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Performance Specialists Since 1963

Customer Spotlight - Jay Rodgers

2015-04-13 - Jay Rodgers

My Volvo Story

by Jay Rodgers

As I approach my 60th year, I guess I can say I've had the Volvo bug for awhile. It started in high school in Anchorage, AK in the early 70's. My best friend's family had a 122 4-door, and since he got his drivers license before I did, we spent a lot of time abusing that poor car. We would take it thru the mud up in the hills around Anchorage, power sliding thru the corners like a Finn. One of his favorite tricks was to shave the plowed snow berms around the city streets, without hitting the mailboxes. That old ad that said "drive it like you hate it", yeah, he lived it, and loved it. They moved up to a 72 142 2 door after that, and since it was brand new he toned down the rally style driving, but lets just say that carbon on the pistons was never a problem.

Move along a few years and I'm in Las Vegas thanks to Uncle Sam, and my first Volvo was a 68 145. Loved the space the ol' wagon had. I could throw my camping gear in there and just head out on the highway in any direction, and never worry about a motel. My second Volvo, a 69 144 came along when our young family of 3 boys needed space for car seats and strollers. Loved that car. It was the first car I ever repainted (the new for 83, 740 green), put a new Cadillac patterned velour interior in it, and I can recall ordering IPD's black aluminum side molding kit, because blacking out the chrome was the ticket in the 80's. I rebuilt and had the motor balanced, and with that new 2 barrel Weber kit, that was a sweet running motor. The deal killer was it was just not happy in the 110 degree summers with the a/c on. Even with the windows tinted, the little guys were baking in their car seats, and the engine struggled to run cool. So we traded that great little car in on a new for 88, Grand Caravan, and started the mini-van years.

But before the demise of the 144, and in 1985, an opportunity came along to buy a project 67 122 2 door, that came into the dealership I was a mechanic at. The engine knocked and the owner was unwilling to put the necessary money into it, and accepted my offer to buy it from him. 13 years since I had last sat in a 122 model, I finally had one of my own. I think my ol' friend would have liked that. But money was tight and it took over a year to get it back on the road. Rebuilt the motor, dropped the ride height with a full IPD spring and sway bar kit, new bushings all around, and the white body was straightened out and painted a proper red. Some chrome Western 15x6 wheels with 205/60 tires, and the ol' 122 was looking and riding pretty darn nice. It didn't serve the family as nicely as the 144, or later the mini-vans, but I sure loved driving that car to work every day.

And when my oldest was eligible for his drivers license, that was the car I gave him to get his brothers to school, and himself to baseball practice. I'm not quite sure what it was about the car, maybe just because it was his first car, but he bonded to that car something fierce. In fact he got into a fight with one of his best friends on the team when for some reason he placed a tire on the roof of the Volvo. Some things you just don't do to another mans pride and joy. But just as his senior year is ending, the tranny comes to a grinding stop. We hadn't been checking the oil level in the tranny, and even Swedish steel needs lubrication. He moved on to a VW bug, but I kept the Volvo and convinced him that maybe it was time to step up the HP and bought a 97 Mustang v6 with T5 tranny drivetrain that had only 7,000 miles on it. My reasoning was instant HP/torq increase and the convenience of fuel injection and the highway cruising ability of the T5. Not a simple project, but I thought I had the skill to pull it off. Then that's not enough, and the supercharger from the 93 T-bird is resting on the motor. It's been a project for 14 years now. The project stalls in a stripped shell, with parts being robbed to modify the youngest brothers 68 122. And all along my son hopes one day to drive his Volvo again.

It got worse when my car interest was further deviated toward a project 1955 Kurtis 500M sports car that I picked up in 2011. I told my son that unfortunately the Kurtis, which needs a full restoration, was going to take precedence, and the Volvo was pushed out of the garage and now sat forlorned on the driveway. But that kind of changed a few months ago. No my son's passion for the car never changed, and unfortunately him now being in Gig Harbor, he wasn't going to be able to help me with the project. No, a few months ago he lets us know that we are going to be grandparents for the first time. Yeah, that kind of changed the perspective a little. So the hood came back up recently, and slowly I'm once again making progress on the ol' car. We've tossed around many ideas for the car thru the years, ranging from full custom treatments like a chopped top, frenched lighting and slammed to the ground. But when news of the pregnancy came, I saw a shift in his tastes, and now it's a plan toward a clean simple stock look, though lowered with some nice 18" wheels. The car will have been in the family for 30 years this year, and I may not have it ready for him this year, but the one thing that motivates me now is that his passion for the car is stronger than ever, and it includes hauling around my grandson in it. And maybe 16 years from now, another Rodgers will have his turn behind the wheel.

IPD has always been at the head of the list of my go to parts need suppliers. Whether it was stock or modified parts, your company's dedication and passion toward the mark is unequaled, and your attitude toward helping the customer/owner with things like the free classifieds, has always set you apart. I don't write to companies to get 5 minutes of fame, or any recognition. I decided to write to share my passion with you, and extend my gratitude to your company for what you have done thru the years. Keep up the good work, it's appreciated. Besides, this is way too long a story to put in any newsletter 

Jay Rodgers

Las Vegas, NV

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.

Email me at kbutler@ipdusa.com to submit your story.