The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Customer Feature: Ken Parkhurst

2011-12-16 - Ken Parkhurst - ipd customer

I had been aware of the Volvo 1800 and was extremely impressed after I spotted the ES version in 1972 when it first appeared in the Los Angeles area. My wife, for whom I had purchased a Volvo 140 series wagon, went along with buying a white ES with 3-speed automatic (teen-age Polio prevented stickshift driving).

I owned that car for about six years, finally selling it for about what it had cost new. Having been a hot-rodder’s sidekick in high school, I had sought a performance equipment source, because while the ES looked great, it was weak in both performance and handling. IPD up in Oregon supplied their stabilizer bars and a set of their “mag” type wheels. Although handling improved, I was tired of being passed by Datsun 240s.

My graphic design career and a growing family required wagons (Volvo) and sedans for the next 17 years. The bug bit again after our children had grown and left home. With my wife’s reluctant agreement I discussed a car I’d always admired with friend Kenton Lotz who was building concourse level stuff. The result was a nifty 1934 Ford Victoria two-door street rod.
A few years later I discovered VSA websites, including an interesting ad for a “built” 1973ES in Napa, California. Fact was, myself and retired CHP nephew, Rex Murphy (a Volvo fanatic who regularly raced a 140) were driving the ’34 up past Napa to a car show in his Weaverville hometown so we stopped to visit Mark Osborne, the Volvo owner. The car was already equipped with a limited slip rear end, IPD anti-sway bars and springs, Bilstein shocks. Rex test drove it, told me to buy it; I did.

Problems: The car was a manual 4-speed and I still couldn’t drive stick (Rex ran it back to L.A.). I discovered that the dual Weber carburetor linkage requiring a strong foot on the gas pedal, which I lacked. Having experienced the Volvo three-speed automatic I knew we had to swap in a more modern transmission. The car sat for nearly two years while I planned design and mechanical changes and talked Kenton Lotz into building it.
Meanwhile, I located Mike Illyes of Michigan who had designed a very nice aluminum adapter ring for fitting a Volvo 4-speed automatic to the B20 bell housing. I purchased the adapter then supplied it and an AW71 out of an ’86 Volvo 740T to a shop in Los Angeles for installation. John Parker’s Vintage Performance Developments, Syracuse N.Y., offered an array of performance stuff and I decided to sell my existing engine in favor of the VPD “severe duty street engine”… with Supercharger, yet.

Kenton Lotz, now located 112 miles away in the Lake Arrowhead area, began on the body, armed with my small front and rear view renderings; these eliminated bumpers and some of the chrome stuff, revealing the handsome body shape. The following several years required regular drives up to his mountain shop for progress reviews and his suggestions… and good lunches at the local cafe.

We employed a bit more powerful fuel injection system to accomodate supercharger requirements, and Richard Clewett of Manhattan Beach supplied an Electromotive engine management system with its crank-triggered ignition.

I scoured the web for wheels with correct bolt pattern and offset, located 17”x7” Ace light alloy, knowing Lotz would have to modify the fender openings. A local paintshop sprayed the wheelspokes and centers a dark gray color I’d chosen. For more stopping power, Tim Otters built the front disc brakes using 12.5” vented rotors and Brembo calipers. The Parker VPD engine with its AutoRotor/Lysholm supercharger needed a lower nose intake for the Laminova intercooler and the new tranny’s remote Setrab fluid cooler.

With engine cooling a concern, a larger radiator seemed in order and we wanted a shrouded electric “puller” fan in there. Lotz cut back and rebraced the unibody cross structure allowing

the new radiator to mount at a slant (low end forward), giving room behind for fan and shroud. My front end design called for frenched lights and grilles. Lotz fabricated the works and had the grilles hot-temped black.

I found sealed-beam Halogen headlights with integral yellow turn signals, and road lights to replace the lower turn signal ambers, which were removed to serve as rear turn signals in my design changes, along with four round tailights from a Lexus IS300. These were found after I looked at car rear ends for weeks while driving ‘til spotting the desired round shape and size on the Lexus model. Neat outside mirrors from Canada and the Halogen seal beam headlights with integral turn signals were sourced from street rod magazines.

The bottom four inches of rear-end body metal was in bad shape; instead of patching it, Kenton decided to simply cut this area out. I designed a floating “splitter” for mounting in this space. (I could claim it produces down force at high speeds… who would know?) Another notion was an electrically operated cut-out exhausting just ahead of the right rear tire. I would use it only for making grand entrances to Volvo and street rod shows. Lotz fabricated all this, adding his own touches.

Including front & rear customising in metal, Kenton did a ton of work on the car, removing paint and a roof rack and straightening the body, including carefully refitting doors and hood. He then did all of the spraying in his new booth, finishing with clear coats over a butterscotch pearlescent color we had mixed.

The Parker blower engine finally showed. We trailered it down to Manhattan Beach for Clewett’s partial installation of the Electromotive engine management system then brought it back up the mountain for mounting in the engine bay, now painted a mid-gray. I wanted to avoid a clearance hump in the hood so Lotz modified engine mounts to allow the supercharger to clear. He installed a Ford Racing 65mm throttle body and K&N air filter on the supercharger intake then added a Sanden a/c pump, Hydroboost/dual master cylinder and other engine bay elements, either chromed or bright satin finished. Kenton refinished an IPD valve cover to show bright fins on black. He fabricated brackets to mount the intercooler radiator and transmission cooler behind the lower nose grille, as well as fitting the Howe Racing aluminum radiator.

Lotz removed the jump seats and used the space for the battery, a 10-CD changer, an amplifier and Infinity subwoofer. He made a two-piece folding cover for the jump seat space as well as mounts for Infinity Kappa speakers in each side panel above. Smaller speakers were mounted in the kick panels in front.

North Hollywood Speedometer refurbished the Smiths instruments including a very nice job of coloring the faces light ivory, then screening markings in black and red. Lotz had fabricated a new console to my specs to carry the Kenwood audio head, Vintage Air a/c controls, gauges for boost pressure and air/fuel mixture, shift lever, cup holder and glove box.

Complicated rewiring involved melding a Ron Francis Wireworks kit with existing dash wiring and the Electromotive engine management ECU connections. This was begun by others, stalled because no one could quite figure out how to connect everything properly, and finally solved at Tom Colby’s Speedwell Engineering, recommended to me by friend and Volvo 1800 racer Ken Rodenbush. Colby, with his own racing and building experience on different marques proved a find, solving many teething problems including swapping in the stock booster because the big front brakes plus Hydroboost supplied way too much force (Colby was actually thrown forward almost into the windshield when he had tried the brakes the first time).

Albert Lara’s Academy Custom Interiors of North Hollywood reupholstered the dash and console in gray and amber shades of leather per my design renderings. I had bought a set of Ford Mustang seats from Ebay because disability dictated a power driver seat and the tight space required narrow seat widths… and the Mustang’s were just right. I redesigned seats and door panels for the same leather colors, which Albert followed in upholstery. He used a gray square-weave material we selected for the floor, with interior quarter panels in gray leather. A perforated tan suede was chosen for the headliner.

Because I wanted to run the supercharger on a separate belt from the crank to eliminate slippage, and Southern California’s summer is coming, Tom Colby and sidekick machinist Ken Unch are now figuring out how to get the a/c pump running; right now, one too many elements are belt driven when the blower is added.

Other problems at present: steering seems a bit loose, it may be an alignment problem; gas and brake pedals are a bit too close together and brake pedal travel is a bit too long; gas mileage could be better, and I’ll will be getting with Electromotive’s Richard Clewett for fine tuning and testing the car on a dynomometer.

But people sure seem to like the car’s looks. I’m getting a lot of compliments, thumbs up and when parked, “Wow, what kind of car is that ?”

1973 1800ES Volvo Custom Specifications

Owner & custom design: Ken Parkhurst, North Hills, CA

Builder: Kenton Lotz, Lake Arrowhead, CA

Electromotive engine management & tuning: Clewett Engineering, Manhattan Beach, CA

Final wiring, troubleshooting: Speedwell Engineering, San Fernando, CA

2-liter engine builder: Vintage Performance Developments, Syracuse, NY

Engine specifications:

  • Forged pistons, ARP rod & head stud bolts,align bored, balanced, dual valve springs, oversize valves.
  • Street performance supercharger cam.
  • Autorotor/Lysholm supercharger.
  • Laminova/Nissens water-to-air intercooler.
  • Baffled pan.
  • 8-bolt flywheel.

Induction system:

  • Fuel injection, stock injectors,
  • Bosch 80lb. fuel pump to 50lb. regulator.
  • Ford Racing 65mm throttle body.

Engine management:

  • Electromotive system employing ECU,
  • crank triggered ignition, remote coil packs.
  • Air/fuel ratio and boost pressure gauges.

Engine cooling:

  • Aluminum radiator by Howe Racing.
  • Spal electric fan, custom shroud.

Exhaust system:

  • Hot temp coated inside & out,
  • 4-2-1 manifold, 2.5” pipes,
  • Low back-pressure muffler.
  • Electrically controlled cut-out side pipe.

Braking system:

  • Stainless and flexible woven stainless plumbing.
  • Front: 12.5”vented rotors, Brembo 4-piston calipers, by Otter Performance.
  • Rear: stock 11.5” solid rotors.
  • Stock booster & master cylinder.
  • Steering system:Power steering box from 140 Volvo.


  • 1986 AW-71 auto transmission.
  • Setrab remote fluid cooler.

Rear end:

  • Stock axle, limited slip rear end.


  • front: VPD progressive springs, IPD anti-sway bar, Bilstein shocks.
  • rear: IPD springs & anti-sway bar, Bilstein shocks.

Interior modifications:

  • Custom redesigned dash, seats, doors, console carries audio head, a/c controls, shifter, air/fuel ratio and boost gauges, drink holder, glove box.
  • Instruments refurbished, re-colored ivory by North Hollywood Speedometer.
  • Vintage Air a/c system and condenser radiator.
  • Ford Mustang power driver, manual passenger seat.
  • Infinity Kappa speakers front and rear, rear jump seats replaced with battery, Infinity subwoofer, amplifier,10-CD changer.
  • Grant 13.5” steering wheel.


  • All by Academy Custom Interiors. Two-color leather seating, doors, dash & console, square weave wool carpet.

Exterior modifications:

  • Front: bumper removed, lower grille and air splitter added for airflow to intercooler, remote trans oil cooler.
  • Headlight and grille openings “frenched,” mesh fabricated for both grilles, hot temp coated.
  • Halogen headlights carry integral turn signals.
  • Front turn signals replaced by roadlights.
  • Side marker lights and chrome strip removed.
  • Custom side mirrors.
  • Rear: tailights replaced with 4 red lamps from a Lexus IS300, turn signal lamps are from front.
  • Recessed and lighted license plate panel, with back-up lights.
  • Bumper removed, lower body opening carries air splitter.

Wheels, tires:

  • 17”x 7”Ace light alloy rims, B.F.Goodrich G-Force
  • Super Sport 215x45x17 tires.
  • Wheel spokes and centers painted dark gray.

Color treatment:

  • Two-stage “pearl” custom safron yellow paint, engine bay painted gray.
  • B pillar blacked out, (side windows to be tinted gray).