jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 12:18 p.m.

Intro- I am a 17 year old that loves to chase dreams some people call impossible. Rallying is one of my dreams that I’m trying get my feet wet in it by building a rallycross car…

So I’ll give you guys a little background about myself. As I said I am 17 years old and in high school and play hockey and golf so I don't have much time to work on my cars during the week. I try my best to make time or just do research at school about plans for my car or looking at build threads just to get ideas on what this is all about. My history with cars really started when I was around 15 I fell in love with everything about them and when I got my license everything that I wanted became a reality, I could finally drive! My first car was a 2004 Nissan Maxima, it had everything a kid wanted for his first car. It was faster than I think every car at my school and it looked pretty dang good for a first car. Well I got sick of it since it was fwd and wasn’t that fun to drive.

So my research started to find a new “fun” car, I stumbled upon the classic BMW e30. Looking for months for a clean e30 I found one that fit my needs. It was an m50 swapped 1990 325i. It is a crazy fun car to drive, I recommend that car for someone looking for a cheap fun car. Well I didn't want to drive it in the Michigan snow knowing that the salt kills these cars and I didn't want that to happen.

The car- Its time to reveal my winter beater that now has become my rallycross project. I needed something manual and wanted it to be rwd or awd because who doesn't like to have fun in to snow! I narrowed my search to Volvo, Subaru or another e30. While I was looking into Volvo’s a 240 became for sale right down the street so with a $800 price tag I had to check it out. It was a auto. The search continues on Craigslist and I found the one I wanted… a 1988 Volvo 244 dl. It spent 95% of its life in Texas then later it moved to Georgia. It only spent one winter in the Michigan snow. So as far as I’ve seen it is rust free. It was stock when I bought it with a lot of new parts. At 222k on the odometer you would never know, starts up in sub zero michigan weather every day and I would never hesitate to drive it anywhere.

The car has the 2.3 litre 4 cylinder SOHC paired with the m47 5 speed transmission. It weights around 2,850 pounds. The engine pushes a whopping 114 hp @ 5400 rpm and 136 ft. lbs of torque. Those numbers have probably decrease over 27 years of driving which makes it even slower. The goal for this car is to learn and have fun doing it. I still want to be competitive but I have never rallycrossed before so I think this first year will just be a learning experience then hopefully I can be more competitive in future years.

I’m new to all of this so if anyone has tips, advice, criticism, comments about anything it will be greatly appreciated. I am going to be asking a lot of questions that the internet or the Haynes repair manual can't answer so if you have answers I would love to hear them. So heres the car, enjoy!

20150209_160443 134432049 -158231451 IMG_20141129_235009 20150217_191013

NGTD SuperDork
Feb. 18, 2015 1:20 p.m.

Just what I have wanted to do for a while. 240's are hard to find up here or they are in really good shape and people want $3K for them.

Here would be my take on it:

  1. Make sure its reliable and safe - replace wear items, timing belt, etc.
  2. Get a GOOD set of snows for it, if you don't already have them.
  3. Get some seat time. You are young - enter every event you can. Winter rallycross, TSD (Time, Speed, Distance - otherwise called Navigational rallies), autocross etc. Anything that will increase your knowledge about car control. You didn't say where in Michigan but there are some good events in Ontario, if you are close to the border. In fact, there is one this weekend called the Polar Bear Rally - run out of Bancroft, ON.
  4. Start saving some money - motorsports are expensive.
  5. After that - 240 engines take turbo's quite nicely! Look up +T for a Volvo 240.
  6. Get over to Turbobricks.com - just have a thick skin. People over there are not as welcoming as the folks are here.
  7. Good luck!
jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 1:52 p.m.

In reply to NGTD:

I am considering rebuilding the engine but that gets pricy so I might just get a gasket set and do the timing belt while it's apart.

Also I am located in Grand Rapids so that would be like a 8 hour hike to go up to that event. I've been trying to practice driving sideways fast, the snow is nice to practice that. I also worked on it before the snow came and the dirt is a lot faster. I would like to get some suspension soon or just springs to make the car handle better. I'm hoping to enter an event pretty soon I just need some more practice.

I have been on turbo bricks and there isn't much on rallycross that I found but they talk about a lot of helpful engine and suspension parts. Dirty impreza helped a lot with rallycross basics I would definitely recommend that.

NGTD SuperDork
Feb. 18, 2015 2:19 p.m.

I REALY doubt that the engine needs a rebuild. There are stories of Volvo redblocks being torn apart with 300k miles that still have crosshatching in the cylinder bores.

Work on handling - struts, shocks, springs, replace all the bushings, etc. If you can get a hold of a set of deCarbon struts for the front they are supposed to be copies of Bilstein's. KYB Gas-A-Just are a bargain for the rear. Or if you have the cash Bilstein's. You can get rear "overload" springs. Not sure if there is a bargain solution for front springs.

Get a skidplate or make one for it.

Yes DI is good - obviously Subaru biased, but good background. Some info over on Specialstage, but more focused on true performance rally.

chiodos Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 2:23 p.m.

I suggest getting new shocks and bushings and getting the car to a solid stage 0. leave stock springs for now add ipd swaybars or dual stock swaybars front and rear and a g80 diff with the governor modified. oh and get another m47 before you need it..you will eventually. And welcome to grm and volvos, im currently daily driving a turboed 245.

EvanB UltimaDork
Feb. 18, 2015 2:28 p.m.

I wouldn't bother rebuilding it. Just to the timing belt and water pump along with the cam and crank seals if you want.

For rallycross in your area I would just run it as-is in SR and don't worry about trying to be competitive (especially with Nathan Usher's new machine). After a year or so you will know what you want to upgrade or if you want to switch to a completely different car.

jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 4:45 p.m.

Okay thanks for the suggestions I am going to be looking into suspension soon hopefully I can find a good deal. I hope I don't need a rebuild but it burns oil when it starts and it also sucks coolant. Does anyone know what could cause these to happen. I filled it with coolant last week and today I had to fill it again, no signs of leaking anywhere. It also smokes even when it's all warmed up if that helps with figuring it out. That's the only reason I would rebuild it.

EvanB UltimaDork
Feb. 18, 2015 4:53 p.m.

The first thing to do on a redblock is clean or replace the PCV system, that can get overlooked when doing maintenance and clog up.

Is the smoke from the exhaust oil or coolant (does it look white and smell sweet)?

irish44j PowerDork
Feb. 18, 2015 5:14 p.m.

Good to see you started a build thread for it. You should get some great advice on this forum, and you've already had the MR national champion (Evan) comment a few times - and he not only knows rallycross, but also knows Volvos. I don't recall if I mentioned it in our previous messages, but might not be a bad idea to do a "carbon copy" of the thread on turbobricks. I've found that running multiple build threads allows different suggestions from different groups of enthusiasts who have a variety of knowledge about what to do or where to get parts cheap.

And whatever you do, don't take any advice from Knurled (Pete) (being sarcastic).

jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 8:27 p.m.
EvanB wrote: The first thing to do on a redblock is clean or replace the PCV system, that can get overlooked when doing maintenance and clog up. Is the smoke from the exhaust oil or coolant (does it look white and smell sweet)?

Thanks for the advice on the PCV system I almost over looked that.

I think it's oil since it smells like oil is burning. No matter how long I drive it still smokes. Also if you smell by the engine when it's on it smells like burning oil too. But I'm still curious about the coolant.

jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 18, 2015 8:38 p.m.
EvanB wrote: I wouldn't bother rebuilding it. Just to the timing belt and water pump along with the cam and crank seals if you want. For rallycross in your area I would just run it as-is in SR and don't worry about trying to be competitive (especially with Nathan Usher's new machine). After a year or so you will know what you want to upgrade or if you want to switch to a completely different car.

Running in SR I can't do anything to the car right? I would like to do some weight reduction (since it's free to do) and the 240 isn't the lightest. That one advantage to a e30, about the same power but they are lighter. I'll have to get out to an event to see what's out there. I know the DC area is like all e30's.

NGTD SuperDork
Feb. 18, 2015 9:09 p.m.

Loosing coolant like that would immediately make me think head gasket.

fujioko HalfDork
Feb. 18, 2015 9:13 p.m.

Cool beater!

Michigan snow is very useful for finding leaks. Park the car over some fresh snow and let it run for 15 min or so. Back it up and check the snow for oil and antifreeze.

My Saturn had a slow coolant leak and I did the snow trick to pinpoint where the coolant was coming from.

irish44j PowerDork
Feb. 18, 2015 9:35 p.m.
jhockey4 wrote:
EvanB wrote: I wouldn't bother rebuilding it. Just to the timing belt and water pump along with the cam and crank seals if you want. For rallycross in your area I would just run it as-is in SR and don't worry about trying to be competitive (especially with Nathan Usher's new machine). After a year or so you will know what you want to upgrade or if you want to switch to a completely different car.

Running in SR I can't do anything to the car right? I would like to do some weight reduction (since it's free to do) and the 240 isn't the lightest. That one advantage to a e30, about the same power but they are lighter. I'll have to get out to an event to see what's out there. I know the DC area is like all e30's.

Correct. Like I said, I suggest you just do what you want to the car and run in PR or MR. If you actually want to do a "build" and make the car "yours" you'll get bored real quickly with a stock-class car since you basically can only replace, not upgrade significantly.

Stock class you have no chance against the Miatas. Nor do the e30s, for that matter. Miatas dominate stock RWD.

In the higher classes (especially MR) you can gut weight out of a heavy car and whatever else you feel like doing. You may or may not be more competitive, but at least you'll be able to have fun with the car doing whatever you want to it, without having the stock restrictions. Worry less about winning for the time being, and more about learning the car, learning to drive, and having fun. You can do that in any class. Building the car how you want it is way more fun though.

Kenny_McCormic PowerDork
Feb. 18, 2015 9:42 p.m.

Burning oil. How fast? Probably gunked up rings, run heavy duty oil (rotella) or synthetic in it and take it up to redline once warmed up a couple times every time you take it out, watching the oil level, odds are it quits. Also check PCV system, a clogged one or a stuck open valve can turn a healthy car into a real fogger. If you're smelling oil under the hood, you've probably got a bad valve cover gasket putting oil on the exhaust manifold.

Losing coolant, how fast? It's most likely either a pinhole leak you aren't seeing, or a headgasket(though I don't think this is a common redblock problem). Pull the spark plugs out and compare the colors, look down the bores, a blown headgaket(blown into the combustion chamber anyhow) will steam clean the effected plug porcelain white and clean all the carbon off the top of the piston. Sometimes you can find pinhole leaks by thrashing the car a bit to bring the system pressure up (3rd gear pull or two) and then pull over and look for the spray. Also look for inexplicably steam cleaned areas around gaskets and hoses. Does the radiator have plastic end tanks? These often crack with age, look there. Could also be a heater core, you can generally smell this (sweet). Keep an eye on the temp gauge until you figure it out.

jhockey4 New Reader
Feb. 19, 2015 7:50 a.m.
irish44j wrote:
jhockey4 wrote:
EvanB wrote: I wouldn't bother rebuilding it. Just to the timing belt and water pump along with the cam and crank seals if you want. For rallycross in your area I would just run it as-is in SR and don't worry about trying to be competitive (especially with Nathan Usher's new machine). After a year or so you will know what you want to upgrade or if you want to switch to a completely different car.

Running in SR I can't do anything to the car right? I would like to do some weight reduction (since it's free to do) and the 240 isn't the lightest. That one advantage to a e30, about the same power but they are lighter. I'll have to get out to an event to see what's out there. I know the DC area is like all e30's.

Correct. Like I said, I suggest you just do what you want to the car and run in PR or MR. If you actually want to do a "build" and make the car "yours" you'll get bored real quickly with a stock-class car since you basically can only replace, not upgrade significantly.

Stock class you have no chance against the Miatas. Nor do the e30s, for that matter. Miatas dominate stock RWD.

In the higher classes (especially MR) you can gut weight out of a heavy car and whatever else you feel like doing. You may or may not be more competitive, but at least you'll be able to have fun with the car doing whatever you want to it, without having the stock restrictions. Worry less about winning for the time being, and more about learning the car, learning to drive, and having fun. You can do that in any class. Building the car how you want it is way more fun though.

Thanks for help Josh I'll start doing all the reliability things first, I really have to figure out this oil and coolant problem soon.

EvanB UltimaDork
Feb. 19, 2015 8:20 a.m.

With my current daily (93 945) replacing the PCV system fixed most of my oil burning and leaking problems. The water pump was leaking a gallon every few days but that was obvious since it came right out the bottom. Your issue sounds more like a head gasket.

I ran in MR even when my car was stock but there isn't anyone running SR in my region. Detroit has a healthy SR and MR class so either way you'll have some good competition. If I was running MR in Detroit I would do stiffer springs with Bilsteins and some sway bars.

NGTD SuperDork
Feb. 19, 2015 11:52 a.m.

If you're really serious about getting into rally - don't focus on just Rally-X. Rally-X is not a rally. It does help you understand how your car will react on dirt, in a controlled environment. However rally-X is purposely done on slower and tighter areas than a Rally. That is why the prep requirements are so much lower.

TSD's will help you understand how rallies are timed, how you work together with a co-driver, how to stay on course, etc.

Do a mix of both.

irish44j PowerDork
Feb. 19, 2015 2:05 p.m.

^^ this. It's my intention to do a few TSDs in the future as well for that exact reason.

Richard Nixon SuperDork
Feb. 20, 2015 3:26 a.m.

I dyno'd my `89 240 when it had 260k on it and it was putting 96hp and 120? ft. lbs. of torque. These engines are tough.

fidelity101 SuperDork
Feb. 20, 2015 10:59 a.m.

I saw you registered before the delayed the event, not able to make it out anymore? :(

irish44j PowerDork
Feb. 22, 2015 2:03 p.m.

So at this weekends WM Winter Rally, Jason Smith and Jared Lantzy ran a "new to them" Volvo 240 and apparently had a blast, even in the slick conditions. Will post some pics up for you when I get them uploaded.

Btw, those guys are very experienced rallyers (usually drive a Subie, not surprisingly).

echoechoecho New Reader
Feb. 22, 2015 5:22 p.m.

the volvo 240 is an awesome car! a friend had one in high school could not kill the thing, he also swapped a DOHC head on, man that thing was fun. he used this website to do the swap http://yoshifab.com/images/volvo/16v%20head%20swap.htm

Lof8 Reader
Feb. 22, 2015 5:36 p.m.

What makes the m50 swapped e30 a "stage 3"?

irish44j PowerDork
Feb. 22, 2015 7:31 p.m.
Lof8 wrote: What makes the m50 swapped e30 a "stage 3"?

I was thinking the same thing lol.

Maybe M10: Stage zero M42: Stage one M20: Stage two M50: Stage three etc

also, as promised a few volvo rally pics from this weekend for inspiration

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