A 16vT Story
By Cameron Daline
From the outset I knew building the project in real life that already existed in my mind wouldn’t be cheap or easy. I also knew that making an old Volvo unreasonably fast (that also handled well) was ridiculous enough to be appealing to me. Since 60% of the time I’m right every time I decided to take the leap and do my best to make my vision a reality.
I’ll admit that my first inclination was to put the motor I’d built in my head in a 242. However, my 1980 245 DL that’d I’d been upgrading was too good of a start to pass up. At that point it still had the original B21F motor in it that I’d turbocharged. The good stuff though, was all under the car. Over the previous couple years I’d fitted iPd sway bars, iPd adjustable torque rods, an iPd adjustable panhard rod, Kaplhenke short strut coilovers with Koni racing strut inserts, Kaplhenke camber plates and S60R front brakes. I also found some Volvo/BBS Propus wheels that I put on there to change the look a bit. My brick was looking good, stopping good and was out handling any other car I’d ever owned. The answer became clear that my wagon was the perfect candidate for the new 16vT motor.
With the decision made I started to bring the plan together. Parts lists were written and rewritten, suppliers were contacted and a lot of thought was put into the best way to attach the build. It’s a slippery slope when you’re building a serious motor. If you’re building a turbo motor, might as well have a strong transmission which means a serious clutch. Any serious motor also deserves a standalone EMS, which means building a custom wiring harness, etc. The list cascades before your eyes – no holds barred project cars are not for the faint of heart.
While coming to terms with my bank account hating me I started ordering parts. The guys at R-Sport International became an invaluable resource. They supplied me with the h-beam rods and 16v “rollerwave” pistons for the bottom end. With those in hand the shortblock went to Eastco machine here in Portland, OR for machining and balancing. While that was happening I also ordered a Getrag adapter plate from R-Sport and a custom clutch for it from Spec Clutch. The clutch was drop shipped to Knox Motorsports for Lawrence to balance it to the LH2.4 flywheel he lightened for me. During all this I also ordered a 16v twin scroll header from R-Sport and a whole bunch of ancillary parts I’d need like fittings, gauges and gasket sets. When the parts came back from the machine shop the bottom end went over to R-Sport for basic assembly and blueprinting. A couple weeks later Jonathan called me and told me it was ready to go home.
With all the parts now at home for the longblock I started putting it all together. Basic assembly was relatively quick. I’d gotten the head back from being freshened and installed it along with a Cometic MLS head gasket and an ARP head stud kit. Next, the header from R-Sport showed up so on it went. I also received some really cool Nuke Performance stuff from SHS Performance in Norway. With all of that stuff bolted on it finally started looking like a real engine. I was making pretty good progress, and then my life changed. In April 2009 my first child was born. Words can’t describe the experience of becoming a father. On the car front though, I essentially stopped work on the project for a few months.
Even though the project was in stasis for a while, the plans in my head for the project never ceased to evolve, and soon I was back in it. Even though I was not able to dedicate the same amount of time to the car, forward progress was being made. I was determined to take my time and not cut corners, no matter how tempting it might be to be able to get the car on the road sooner.
Summer of 2009 saw the engine and transmission finally set in place in my 245. From there I began wiring in the LINK G3 engine management along with all the other electrical components in the engine bay. Over the next few months I got the intercooler mounted and made all the intercooler piping. I also received a custom built, modified intake manifold from Yoshifab and got it all mounted up to the motor along with the Nuke Performance fuel rail and Deatschwerks fuel injectors. All the little things like running fuel lines, oil lines, clocking and hanging the turbo, etc. kept me busy for the next few weeks. Next it went to the R-Sport shop for a custom fabricated 3” stainless turbo-back exhaust. It was finally starting to come together and my excitement was building.
When I got my wagon back from R-Sport wearing its new exhaust system I was ready to start it. I’d finished wiring in all the stuff for the engine management including the COP ignition system. Now it was time to test it all. One by one I checked the sensors through the LINK tuning software. I fired off each ignition channel and tested each injector with a noid light. Everything tested out OK. A couple days later a couple buddies from work came over to lend a hand (and a lot of moral support) in getting it started for the first time. Luckily, it only took a couple small adjustments in the tuning software to get it to fire. Hearing the motor run for the first time was like having my 2nd child! Everything I’d assembled was working together and functioning as it was supposed to.
After running it through the break in cycles it was ready to drive. I had Driveline Service (also here in Portland) lengthen an M47 driveshaft to mate up to my Getrag and bolted it all in. Then, after more than a year in hiding in my garage, my 245 reemerged under its own power. While the wagon is still in its infancy stages I have big plans for it in the future.
Anyone that’s ever had a project car knows that they’re never truly done, and my wagon is no exception. There’s still tuning to be done (and drag strips to be raced down) but so far, I am overjoyed with the in its new form. While most “tuners” would likely laugh at the choice of a 30 year old Volvo wagon, most can appreciate a good sleeper. Especially when they’re watching the back of it pull away from them…