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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought this car in May and decided I'd try to start documenting my progress here. This will probably be a long first post since I'm just now starting to document after owning it about 8 months. I've daily driven an automatic '97 854 T5 since 2017 and wasn't necessarily on the hunt for another car, but then this listing popped up:



A couple hours away from me this guy was getting rid of three 850 wagons, one of them being a '97 R, and another being a '95 turbo, which the previous owner had conveniently already manual swapped. I had wanted a wagon for some time but I didn't want to part with my sedan and I hadn't really been able to justify a second vehicle. But when this popped up, I knew it would be a long, long time before another already-swapped 850 would become available near me, and I'm a 21y/o college student without the mechanical expertise or resources to do a swap myself. Not to mention this car was basically my ideal spec: black like my sedan, turbo, an estate, and a 5 speed manual. Given the space I would've been interested in the R too (full R interior was pretty clean, salvageable R bumper), but I could only have one and I made the easy choice.

So, no-brainer I showed up ready to buy it and the seller was predictably an enthusiast. The car had been sitting 2 years, had entirely blown suspension on all four corners, minor lifter tick and leaked a bit of oil from the PCV. I was told the odometer broke at 182k about 4 years ago but had only driven <5k since then. It started right up and pulled pretty hard on a quick test drive, shifted into all 5 gears and reverse and drove as well as a car with 25 year old original suspension could. It definitely needed a decent amount of work, but I was set on it and managed to drive away in it for $900 with a cargo area full of assorted parts, including a rear wing.

First photo stopping for a snack on the way home:


Perfo wheels with some old tires, x70 door handles, V70 rear hatch, mismatched/spray painted hood, flat black front bumper with no grilles, plasti-dipped & half missing door trim, deleted headlight wipers, a ripped passenger seat and a bit of glue peeking out from inside the passenger side headlight. Oh, and pre-wired for side marker lights.



Interior shot, this pic is from later but not a lot has changed. When I bought it the passenger footwell panel was installed but there was no radio. Put a cheap one in there for now. All the speakers work except the ones on the dash pad, which I removed and discarded. I've grown rather fond of this interior color scheme, an interesting change from my tan interior sedan. Heated seats were a nice upgrade for me, too.




At my parent's place with the sedan



My roommates coincidentally owned identical cars at the time, so I thought this photo was amusing



Priority number one was installing the wing of course, then I brought the wagon in to my local independent Volvo mechanic for a free post-purchase evaluation, and to get it up on a lift.


The inspection revealed many loose suspension bushings (just kidding, the drive home did), a bent wheel and a sticky rear caliper. But overall in good shape underneath. They did give me some **** for how bad the tires were, but I wasn't planning on driving it around much yet. I later ended up purchasing a replacement Perfo from the mechanic for when I replaced the tires at a later date.





The shop also read the mileage from the cluster for me, which was at 186k. So it really was only driven a few thousand miles in the last few years of ownership. Previous owner replaced the timing belt and water pump in January 2016 at 170-something thousand miles, which I have receipts for, so I feel comfortable enough to leave that alone for a bit longer. A full refresh is definitely in order eventually.


The neighbor's cat approves of the purchase:




Right away I:
  • changed the oil. Car was sitting since 2018
  • did the PCV system. I did the PCV on my sedan about a year prior and it passes the glove test with flying colors. The wagon had leaking URO hoses and I replaced everything with OEM, it was still failing the glove test but not as bad as before, and no longer leaking. A few months later I tried the 5/8 heater hose mod, and now the glove doesn't really inflate but there's no suction either. So that's still somewhat ongoing
  • replaced the busted driver door check strap
  • replaced the upper engine mount bushing
  • replaced a coolant hose
  • replaced the oil cap seal and coolant overflow reservoir cap

The front brakes had been replaced quite recently, but the rears were toast. With that on top of the sticky caliper, I went for a rear brake refresh with rotors, pads, new parking brake shoes & hardware, and I just replaced the one caliper since the other one was fine. Looks like the guide pin is missing from the caliper in the photo but I had just taken it back out to install the anti-squeal shims.





Some time passed, I drove the car around for a bit on the toast suspension before finally working up the nerve to order all new suspension parts. I went with Bilstein touring struts and shocks, OE everything else and kept the stock ride height. I think I should have gone for the HD sway bar end links, but I can always buy them later and swap the ones I have onto my sedan, which could use a set. I also may go slightly lower eventually.

I didn't think I'd be documenting this process at this point in time, so here's the only photo I could find of the suspension refresh, featuring some pretty sketchy spring compressors and the old parts in the background:



I'd never done struts before but a friend of mine had air tools which made things a fair bit quicker.


The fresh suspension (obviously) made a huge difference. Life was a bit busy at this time and I wasn't ready to put tires on it yet, so I drove it occasionally with a crooked steering wheel for a few weeks before getting an alignment.




Side marker lights installed, coolant changed, ECT sensor, spark plugs among some other things. Waiting to clean up the paint until I find a decent black hood at the JY. Replaced exterior door trim with a beautiful set sent to me by none other than Robert Spinner! Came from a green NA sedan that he parted for an M56.

Starting to think the neighbor's cat is secretly a P80 enthusiast...




Right as I was about to put a set of tires on the Perfos, a set of Volans popped up on CL for not the worst deal in the world, and long story short....




I honestly expected to stick with the wheels I had for a while and I liked them, but Volans don't come up for sale on local craigslist every day. Would've loved to keep the Perfos, but had to fund those Volans somehow. Ended up selling the set of 4 Perfos (with the one replacement) to a local dealer who put them on a '98 V70. Put some budget-friendly 215/45 tires on them and finally got an alignment.





Replaced blower motor, gross. Unclogged a drain. In desperate need of a cabin air filter.







Went back to the original seller to buy some more parts he had: center console, set of front seats, instrument cluster (mine had a cracked lens), spare carpet etc.

Ripped passenger seat replaced:










As of recently I replaced the heater core and, when it promptly broke, the firewall coupler for the heater hoses, which was nasty inside.







So anyway, there's a summary of the car's journey so far. There's definitely many more things I know it still needs, but I am more than open to any suggestions or advice on it moving forward. Feel free to follow along as I hopefully remember to keep documenting my progress.
 

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Congrats on the pickup. Sounds like your already doing pretty well getting it back to stage 0. Keep plugging away. These bricks are a lot of fun as a manual as I'm sure your finding out.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
 

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Congratulations on the purchase! I remember the seller's Craigslist ad making its way to the Non-Affiliated thread at the time. Keep up the good work!
 

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Congratulations on the purchase! I remember the seller's Craigslist ad making its way to the Non-Affiliated thread at the time. Keep up the good work!
yea, I picked up the red one. its serving me well so far. had no idea he had 3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I appreciate the words of encouragement! It's been a very exciting ownership so far with lots of learning.

yea, I picked up the red one. its serving me well so far. had no idea he had 3.
No way! never thought I'd run into one of the other buyers, haha. He rolled up in the red one when I met him, I think it was his daily and he was still going back and forth on whether to sell it. When I went back for parts later all cars had sold.
 

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Awesome work whipping that thing into shape. I’m jealous!

Your passenger-seat swap was manual-to-manual, is that correct? I’ve got a manual passenger seat I want to replace, but the replacement candidate is a power seat...and all I’ve got is the one connector wired under there, just like yours. I’m guessing that’s a no-go...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Awesome work whipping that thing into shape. I’m jealous!

Your passenger-seat swap was manual-to-manual, is that correct?
Correct, manual to manual. Not my seat not my problem! Heater in the replacement seat works a bit better though.

What others have done to add a power seat is grab the harness you need from a donor car, run it under the console and splice it into where the driver seat gets power. With this solution I might advise against adjusting the seats at the same time, but the power is supplied via a self-resetting circuit breaker.
 

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Nice progress. I remember seeing these on CL. Glad someone is doing something with them.
 

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That is one nice kitty your neighbor has. Good progress so far. Are you thinking about finding some badges for the tailgate or are you gonna leave it as is?
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That is one nice kitty your neighbor has.
I love her and I am going to miss her dearly when I move this summer.
119195


Are you thinking about finding some badges for the tailgate or are you gonna leave it as is?
Will probably badge it eventually, that's on my list of things I need from the junkyard, but it's relatively low priority right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·






Cargo cover installed. Oddly enough, the holes were already drilled on the driver side, but not the passenger side. Luckily it came with some plastic templates which made locating the holes to drill quite easy.

Hopefully this will reduce one’s temptation to break one of these big rear windows, I do not fantasize about replacing them.
 

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Nice. I love my cargo covers.

Adam Nonis figured out how to get the rear glass off. That said, I've seen these cars get totaled for that window being broken, so the concern is justified.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Adam Nonis figured out how to get the rear glass off. That said, I've seen these cars get totaled for that window being broken, so the concern is justified.
After watching Robert Spinner’s recent video saga replacing his rear glass, what once was a nice luxury became necessary peace of mind. Hope I never have to do it, or pay someone to do it for that matter
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
For anyone that has those nets that roll up from the top of the back seats, do you use them/like them? Mine are missing, but I feel like even if I had them I couldn’t think of a time where they would be all that helpful. And if it’s more than like a 20 minute job to put them in I’m not sure it would be worth it
 

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I use them any time I have stuff in the back I don't want whacking me/my passengers if we somehow end up upside down. Probably won't happen but never know. Better safe than sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
whacking me/my passengers if we somehow end up upside down.
admittedly a situation I had not considered...I’ll add them to the junkyard shopping list. if nothing else they’re a fun easter egg
 

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Way too many morons on the road not to consider the possibility.

There's new research out that women are now sustaining more serious injuries in car crashes than men despite being involved in fewer crashes. The current assumption is that this is due to the fact that so many men are buying huge trucks. Us car drivers are effectively women for the purposes of that statistic so we gotta do what we can to protect ourselves from the cultural trends that are sabotaging traffic safety in this country.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Us car drivers are effectively women
well now you sound like a truck driver! lol

it definitely makes sense. Very interesting to look at the gender demographics from the perspective of the preferred vehicle type. Modern cars in general are just huge. any full size SUV or truck made in the last decade is a giant next to a P80.
 
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