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Norm Kranz's 1964 Volvo PV 544

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My car habit has been around since my first memories. I've had all kinds of cars from Austin Minis to Volvos.

My first introduction to Volvos was in 1973 when I met two brothers, Wayne and Jeff Christie. Wayne was a Service Manager at the Volvo Canada head office and Jeff was an Apprentice Mechanic at the local Volvo dealer in Oshawa. Jeff had a 65 PV544 and Wayne had a company car at the time. Jeff's car had 14ţwheels with shortened springs, Koni shocks, double front sway bar and an Adco rear sway bar. The car had a B20 with 4.88 : 1 rear axle ratio. That car was in my life for good. We did everything in that car from marshalling in local and national rallies to slalom racing and just trying to beat it to death. It always kept us going (with some small repairs here and there).

I still had not bought a Volvo but was messing around with street rods and muscle cars. In 1988 I bought a 242GT and a 144 automatic as a winter car. The GT was a ton of fun and I changed the wheels and put in a rally gauge cluster. I had that car for 3 years. The 144 was a money maker. I bought it for $400.00 and it got hit by someone at least twice a winter and I always opted for a cash settlement outside the insurance. I had the car for 3 winters and was $800.00 to the good after the purchase price.

After these two I purchased a 71 142s from a friend that he had a body shop install a 164 roof with the factory sunroof in it. Cool idea we thought. I was involved with a local motorsports club at the time and we had started renting a go-kart track to do some lapping. The track was 1.2 miles long with 6 corners and a wicked left hand hairpin. This started the rework of the 140. It ended up with IPD coil springs, Bilstein shocks, custom 1-1/4 full adjustable front sway bar, 7/8 full adjustable rear sway bar, rebuilt B20 with IPD oil pump, street performance cam/lifters/double valve spring, reworked E head, race prepped SU carbs, M41 overdrive trans and a posi grip diff. I put 164 vented rotors on it and had tons of brakes.

Castrol oil took interest and sponsored a series through the Canadian Sports Car Association Solo 1 in 81 and the series is still running today (with different sponsorship). In 1982 we entered the car in all 7 events and won all 7. This car was heavy and lacked some power but it handled better that the competition and it would go deeper and stop better into any corner than the others could. It was a ton of fun and made people look up and watch the brick pull off another win no matter what they came out with in class.

Divorce forced the sale and after that I got back into the street rod stuff again. I built a 31 Ford Tudor sedan, 56 Chevy PU and have a 40 Lasalle coupe to work on and a 66 T-bird (Cathies car when I get around to it).

I═ve always been in touch with all the guys I grew up with and Jeff, who never did sell the 544, had mentioned that after 15 years in the back of the garage he was going to redo the car and get it on the road for summer of ═07. Wayne also had a 123GT that will be ready this April ═08 not to mention a bunch of others that are resurrecting the Volvo fever. I couldn't stand it and on Dec 22, 2007 I drove to Ohio to pick up a 64 PV544 that was bought on eBay. By July 22, 2007 the car was on the road with the following work done:

  • Complete front suspension rebuild
  • Mustang II cut front coils
  • IPD poly bushings
  • Bilstein HD shocks
  • IPD sway bar
  • 122 front disc brake conversion with stainless steel braided hoses & rebuilt master cylinder
  • Complete rear end rebuild
  • Stainless steel braided brake hoses
  • IPD poly bushings
  • IPD sway bar
  • Bilstein HD shocks
  • Emergency cables
  • Shortened coils
  • Trailing arms were boxed in for strength.
  • B18 engine and M40 transmission were cleaned up and re-gasketed
  • Drive shaft received all new U joints, hanger bearing and cushions
  • The SU carbs were given a complete rebuild and then the engine was tuned
  • Delco alternator conversion
  • Rebuilt fuse box
  • 4-2-1 ceramic header
  • 2-1/4 exhaust with a stainless steel baffle (no muffler) that turns out in front of the right rear wheel
  • The under seat cross members were modified so that a set of 122 seats could be installed.
  • Installed a 142e tach on the dash with full instruments under the dash

There's a ton of other small stuff done as well. The car has its original patina on the outside finish as well as the interior (not too high on the list). The entire under carriage was scraped, sanded and painted.

The car will receive 9 Ford 11 x 2-1/2 rear brakes and axles and an upgraded B20 in the future. Also some custom offset GM rally wheels.

Cathie and I bought a 71 1800E this Dec out of California and I'm in the process of doing the same to it. (as your Customer Service Representative Sin can attest to by the orders coming to IPD)!

Thanks much

Norm Kranz

Gallery

Community Comments

Saturday, February 28, 2009 - JOHN POLLOCK

Great article, but tantalizing dereft of technical details. Would love to see a Tech how-to section for 544 upgrades.

Thursday, May 14, 2009 - DON - COLORADO

Norm, Do you have any information on how to convert the 544 drum brakes to 122 disc brakes? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Don

Thursday, July 02, 2009 - GREGORY PHILLIPS

Dad rode in this car at mosport. Norm's the real deal. Everything about this car is true, I've seen it. Definitely the rat rod of volvos. I'm building a 74 142 right now and Norm has been part of the inspiration behind the car. Yours Truly, Gregory P.S. I'm an 18 year old engineering student.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 - SATHA

I have just bought a 1960 Volvo Pv 544 and I would like to upgrade the front and rear brakes to discs. Can you please advise. e-mail address: satha.naidoo@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - JOHN MILLER

I have just received a 1962 pv544 from my mother (she bought it new in 62) and would like to convert the brakes to disc. Any info would on where to begin would be great. Thanks! You can email me at johnemiller@embarqmail.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - TED CRAMER

Norm beautiful work i love the upgrades. my grand father recently passed and left me his 1960 544. I wish to resore this car to the most original i can and still be a daily driver but i am having a very hard time with finding O.E. parts. if u have any suggestions for me or mabee some upgrades that might b better 4 me using it as a daily driver i would appriciate it greatly. my email is maek13514@hotmail.com thx.

Thursday, February 04, 2010 - KURT

I bought a 1960 pv this last summer. I cannot find a mustang II front end, but I do need disc brakes on the front. Any advise on what I could do for discs on the front?? My Email is hipsterrock@gmail.com Any help would be so greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - NORM KRANZ

Good Morning All: I'm very sorry that I have not answered all of these questions on this blog. The truth of the matter is that I didn't know that this site existed until the other day when my daughter informed me of it. Those that have asked any questions and left an email address I will answer by email. For those that have not left email I will answer on this site later today. For those that have given complements I thank you very much for the kind words. thx Norm K. email kranz.n@pg.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - NORM KRANZ

Hi folks:As promised what you need to find first is the early 1800/122 (single circuit brake) caliper mounting brackets. Once you have these the spindles are same dimensions to bolt on hub / disc and caliper. If you want the full explaination email me at kranz.n@pg.com and I'll give you all the info. thx Norm K.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - STEVE DALTON

As for Norm being the "real deal" I agree - he sure is and has been a great help to my restoration steps on a recently acquired 544 from Alberta. In fact the front anti way bar has just been ordered as per Norm's recommendations.

Monday, March 01, 2010 - NORAH HURLEY

i am confused- i want to buy a Volvo JUST LIKE THIS. The love & energy you's put into every part of this car, it's painstanking. As is my spelling. Do you want to part with this car? If so, How much are we talking about? Please, E-Mail me (norah Hurley - as in hurleyinyc@yahoo.com- i'd like nothing more then to have THIS car. Had one (TAN) like it-back "in the day" Hope to hear from you's soon. n.Hurley in NYC

Thursday, September 02, 2010 - ADJUNDNOUMULA

Very Interesting! Thank You !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - JON WRIGHT

Norm, Cannot get through on your posted e-mail address. Can you please send the conversion info to:tinker060@bellsouth.net Thanks in advance,

Sunday, February 27, 2011 - ED MADRID

Norm, Good day. I know you have probably been asked this 1000 times now, but can you send me the information on how to convert the drum brakes front end to disc on a 544 I ve been scouring the internet for this information. Can the entire front suspension clip be unbolted and swapped out or just the hub disc and calipers are needed Can I still use my PV544 wheels Can the rearend and frontend from an 1800 work also or only the Amazon 122 suspension works Also, the spicer rear axle, do you still run it or did you swap yours out The retaining threads for the retaining nuts on mine are worn. thank you, Ed Madrid-edmadrid666 hotmail.com

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