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Volvo Adventures is an independent New Zealand based resource for the older Volvo models

The EVOLVOlution of a 144 Race Car - Part 1
by Club member Stuart Innes (Australia)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Stuart competing at the AROCA 6Hr at Eastern Creek Raceway, 3 Nov 2002


The 144 had by this 1973 model proved itself very reliable, well built and affordable to maintain. The strong and sturdy nature off the 144 makes it ideally suitable to small budget, club level motorsport with its easy supply of parts, as they were sold in their thousands in Australia over the period 1968-74.

They featured many new and innovative engineering improvements over existing available cars of the same size such as 4 wheel disc brakes, 5 speed overdrive gearboxes, double reinforced body shells that form a safety cell for the occupants, retracting seat belts and collapsible steering column.

Basic but efficient motor and transmission that with normal servicing would last twice as long as any other due to the quality of the internals of the engine eg. Mahle pistons.

The 140 range also included the 142, 145 and 145 Express van. The 142 and 144 proving the most popular in Australasian motorsport, even a 145 was entered in the Round Australia Rally in the ‘70s and did well.

Evolvolution of car 144

I had joined the Volvo Sporting Car Club in Nov/Dec of 1992 after purchasing in 1989 and still own a 1980 242GT (my first Volvo a 1969 145 before that). The GT was my first experience in car club level motorsport, I ran it twice at Oran Park Race Track in supersprints in ’93\94 and got the “bug”. Time to look for a suitable car to make into a purpose built race car, the then president of the VSCC, Anthony Walton had such a wreck at his father's house, a 1973 144 B20E auto. Missing 2 doors, a front mudguard and various injection parts but a good sound body shell from which to start. 

140partsmarch94.jpg (39901 bytes) This is when Burglar Team racing was form one afternoon while stripping a '68 142 & '73 144, note race car in the background
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144 motorkhana at Wilberforce in March '94 , the car was still auto at this stage & unpainted.

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144 Day & Night supersprint at Oran Park Raceway in April '96, came very close to the wall equalling my best day timed run.

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144 on the front lawn at home in October 2002 after wash and polish

Ran the car in auto form for about 6 months in motorkhana’s then decided that track racing was going to be its future. With a lot of help from Kevin Elliott (workshop business), Ed Franklin (parts) Jim Rourke (paint) & Gerry Lister (information) over about 9 months the car was up & running at its first Volvo Sporting Car Club Hillclimb, late ‘94.

The aim in building the 144R as a race car was to be able to enjoy a passion to race an owner built car and not spend to much money, the more you can do yourself the more money you save, (for the budget conscious to date Jan ‘03 its cost around the Aus $16,000 mark for everything that’s been done so far and that includes tyres and entry costs & car trailer for 8yrs of racing). Over the years many changes have been made in development of the performance of the 144. (These will be listed separately). The 144 has been entered in every AROCA 6HR race since ‘96 under the team name of either Volvo Viking Racing or Team Mixed Nuts (some would say this is more appropriate after meeting us, we originally called ourselves Burglar Team racing at club events as we stole ideas and parts from each other) and DNF’d once when a 4th cylinder injector went lean and melted a hole through the no.4 piston on a brand new motor , result one very unhappy driver/owner. Best result in 1999 when the team achieved 7th on handicap & won 3rd in the team marques trophy (this race caters for GT3 Porsches to ex group C & A Bathurst cars), 2002 gave us 10th on handicap. This race has also provided good experience to improve and develop the 144 to get better lap times eg 1996 was our first year we where doing 2.14-16, now in 2001-2 we are doing 1.58-2.01 as lap times.

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144 overtaking a HQ Holden after a years further development the 144 had the bigger brakes and was making progress.

Future plans for the 144R race car include an engine rebuild, some new slicks, front shock absorbers due for reconditioning and seals, new harness that complies with the latest CAMS regulations as these were changed in 2002 to meet insurance and FIA requirements.

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144 at private practice with its no.33 on the windscreen coming onto the straight at Wakefield Park.

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144 at Wakefield Park in March '96,rain made things slippery and the 144 gets sideway on to the straight, no I didn't catch it and spun, bugger! lol (laugh out loud)

Specifications of this
Modified 144R Race Car at 1/03

Body Shell:
Year Built:

144E now runs twin HIF6 Su’s carby’s, elect fuel pumps
4 door sedan Roll Caged, fire walled
150 hp approx
M40 4spd & Celica 5 spd 
Standard welded with Unitech chrome rods
15 x 7” Globe Bathurst Alloy Mags
Standard Girling rear, ATE 164 vented front
1 Cams Approved race seat
None, built to CAMS sport sedan spec’s 
2 Series Rally Dash,
Fire Extingiusher,
2 x 4lb elect fuel pump,
R-sport extractors,
2 1/2” exhaust,
Ported & polished head,
Double valve springs,
oil cooler( Mercedes),
740 thermo fan,
Surge tank,
Fire extinguisher, (upside down),
Heavy duty clutch,
Geniune 15” 142 GT Motolita steering wheel,
Don Selby suspension lowered 3”,
Fire wall,
Emergency OFF switch,
Bendix Performax brake pads,
High temp brake fluid.
Cam is new from a fresh blank at Watsons Cams Mortdale, Sydney and is a "D plus", this is one stage up from the factory "D" injected cam and provides a better spread of power and torque for race purposes.
Also the B20 1974 blocks used the B21 internals so can be easliy bored out to 2.1 litre using standard Volvo parts as I have done with this 144R race car

As there is NO prize money at this level, modifications where kept to a minimum and using Volvo parts where ever possible as they are compatible and cheap from your friendly wreckers like A-Class in, Revesby, Sydney. 

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Photo 1
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Photo 2
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Photo 3
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Photo 4

Photo 1: shows plumbing of fuel and oil lines from engine to inner mudguard

Photo 2: shows 55amp alternator, Davis Craig thermo sensor at radiator, self machined thermostat housing as standard Volvo ones corrode  and pit badly, 2" alloy engine stabilizer that bolts directly to block where there is a hole already drilled and taped from the factory ( use 2 x sway bar drop rod bushes to mount at engine, 1 either side of strap ), 1 to 5 lb fuel pressure regulator, you can just see the 740 thermo fan mounting brackets on top of radiator, 2 x HIF6 SU's

Photo 3: shows R-Sport extractors, oil filter on inner mudguard and line down to cooler, another view of self machined thermostat housing.

Photo 4: shows stainless steel emergency release tube (top lhs), 2 x HIF6 SU's, new Nolathane top hat bushes for collapsible steering (these where designed and ordered by myself through Nolathane in Sydney as they didn't not exist at this time, I have raced with them for 7 years and they are holding up very well to the job at race pace.)

Stuart Innes


Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3


140 series Links:
Stuart Innes Volvo Motorsport photo pages
Volvo Car Club NSW, Australia
Volvo Adventures 140 Series

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