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1992 Volvo 245 Restoration and Modification Project

Monday, September 1, 2008 - John R. Orrell, Jr. (ipd customer)

To understand the “why” behind this project, I believe it is important to understand our history and experience with Volvo 240s. We bought our first 244 in 1989 new at the end of the model year. That car served us well from 89 to January 2002 over 99K miles exactly. When it had 10K miles on it, it was rear ended by a K-car, the K-car was totaled and needed towed away, a new rear bumper skin on the 240 and all was good. Sure, between then and 2002, it gave us a few hiccups but overall it provided exemplary service. In 2002, due to a spontaneously cut tire while my Wife was driving, the car veered off the road and slammed into a creek bank at 55 MPH. The front end of the car was shortened by 3 feet. My Wife was critically injured with a broken neck but made a full recovery after six months. Furthermore, she is a member of “Volvo Saved my Life (and our Boxer dog Rielley too) Club! Rielley was with her at the time and was able to walk away without injury.

Since the accident financially strapped us, I managed to find a 90 244 with a dead drivetrain, bought the 89 back from the insurance and did a drivetrain swap and performed a serious overhaul of the suspension, brakes, and even threw in a paint job. The day my Wife was cleared to drive, I had the 90 ready for her. She drove the 90 for 3.5 years but I could tell she didn’t like the way it handled, as it felt identical to the 89. Both cars were rock stock and extremely well maintained.

Finally, my Wife found a 92 245 with a reasonable interior and great body with 236K on the clock. It wasn’t the ideal car as it had a manual 5 speed, but I thought “heck, I’ve got a spare AW70 in the garage with 30K on it... easy swap, so lets do it!” The following covers a brief summary of the modifications we made.

Suspension and Handling:
We chose a single source so that we didn’t have to worry about compatibility; our choice was IPD due to interoperability, support, and completeness. Suspension received the full IPD treatment including IPD Anti-Sway bars, IPD sport springs, Bilstein Heavy Duty shocks and struts, chassis braces and polyurethane bushings all around.

More power, better responsiveness:
Wow, talk about a tall order! All we had available was a psuedo-thrashed 92 B230F and a very trashed 90 B230F (sitting on the floor). The choice was to rebuild the 90 B230F

Transmission conversion:
Whoa, replace a decent M47 with an AW-70? If you ask why, both my Wife and I have “worn out knees!” I estimated that a trans swap would be easy... boy, did I ever learn a lesson! This was an extremely involved project! I wound up pulling the dash, steering column, and just about everything else in the car.

External vehicle appearance:
This category has a lot to do with clean-up and replacing worn out/dead parts. A few mods were made to improve the overall appearance of the overall “package”. Nothing radical, period.

Spic and Span the interior:
The interior of the 245 was in “pretty good” shape when we got it but had a few areas that needed serious attention.

Engine compartment:
Due to battery and brake fluid leaks, and general neglect, there were minor surface rust issues and paint failure to deal with. The wiring also required a major cleanup, repair, and inspection. As a result, everything, and I do mean everything was removed from the engine compartment.

The timeline initially leaned towards 6 months, but the attention to detail that we wanted to add drove the clock towards the 12 month period. For the first time, I can say that a resto project didn’t get delayed due to waiting for parts. IPD did a great job of delivering components in a timely fashion, the only exception was the VX cam... but since the engine build was not on the critical path, the 2 week delay did not impact the build schedule. Delays were primarily caused by mistakes in the reassembly process.

Since that 12 month goal was looming big, I reused the previous owners exhaust system for a month. It turned out that the cat was plugged up (236K miles on it), it had a cracked head pipe, and a slow O2 sensor as well. After that exhaust “system” failed completely, I had a 2 1/4” exhaust system installed with a custom head pipe, high flow cat, new O2 sensor, no resonator, Magnaflow rear muffler, black powder coated tail pipe, and of course, new hangers. For all intents and purposes, the exhaust pushed the project to 13 months... bummer.

This project has been a learning experience, a challenge, and yes, even a joy. The 240 is a very capable vehicle in its own right, but with bolt on modifications, and a few creative tweaks, it can hold it’s own against modern cars, and in some cases even exceed the modern “benchmarks”.

Even though this project touched all parts of the car, the one “system” that made it worth while (most bang for the buck), was the suspension upgrades from IPD. They bolted right up and did their job while exceeding our expectations. The suspension and the resulting handling of this 245 took our breath away! With the 25/25 sway bars, the handling is neutral to slightly “loose” depending on how much fuel is in the tank. This 245, in our opinion, is how Volvo should have done it in the first place!

In short, both my Wife and I prefer driving the 245 instead of the 06 XC-70 that we picked up last year in Sweden. Yes, the XC-70 is a wonderfully comfortable car, but I think it’s the next Volvo in line for the “ipd” treatment!

Community Comments

Monday, July 27, 2009 - MARK JOHNSON

It's articles like this that keep many of us inspired to modify our own Volvo's.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - TARA-LEE

Beautiful job, wish I had someone to do that for me. I sold my 244 3 years ago for a V70 and hate it. If yours was for sale ....

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