The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Customer Spotlight - Gregg Bambo

2015-04-07 - Gregg Bambo

The Longest I Have Ever Owned a Car

by Gregg Bambo

1966 Volvo 122S

In 1973, I discovered this 1966 122S as I drove by a California Toyota dealer. The owner was a 75 year old bachelor that was going to trade it in on what he phrased “a hot new car”.  I offered him what the dealer was going to give him ($1200) and told him he could deal a better final cost without a trade in. He accepted my offer and bought his “hot” new Supra. The car was unique in that no one had ever sat in the right or rear seats and the exterior was all original without a mark! In the following 32 years, it was my daily driver. I gradually improved it to my own taste with aftermarket wide wheels, black grille, front and rear swaybars, performance shocks, cut front & rear coils 1”, front air & side dam, B20 head, coated IPD headers, IPD aluminum valve cover, 5 speaker AM/FM/CD stereo and covered the interior molding and handcrafted mult-gage center console with burled walnut veneer, etc. Over the years, I was fortunate not to incur a single door ding but polishing of the original paint was starting to show a hint of primer in a few spots. Just before I sold it, I had a complete engine overhaul by a Volvo specialist. He bored it out to B20 specs, installed steel timing gears, a D cam and did a 3 angle valve job on a replacement B20 head. It was a solid car and reliable performer. As it was in pristine shape, It was hard to see it go and even sadder to learn from the enthusiastic new owner, that a month after driving home to Oregon, he was rear ended and the car totaled!

1963 Volvo 544S

Discovered this rust free 544 in So. California over the internet. Drove it back to Utah with only a single issue. The updated alternator had been improperly installed and I ran out of battery power just prior to sunset!  The previous owner had painted the car (2002 Nissan “Sea Scope Metallic”), so I had a good platform to work with. I did not intend to restore it to original but, in my opinion better than.  The entire interior has been “Boom Mat” sound insulated and upgraded to include Toyota bucket seats, modern multi functional instrument panel, six speaker stereo/CD sound system, retractable seat belts, electric actuated windows, all new window fuzzies, door and window rubber molding. The 85HP B18 has been replaced with a 130 HP 1971 B20E engine,  50 amp single wire alternator, Petronix ignition distributor, dual exhaust, twin governed electric radiator fans, M41F overdrive transmission with custom drive shaft, braided flexible stainless brake lines, push button start, IPD cast aluminum valve cover,  the underside detailed and  so much more. Even though I used it as a daily driver in the summer, I was amused by winning “People’s Choice” First Place in a local car show in the Foreign Car Class. Competing against commonly seen Porche, Audi, BMW, VW, Bently, Ferrari, etc., the crowd thought it was the cutest and most unique in attendance!

1972 Volvo P1800ES

My most recent Volvo is also a rust free SoCal acquisition. The owner had spent a lot of money on his “baby”. Receipts in excess of $26K were included. Completely reupholstered, the “Shooting Brake” had undergone a custom designed paint job related to his artistic ornithology preference. Not mine, but the color was acceptable. Those bills included new Michelin tires, aftermarket wheels, front & rear sway bars, Bilstein shocks, Petronic ignition, all new rubber molding, new dual exhaust, 6 speaker stereo and air conditioning unit. The automatic trans was replaced with an M41 OD, which along with the retained 3.92 rear end made cruising at 75mph an lazy 2700 rpm!  The long drive back to Utah was a little stressful due to the bucking whenever I accelerated or decelerated (bad TPS). To date, I have been busy detailing inside, outside and underside. Replacing the dented exterior trim was a delicate task and resolving the “bucking” condition was a detective effort.  I have replaced the dash fake vinyl wood with real burled walnut, replaced the brake hoses with flex stainless lines, added window tinting, cast aluminum valve cover, Luisi wood steering wheel, additional amp, volt, vacuum & fuel pressure gages. The clock has been converted to solid state and works great! I cleaned out the door cavities and applied “Boom” matting to give the doors a solid sound when closing. The car is not a road racer but a comfortable and wonderful cruiser.

We love featuring some of the great Volvo stories that come across our desk. We plan on doing this on a regular basis so if you have a project car, helpful tech tip or other cool Volvo related story, share it with us and we’ll likely feature you in a future customer spotlight.