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Envisioning my next project car, I was looking for something that was timely and had the potential for a broad appeal. At the time, our 2006 Project V70R was at the higher end with the latest generation R and mods. I wanted to go in a similar but different direction on a more realistic budget. Newer Volvo owners may consider this project car old school, but the first generation V70 has a loyal following.
The US auto industry is in a state of uncertainty and the fate of Volvo is still up in the air. Consumer confidence is shaken and the economy as a whole is at a tipping point. Purchasing a new car may not be the best option for someone who needs reliable transportation; the thought of spending $40,000 on a well-equipped V70 is a hard pill to swallow right now. Knowing that many Volvo owners keep their cars well beyond five years and 100k miles, I chose to look for an affordable car that needed a little TLC but could serve as a guide for members wanting to hold onto their beloved family hauler a few more years.
This particular (and rare) 1998 V70 T5M appeared in my inbox early in 2008 when one of our members acquired the vehicle at auction. I was looking for a project car at the time, but this one — white with leather oak interior — just didn’t seem like the one. A tan interior does not exude a performance persona, but it does convey luxury. The body and paint were in pretty good shape for ten years and 159,000 miles of service. The interior, despite its color, looked better than similar Volvos with half the miles. One interesting option of note is that this T5 came with Nivomat self-leveling rear shocks from the factory. These shocks are typically found on the AWD Volvos of this generation.
As the months went by, the repair list grew and the current owner had reached the end of the line and was looking to move on, even if it was at a loss. More than a few of the basics had been repaired or replaced. The service receipts exceeded $5000, essentially more than the wholesale value of the vehicle and more money was needed to finish off several more recommended repairs.
The goal of this project is to offer a realistic alternative to a new car purchase. We want to give members an honest picture of what it’s going to take and we will give you cost estimates to consider. Make no mistake, keeping your ten year old, 150,000-mile V70 going another few years will cost significant money and may be too much for certain personality types.
We are not going for an all-out performance wagon, instead looking to simply restore this aged T5 to a solid and reliable Volvo. We are also going to have some fun with it; after all, we are enthusiasts and we are going to throw in a few modern technological amenities. We’ll get to Stage 0 and work from a common and duplicable baseline. Stage 0 may mean different things to different people so in our next installment we’ll cover what the industry considers Stage 0 as well as our own thoughts.
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