This is a bit of a long read as it’s culminating about 12 months of work, but here goes:
So last September, my S70 T5 SE developed a tick the morning that I had to move 150km away for a co-op job that started the next day. That tick turned into a knock, and after an unsuccessful visit to a mechanic with hundreds of dollars down the drain, I limped then towed the S70 home over Thanksgiving long weekend. That weekend, I picked up this red 850R sedan after looking at a few other (likely more reliable…) cars, but it was still the one that felt just right. I had seen a mint red 850R sedan a few years prior and the image of it was so stuck in my head that I could turn this R into one just like it. I was smitten. I also had snow tires and a roof rack with bike attachments from the S70, and a whole lot of transferable knowledge from working on the S70 which helped. I brought the 850 home the day after test driving it, cleaned up the interior and exterior, and drove it 150km back to my job. It had 227,742km when I bought it.
The more I drove it, the more things I noticed were quite wrong with it. The steering wheel pulled abruptly left when braking, the brakes shuddered, it was misfiring at high load, the PCV was clogged, timing belt was 10 years old, sway bar links were clunky, trunk struts were blown, it wasn’t making full boost, MAF to turbo intake hose was falling apart, gas cap didn’t always unlock, antenna got stuck halfway raised, it needed an alignment, passenger side door check was completely cracked, etc… The poorly repainted front bumper and projector headlights didn’t help it aesthetically, either. What the hell did I get myself into? I got myself into a project daily driver, that's what
Since then, I’ve been tackling these issues one-by-one, along with a few upgrades.
Here’s the day I got the car
Sadly, the Volans had to come off the day that I got it since I knew snow wasn’t too far away.
Cleaned up the filthy engine bay
Then, one of the HID bulbs burnt out so I switched to the stock headlights (the swap was inevitable…)
A few weeks into ownership I replaced the PCV system, as I knew it was likely original and would wreak havoc if left unaddressed…
Yep, that’s a bit overdue.
Discovered the intake pipe was a goner
Replaced pine needles with an actual cabin air filter, and a Midwest ABS module
Had a big scare when I discovered I was losing coolant rapidly and had a milky residue all over the dipstick… I thought the head gasket was a goner, but it turned out to just be a leak from the coolant expansion tank hose connection to the thermostat, coupled with a big decrease in ambient temperature causing condensation on the dipstick. Did a combustion gas test in the coolant tank which showed no combustion gases, and haven’t had any similar symptoms since then.
Then I went for some adventures in the snow
Next up was the timing belt, water pump, idler and tensioner pulleys, and tensioner. This turned into a bit of an ordeal since I didn’t have all the proper tools to make it go smoothly, but in the end it worked out thanks to a lot of help via text from Mark (BlackT5). Finished it just in time to catch the ferry over to school for class the next day…
Also sourced a used intake pipe from a 1998 S70 T5 so it’s not 100% correct, but did the trick
Discovered the dizzy cap was a little overdue…
And replaced the sway bar links with Lemforder ones
Picked up a really nice hood from Mark and knew I wasn’t alone in this crazy little Volvo world hahaha
Got it aligned, which actually unveiled some bigger issues - tie rods were totally shot, and even though the car then drove straight, it tramlined really badly after the alignment!
Finally had time to detail it
Then the day after, the antenna got stuck halfway up, and the gas tank leaked after a fill-up. Great!
Discovered the true meaning of understeer at my first autocross
Check out that body roll and mid-corner understeer, how yummy
Dat squat on accel
Weighed in at the track scale at a spritely 3190lbs with no spare tire and 1/2 tank of gas.
Then finished the semester and moved back home for an 8 month co-op. Finally, I had time to work on this thing!
Swapped out the awful 850R steering for my S70 T5 SE wheel
Drove it 1100km without a hitch. Hit 234k at this point
Blacked-out the grille, then got to the brakes! 302mm zimmerman rotors, StopTech Sport pads, and stainless hoses 2 new front calipers, and a new driver’s side rear caliper, which had a seized piston causing the pad to wear massively. The brake hard line was also seized to the caliper which required cutting it and reflaring for the new one.
Next up, I pulled the lowering springs and 25mm rear sway bar off my S70 and installed those, along with new control arms, inner & outer tie rods, transmission torque mount, fuel return hose, vacuum tree seal, new-style red handle dipstick and dipstick tube. Then got pulled the bumper off and got to work on that, along with another alignment where I saw another 850R for the first time since that mint one a few years ago…
Rear sway bar in…
Alignment with a twin
The damage to the bumper from previous owners was worse than anticipated…
3M Plastic bumper repair
Lots of filler primer later…
The look is finally complete! It’s finally looking just like that 850R that I had seen a few years ago!
Then replaced the spark plugs and wires with the relatively new ones from my S70. Finally got rid of my high load misfire, gaps were about 0.048"…
Hit up the local Cars & Coffee
This EVO II stole the show
Vancouver has pretty good taste in cars
Went to another autocross
Finally got a Thule fairing after looking for a good used one for years!
And unveiled the shiny finish from beneath the rust of the exhaust tip
Fresh oil pan and oil cooler line seals
Picked up a T5-R shift knob to replace the S70 knob I had been using
Then a factory SC-815 radio to finally replace the useless touchscreen
And now it’s at 242k on my snow tires with perfos :D
It’s been quite the adventure so far, and I still have lots to do, but it’s mostly the little things at this point. The antenna is still stuck, the fuel door solenoid has been disconnected so I don't have to manually pull it open, and I haven't yet replaced the fuel vent hose to prevent the leak. I also need to make a tow hook bracket for the license plate so I don't get a ticket for the current placement. There's probably more that I can't think of right now... That's alright, I'm still enjoying the car!