automotive archaeology of #projectlolvo245

posted: February 10th, 2017 | by:
in: #projectlolvo245, hobby, projects

I hadn’t gone into the purchase of a Volvo 245 wagon expecting to buy a car from 1984. I really hadn’t. I promise. It just, sort of, fell into my lap.

This particular ’84 Volvo 245 has some quirks

The most obvious, and I think most endearing, feature of the car is that a previous owner swapped a flat hood onto the car. And not just any flat hood—a bright yellow one.

At some point in its life, it was reckoned to be a “drift wagon”. Someone threw a stiff, 25mm rear anti-sway bar onto the rear axle and also installed a rear “strut tower” brace (I’m using quotes since the rear suspension is definitely not made up of struts). The jury is still out about what the rear axle ratio is, though I’ll eventually work that one out.

The car had also been lowered by cutting the springs at all four corners, dropping the ride height of the wagon by somewhere between 2 and 3 inches. It rides a little low for my liking, so that will need to be rectified. A pleasant surprise to go along with the drop, though, is an adjustable panhard rod, which is one less purchase I’ll need to make, and one less part that I’ll need to install.

This example of a 240 wagon came with the correct 14 x 5 inch steel wheels and 195/75R14 tires, thought the tires were in need of replacement. The wheels did come equipped with 1970s-style one-piece hub caps and chrome “beauty rings” (well, 2 beauty rings to be exact) to cover the wheel weights.

An interesting note on the wheels—two are black and two are plain steel. As long as I can keep the matching wheels on the same side of the car, no one should be any the wiser (until I get around to painting them all to match).

The body is in surprisingly good shape—no discernible rust issues, everything so far has been found to be quite solid. I guess that’s what you get when you order in a car from the Pacific Northwest! The body panels have a few bumps and bruises, the front driver’s side fender and door having a couple of dents, but since this isn’t going to be a show car by any means, I’m not particularly worried about it. The dents look like something that would happen in the parking lot of your average grocery store.

One of the things about the car that I liked was that someone had swapped the original “Coffin” hood with a flat-nose hood, something I’d been planning on doing anyhow. The hood has proven to be quite entertaining, it’s a yellow hood, quite a contrast against the flat black body of the car. The hood is a a little worse for the wear, it has its fair share of dents and missing paint on the end that has surface rust, but otherwise, it’ll get its job done.

The 245 came without a grill to sit between a decent set of quad-square headlights. I didn’t mind since my plan was to replace the grill and headlights with the single round lights and the wide, flat-hood grill anyway. (The only annoying thing about this is that I won’t be able to sell the headlights packaged with an appropriate grill.)

The inside of the car also had a story to tell

There were plenty of things going on inside the car as well. Not the least of which was a lovely, musty smell that has proven incredibly difficult to find the source of.

Aside from the smell of a Michigan basement permeating the interior, the he driver’s seat was actually a passenger seat from before prior to 1986. This is when the headrest design changed from being “A” shaped to more square.

The passenger seat was a real passenger seat, however it was from a 1986 or later car. At least they were both leather and matched the rest of the tan interior. Neither seat was in great shape, but there’s nothing some patches or a seat cover can’t fix. The back seats seemed to be in decent shape, though the trim panels in the cargo area were in need of some TLC, at least the ones that still existed.

The dashboard was cracked and severely faded on top, though this isn’t a big surprise for a 33 year old car. The instrument cluster was swapped out at some point for one from a turbo car, complete with tachometer (instead of the standard clock that’s usually in its place) and a “turbo” warning light. It had the original giant “bus-sized” steering wheel, which aside from its massive size, is quite comfortable to drive with. The cover of the glove box door was missing (and the lock no longer fit the key that came with he car, nor did it stay in what was left of the glove box). The carpet throughout had seen better days. It was all faded to the point that it looked more like stained white carpet that tan. It would need to be replaced.

There were only three things wrong with the interior that posed a particularly thorny problem: the stock radio was missing. This in itself wasn’t a big problem, I wanted to replace it with a newer bluetooth receiver anyway. The problem was that the plug that connects the car to the receiver had been clipped off and I’ll be damned if its nearly impossible to find the car end of the wiring harness (or a donor Volvo 240 in a junkyard nearby). This wasn’t the end of the world, it just meant that I would need to find some wiring diagrams to figure out what each wire does so I could connect the head unit (this would be a great job for bullet connectors… easy to reconnect if I did something wrong).

The other issue was that the heater blower motor was dead. Again, not a big problem, just incredibly difficult to change. I did, however, find a method for replacing the blower motor that didn’t require that I remove the entire dashboard.

The last major annoyance inside the car was that only one interior light worked: the one that illuminates the accessory switches on the dash. I’d have to find new bulbs for the rest of the interior and gauges so that driving at night would be less of a mystery.

Its past as a possibly ill-conceived boat of a drift car and apparent lack of weather-sealing aside, it’s a pretty solid car (even if I do need to track down a stumble in the engine). The car itself came from the nostalgia-inducing era of taking the crudeness of the all-mechanical internal combustion engine and smashing it together with a smattering of electronic gizmos to improve it’s fuel efficiency and increase power. Unfortunately, it also came from a time before OBD-1 was universally being installed in cars allowing even a rudimentary diagnostic experience.

On the list of To-Do’s for #projectlolvo245:

  • Replace cut springs with IPD Sport Springs
  • Swap out stock from sway bar with larger, GT-style sway bar
  • Replace shocks and struts
  • Install front strut tower bars
  • Install front strut tower plates
  • Replace strut tower mounts
  • Remove rear “strut tower” bar
  • Wrap 14 inch wheels with snow tires; Put summer tires on 15 inch “Virgo” wheels
  • Replace interior light bulbs
  • Replace heater blower motor
  • Fix engine stumble
  • Rebuild/replace driver’s seat
  • Install new stereo stereo
  • Find replacement cargo bay trim
  • Figure out where that smell is coming from
  • And plenty of things that I’ve already forgotten need to be done

You can follow the progress on the site here or on instagram.

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