The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

50 Years of ipd

2013-01-17 - ipd staff

Celebrating 50 years is no small achievement especially when you consider the humble beginnings of a small company like ipd. We have a lot of great things planned to celebrate this milestone. Most of our celebration will happen during our annual Garage Sale Event in May but look for great things coming throughout the year.

Below we've consolodated some of the history of ipd with video and articles including the famous 140 that won at Laguna Seca in 1982.

Please visit this page frequently for more 50 year anniversary news.


The Fuel Show visits ipd in Portland, Oregon to talk about their History with Volvo and Subaru. This is segment four from the show 10-29-06

Richard Gordon drives to Volvo to victory - Laguna Seca Raceway - May 2, 1982

When Richard Gordon and his crew decided to take weekend auto-cross events to another level, they decided to build a race car. Their first race car was a 122S and performance parts weren’t available in the aftermarket at that time. ipd had to manufacture products themselves if they wanted to be competitive. It wasn’t long after the race car was built that they had people wanting those same parts for their own daily drivers; parts like exhaust headers, camshafts, suspension parts, and sway bars. That’s when the first ipd catalog was published featuring all of the exclusive items developed and tested on ipd’s race car.

ipd sway bars have been featured in every catalog since the first one released in 1968. Back then all the pictures were taken with a Polaroid camera. The print and copy was done on an old typewriter, but it got the job done. Those catalogs featured products that were geared toward enhancing the driving characteristics and performance of Volvo cars.

Sway bars have become our most renowned product ever manufactured. If there’s any product that has been tested to no end, Sway Bars would be it! Decades of racing success taught us there’s no substitute for thousands of hours at the race track testing and perfecting how Volvos could be improved. The amount of research and development that went into our rich racing history was the same painstaking research that went into creating sway bar kits for enthusiast’s who drive on the street every day.

Creating a sway bar for a race car is slightly different than making a sway bar for a street car. Ultimately the goal is still the same. We create sway bars that help enhance the cars ability to maneuver within its driving conditions. Over the years car manufactures have drastically changed and improved the suspension on modern day vehicles. We’ve had to adapt our manufacturing processes along with those changes. Looking underneath a newer Volvo you can clearly see they didn’t leave much room for error. As space has become more limited, it’s required us to invest in ways to improve the quality and precision when making a sway bar. Fully automated CNC bending machines have allowed us to increase the sway bar diameter and retain the same tight radius bends. This allows us to design better sway bars that maintain the crucial angles made to fit like the OEM application.

Volvo, along with most car manufactures must compromise on the sway bar size and material.  We’ve concluded from our research that manufactures have to consider the entire market. Volvo cars that could be driving in the outback of Australia to rock constructed highways in Prudhoe Bay Alaska. The average street car sacrifices bar size for vehicles that are in geographical areas that have poor road quality. Under those road conditions a larger sway bar could possibly transfer some harshness to the car body. Car manufactures sacrifice any improved handling in order to avoid complaints regarding ride quality in those regions.   The benefits from adding ipd sway bars outweigh the little or no adverse affects contributed to the overall ride quality.

Over the years we’ve marketed our sway bars to all types of drivers. Our bars can be seen on a Volvo spending the weekend auto-crossing or taking part in a local track day. You will also see our bars outfitted on a weekend warrior getting ready to go camping. Sway bars work in all applications no matter how you look at it.

They’ve been called performance sway bars and safety sway bars. Fact is, sway bars give the driver confidence to feel more comfortable under any driving condition. We’re most proud to say that our sway bars do the most work when you’re not even thinking about it. Sway bars benefit the everyday driver as well. We’ve received hundreds of letters from Volvo drivers just like you expressing how much of an improvement sway bars have made, especially when having to avoid an accident.

It’s safe to say that sway bars are our flagship product. We’re best known for developing and creating the best suspension solutions for Volvo cars.  Sway bars contribute to the overall handling by reducing the amount of roll when braking, maneuvering unexpectedly to avoid a bad situation, or when loading the car for a family trip. By decreasing the roll rate you also reduce the amount of load put on other suspension components. Your Volvo will stay flat and maintain traction when you need it the most. Having confidence in your cars handling abilities is very important to any driver when sitting behind the wheel. We’re committed to creating the best quality products possible to suit all your driving needs. ipd sway bar’s is just one example of how we’ve been able to improve the fun, safety and performance of your Volvo. We look forward to new and exciting ways to develop sway bar kits to help you reach your driving destination. If you want to achieve faster lap times at the track, or maintain confidence while driving, ipd has always had the solution!

June 1976: Laguna Seca SCCA National

Stock suspension at 51.4 mph

ipd suspension at 54.3 mph


 Join us May 18-19 for ipd's Annual Garage Sale Event to celebrate our 50 Year Anniversary

The ipd Racecar is Coming Back
      By: Richard Gordon - ipd founder

IPD’s founder, Richard Gordon and his son Robert Gordon have finished with the restoration of ipd’s famous Volvo 142 race car. The car was retired from racing back in the mid 80’s and sat in storage for nearly 20 years. A couple of years ago Richard decided he wanted to restore it and have some fun competing in Vintage races. Finding parts for a 40+ year old Volvo can be a challenge, even for one of the owners of ipd. Finding race parts for a 40+ year old Volvo is down right difficult as Richard found out during the restoration, which has been ongoing for several years.

Richards story below is a brief recollection of the building and racing history of this car. Photos of the car in it’s current state as well as Richards racing plans for summer 2010 can be found below as well. Check it out!

We built the first 142 during the 1974-’75 winter and raced it from 1975 through 1979 when we sold it to Don Byer Volvo in Virginia. It was a good car and quite competitive in both SCCA  B-Sedan and the IMSA Champion Spark Plug Challenge. In the cars inaugral race at Laguna Seca in 1976, we led the first race we ran for about eight laps until a “trick” intake valve (purchased out of England) began to stretch and finally broke on lap 20. Another valve broke while practicing at Ontario Motor Speedway the following weekend. We patched together one good engine using components from the broken engines and went back to using our tried and proven ipd valves. We were so busy working on the engine we didn’t have time to change from the 4:56 rear-end gears. Ontario was like a freeway, more suited for 4:10 gears, so the race was a real test for the tachometer…and the engine. We actually didn’t think we’d even finish the race—starting near last—but ended up in 8th out of some thirty cars. To us, finishing 8th was like winning.

The new 142 was donated to us by a Swedish service shop in Seattle. I think the car started out as a 1967, but time has erased this from my memory. It had over a 100K on it and didn’t run, but the body and chassis were in good shape and that’s all we needed to get started on the replacement. In early Spring, my son Robert and I pulled an empty trailer behind our Dodge van to Seattle on a rainy (surprised?) early winter day; loaded the 142 on the trailer, thanked Odvar Ogland (Real name—owner of British & American Automotive which had morphed into a Volvo shop, too.) for donating the car and hauled it back to Portland.

We cut the top off and shipped it along with the hood, trunk lid, doors and fenders to a company if California and had them acid dipped which removed about fifty pounds (we weren’t allowed fiberglass parts in IMSA so we swapped the hood, fenders and trunk lid with fiberglass when we ran in SCCA).

The Volvo was almost always the heaviest car in its class—not necessarily by rules but because it was nearly impossible to get it down to legal racing weight. (It was a bit closer to legal weight in SCCA trim because—remember?—we could use fiberglass panels.)

A small steering wheel helped speed-up the steering at the expense of more muscle input. Window net and seat with approved 3” 5-point seat belts were installed. The driving seat was the best we could find at that time and served me well for many hours of racing.

We set-up four rear gear ratios and by having a common pinion gear depth on all sets, we could change ratios in about 30-40 minutes: 4:88, 4:56, 4:30 and 4:10.

We started with an M40 gearbox with close ratio gears, but that transmission didn’t hold up to the rigors of road racing. We began using an M45 gearbox from a 240 Volvo (with a special bell housing Volvo made for their rally teams) and their close ratio gear set. The transmission performed almost flawlessly for nearly four seasons of racing. The clutch was a 4-button metallic disc and an aluminum F&S pressure plate.

We used Stahl 4-1 headers with a 3” exhaust system and a small glass-pack muffler at the rear.

We ended up with about the same horse power and torque as the Webers and the EFI gave us the ability to adjust the fuel mixture from the driver’s seat. Reading exhaust gas temp gauges ( pyrometers) on cylinder #1 & #4 exhausts runners allowed us to dial in a precise air/fuel ratio.

At Laguna Seca in 1982 Richard Gordon’s ipd Volvo won the Champion Spark Plug Challenge race. The first ever professional road race victory for Volvo in North America!

After a long-time absence from racing the ipd 142 started its comeback. Robert Gordon stripped the car and repainted it, then it sat in my garage from 2001 through 2009; “Someday I’m gonna get that thing running again.” Well, after Alan Berry and Ole Andersson kept bugging me to get the car to Infineon (Sears Point to me) for the first West coast Volvo GP, I decided to lure some race crazies into coming over to my house and get the suspension on it and get it rolling so we could load it on a trailer. Robert actually led that charge. He talked a couple of his buddies into giving him a hand. We rolled it out of the garage and onto a trailer in January and it came to rest on a hoist at Vol-Tech, Robert’s shop in NE Portland.

The engine we used was a seasoned block and was removed to freshen up. We simply honed the bores and replaced the bearings and rings. Note the aluminum caps over the freeze plugs; we had a freeze plug pop out on the first lap in turn 4 at Laguna Seca in 1977 (“old 142) and the car slid out of control, hit the tire barrier and did a pirouette. I ended up in a choking cloud of dust and smoke. The car was all but destroyed. Luckily the twenty of so cars behind me that plowed into the dust didn’t t-bone me. From that time on, extra freeze plug insurance was implemented on every engine we built.

We disassembled the 3-piece Gotti alloy wheels, had them sandblasted and inspected, then clear-coated. Even though the original O-ring seals were still very supple, we still ran a strip of silicone where the halves bolt together. We will probably switch to 15” wheels, but to keep the car looking like it was last raced back in the ‘80s we decided to run these 14” Gotti wheels. In those days the best Goodyear slicks were available for 14” wheels. No, as we hear from Goodyear, they don’t even make a 14” slick anymore. We’ll probably run Hoosiers. As I write this the car is still on a hoist at Vol-Tech’s shop—sans the engine which we just got back from Schnell Automotive (on April 28, 2010). We still need to take to Malaya Signs to have the graphics added. We painted the side stripes on the last time, but this time, since we don’t have a paint booth, we’re going with Mylar tape. Our aim is to make it look like it did when it was raced in B-sedan. There’ll be some new sponsors on the sides since many of our old sponsors are no longer in business. We’re negotiating with Mt. Hood Motorsports; a small Portland company that sells used Volvos. Many ipd staffers (including me) have purchased a used Volvo from MHM. One longtime trusted cosponsor will be Red Line synthetic oil. Their product has proven itself race worthy by thousands of racecar owners.

For more pictures of the build click here.