Feature Car: Gene Tijn's Volvo S40 T5 AWD
By Stu Fowle, Photos by Gene Tijn
Jul 6, 2009 - 10:53:00 AM
Old habits die hard. Case in point — this stunning S40, which Gene Tjin purchased as a car to just drive and not fiddle with. As you can see, that didn't last. When he bought it, this car was black. And boring, too, at least by comparison.
There's nothing boring about this S40 any more, but that's also not to say that the basic car isn't one of the better-looking small sedans on the market. It is, but that handsome form with a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, six-speed transmission and Haldex all-wheel drive makes an even better template for a project. This car's metamorphosis started innocently enough when Gene decided six months in that his T5 daily driver at least needed a nicer set of wheels, something with more character than the somewhat plain stock parts. He called up a friend at a company where we wish we had some buddies, HRE.
This Volvo's wheels are HRE's C20 Competition design, sized and ordered specifically for Gene's S40 application. Taking this approach obviously costs money and time, but the results speak for themselves. It was waiting for the HREs to be built that Gene fell off the wagon.
To complement the S40's future shoes, Gene felt his sedan's body could use a few enhancements. His local Heico dealer, Barrier Volvo, was more than happy to help. He ordered a front lip with a carbon insert and a small lip spoiler for the trunk. He finished this shopping spree with the badgeless black mesh grille, also from Heico. The snowball continued to roll, growing with every rotation.
If he was going to be painting these add-on parts, Gene thought, why not paint the entire car? Gene defends his decision: "Stock paint is overrated and I wanted to do something different." We think stock paint can be pretty nice, but Gene was correct in this case — his choice was seriously eye-catching. While it draws attention, Gene's brave use of color doesn't slap you in the face. He tells us he didnï申t have to think about the decision for more than a few seconds and knew exactly what he wanted right away. No pearl, no metallic, just a solid paint color thatï申s able to stand on its own without the extra additives. His solid, flat-looking gray is, as he describes it, ï申nothing too out of the ordinary but something thatï申d still make people take a second look.ï申 Possibly even a third or fourth. He pulled the car apart himself and dropped it off for paint just after his Heico parts had arrived.
With the car back, Gene added a few extra touches. The factory headlights and fog light bulbs were swapped for an Ignited HID setup, giving the car a little extra output and a more intimidating look at night. And while Gene was mostly happy with the stock audio system, a set of Swiss Audio subwoofers and amplifiers were added for a little extra kick.
Of course, weï申re still leaving one obvious element out. The paint was dry and stunning and the set of custom HREs were in place, but the two elements were separated by a few too many inches of ride height. Gene quickly fixed that problem with Eibach lowering springs that make the carï申s stance almost perfect, though the rear camber angle may be a bit extreme for some tastes. In addition to the springs, the carï申s shock towers were modified to rise higher, delivering an added drop while regaining a bit of the stock suspension geometry.
As one last minute switch-up, Gene repainted the wheels--which were black with a red lipï申to the cleaner black and dark gray you see here. ï申Everyone had that combination,ï申 he decided, inspiring a switch we think was for the better.
Remember what we were saying about old habits dying hard? Since we first spoke with Gene, heï申s sold his sexy S40 to move on to yet another project. Turns out that having a car thatï申s one of a kind isnï申t enough for Gene if thereï申s nothing left to play with on it. Perhaps painting ï申Endless Projectsï申 on the front fenders was a sign that Gene wouldnï申t be keeping the car long.
Josh Gumban, the current owner, saw the opportunity to own something truly unique and stepped up to take the reins from Gene. Heï申s since fixed the rear camber with a set of SPC Performance rear control arms that make the car more drivable. His wife, a lady who weï申ve just decided might be the coolest girl on earth, drives it every day. Best of luck to the carï申s new owners, who we hope will keep this fine example of Volvoï申s latest small car looking good for years into the future.
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