Volvo 240: The underappreciated motorsport icon tackles drifting

By J.A. Ackley
May 31, 2024 | Volvo, Drifting, Volvo 240, Engine swap | Posted in Features | Never miss an article

Photography by J.A. Ackley

Let’s face it, when the general public views a Volvo 240, they think people mover or grocery getter. However, those in motorsport know better. The Volvo 240 won touring championships back in the day. It performed well in rally and was great in endurance racing. And, if you question the viability of a Volvo in racing, just ask Randy Pobst, who wins with a Volvo 740 today.

However, William Stipes and his crew wanted to move the needle further on the Volvo 240 platform–by taking one drifting.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole.

Let’s rewind. Stipes had a Volvo wagon sitting around. However, friend Chase Castle found another one that needed far less work. Stipes also had a 4.6-liter Ford engine, with some aftermarket cams, rods, pistons and a VSRacing 7875 turbo, collecting dust. Stipes thought, why not use the Volvo, swap the engine and make the leap from drag racing to drifting.

You might think that he could have used a more conventional car for starting out in drifting. Maybe a Nissan Silvia. Perhaps a C6 Corvette. Or even a Miata.

It’s definitely not the most picked chassis or swap, but LSes are overrated,” William says. “I like wagons–and Volvo makes a nice wagon. They just look cool. There’s just something about a brick traveling through time and space with no aerodynamics.”

Not only do Volvos seem to defy physics, they just look so refined and sophisticated, too, especially for the time when this 1980 Volvo 240 was sold new.

Before I ripped the interior out, it was a very classy car, but we couldn’t use most of it,” says William. “The outside is classy, but the inside is trashy.”

The Volvo 200 Series offers other benefits besides adding an air of sophistication.

The chassis is rigid,” says William. “For modifying anything, it takes a lot of hammering. They’re well built–other than the motors that come in them.”

That problem’s solved. Plus, William’s transplanted modern 4.6-liter Ford engine puts out horsepower in the “low 400s” for a car that weighs only 2980 pounds. While the parts may be readily available for the Ford, what about the chassis itself?

Car parts are fairly cheap, if you can get them from over the pond,” William asserts. “We use LucaCarMods [in the Netherlands]. He’s got the angle kits [for the front-end suspension in drifting]. It was like $500 to $600 for the kit. Shipping costs a bit, though.”

For William’s first drift event with the Volvo earlier this year, William drove it to the East10Drift meet at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It gets a lot [of attention] driving down the road,” says William. “You see people break their necks and stop and look. We went to a buddy’s housewarming party last weekend–everybody wanted to take pictures. It’s still got the rear seats for the whole family, too.”

Some might think William’s crazy for drifting a Volvo. He’s quick to correct you when you suggest that.

We’re stupid,” William says, “but we’re having a great time.”

If you’d like to know more about this “stupid” yet fun build, William documented the process on his YouTube channel, Boost & Bad Habits, which you can find here.

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amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/31/24 11:16 a.m.

Here's a good YouTube channel for those that like drifty Volvos

Chris Tropea
Chris Tropea Associate Editor
5/31/24 11:47 a.m.

I love seeing Volvos turned into stuff like this.

DavyZ Reader
5/31/24 1:35 p.m.

I have owned a 242, 244, and 760 all of which served my family well.  Modifying the older Volvos is a rewarding experience, because the before and after effect is so tremendous.  They are rock solid cars and take to mods pretty well. I used IPD for most of the performance parts.  Fond memories!  Someday it would be great to do a V8 swap too :)    

Jimmy_Paycheck New Reader
5/31/24 1:59 p.m.

"LSes are overrated", but at least they fit under the hood...

Tom1200 PowerDork
5/31/24 4:29 p.m.

240s can be turned into fire breathing beasts.

I have fond memories of Bill Malik's 240 rally car at The Rim of The World Rally.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/31/24 4:53 p.m.

“They’re well built–other than the motors that come in them.”

Disagree with that. 

Racebrick HalfDork
5/31/24 5:15 p.m.

Two of the best engines hand down. LS, and redblock.

mcloud New Reader
5/31/24 9:13 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

I agree.  The VOLVO 4 cylinder engnes, with 5 main bearings, were durable powerplants that easily see 200,000+ miles.

j_tso Dork
6/1/24 1:47 a.m.

Even Hot Wheels knows it

Hotwheels volvo 240 drift wagon

Appleseed MegaDork
6/1/24 10:57 a.m.

This is not helping my brick lust.

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