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

Volvo 240T "Flathood" - A brief Overview

Volvo 240T as raced in Australia

Between the years of 1981 and '85, Volvo produced turbocharged versions of their popular 240-series cars. In 1983, a set of these cars was entered in the European Touring Car Championship race series, but in order to meet the conditions of the series, the company was required to produce a minimum of 500 "homologated" cars – vehicles that were street legal, but followed the same specs as the racing cars which shared the name. 

Because this run of 240s featured the flat hood design that had been popular in the previous decade, but was no longer in production in the American market, they were known colloquially as "Flathoods." (Flathood relates to the flat front of the hood)

While much speculation abounds about the features of these cars – rumors included the presence of a special engine - and while the racing cars in the series actually did include several enhancements, like lighter doors and aluminum hoods, the street-legal versions had none of these alterations. 

What the car at the center of the rumors did have was a B21ET engine, which was the European version of the turbo engine, and it provided a bit of extra power over the B21FT that other turbos carried. 30 of the cars were eventually sent back to Europe where they were fitted with racing accoutrements that weren’t legal in the United States. 

The racing enhancements included electronic water injection systems, Gretag five-speed gearboxes, ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels, and limited slip differential. As well, they were given all-digital instrumentation, which was preferred by the European racecar drivers, though American drivers preferred analog gauges. 

The specs of the street-legal vs. race-ready cars are as follows: 

Street Legal Racing Model
Motor: B21FT (8v 4cyl, 398 head, intercooled) Motor: B21ET (8v 4cyl, 531 head 2127cc )
Transmission: M46+OD (stepped flywheel) or AW71 Transmission: Getrag M51 sport, 5-speed
Fuel System: Standard Bosch K-Jetronic (CIS) Fuel System: K-jetronic, heavily modified (water injection in 1984)
Turbo: Garret Air Research T3 (.43/.48 wheels?) (10.5psi of boost) Turbo: 1 Garrett turbo (group-a, T3/T4)
Power: (SAE J 245) 157hp/5,100 rpm / Max Torque: (SAE J 245) 175ft. lbs./3,900 rs Power: 307 HP/6000 (330hp in '84 and 350hp in '86)

The vehicles which stayed in the United States were built to standard 1983 turbo specs, though they retained the enhanced springs of the GT, as well as a factory-installed intercooler, and the same front end as the European models. 

While Volvo Cars of North America has never confirmed anything greater than the standard 161 horsepower output, anecdotal evidence from people who have actually driven these cars is that they are much faster than a stock turbo. 

Even today, there is more myth than fact about these cars. While we know that they originally sold for $17,000 - $18,000, and that they came in metallic blue, metallic silver, and black, among other colors, we do not know for sure if there is any truth to the rumor that 312 of these vehicles had 4-speed manual transmissions with overdrive, nor has it been confirmed that all of these cars sold in the United States were equipped with manual sunroofs, as opposed to the sunroof-free racing models. Today, Volvo clubs still ask owners of these cars to compare their VIN numbers, and tabulate data about parts and power. 

Today, if you can find one of these cars for sale, they run anywhere from US$160 to $5,000, or more. As with any classic or vintage car, you should have a reliable mechanic go with you to help you evaluate the vehicle before you commit your money.

Anthony Hide's 240Turbo pages (Aus)

Dave Barton's 240T pages (USA)

Peter Kroeber's 240T Group A © 1999 - 2021