Sventastic's 850R Daily Driver Project


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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:blink:

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


Much better.


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!




Edited by sventastic
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8 minutes ago, Brad850 said:

The worst neglect was that  bumper paint. Your car looks awesome now. 

Seriously, now that the bumper is refinished, it totally changes the whole car.

I'm also digging how clean the DOT-spec headlight lenses and corners are. It's refreshing to see especially when they're usually all sandblasted. DOT lenses can actually look good! :biggrin:

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On 12/7/2017 at 6:07 AM, gmsgltr said:


Awesome work dude!

How did you fair at that 'cars and coffee' next to an R8 and among some literal super cars haha? Any interest there in your R?

Thank you! 

I had quite a few people ask me about it, some who thought it was RWD and some who knew exactly what it was, but it was well-liked! It was a fun event put on by Weissach (so tons of Porsches there), I just thought it was cheeky to park in the spot that I did, and the R8 was a very similar colour :P There were tons of other quirky and cool cars there, and most of the supercars are all in that one photo. It's Vancouver so most car people don't really take a second glance at the supercars since we literally see them daily!

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On 12/7/2017 at 8:38 AM, andyb5 said:

Awesome work so far!! 

Glad to see you brought it back from the previous owners neglect and are enjoying it at the limit during autocross too!!

Thanks! It's neglected no more, and with everything I've done to it my hope is that I can keep driving it for at least a few more years. A manual swap will have to happen eventually because the gearhead in me can't keep driving an automatic haha

Man autocross was so much fun, especially the second time after the springs and rear sway bar were in! It handled sooooo much better, that 25mm rear sway is an absolute dream compared to stock

21 hours ago, Brad850 said:

The worst neglect was that  bumper paint. Your car looks awesome now. 

Lol. I know. It's like the previous owner just said "f*** it let's just cover it up". I put a good 25-30 hours into fixing up that bumper. Could have saved a lot of time if I'd smoothed out the 3M epoxy properly... 

Edited by sventastic
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22 hours ago, RBoy8 said:

Seriously, now that the bumper is refinished, it totally changes the whole car.

I'm also digging how clean the DOT-spec headlight lenses and corners are. It's refreshing to see especially when they're usually all sandblasted. DOT lenses can actually look good! :biggrin:

It really did, it was honestly so relieving to see when I put the bumper back on the car. It's like it made the days and days of hours of work fixing it up mechanically all worth it in the end

People crap on the DOT headlights but I've been pretty happy with them so far. I like the look of the euro glass more (and apparently they have a sharper cut-off?) but the DOT ones still look fine, and beam pattern is pretty decent as well. Now if I could just un-seize the adjusters for my fog lights so they could be aimed out further than 5 feet...



18 hours ago, venderbroeck said:

I really like how it looks, you did a good job.
The red color is starting to grow on me, especially with the dark trim.

What did you do with the black headlights btw? I'd be interested if you want to get rid of them ;)

Thanks man!

I sold the headlights a few weeks after swapping them out for the stock ones

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Looking better and better with every post! Nice job!


I vote no-stripes. Seen too many used car dealers use them to try to hide bad body lines from repaired damage. It's the first thing I think when I see a car with pinstripes. Looks cleaner without.

Edited by tuner4life
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On 12/8/2017 at 10:01 AM, tuner4life said:

Looking better and better with every post! Nice job!


I vote no-stripes. Seen too many used car dealers use them to try to hide bad body lines from repaired damage. It's the first thing I think when I see a car with pinstripes. Looks cleaner without.

Cheers! Not too much more to do at this point cosmetically. Need to swap the roof trim from my S70 over since the 850's isn't looking so great, and I also have a brand new top windshield seal, as the 850 is missing that piece completely. Beyond that, I guess dye the door handles and eventually repaint the front black bumper trim which is kind of haggard

Interesting, I hadn't heard of that use for pinstripes before, but I'm pretty sure my car had them from new. The local Volvo dealer that the car is from is known to have applied pinstripes on a lot of P80s. I think it would look better if it were a dark grey and not a straight black, looking at the full side view it stands out too much. But my worry is if I remove them the paint underneath won't match perfectly!

On 12/8/2017 at 10:04 AM, venderbroeck said:

I think they look quite good actually. They are quite subtle, and make the car a bit more unique. The decal has to go indeed :p

Sounds like a 1-1 tie so far then! Here's another red 850R which pinstripes that are even more subtle

The decal will be coming off the next time I wax the car, which will hopefully be this month...

On 12/8/2017 at 5:50 PM, goobernoodles said:

I'm really impressed with the work on the bumper.  You've given me some hope that I might be able to repair mine.

Thanks, it was a hell of lot of work. Just about every day after work for 2-3 hours for 2 weeks, and longer on the weekends. I may do a bit of a touch-up next summer because the clear coat I used seems to scratch incredibly easy, but from 5-10 feet it's still great! And overall not bad for rattle cans :biggrin:

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Wow, thanks for some much needed inspiration. Btw, I've been driving for a few years now with only one e-code headlight glass

I replaced one side shortly after getting the car and forgot all about it. Didn't realize they were different until the foggy weather just recently

E-code side was definitely worse in the fog. I may have to change out for a pair of DOT ones...

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