The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

The Ipd 142 Racecar Is Coming Back

2010-05-18 - Richard Gordon - ipd founder

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

IPD’s founder, Richard Gordon and his son Robert Gordon are nearly 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.