Swedespeed

For the Volvo Enthusiast

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15 August 2014

The opportunity to build a project car can be both an enjoyable and frustrating experience at the same time. During 2006, we took a brand new Sonic Blue V70R and made something quite a bit more impressive within a few months. At the time, IPD had just finished developing its latest products for the R and we loaded up the shopping cart with Stage 2 components, TME springs, sway bars and HEICO Volution V wheels. We appreciated the positive feedback and the countless eBay ads that used our photos for various products. Like many projects, you get to a point and wonder what’s next. The what’s next for us was another project and we sold the Sonic R.

Years later we still miss that wagon and decided to revisit the model as another project car. A lot has changed over the years in both the landscape of the aftermarket for R-cars and also the affordability as a performance bargain. It definitely deserved a second look.

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Introduced to the U.S. as a 2004 model, the S60R and V70R remain an enthusiast favorite since production ended in 2007. A turbocharged intercooled 300-horsepower engine supported by four-piston Brembo calibers at each corner, a six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox, and an active suspension system with three settings. The P2 generation R remained Volvo’s most powerful turbocharged model until the introduction of the 325hp “T6” turbocharged six-cylinder enhanced with the Polestar tune.

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The V70R saw a number of minor changes for 2005. Most significant was the body color moldings and trim, giving the car a more integrated, sophisticated appearance. Inside, a new center console, slightly modified seat construction; a 6-disc in-dash CD changer with Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound replaced the 4-CD head unit. Adding a kick for audiophiles was the optional subwoofer and the stereo had the option to be equipped for a satellite radio receiver. New options for 2005 included a rear-facing third-row seat (interestingly available only with the Nordkap interior) and rear park assist, a system that warned the driver with an audible tone as the car approaches an object while in reverse. The torque limited, five-speed automatic transmission carried over from 2004.

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For model year 2006, the Volvo V70R received Volvo’s All-Wheel Drive with Instant Traction™ as a standard feature designed to improve road grip. It was fitted with the computer-controlled Haldex AWD system that instantaneously delivers up to 50 percent more torque to the rear axle only when needed, such as during takeoff. The 2006 V70R price started at $39,545. A new Convenience package offered a cargo protection net, grocery bag holder, cargo area 12-volt outlet, power child door locks, sunglass holder, and rear park assist. A new six-speed Geartronic microprocessor controlled automatic with an auto-stick function was a $1,250 option. The power moonroof, rear park assist and third-row seat were no longer offered as stand-alone options. Electric Silver replaced Flash Green as the premium exterior color and Sonic Blue replaced Silver. The V70 T5 model was discontinued. Safety features included ABS with traction control, dual-threshold front airbags, dual side-impact airbags, front and rear head-curtain airbags, WHIPS active whiplash protection, and ISO-FIX and LATCH anchors for child seats.

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Even today, the V70R six-speed manual (6MT) has limited competition, keeping it desirable among auto enthusiasts. Jalopnik identified the V70R as a “Next Great Future Classic.” The resale value remains strong for well-maintained V70Rs. Maintenance costs can add up quickly for R models and this reality should be factored into the purchase of a used V70R. That “great deal” on eBay without a service history may require several thousand dollars in parts plus labor above the purchase price. If you are in the market for a used R, I highly recommend a Volvo pre-purchase inspection. If you receive a $6,513.30 repair estimate, you may decide to pass on that local $14,495, one-owner with 50,000 miles. The Swedespeed R Forum has a wealth of information in threads detailing what to look for and do-it-yourself guides to help owners save money.

During the spring of 2013, I began searching for another P2 V70R. I have owned two P2 V70Rs, a 2004 and 2006. A few months after I sold my 2006 Sonic Blue V70R, I realized it was one of those cars I should have kept. Those looking to find a really good example learn few are for sale, let alone for sale and well maintained with less than 100k miles.

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Several months into my search, only two V70R manuals worth serious consideration popped on the radar but both were on the West Coast. Late one Friday night in February 2014, I found a newly listed, 2006 V70R 6MT at a Ford dealer in Schenectady, NY. This was exciting, an East Coast wagon, manual, second row booster seats, the rare third row seat option and it looked great in the pictures. Knowing it would not last long, I hurried to complete an email to the dealer. The next morning I received a call from Jason at Metro Ford and so began the story of our next V70R; although, the beginning is a story unto itself.

After several phone calls, additional photos, and an interesting CarFax report with one 2006 entry, my curiosity peaked and I requested a pre-purchase inspection at the Volvo dealer a few miles away. Concurrently, I had the VIN checked for a service history, and nothing but the in-service date with a dealership number of 9100 was available. After a call to a friend at VCNA, it appeared 9100 was not a current or previous U.S. dealership number, so the history of this particular V70R became more interesting. One of Swedespeed’s members serving in the Air Force was in the process of relocating to Germany and with my VIN, he went to a local Volvo dealer where surprisingly, a detailed service history appeared. The data pointed to the possibility that the original owner purchased this V70R in Europe and the German service history answered that question and revealed it was sold through the Volvo Military Sales Program.

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The next day, Jason called and told me how smooth the V70R drove and he thought the car was fantastic. Needless to say, the piggybank was already cracked and I was counting change. At the end of the afternoon, we unfortunately received a lengthy pre-purchase inspection report. The $6,513.30 report included the repair of an angle gear and collar, a new radiator, brake pads and rotors, and a myriad of suspension components. The prepurchase inspection also identified the need for new wiper blades and this must have been the tipping point for the Ford dealer to tell me they were going to wholesale the V70R and not deal with needed repairs. Excitement turned to disappointment. I needed to get resourceful if I really wanted to get this V70R.

Perhaps I was desperate and tired of looking, but I felt compelled to buy this particular V70R. After sleeping on the news, I had a light bulb moment. I knew a wholesaler who could buy it and then I could get a second opinion on the repairs. The Volvo dealership must have found everything they could, including wiper blades, so perhaps what it really needed was much less. For future reference, I will proceed with the suspicion that an R car will need much, much more to get to Stage Zero. Further discussions with the dealership led to a deal and I thought the challenges were in the rear view mirror.

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Schenectady, New York derives its name loosely from a Mohawk word for a place beyond the pine plains. Beyond the pines and twenty miles from the state capital must be a bridge too far for an auto carrier company to pick up a vehicle. For three days, we struggled to find someone who could pick up the R. After numerous, unsuccessful attempts, I reached within the Volvo community and found a friend of a friend, who had a relative that could pickup and deliver the R. The difficulty purchasing and taking delivery of the V70R was finally coming to a close; or so I thought.

The day for pick up started off great. The driver left early from PA and made it to NY without any issues. At this pace, he would be back in PA by early afternoon. Then I received the first call – “They don’t have the keys!” After waiting until the back office staff arrived, we learned the Ford dealership had overnighted all three keys with the title to my wholesaler. Five technicians and an hour later, the V70R was secured on the trailer. The driver said the car looked great and he was getting back on the road, still planning for a mid-afternoon delivery. I contacted my wholesaler and the keys were delivered to an address near Philadelphia and not to his house. He took the VIN to his local Volvo dealership and had a valet key cut so he could at least get into the wagon when it arrived. I called the driver back to let him know that we would have a key and he answered with “My truck has been totaled. Your car is fine, I will have to call you back.”

Have you ever had one of those moments when you reflect, and chose to ignore certain red flags? My morning was playing out like a Lifetime movie of the week and I was expecting a crazy ex-girlfriend to call laughing. Unfortunately, this was really happening and there did not appear to be a happy ending in sight.

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For the next couple of hours, I attempted to find an alternative option. I called AAA and found out they could not tow the vehicle without me being present. While pondering the next steps, the driver called me back and said he was on the road. He explained that another driver turned into the side of his truck just a few miles from the Ford dealership and even though the side was pressed in twelve inches, the drivetrain was solid. “I am a man of my word, I am going to deliver this Volvo to you. I hope you enjoy it.” This was a man of true character and it was at that moment, I knew things were going to be ok.

The expected three-hour drive time turned into six before the V70R arrived at its destination. The valet key made getting the wagon off the trailer much easier than how it was put on. The two-week process came to an end and the wagon was now ready for a thorough examination. This experience reminded of the willingness in the Swedespeed community to help a fellow Volvo enthusiast. I want to thank Josh for connecting me with Dave and then Ray who went above and beyond that day in March.

The next installment of our project V70R series will cover getting to Stage Zero. Stay tuned…

The V70R basics:
• Base price: $39,545 + $695 Destination
• Engine: Turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder, 300 hp/295 lb-ft
• Transmission: Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
• Length x width x height: 185.4 x 71.0 x 57.6 in
• Wheelbase: 108.5 in
• Curb weight: 3646 lb
• Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 18/25 mpg
• Safety equipment: Dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; stability control; active damping; tire pressure monitors; anti-whiplash headrests
• Major standard equipment: Dual-zone climate control; power seats; leather trim; 17-inch alloy wheels; bi-xenon lights; CD player
• Original Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles

The factory options:
• Electric Silver Metallic Paint – $625
• Climate Package – $600
• Premium Package – $2,400
• Integrated Booster Seats – $300
• Interior Air Quality Systems (IAQS) $175
• Convenience Package – $995
• Third row seat – $1,495

MSRP Total: $46,730

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