For the Volvo Enthusiast

Swedespeed Project 142: Introduction

Ever since my wife and I began talking about starting a family, my mind loaded up with grand visions of modded old cars, my wife in the passenger seat, and my child in the back; cruising the town, listening to the engine roar, heart skipping at the anticipation of the next apex, everyone gleeful. Sounds awesome right? RIGHT! So years pass, the baby thing becomes a sore topic, and the dreams fade to wishful thinking. However, I had picked up a 1980 242 flat hood, the car was in fair condition, and we drove it for few months until the master cylinder went bad. It spent the next three years parked on the side of the house collecting dust. From time to time I would rehash my plans, setting a new completion date for the car. Time would then pass, and so would my motivation to work on the car.

Fast forward to this past winter, and my wife is now pregnant! We’re beside ourselves, overcome with joy. Slowly my dreams come back to me. The visions of my family in an old car would flash back into my mind; everyone happy again, cruising the back roads, having a blast. Then, in my weekly habit of classifieds searching, I stumbled upon a 1974 Volvo 142, in great shape, just in need of some TLC, by which I mean a new transmission. The asking price was right; however the car was an hour and a half away in Baltimore City. I contacted the seller to see if the car was still available and to get more information. He sent me more photos and details of the car and I was sold, told him I’d be there on Saturday. I made a call to a buddy (Thanks again, Rob!) with a truck and a trailer, got him on board, and I was all set to view the car.

My wife was out of town visiting family in Georgia, so the grand scheme of bringing the 142 home and selling the 242 was hatched. I posted the 242 for sale for a very low price in hopes of selling it quickly, and within days, it sold. Saturday came around and my buddy and I set off for Baltimore. I get a call from the seller saying that the car was still at his mechanic’s shop, where it wouldn’t start earlier that morning. We pick him at his place and head over to the shop. Spending a few minutes looking the car over, I find some unaccounted for rust and few other minor issues. Popping the hood, I immediately see why the car wouldn’t start. The culprit? A cracked fuel line at the fuel distributor, begging for an easy fix. I make a cash offer on the car below the asking price and he accepts emphatically. I score a section of fuel hose from his mechanic, replace the cracked line, and the car fires right up. I drive it onto the trailer, and head home with my new 142.

Back at home with the car unloaded, I take the car for a spin around the neighborhood and it quickly overheats. The transmission shifts fine while cold, but shifting gets worse as it heats up, which miffed me a bit since it usually goes the other way. This evil Borg Warner 35 automatic is already proving to be a pain. The car had a bad repair job on the driver’s side rear fender arch that has since rusted out, opening a hole in the floorboard just behind the driver’s seat. Other than that, the body is showing just some minor surface rust in a few typical areas. The rest of the floorboards are very solid, while the trunk and “butt cheeks” are rust free except for some surface rust on the inside of the passenger side, which suggests a bad trunk lid gasket or a clogged drain. All the lights work, but one of the license plate lamp frames is broken. The exhaust manifold has the typical crack on the 2-3 runner right near the flange, but the rest of the exhaust is intact and rust free. The suspension is pretty worn, all the bushings need replacement and one of the sway links is broken. Other than that, the car is pretty solid. The interior is in near mint condition.

So what are my plans for the car? A few clean, simple modernizations and customizations. Weber DCOEs, suspension bits, very low ride height, nice wheels, m40 swap, and hopefully, a great sound for my weekend family cruiser. More updates will be coming soon, so keep checking back.

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