Randall Chapman's 1962 Volvo PV 544
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Unorthodox: irregular: independent in behavior or thought, breaking with convention or tradition.
Even though the latest offerings from Volvo have become somewhat more mainstream, Volvo people in general have always seemed to march to a different drum and the vintage car folks even more so. We are a special breed. We love our cars. We like the fact that some see Volvo’s as quirky or different. I remember when I had my heart set to build a PV hot rod some would ask “why a Volvo” I answered ,“why not”! “anyone can put together an old Ford or other domestic, and more power to them, I happen to like Swedish steel”.
I found my 62’ PV 544 in a “recycler” ad for $1,300.00. It was all there, but well worn and not a good candidate for a restoration, but perfect for what I needed. After trailering her home I began to contemplate just what I was going to do to her. I knew I wanted to make some mild body changes, paint her satin black, drop her down and red wheels and wide whitewalls were on the list.
So, I proceeded to iron out the dents, fill unnecessary holes and so on. I frenched the rear fenders for 39’ Ford taillights, created an “egg crate” grill from a HomeDepot florescent light grate. For bumpers I purchased aftermarket ribbed aluminum bumpers for VW beetles and proceeded to narrow and flatten them to match the curvature of the PV. I replaced every rubber seal on the body.
I know I needed more power than the tired B18, so I located a 1991 Camaro 3.1 v6 with 15,000 miles on it along with the T-5 five speed transmission. I fits very well in the PV but I did need to enlarge the trans tunnel to fit. I dumped the factory fuel injection and installed an Edelbrock manifold, 390 cfm Holley carb, Mallory Unilite distributor, CompCams roller rockers and custom fenderwell headers.
To make her stop and handle more like a modern car, I swapped out the front cross member for a SRE unit complete with Tubular A-arms, rack and pinion steering, coilovers, and 11” disc brakes. Out back went a Currie 8” Ford rear with large drums and 3:50 gears. An aluminum driveshaft and 73’ Torino master cylinder (in the original location) finishes her up.
I had a local guy do the interior in red vinyl with new headliner and carpet.
I goes without saying that there are hundreds of items and details that were involved in this project, far too numerous to mention. I took me two years to get to this place. There is more I want to do to my PV down the line, but I must say I have enjoyed every minute working on it so far. I love the way it drives and although the motor is mild it goes like stink.
Every trip in an old car is an adventure.
Some of the greatest rewards I have received come from the responses of nearly everyone who sees the car. I have heard everything from: “nice Volvo, I had one like that”, “cool old Ford”, to “what kind of car is that?’ But I think the best compliment I ever received was from some teenage kid on his bike who stopped stone cold on the side of the street and starring he said, “sick car, man” I said “uh, uh, thank you”. I did not know what “sick” meant at that time so I asked my 10 yr old daughter for clarification, (hey, I’m 53 give me a break). Anyway, I’m happy that my old Volvo can bring a smile, rekindle a memory and provoke a thumbs up from strangers. Who would have thought that a little PV could create the many opportunities it has for friendships and fun.
You know, maybe being unorthodox isn’t so bad after all.
Friday, March 06, 2009 - PATRICK KOEPKE
Randy , Very inspiring , I`ve got a 1960 - 544 picked up from my friends mother . It was his dads car , bought brand new , dad passed away in the 70`s ! The car sat for 30 years up on blocks ,got it home little this & that ,some fresh gas . . . it started ! Now in spring I will start all the things I got planned . Is your dash a replacement , also what & where did you your tires ? What did you use for a size mine are metic ? Great resto. THANKS PAT , PS. I AM IN FOND DU LAC , WI ...ABOUT 60 MILES NORTH OF MILWAUKEE (920)921-2764
Saturday, April 11, 2009 - TEX CRUZZER
Being with what the economy and fuel situation these days the Volvo is a tempting alternative. Perhaps the latest Ford V6 would be more appropriate since Ford owns Volvo and has one of the better V6 engines right now. Thumbs up for having the cajones to build it.
Monday, June 01, 2009 - CHARLIE CHOPS 1940
Randall - do you have contact info on the SRE front suspension? Thanks, Charlie
Sunday, June 07, 2009 - JOHN CAMPBELL
Just picked up a 1966 544 in sad but saveable condition and I am planning on building it up as a ratrod. The rear fenders are shot so goimg to remove them and the front clip and use a radiator shell from a truck. Looking for an early Chysler 392 hemi and trans for the nostalgic 60's gasser look. Love your Volvo, thats cool!
Sunday, June 14, 2009 - VINCE
Wow! Nice clean work! What a perfect restomod. Were the motormounts fabricated or bought?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 - ELECTRIC EAGLE
I love it! Nice job. Looks great lowered and I wish my duett was that low.
Saturday, December 26, 2009 - STEVEN SPENCER
First of all Great job!!!! this is one hot car. I am working on a 58 - 444 and I am having trouble with side mirrors. Where did you find your's they really compliment this car & I hope they are functional out of the passenger side. If you get this would you contact me at email@example.com . Thank you.
Sunday, January 10, 2010 - KIM UEECK
Great 544! My first car was 544. I still own a 62 544 that has been restored and tweeked a bit. lets just say there have been many mustang, camero, z car owners that just couldent catch up. I kept it volvo with a b20 engine + many mods. 16 sec quarters. After seeing yours Im considering pulling one of my 7 doner 544s in and getting to work. thanks
Monday, January 18, 2010 - LARS
nice car, looks a little like mine.. =) http://www.garaget.org/?car=165796&image=1590080
Sunday, February 14, 2010 - BRIAN NEWMAN
Randall,I read about your 544 and as i was reading i thought that i was reading many of my own thaughts. I have a 62 544 I'm working on....If there is any way you could give me any tips or sources for parts I would greatly appreciate it .GREAT JOB Regards Brian Newman B.Newman@yahoo.com
Monday, February 15, 2010 - BRIAN NEWMAN
I made a mistake on E-mail correct: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 22, 2010 - LEGGS
Way Cool ! I have a 61, 544 with a B16, I put an Isky Cam, Shaved the Head,Electronic Distributor, And Suicided the Doors!Lowered the car old school style by putting different coil springs. Fattening the fender's right now so I can fit 8 inch wide wheels. Keep up the cool work ,It pays to be different! I get more lookers at car show's then 40 Fords.Later, Leggs, 60 year old hot rodder !email@example.com
Saturday, June 12, 2010 - DAVE PROVENCHER
My 65 PV544 is channeled on an S-10 Blazer frame with a 350/350. The fenders are widened and molded.It's a two seater due to channeling it so low on the frame.Next I plan on extending the hood past the nose and hand fabbing a grille. And adding fender skirts with www's
Thursday, July 15, 2010 - ALBERTO AVERILL CHILE
Excellent project I think this is the ideal PV for everyday drive Kept all the vintage look but with today´s comfort Hope to follw you some day www.clubvolvochile.cl
Thursday, December 09, 2010 - KARL ELMERFORS
very nice build PV and nice whit a v6 engine big v8's is not always the best BR from sweden
Monday, March 07, 2011 - GENE IN FOREST LAKE
Thanks for the inspiring pix. I started rodding my 65 544 two summers ago. So far I ve got a Mustang II suspension in, and a Ford 2.3 FI 4 cylinder 4 speed overdrive automatic fitted. Did have to totally redo the tranny tunnel. Kinduv a project and a half Lots of cutting and pasting with my plasma cutter and wirefeed. Also used an older Ford dual master cylinder mounted on the firewall. It just clears the intake manifold of the fuel injection system. Things slow down in the garage during Minnesota winters, so your photos will get me going again. Hope all is well with your project.