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1998 Stage III V70

2009-02-17 - George Achorn (Reprinted from SwedeSpeed.com)

IPD Stage III V70
May 14, 2007 by: George Achorn  (Reprinted from SwedeSpeed.com)

“Brick” or “box” might be the best way to describe the cars Volvo is best known for. Today’s P2 and Y20-based cars are sculpted with rounded shapes and broad shoulders, but it was the boxy period of Volvo’s history from the 140-series to the first-generation V70 and S70 that established the Swedish car manufacturer as a true world brand. Further, it is the last of that squarish range that is helping Volvo experience a renaissance amongst the European automotive tuning community. 850, S70, V70 and even C70 models (a.k.a. X70 or 870 in enthusiast circles) is a performance bargain, with potent turbocharged engines and a competent front or all-wheel drive chassis at a very reasonable price. Seeing this resurgence, American Volvo tuner ipd has taken a second look at the series, bolstering their already broad offering with some new and interesting tweaks for the cars, exemplified in their own fittingly brick red V70 box.

Ask whomever you wish amongst the “870” owner group and you’ll get a varied response on which models offer the most potential to someone looking to tune one of these cars. Some prefer the “original” in the form of a T-Gul yellow 850 T-5R from 1995. Many will tell you it’s the later 70-series cars that offer a more solid chassis with less interior creaks and more sleek exterior design. The image-concious may prefer the svelte C70 coupe or roadster, while the Volvo traditionalist or driver with a burgeoning family will lean for the wagon. For ipd, the priority wasn’t body style at all, but rather the drivetrain.

As ipd’s own Scott Hart explains, “Although any 1994 to 1998 T5 model can be fit with our stage III kit, the most desirable configuration for a project like this is the 1998 T5 with 5 speed manual trans. It’s the only year the manual transmission was available in our market with the high output T5 engine configuration.” Searching for just the right car was no small feat. Few examples offered themselves, and when they did they were either too expensive, had a bad CARFAX report, or both. According to CARFAX, one particular V70 had even been totaled, not once, but twice. After an exhaustive search by ipd, a perfect candidate offered itself willingly in the traditional Volvo configuration of a V70 for this traditionally Volvo-oriented shop. ipd’s specific car is a 1998 V70 T5 with manual transmission. In the end, the car was sourced found right under their nose, in the ownership of an employee who didn’t want to sell it but later changed his mind.

It is possible to do a manual transmission swap if you have an earlier model with the automatic transmission that you are really in love, but economically you’ll be way ahead to hunt down a 1998 model with manual transmission, if you prefer to row your own gears.

Car acquired, ipd spared no time setting to work on the car’s 16T motor setup. Out of the box, the motor is willing to please. However, as cars are becoming more and more affordable, more extreme examples of tuned 16Ts are showing that the engine does have its breaking point. ipd explains that anything above Stage I begins to push to the limits of compressor efficiency and invites component failure. In this tune, the 16T has a tendency to run hot and full load boost becomes unstable. Boost spikes lead to detonation and bent connecting rods… not a rare occurrence when the 16T is dialed up to that sort of level. Further, the amount of power per liter of air/fuel mixture that can be had from the 16T drops off rapidly as the temperature of the incoming charge goes up, making an improved intercooler setup one more factor to consider.

Rather than focusing on pressure, ipd took the route of also addressing efficiency, volume and reduced operating temperatures as they began to devise their new 870 Stage III kit, made to fit 1994-2000 850 and 70-series T5 models. Using this car as a tester, the system began to come together.

ipd begins by using the freer flowing exhaust manifold of the S60R and V70R. Laying the manifold side-by-side with the stock T5 manifold, it’s evident that the later R version is made for more flow and the piece fits the older motor with stock hardware and a slight modification to the water line mounting brackets.

ipd also upgrades the stock 16T turbo, replacing it with a Mitsubishi 18T unit. Dimensionally the 18T is the same as stock, making the application look basically factory. However, internally it is larger and flows more volume.

To note, the Mitsubishi 18T turbo is available with a straight or angled outlet flange. ipd uses the straight flange – a bolt-on for 1996-1998 cars, otherwise modification is needed. Purchasing the ipd kit as an entire package, this isn’t a problem as the downpipe in the kit is the correct fitment and bolts on to all 1994-2000 front wheel drive 850 and 70 series T5 cars.

The handsome and functional downpipe is sourced from ipd’s Swedish partner TME. Using dual metal, a Kemira catalyst and a large braided flex joint assures high quality construction and allows for much more flow.

ipd's red wagon is a ’98 with air injection, requiring them to weld on an exhaust bung just below the flange for the EGR system. They suggest any exhaust shop should be able to weld one in place for $20-$30. If you need one, ipd also sells a fitting for $15.

The new 870 Stage III system is also made to work with ipd’s well-known TME-sourced exhaust system. Familiar and already installed by many ipd customers, the system offers freer flow with a very subtly more aggressive tone.

The kit fully installed and the code dialed in to optimum, the new ipd 870 Stage III kit weighs in at an impressive and usable 315hp (about a 90hp increase over stock). The kit also provides a 36% increase in torque, hitting peak at 500 rpm sooner on the tach.

Mated to the kit is another new package from the Portland, OR-based Volvo tuner – their reverse intercooler pipe kit (a.k.a. RIP kit), featuring smooth-flowing mandrel bent polished stainless steel pipes that provide a straight shot over the top of the engine for improved air flow from the turbo directly to the intercooler. ipd’s own testing has indicated that the kit offers a drop in intake air temperatures of up to 25-degress compared to the not-so-direct stock setup. Pop the hood and it’s also a great piece of eye candy that will get you plenty of comments from admirers.

RIP Kits are also made with a capped port for an Aquamist water injection jet. Ipd has been pitching the benefits of the Aquamist “In-Cylinder Intercooling” system for some time now, and its benefits warrant mention.

Basically explained, the water injection concept works on the principal that cool and damp air makes for improved combustion. ipd claims they’ve seen gains up to 20hp on previous projects, so fitting it to their Stage III V70 T5 was a must.

The Aquamist DDS3 dash display system includes a display mounted in their triple gauge pod along with an LED air fuel ratio gauge monitoring both sensors and a boost gauge should you want to monitor things a little more closely. Optionally, you could go sans display for a clean and factory-looking interior.

Showing they’ve upped their game in offerings even further, ipd went the whole nine yards when it came to chassis and brake tuning.

To improve handling, the V70 first got KW’s fully adjustable Variant III coilover system with adjustable ride height as well as compression and rebound damping controls. To that, ipd’s own front and rear Anti-Sway bars were added, along with a QBM rear chassis brace, ipd aluminum strut brace and ipd heavy duty end links. The resulting ride is not overly harsh, but considerably more capable. The X70/850 series of cars are not short on heft, but ipd has done an admirable job making this one feel a whole lot more dexterous than its from-the-factory brethren.

To stop this big red brick, ipd went with “Big Red” Porsche calipers and their 13-inch rotor kit at the front. At the rear, R calipers and 13-inch rotors have also been added.

While ipd wasn’t looking for a full-on sleeper, they know the European car enthusiast market is fond of a clean and tailored look. For that reason, body changes were kept to a minimum. A V70R front bumper was added, along with an upper rear spoiler. An ipd custom grille helps differentiate the car, as do LED European side repeaters.

Wheels are a handsome VST Monoblock Type R 5-spoke design that are probably only familiar to the most ardent Volvophiles. As an acting distributor for Japanese Volvo tuner VST, ipd chose their alloys from that line and shod them with 225/40 ZR 18 Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.

Inside, the car continues its showpiece theme for the wide array of accessories ipd offers to owners of these cars. The aforementioned 3 gauge A-pillar pod houses the DDS3 Aquamist system display, along with a VDO boost/vacuum gauge and an Equus dual display air/fuel gauge. A Tire Spy tire pressure monitoring system also helps keep the driver informed, while QBM gauge rings for the main cluster help make that monitoring a pleasurable and stylish experience.

The improved look and feel of the cabin continues with Heico Sportiv pedal pads, a MOMO shift knob and Heico Sportiv logo door lock pins.

For improved entertainment, ipd as also included their MP3/IPOD adapter kit.

For years, critics of the Portland-based Volvo tuner ipd have clamored for something more in-depth than a chip and exhaust. In reality though, it’s a safe assumption that the number of people ready to modify these cars when prices were still high and warranties were still in full effect would have been quite low. As the cost of entry for the 870/X70 cars has dropped, the number of enthusiast owners has exploded, opening up just the right environment for a company like ipd to offer a well-sorted and capable system for that growing group serious about modifications.

Further, it seems smart that ipd has recognized that this group likely already has begun their process of modification and may want certain components of the system without buying the whole kit. That’s a considerably new way of thinking when it comes to these sorts of kits, and worth mention. While it seems a full kit would probably be the most sorted from a drivability standpoint, buyers can create their own concoction if that’s what they insist on doing.

As full packages go, ipd’s brick red demonstrator is an impressive creation and shows just how far the Volvo tuning scene continues to come. That’s good news for the 870/X70 owner, as well as those performance addicts considering entering the scene.

 For more information on ipd's Stage III V70: ~/19961998-850-S70V70-Stage-III-Performance-Kits/blog-4