Meet a 1UZ-Powered Volvo 940 Wagon

Story by Phil “Murilee Martin” Greden • Photography Courtesy the 24 Hours of Lemons

The Volvo 940 Turbo, direct descendant of the line of brick-shaped Swedish safetymobiles that began with the 140 in 1966, boasts a storied but not-so-successful career in 24 Hours of Lemons racing. The 940 Turbo’s nervously boosted four-cylinder engine tends to blow head gaskets and throw connecting rods under the rigors of road racing, so what’s a team to do with its 940 Turbo wagon?

The Gunbarrel Cobras, a Colorado team staffed with geeked-up engineers, took a look at the Aisin automatic transmission in their Volvo and had a eureka moment: The guts of the Volvo Aisin are the same, sort of, as the ones used in the bulletproof Lexus LS400! A trip to the junkyard and many hundreds of hours of parts-mix-and-matching and fabrication later, they had an LS400’s 1UZ-FE 4.0-liter V8 mated to the Volvo’s transmission. After that, all they needed to do was convert the engine from electronic fuel injection and ignition to a carburetor/distributor setup–because, apparently, they feared the intimidatingly complex wiring harness of the 1UZ.

A General Motors HEI distributor mounted to one of the cam gears via a drive system made from socket extensions solved the ignition dilemma. A homemade intake manifold with a couple of motorcycle carburetors–well, it didn’t quite solve the fuel-delivery quandary at the car’s first race with the 1UZ swap.

For the second race, at High Plains Raceway in the summer of 2019, the team returned to the junkyard and pulled two two-barrel and one one-barrel carburetors–with one of the carbs coming from a 1965 Ford Mustang. Then they fabricated a new intake manifold from scratch and rigged up some linkage. The “244 Try-Power” was born, and–shockingly, to us–it worked very well on the race track.

What’s next? Well, the wise and fair justices of the Lemons Supreme Court have informed the Gunbarrel Cobras that the team gets a budget exemption for junkyard supercharging–provided they use the twin-screw Lysholm blower out of a Mazda Millenia S.

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Comments
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dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/6/20 9:02 a.m.

Well, I support the concept. But me reading this and then getting to the ignition and fuel delivery part:

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
4/6/20 10:45 a.m.

In reply to dculberson (Forum Supporter) :

Same

dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/6/20 11:24 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

I'm just struggling to even come close to agreeing with the idea that their solution was easier than reusing the existing (and very good!) ignition and fuel injection.

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
4/6/20 12:01 p.m.

In reply to dculberson (Forum Supporter) :

Especially since the 1uz doesn't need much done to the harness to be used as a swap. If I could do it then I know they could've. I'm the worst at wiring, I have to YouTube and follow step by step just to do a voltage drop test lol. 

newrider3
newrider3 New Reader
4/6/20 12:18 p.m.

Hey, this is my team's car!

 

The donor SC400 had experienced a partial engine fire, the harness was quite crispy. And the 1UZ engine harness is not the most simple thing, the wire bundle is girthy.  Add in old ass sensors and sticky injectors and whatnot from the donor that had been sitting for years, and there would have been reliability issues.

All we really have into the distributor and carb conversion is time and raw materials. To me, building an intake manifold with some cutting and welding and grinding is indeed easier than either adapting a stock wiring harness or tuning a standalone ECU. Not because I can't do it, but because I have more fun fabricating than I do wiring.

We ran a MS2 on the stock redblock with added turbo in this car's first outing, and through a combination of crappy tuning, unsupported sensor configurations, and general ineptitude, it always ran like garbage. The current combo always starts and runs flawlessly. I will freely admit that I don't know dick about properly tuning EFI; I understand how it works and I understand how tuning works but that doesn't mean I can make an engine run as well using electrons as I can using carbs and a wideband gauge. 

 

You also need to remember, this is Lemons. We did this solely because the ideas for the distributor setup and the carb configuration popped into our heads one day and it seemed ridiculous and made us laugh. If you're making any mod or conversion to a Lemons car and only thinking about increasing performance, you're in the wrong racing series. We do stuff like this because we know it will get a laugh out of the judges and everyone in the paddock on Saturday night will want to stop by after beer#3 and BS about it.

 

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
4/6/20 12:33 p.m.

That's fair. Just a guy who's done a 1uz swap before with no wiring skills at all. And I found it easier than I feared. But, the donor harness and parts were in really good shape.

Ive done MS before too, would rather not do it myself again lol. 

dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/6/20 1:03 p.m.

In reply to newrider3 :

Hey, I don't hate it! It is certainly ridiculous and you got the write up so clearly other people get it too. The fact that it starts and runs flawlessly is amazing.

I get Lemons, I've raced a lot of crapheaps and even been in a few IOE winning efforts, so I gotcha there. Actually this reminds me of Speedycop's BMW V12 powered T-bird with the ammo can intake. That thing was a crap heap! He had it at my first Lemons race at the 2008 Lamest Day.

newrider3
newrider3 New Reader
4/6/20 1:33 p.m.

Not trying to sound too defensive, just trying to clarify where we're coming from with these silly ideas smiley

 

We're not total Luddites, here is the completely unnecessary and overcomplicated digital dash and electronic paddle shifter system we have in the same car:

 


 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
4/6/20 1:33 p.m.
dculberson (Forum Supporter) said:

Well, I support the concept. But me reading this and then getting to the ignition and fuel delivery part:

I dunno.  As much as I like modern engine management, it makes me giggle to see it in action.

 

I saw a Duraspark distributor grafted to the left bank of a Mod motor once.

 

And hey, at least it wasn't one accursed Bosch distributor on each bank, like a 928!

newrider3
newrider3 New Reader
4/6/20 1:47 p.m.

If this setup makes your teeth itch, just wait until we get our new conversion running on our second car...

 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/6/20 1:54 p.m.

That dash is the most completely awesome unnecessarily over the top thing I've seen all week.

Keep doing all the things that you're doing, but post more about them so we can read about it. laugh

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
4/6/20 1:56 p.m.

Why the guts swap on the Volvo trans vs just using the LS's original transmission?

And whatever that, I think it's a V6?, whatever's going on there... what am I looking at?  My brain is throwing red flags at that image.

EDIT:  Also this is all really cool and thanks for coming to the forum to help explain things further.

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
4/6/20 2:31 p.m.
newrider3 said:

Not trying to sound too defensive, just trying to clarify where we're coming from with these silly ideas smiley

 

We're not total Luddites, here is the completely unnecessary and overcomplicated digital dash and electronic paddle shifter system we have in the same car:

 


 

 

Make me one lol

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
4/6/20 2:32 p.m.
newrider3 said:

If this setup makes your teeth itch, just wait until we get our new conversion running on our second car...

 

 

I recognize the Mercedes bits but tell me more lol

newrider3
newrider3 New Reader
4/6/20 2:33 p.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

Phil didn't explain the transmission super well - It's the stock SC400 transmission, Aisin A341e, with the tailhousing and driveshaft companion flange from the Volvo 940 AW70. The tailhousing and companion flange swap directly over, just requiring a little trim of the output shaft where the Lexus has a protrusion for the guibo type driveshaft. This allowed the stock Volvo transmission mount and crossmember to bolt up as well as the stock Volvo driveshaft. Some firewall and oil pan cutting was necessary, the firewall probably could have just been bashed in but we got a little overzealous with the angle grinder during mockup. 

 

The V6 swap project is taking place on our second race car, an '83 Toyota Starlet, build thread here:

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1983-toyota-starlet-lemons-race-car/163295/page1/

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
4/6/20 2:57 p.m.

Suzuki V6 with CIS‽

You are a madman

justinpirie
justinpirie
4/6/20 3:18 p.m.

BRAVO!

Fellow 1UZ Lemons team out West with both a Celica and a E30 powered with 1UZ's. We've had to raid the junkyard a few times to get reliable wiring harnesses, e.g. the coil plugs on the VVTi motor are always heat damaged. Phil wrote about us here: http://www.roadkill.com/arse-freeze-palooza-24-hours-lemons-winners-2/

That's AWESOME that you can swap the tail housing and reuse the driveshaft and mount. That always adds cost and complexity when you have to swap that stuff like we have....

Also completely agreed on Megasquirt, such a PITA for the money, since it's not actually that cheap anymore. Nice work on the dash and electronics BTW!

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa HalfDork
4/6/20 3:22 p.m.
newrider3 said:

Not because I can't do it, but because I have more fun fabricating than I do wiring.

I fully understand this

Darchangel
Darchangel New Reader
4/6/20 3:24 p.m.
newrider3 said:

Not trying to sound too defensive, just trying to clarify where we're coming from with these silly ideas smiley

 

We're not total Luddites, here is the completely unnecessary and overcomplicated digital dash and electronic paddle shifter system we have in the same car:

 

 

OK, the warning light labeled "HUGE MISTAKE" just about killed me. Even without that, I love this dash.

newrider3
newrider3 New Reader
4/6/20 3:35 p.m.

In reply to Darchangel :

"HUGE MISTAKE" is the starter button. Lives up to it's name by being impossible to reach when belted in. 

 

The computer box for the dash and paddle shifters is also technically capable of running the automatic transmission in an automatic fashion, since the Aisin trans was originally computer controlled and we did away with the factory TCU. But we generally run it locked out in manual mode with the paddles. 

 

There are occasional pics and updates on our team Instagram page: @gunbarrelcobras

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
4/6/20 3:48 p.m.
newrider3 said:

In reply to Darchangel :

"HUGE MISTAKE" is the starter button. Lives up to it's name by being impossible to reach when belted in.

We have a similar issue with out key start car. Our shorter armed drivers had to make 6" key extender to start the car.

Darchangel
Darchangel New Reader
4/7/20 2:27 p.m.
newrider3 said:

In reply to Darchangel :

"HUGE MISTAKE" is the starter button. Lives up to it's name by being impossible to reach when belted in. 

That's even better!

_
_ Dork
4/7/20 7:53 p.m.

"because, apparently, they feared the intimidatingly complex wiring harness of the 1UZ."

Cowards! Just kidding. I did my 1uz swap and kept the injection, but I did have a look at the ease of getting the Ozzie nascar carb manifold for it (don't bother, for less money you can have MS or speeduino)

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