of 1:37:07 got me a first place in stock class.  I believe the rally car got a 1:24 and the next closest time to me was in the 1:38s.  In reality I should have gotten 2nd place in the modified 140/240 class instead of 1st in stock 140/240.  When I get the complete times, I’ll try to post them.

IPD had a S40 out to show off.  It is a nice looking little car but looks a lot like all the other modern Hondas/Toyotas/Etc.  Not much distinctive ‘Volvoness’ to it.

For the track sessions we were grouped by experience and how aggressive the driver wanted to be.  I got into Group 1 (want to go fast group).  Since there were no ‘instructors’ to ride along, we could have passengers along for a ride.  I took fellow Volvo owners Dave Cottrell and Chris Lindsay for a ride in separate sessions.  They started us out with about 10 seconds between each car and only allowed passing on the front straight.  I had a great time during one of the sessions chasing the Official Volvo Pace Car, a AWD V70 with lots of goodies.  I don’t know if it was the R version or not, either way he was pretty fast.  If you can tell if it is an R from the video, let me know.

Go here for video clips. Site may not be available all the time since Geocities limits the file transfer per hour. Good luck.


When I bought in 1996 my car it looked good from about 30 feet away but the closer you got you could see that the silver had not stood the test of time very well. The tops of both front fenders and the hood had light surface rust where the paint had crazed. The paint right below the windows was chalky and beginning to come off.

In early 2000 I decided the car really needed to get painted or it would start to fall apart soon. I checked at local paint places and the prices for a ‘decent’ paint job were $2500+. I started talking to buddies of mine about renting a spray booth and one of them heard of a class at a local community collage that allowed you to bring your car in on a Saturday (12 total) and prep and paint your car. The cost of the class was about $200 bucks!

First I removed all trim, lights, and bumpers, door seals, interior door panels, drip rail trim, mirrors (temp mounted in pictures) basically everything but the windows (those come out later) and took the car to a place in town that does plastic media blasting of entire vehicles. For about $200 the entire car had the paint removed from it. I needed to do paint removal around openings and such because they tape off all of the openings. These pictures show lights and bumpers sometimes mounted because I had to drive 30 miles to the class on Saturdays and needed to be “legal”.




After the body was stripped, I took it to school and filled a couple of small dents and door dings. The car required very little plastic filler. Once the body was smooth I shot a coat of sealer, then 3 coats of sandable primer.




Now the real work started. I shot a light guide coat to show low spots and started wet sanding, and wet sanded and wet sanded and wet sanded…….. During all this sanding I discovered that around all the fixed glass in the rear that it was impossible to sand around the seals well, so out came the glass! This made it much easier to get a smooth surface around the glass plus I found some small amount of rust that I took care of. While the glass was out I decided to get it (and the door glass too) tinted. This way there were no edges of the tinting that showed since it went right to the edge of the glass and was hidden by the seal.


Because I had pulled all the interior panels and door seals I painted the door and tail gate jambs. Also if you notice on the turbo paint scheme that the “blackout” around the windows does not go all around the windows and the jambs. I decided to ‘fix’ this by painting the top portion of the door (window frame) black and paint the body (jamb) semi-gloss black also. I think this completes the look better. The spoiler, mirrors, gutter trim, door handles (not the chrome part), window trim, and bumpers also were painted matching black. The remaining portion of the jambs were painted stock 1981 silver.

After the body was finish sanded and the jambs were painted I took the car to the booth to paint. I borrowed a friends Sata HVLP gun and shot 2 coats of base followed by 3 coats of clear. I only had a couple of runs around the wheel wells (first car I ever painted) that cleaned up.

After the paint had cured for a week, I painted the black below the windows (instead of the decal) and painted lower portion of the front and rear fenders to match the rocker panel panel scheme. I then reinstalled the glass, trim and other stuff.

This was a big project that took 3 full months but I am happy with the results. My total cost was under $1000 and I think I would of had to pay close to $4-5K if I would have had someone else do everything I did.

Finished Product