Though ‘Prancing Moose’ owners are fairly rare among our current contributor roster, every Speedhunter is capable of identifying a great build when we see one. And even with the hood shut, this Volvo 242 looks pretty damn good for a car that was engineered to be odd.
It’s a tidy car that draws attention via visually-subtle modifications rather than over-the-top exclamation points. But starting anywhere other than under the hood makes little sense.
Five Cylinders Out Of The Ordinary
For a bespoke swap, the engine bay sees a factory-level attention to detail. The organization here is a direct result of the mechanical sensibility taken from many years spent under the hood of BMW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. “I’ve been a mechanic my whole life,” Dave mentioned as he went on to explain how his hobby took him from his home garage to Wyotech, and now a speed shop of his own, Victory Auto Design. Throughout this time he’s maintained a steady stable of either all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive European cars.
Both Dave’s father and uncle worked for Volvo before he got his license, but despite riding around town as a passenger in those cars, Dave’s first vehicle turned out to be a Saab. He tinkered with Saabs before moving to BMWs, and that ran parallel to an equal interest in Audi vehicles. This is where Dave grew to truly appreciate the Audi 20V AAN engine.
When viewing this car, Volvo purists have often reminded Dave that there is a five-cylinder turbo with the Volvo slash on the engine cover available, but the Audi mill proved more versatile as a swap candidate.
The Four Rings Performance-built 2.2L put down 430 horsepower on its last hit on the dyno after tuning via its Emtron kv8 engine management system, so it’s most certainly not stock. The top end of the engine features a Ferrara valve train, while the block is now home to JE forged pistons and Auto Verdi Racing forged connecting rods. A custom oil pan was used to provide better cross-member and ground clearance.
A 62mm Holset turbo with a 38mm TiAL wastegate can be found on the hot side, with a custom intake manifold affixed to the driver’s side of the engine. There’s also a custom intercooler and a 3.5-inch down-pipe flowing into a 3-inch exhaust system.
At each stage, care has been paid to make each iteration better than the last. Before the swap was finalized the engine bay was painted a battleship-inspired grey.
That colour continues from core support to trunk where the fuel system has been upgraded considerably. The factory spare tire well has been removed, offering up a clean slate for the 12-gallon universal fuel cell. To the left is a surge tank fed by dual Bosch Motorsport 044 pumps, with -8AN feed lines running to an 034 Motorsport fuel rail and 1,000cc injectors. The return line is -6AN and everything is managed by a Turbosmart fuel pressure regulator.
During its dyno run the motor was backed by a wounded BMW ZF transmission, but the extent of the damage only became apparent as the car was pushed, which did limit the final output. Dave has since fitted a new ZF 310 transmission (via a modified Volvo D24 bell-housing) with an 034 Motorsport flywheel, Sachs 707 pressure plate and a 6-puck clutch. Further down the driveline, a custom driveshaft runs into a Ford 31-spline 8.8-inch rear axle with 3.73 gears.
“This car has been a perpetual learning process,” Dave admits as he explained the ‘build, break, build’ cycles he’s endured to get the Volvo to this point.
Not Just A Power Punch
The clean execution under both the hood and trunk continues to the exterior.
Volvos of the 1980s and ’90s have always had a rather distinctive look about them. Reminiscent of bricks, simplicity and restraint has always been the best way to approach 242 visual modifications. Dave’s car was far from pristine when he took ownership; rust had claimed most of the panels meaning getting the body to how you see it today was an uphill battle.
During the rebuild, Dave swapped the bumpers for plastic units and performed the single round headlight front end conversion. Before the paint was sprayed the fenders were widened 2-inches on each side.
The wider fenders allow 17×9-inch Wedsport TC105X wheels to sit at all four corners. Since this shoot, Dave has bumped up the tire size to help with handling and give the car a more DTM-inspired posture.
Underneath the suspension is a combination of parts from several different manufacturers. BNE provided the coilover conversion, while Eibach provided the springs. Ground Control-sourced camber plates and shortened and reinforced front spindles take care of camber and steering angle. A BMW E46 steering rack is mounted to a custom subframe that has one-off tubular control arms fitted to each end. The sway bars and front strut brace were also custom-crafted. In the rear, Viking Fabrications fashioned adjustable lower control arms, and BNE came through again with spherical axle bushings, upper torque rods and the Panhard bar. Yes, this car is still a live axle. To quote Dave: “It’s not a Volvo if you remove the live axle.”
Koni provides damping and finally factory Volvo S60R parts are used for the big brake upgrade.
All together the suspension is what makes this car more than just something to look at.
Inside The Brick Frog
The interior is also function forward. Classic vented Volvo headrests are long gone here; Recaro provides seating via a Profi driver’s seat and Pole Position passenger seat. Willans harness belts fasten to a 6-point half cage.
A simple Nardi three-spoke steering wheel sits in front of the Plex tuning display, while the doors have been trimmed with custom black door cards. Heat and A/C have been foregone, relegating the car to trips in nicer weather, but Dave does drive it as deep into the cold season as possible.
For something made to be weird, the vehicle Dave has put together is one that very few enthusiasts would turn their nose up at. Development of the car continues each year as Dave is fortunate enough to be able to tag along to customer track days and log valuable seat time.
It’s not built specifically for any class or formal competition, but everything learned on this chassis helps make Dave a better fabricator and car builder for his clients. Putting a smile on his face each time he hits the gas in his Audi-powered Volvo is just a bonus.
Photos by Keiron Berndt
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