My fiancée and I needed an extra car. Sharing our little Jeep Patriot was starting to get old, and fast. That led me to looking for another car, something old, but not necessarily fast (yet).
I spent a couple of months looking at cars, trying to find the right one: a wagon, rear-wheel drive, manual transmission, and with enough of an aftermarket to allow for modification. I eventually settled on a 1984 Volvo 245.
This particular vehicle had seen some better days (but having found it on the West Coast and having it shipped to me in Michigan meant that I wouldn’t be dealing with rust, which was a nice touch).
An attempt had been made at some point in the old girl’s life to turn her into a drift car – the stock springs had been cut to give her a 3 inch drop, someone had installed a rear “strut tower bar” to add some extra rigidity that the upgraded 25mm rear sway bar wasn’t giving her, and the rear tires were downsized to 185/70R14’s in an attempt to help them break loose. It had even been painted an “aggressive” flat black from the original brown.
The paint was rough to the touch (how, I don’t know) and was not done particularly well, but it sealed the body well enough, so at least it had that going for it.
Her interior had been completely ignored, the front seats ripped, the driver’s seat made up of a passenger seat modified to fit, and the radio being removed completely. It seemed like this old wagon had been abused.
Even with all of this, I saw a future for her.
I also settled on a handful of modifications that I wanted to do, much too quickly.
This being a station wagon, it wasn’t going to be the best handling car I’d ever driven, so I’d need to start with some suspension upgrades. This led me to a set of IPD sport springs to stiffen the corners up while dropping the car down a respectable 1.75 inches in the front and 1.5 inches in the rear. These, coupled with Bilstein HD shocks and struts would make the old wagon a little more nimble in the corners.
In addition to the suspension upgrade, on the docket were a set of 15×6 inch aluminum “Virgos”, which were standard equipment on turbo 240s in the 1980s. These would get wrapped in some 195/60R15 BFGoodrich tires, OE size for the 15 inch wheels, but an upgrade for the wagon. The original 14×5 steel wheels would be relegated to winter duty with a set of 195/75R14 Firestones with a nice deep tread
I wanted to adjust the look of the car as well, it having come straight from the mid-80s with a set of quad-square headlights and a missing grille. This allowed me to not feel nearly as bad about swapping the lights out for a set of single-round headlights and a flat grille, which fit quite nicely under the already-swapped flat-nose hood (which was a contrasting yellow).
The car ran rough when I first received it, idling incredibly inconsistently and intermittently choking on itself while trying to accelerate. After a series of sensor and fuel regulator replacements, she seemed to be able to find her stride.
Up to this point, I’ve been putting most of my energy into getting the car road worthy again, so that my fiancée and I could quite sharing our single car. It’s also quite cold in Michigan in winter, so my time out in the driveway has been limited. I’ve made the best of it, though.
Aside from getting the engine running more smoothly, I also managed to replace the radio—as well as upgrade it—so that I wouldn’t have to drive the car in silence. While listening to the rhythmic sounds of the engine and the rumble of the exhaust can be wonderful, I do like to listen to music while I’m driving. Getting the radio installed wasn’t a terrible job, even if it did take me two hours longer than it should because for some reason 1980s Volvo decided that black as an appropriate color wire for the 12 volt ignition power, however finding out that the driver’s side speaker didn’t work was a let down.
This just meant that it was also time for a speaker upgrade.
As spring gets underway here in the “Great Lakes State”, I’ll be spending more time getting things modified: updating the shocks, struts, and springs, replacing the puny 19mm front sway bar with a 23mm version and adding factory strut tower braces to the top side, fixing the interior, and fixing the paint. There’s also a turbo conversion in the wagon’s future, however this is slated for much further down the line… for now.
There was one interesting cosmetic change to the car, though, that I quite like. The first ‘V’ in the Volvo badging on the rear hatch had been replaced with an ‘L’, making this particular car a “Lolvo”, which I’ve come to lovingly refer to her as.
I probably could have saved the money I’ve spent so far on the car, shipping, and parts and bought myself something much more recent and reliable. That’s not really what I wanted, though. Whether I knew it or not, I wanted a project that I could make my own. And with the amount of things that are available on the little Lolvo, she will be very much my own creation.