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Customer Feature - David Talich

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - David Talich - ipd customer

Born: 1966, Left for dead: 1986, Reborn: 2014

I graduated from Oregon State University in 1966. My transportation during school was a Honda 90 which I drove across the state a couple of times, wore out a crankshaft, explored mountain trails, had a ball. I got a good job at Sawyers – soon bought by GAF & knew I had to buy a car. My three choices were a Corvair, a VW Karmann Ghia, or a Volvo 1800S. I don't remember if I even test drove the other two but I bought the Volvo. I wanted a red one but the only one west of the Mississippi was light green. I still have the sales order and the bank loan documents. I paid $3,300.00 and the payments were $115.21 a month for 36 months. The sales order shows $3,865 with a down payment of $565 but I didn't have any money so the salesman added a limited slip differential and something else to bring the price up & then we just forgot about the extras. I had no credit to speak of and my parents co-signed the loan. So this is a one owner car and was my first car.

The job went well except the man who hired me quit or got fired the day before I started so I was kind of a loose nut on the wheel. This lasted for about 6 months. Then I got laid off. This company was in Tigard, Oregon- near Portland and rain seemed to be a daily occurrence. My roommate was a co-worker and he was a bit fed up with the company and the rain too so we decided to make a move. He had been stationed in Tucson, Arizona for a spell & liked the weather. We got out some maps and checked a few details. One thing that caught my eye was the population of Phoenix in the 1950 census was about 50,000. In 1960 it was 300,000. That looked like a growing place to go so we packed all of our meager belongings into his Fiat 1200 two seater and the trunk and back seat of the Volvo. We used his car as a trailer & off we went.

All was well until we got near Susanville, California. It was December so there was ice & snow. I was sound asleep as my friend drove.  He hit some ice and around and around we went. Kinda ripped the rear bumper and swung back and forth and put headlight dents in both rear fenders. We split up our stuff and threw what we couldn't find room for into the forest. Off we went again. We went thru Reno, Nevada and somehow got separated. Both of us stopped occasionally to wait for the other but never met up. Needless to say, with my superior ride, I was in the lead. I got to Phoenix & wondered how we would find each other in this big city. Aha! I called the Highway Patrol and told them of my plight and where I was staying.  About 4 hours later my friend showed up, a bit pissed at getting stopped 2 or 3 times to tell him where I was. 

I had $200 in my pocket and no job. I tried selling vacuum cleaners for a couple weeks while looking for something more substantial. Finally I landed a nice job for a bit more than the one in Tigard. With a new state to explore, I spent much of my weekends doing just that. It always amazed me where I could go with this car. With the short wheelbase and about 4 1/2 inches of ground clearance I went places some people wouldn't go with a Jeep. Several times I went down steep hills, knowing I would have to find a way out because I could never get back up the hill. One time I was on a road with so many ruts and holes I ended up with the right front and left rear (or maybe it was the left front and right rear) wheels off the ground. I broke a gear in the overdrive once.

I made a few trips to California and back up to Baker, Oregon where my parents lived. My mom set me up with a blind date on one of these trips & I met Sarah, my wife-to-be. We got married in Palm Springs in June a couple of years later & drove back to Phoenix in the heat. No A/C yet. We made a honeymoon trip up to the four corners area in Arizona and over to the Hearst Castle in California. I think when we got back, the A/C was my next project. I bought a junker pickup to drive and taught Sarah how to drive with the Volvo. And we are still married 45 years later! She drove it to her teaching job for a few years while I went thru six various pickups.

She and I drove the car for 20 years and put about 280,000 miles on it. I don't know the exact number because the speedometer quit for a while & I got a replacement. I wore out the original set of tires and went to a shop where they attempted to re-tread them. They had no experience with radials and the whole thing was a bit of a disaster. I still have one of the original tires. Maybe I'll use it for a spare! One time in 1979 I was at a stoplight and a VW beetle pulled up beside me. With me it was always a race. But the beetle beat me! I beat a Ford Mustang three time in a row once! How could a beetle beat me?! I took the valve cover off (which always leaked oil) and noticed there was little movement in the rocker arms. The cam was worn out. So I pulled the engine and since I had to do a little work on it anyway, I had it bored out .060, put in a more radical cam, bigger valves, double valve springs, pushrods & lifters and lightened the flywheel. I also got an IPD-Volvo valve cover to stop the leaks. Then I went out looking for another beetle!  No luck there but I did beat out a Porche 944 so all was right with the world again.

Then one fateful day in 1986 I went to the dentist. When I got in the car to go home, I tried to start it and WHOOF! And some smoke started coming out from under the hood. Several fire extinguishers were emptied in an attempt to stop the blaze but we didn't get the fire out till the fire department showed up. The engine compartment was toast along with the interior. Flames were coming out under the dash. A few years before I had put in an electric fuel pump because of  problems with vapor lock in the desert heat. When the fire started I forgot to turn off the key so it was pumping fuel into the fire all the time. I reached in & shut it off but the damage was done.

I parked the car in the back yard, then into a couple of storage yards and a friend's warehouse. For my 69th birthday present I bought myself 3 days at Bondurant School of High Performance driving. We were driving Camaros and one of the first things they told us was; “We want you to abuse these cars” Okay! I managed to overheat the brakes on the second day. They did a lot of “lead and follow” and I was usually right behind the leader. I kept thinking they forgot about the rest of that - “or get out of the way”. When I turned the car in at the end of the 3rd day, you could see the steel belts in the tires. I wanted one of these cars! Price and common sense prevailed however and the I thought to myself “You already have a good car for fast driving! It is sitting in that warehouse gathering rust & dust!” A friend has a Ford GT along with a few other exotics and he convinced me to get started on the restoration. We towed the car to my house and I took it apart. The only thing I didn't dismantle was the transmission & rear axle. Media blasting (walnut shells) removed the paint and Bondo from a few unfortunate mishaps over the years  and now a fresh coat of the right color- Sherwin Williams Red Metallic.

When the fire happened, I tried to find parts for a few weeks but had little luck. Dealers didn't want to talk to anyone about parts for a 20 year old car. I didn't have insurance to cover the loss and I didn't have the time or money to restore it. When I started the restoration, I was amazed at how much was available thanks to the internet. Many of the parts I bought were in original Volvo packaging. I knew I wasn't going to go showroom stock because I wanted to do a better job with the wiring, install a Vintage Air A/C/heater, Kenwood sound system with GPS, different color, electric fan, alternator, etc. The exterior is pretty much stock but inside it is better. I even put the battery in the trunk to maybe give the car a little oversteer. I towed the car home on May 18, 2013 and took it for a test drive around the block on May 18, 2014. One irony of this is I bought the car on May 19, 1966.

After the test drive, I started working the bugs out. I took me some time & search of my recollections to get the carbs tuned up. The choke cables were damaged pretty bad so I had trouble with retracting the choke. I seemed that it was always running on 3 cylinders. I finally got it running pretty good & went to a friends house to get the AC charged up. It's June in Arizona so that was a #1 priority. On the way home, the fan belt broke & all the water blew out it got so hot. I filled it with water & a new fan belt, limped home & still had the feeling I was running on 3 cylinders. I took off the valve cover & cranked the engine over and noticed the #1 cylinder intake valve wasn't moving! Out comes the engine and a new cam & lifters. Next was a planned trip with the local VCOA chapter but I noticed I didn't have any oil pressure. Out comes the engine again & found one of the o-rings from the oil pump was shot.

Then I find out about the 2014 VCOA National Meet in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and I thought to myself, that looks like a nice break-in trip! I kind of used the car as a daily driver to see if I could break anything else before the trip. Sure enough, the 2nd gear synchro quit working. Who needs 2nd on the freeway anyway so off I went along with two other 1800 owners from the club. The only other problem I had was after I got to Eureka Springs, I couldn't get into reverse. The trip was about 3000 miles. Oil consumption dropped off after about 2000 miles & fuel mileage went up so I think the car is broken in again.

When I got home, I pulled the transmission, replaced the synchro and a small plastic bushing in the shift linkage. I have a pit in my garage & I put the transmission on a platform & planned to install it the next day. I rolled the car into the garage & the exhaust caught the tranny & pushed it off the platform. It fell about 4 feet & landed upside down. Broke the top cover & the casting between the tranny & OD.

Now all is well. Runs like I remember except some vibration at about 80 mph. Turns out I left out one of the bolts on the rear transmission flange. Next problem was a noisy valve train. I removed the rockers & had them ground. Another test drive and a block from home it sounded like the fan was hitting something. It was every 2nd engine rev so something in the cam was the obvious problem. After much experiment I realized it had to be so off came everything on the front of the engine & I found the cam gear was broken from it's hub. My next plan trip is Montana, Oregon (back to Corvallis) & back to Phoenix. I am going to try & break something else before that trip. This fall another trip to the national meet & up to Massachusetts to see if I can find where my folks lived in 1939.

Thanks to Envirostrip, Pro Custom auto body, Kerr plating, IPD (both original engine rebuild & restoration), P1800.com, Iroll Motors, Vintage Import Parts, Palo Alto Speedometer, SoCal Speed shop, Able Auto Upholstery, several vendors from Ebay, Matt Dillon and Chaz Lightner for giving me the inspiration to start this project.

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Community Comments

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - JACQUES POIRIER

truly nice restoration this car worth more than anything on market today. you can be proud to say " it's MY car"

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