WHAT ABOUT MY VOLVO 440 TURBO A YEAR LATTER?
Here's a recap about the restoration of my car, and what do I think about it after all that time!
My car the day we brought it back to home. It couldn't go on the road.
Here we are, my first car. A dream come true for me. We were looking for a Volvo 480 Turbo with my dad as my first car, I love the looks of it. In the end, we found out that a Volvo 440 Turbo was available, and it's quite a rare sight here. After quite a lot of thought, because we already knew it was going to need a lot of work, we decided to buy the car. However, it wasn't ready yet to take on the road. We first had to change the gearbox, the front suspensions and find new rear lights as well. Anyway, I was really excited to begin this project. The idea was to make it a daily driver.
The rear of my car when we bought it.
THE FIRST DRIVE
After three long, very long, months waiting for my car was to be drivable. A lot of things had been changed: the front suspensions, gearbox, clutch, rear lights and the rear bumper was "fixed" with gaffer tape, which didn't look too glorious. But I finally got to take it for a spin. It felt really special, first because I was driving my own car for the first time, but also because I was glad to see that the car could go back on the road. It felt great, the turbo was quite impressive when I tested it for the first time, I was quite surprised. However, it was incredibly noisy inside the car, and there were a lot of vibrations. There was still a lot of work to make it more comfortable. There was also a real lack of grip, because the tires were pretty bad, especially the front ones, which were almost flat. It was quite funny though, for a while, I struggled to start at every redlight, whenever it was a bit rainy. I even "drifted" once in a roundabout, with a FWD Volvo, not gonna lie, it was quite satisfying!
The famous solution to every problem: gaffer tape.
NEW BUMPER AND THE NEW FRONT TIRES
My next goal was to find a new rear bumper, I couldn't stand the fixed one with all that tape. As finding parts for my car was really hard here in France, I only managed to find a suitable bumper... in Portugal. Just guess how much a shock that was when I noticed that shipment fees costed almost more than the bumper itself. I was ecstatic. But anyway, I really needed it, and at least it couldn't be worse. Once the new bumper was on the car, it definitely improved it. It looked less Bob the builderish. I got new front tires as well, which allowed me to start properly on wet roads, and also avoid drifting in roundabouts... I actually miss that. Also changed the spark cables and the boot jacks, so that the boot stopped falling on me, potentially killing my back. But anyway, the project was advancing quite nicely.
my car with the new bumper.
The new front tires.
A SWIMMING POOL IN THE BOOT
You are probably wondering what this title means, well it's a "funny" story and an issue that I discovered just a few months after buying the car. During the first few months driving it, there was always a strange smell in the car, something like damp or it sometimes smelt like old folk. I wondered if it was because a grandma owned it before me, but it was worse than that. In fact, there was a swimming pool in my car. That's actually an interesting feature. Imagine that you come back from a day on the beach, then you can simply wash your feet in the boot of the car, and avoid putting sand into your car, smart. Happily, the solution wasn't that complicated just a seal to be repaired. Anyway, now my car doesn't smell bad anymore.
Bottom of the boot, once the water was removed.
NEW GRILLE, AIR FILTER AND EXHAUST LINE AND SILENCER
It might be a detail, but details matter, especially on a car. They really make a difference. My original grille wasn't that great. It was painted black, and that meant we didn't really see it, because of the color of my car. I found a new grille, in a better shape than mine. I had to find out how to change it, without breaking anything. Somehow, I managed to do it well, surprisingly.
I also heard a lot about "sporty" air filters. I wasn't sure that it would really have an effect, but given the fact that it's a cheap mod, I decided to give it a try. I wanted a K&N one, because you know, red is nice. But I was unable to find one compatible with my car, I found an alternative. JR Filters makes performance air filters for my car, and it's blue, and I like blue, so I ordered one. In the end, in my opinion, it's an interesting mod. The noise is a bit better, I suppose it helps for reliability, but don't expect a power increase.
Finally, the most important, the exhaust line and the silencer were changed. I wanted to fit a stainless steel line and silencer, but it was too expensive for me. So, I took basic ones, just in order to replace the bumped silencer that I had. This mod was however quite a good choice. Sure, the sound isn't impressive. But, thanks to those new parts, I feel like the engine breaths better, as if it had recovered a bit of power. Anyway, the car felt better than ever.
The new "chromed" grille on the car.
The new air filter from JR Performance, and a view on the engine bay.
The new exhaust system for the 440.
Here we are, the last mod so far. Since we bought the car, it never had a working instrument panel. So every time I took the car, I needed my phone to show the car's speed, thanks to an app, I didn't have a fuel gauge either. It was quite annoying, but we got used to it. We've been through two garages, in order to find a solution for the instrument panel. In the end, our second garage found out what was wrong. In fact, the power supply of the entire panel was broken. That meant I had to find a suitable panel. The problem was that I needed a precise sort of unit, with the right connectors. And the unit that I needed, was one of the rarest. In the end, I found a suitable one, it came from a Volvo 480 Turbo, and featured the infamous computer, known for being quite unreliable after a certain time. Anyway, I swapped the units, got it working.
The instrument panel is finally working.
SO, WAS THIS RESTORATION PROJECT A GOOD IDEA SO FAR?
So, after all those difficulties, was it a good idea? Was it interesting to take on a restoration project for my first car? Well, in the end, I have no regrets. It was tough sometimes, first because I had to learn to be patient, and I learnt something else. Thanks to this experience, I learnt to accept that it would be tough to restore my car to a perfect condition, because of daily driving it. But it remains a great project, a dream come true, and in the end, it turns out to be quite a good daily driver. It's fun to drive, quite practical, comfortable as well and good looking in my opinion. It's just hard to park, especially in town. But it's surely due to my parking skills, which obviously, aren't great.
My dog visibly loving the Volvo as well
But even if it looks like a heavy boat, it's actually quite a sleeper. If you want to have fun, it's capable of achieving quite nice performance. It's not that fast, but thanks to its turbo, you really feel the acceleration. It actually surprised some of my friends, as I took them for a ride. I especially enjoyed my 440 in the French Alps, in twisty mountain roads. In this kind of moment, I feel quite proud of this project. Seeing this car being able to go back on the road, it's a great feeling.
The French Alps.
I grew up with my dad's 440 Turbo and having my own just feels amazing. You know that feel when you meet a childhood hero? I was afraid of being disappointed of owning that car, but in the end, I like it even more, and I think that my next project would be to restore my dad's car. It really means something to me, to contribute to give my 440 a "new" life. It was sitting in a garden, now it can reach the top of a pass.
My Dad's 440 Turbo next to mine.
So, is it over? Not really, Now that all the "mechanical issues" are over, There's still a lot of work on the bodywork. Next week, the 440 is going to the garage. The rear wings are going to be "rebuilt", because of some rust. I'll paint the rear wing as well, and the rear bumper will be fastened properly. I have a few plans for the 440. I want to fit my car with a stainless steel exhaust line and silencer. I also thought about a new turbo setting, in order to get a bit more power from the engine. I'm opened to suggestions if you have any idea. What do you think that I should do with my 440 Turbo?
At the airfield.