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


Volvo PV544 Project
by Club member Hans-Peter Rombouts, New Zealand

Where to begin? At the beginning I suppose, I fell in love with the PV when I saw one on a trip to Europe when I was 17 in 1974, didnít do anything about it even though I lived in Europe in 1981 until a "Volvo Sport Favorit" came up for sale in Wellington in 1985. It had been a Swedish Embassy car, then a one family car; I went to look at it and had to have it. I later found out it was neither a Sport or a Favorit  ( Volvo term for basic model ) but a Special, quite a cute name though. The before photoís show the car around Wellington and on holiday in Mahia, they also show the types of car that where on the road in 1985. I drove the PV for a couple of years but due to a time consuming career not much maintenance was done. The PV was then parked for about 7 years.

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Early photos around 1985

Then I moved to the Bay of Plenty and bought an orchard and the Volvo bug bit again, I bought an Amazon wagon as my business vehicle and started to work on the PV, progress was hindered by the usual things, break ups of relationships, hard times for the business etc but times improve and I have upgraded it a little using a rebuilt B20B with a K cam and a 50mm exhaust, front disc brakes, alternator etc, given it a cheap red paint job and it has given me lots of driving pleasure; in automotive terms I am very lucky I own the car of my dreams!

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Tauranga Show Engine bay painted B20B engine rebuilt 5 " wide wheels

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For a while I thought that I had the only PV in New Zealand then I discovered the Volvo Enthusiasts Club and met the other owner! He loaned me an excellent little book called VOLVO 1800 AND FAMILY by Andrew Whyte which has a photo of a racing PV in the States, this was the photo that really inspired me to build a hot PV544.

About 6 years ago I saw a grey PV 544 up for auction that had recently been imported from the USA, an E model thus a 63/64 car but registered as a 65, unusually it was fitted with 4 wheel discs and 140 style suspension, I know the PV was homologated with 4 wheel discs in 1961 and the 140 project was started by Volvo in June 1960 so by 1963 if you were Gunner Andersson you would have had access to these parts to fit to a racing PV.

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In the paint shop 1998

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This was an incredibly lucky break, here was a car with the potential to handle and stop really well and it was already VINed for New Zealand so there would be no complicated certification problems.

Homologation paper on the left (105kB file)

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Club meeting

The car needed a lot of work so a local restoration firm was contacted and panel work and new paint in blue was completed. I thought about what else would be  period and desirable modifications. The short gearlever was available on the 1800 on the same gearbox so that was period.

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The transmission tunnel was altered to take the short gear lever and the pedals were top mounted, the heater was removed and replaced by a brake booster (I may come to regret this) all the chrome was removed and the petrol tank replaced by a 50ís Vauxhall unit, well itís a V name and completely period. One touch I particularly like is the chrome mirrors from the 74 140, they really look the part, have Volvo stamped on them and there is a possibility they will work as well! The 244 also provided the handbrake which needed to be moved back due to the longer transmission tunnel. This has put the handbrake where the average human arm can use it rather than the standard gorilla position. 

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Hint for better living.  Are your neighbours complaining about the state of your lawn? Litter it with old cars, then take them to the tip, it can add thousands to your property value and make your partner very happy.

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This brings us up to date, (Jan 2002) the PV has been sitting in the garage as a shell for 2 years and I have now decided it wonít be a race car at all, I have a 142 which will fill that role, more practical and hopefully cheaper, the PV is going to be a really nice road car. To that end the engine and other parts are coming out of the other PV at the end of the summer, well I might as well enjoy driving it, and I am assembling some other parts. 
My project 142 came with an M41 and I am going to install that in the PV, this will entail more metal work as the tunnel is too narrow for the overdrive unit, the photo shows the three types of gearlever, in the foreground is the unit out of the a 75 240 (in the meantime I have acquired a 245 and another 142 for parts), it has the nicest movement and I would like to fit it, however the overdrive cutout switch allows the overdrive to work on all the forward gears, this is not how Volvo intended it, however with some tricky wiring it may work as the cutout also works in neutral. 

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As I donít know the condition of the M41 it is currently with a specialist to assess its condition. At the moment the 142 is also going to donate its front seats, with trepidation I chopped up the PV seats which were in reasonable condition with the intention of mounting the 142 seats on the PV rails.

31 March 2002
I have just purchased a near new grill and some sport badges from Soren in Denmark, the beauty of the internet is that he was able to throw in some hinges for the glovebox I was lacking, Soren was able to do this because heís a nice guy and these sort of parts are of course the last to go in a rotting PV, so worthless in a place with many old PVís but valuable to me in a place where there are no wrecked PVís at all, I wonder what Adam Smith would say about that. Much appreciated Soren. Link to Soren's web site: 

May 2002- small things.

I have bought an Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupe to race now rather than dreaming of racing a Volvo later, this has slightly slowed work on the PV, but only slightly as progress was pretty slow anyway. The M41 is back from the specialist, it turned out the mainshaft and the layshaft were worn, not enough to be unusable but enough to be noisy. The mainshaft has been repaired and we used the case, gears and layshaft from a 75 M40 which was in better condition, this has pros and cons as it is a stronger box but first gear is lower 3.41 rather than the 3.14 found on most M40ís. The overdrive was also worn out but easily repaired.


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So far so good, today with help from the webmaster I fitted the gearbox attached to an engine block to see if I had cut the correct size holes in the transmission tunnel, as you can see it was pretty close, I was being careful on the driversí side as there isnít much space for the pedals as is. The back of the gearbox is sitting a little low, I think this is because the engine mounts are 10mm too thick and the gearbox mount (which I had rebuilt some time ago using nolathane) has the hole in the middle rather than offset 5-8mm towards the bottom. It wonít be a biggie unless it interferes with the driveshaft.

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I have a choice with the drive shaft, I can shorten the standard unit or use the shaft out of the 142 which should be the right length and should be stronger, it will however involve fitting the different style of centre bearing, luckily I cut this particular piece of metal out of a junk car some time ago! As you can see in the photos Volvoís policy of not changing things means the centre bearing on both driveshafts is in the same place.

The swaybar in this picture is out of a Holden Sunbird, its 23mm thick and seems to fit very well indeed. 

May update, oops the drive shaft from the 142 is too long, only by a few centimetres but still Ė I should have known this, the PV, Amazon and 140 all have the same wheel base at 2.6m but the PV has the engine set further back by approximately 10cm, I think this is one reason why its more rewarding to drive. Next mystery, why is the 142 drive shaft only 2-3cm too long, wonít spend any of my fast receding brain cells on that on, in any event something needs to be cut up. Iíve been racing the Alfa and loving it, realistically Iíll race the PV as well and that means 140-160hp so the bigger U joints in the drive train are called for. The 240 drive shaft, which I think is the same as some 140 models, namely the 142E is usefully bigger in both U joints and pipe diameter, it uses a bigger flange on the gearbox with 14mm nuts and bolts instead of the fiddly 11mm/12mm units on earlier models so that is the one Iíll use.

The centre bearing on the 140 is completely different to the PV, offering a lot more cushioning and less vibration transfer to the body.

Where the PV is really superior to the later models is having a cage to protect the drive shaft and stop it flying out if something lets go. About half is completely enclosed, probably something to do with the fact that 90% of Swedish roads were metal when the PV was being developed. To fit the overdrive box and the 240 drive shaft Iíve had to cut away about half of that enclosure, the bracket supporting the 140 centre bearing is pathetic while the 240 one is a decent bit of engineering, Iíll be using that one. Back seat leg room will suffer but who cares Ė I wonít be sitting there.


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June 2002, Thereís always something to learn, even though the gearbox parts are interchangeable the mainshafts are not quite the same, the 75 M40 it appears has a bigger lay and main shaft, therefore the output flanges are not interchangeable, Iíve already cut up the floor and as you can see the 240 parts are a lot bigger so itís a matter of getting an engineer to cut and weld the two bits of flange I need together.

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From Left to Right  1984 M46, 1975 M40, 1969 M41

September, not much progress but the gods smile on me. I took my two flanges to an engineer who informed me that mating the two was not an option.  After looking at various alternatives we found a driveshaft from an unknown source with the same flange as the 69 Volvo and a beefier UV joint.  This would leave me with the fiddly 11/12mm bolts and nuts and possibly a weak point, I had settled on this approach but sometimes procrastination does pay. A while ago I was given a broken M46 out of a 1984 240 and deciding to keep the overdrive as a spare I was in the process of throwing the rest away when I picked up the output flange and tried it on the M41, perfect!  It would appear that the difference in spline is between overdrive and non overdrive gearboxes rather than year model.  I can now use the whole driveshaft out of the 240, with a piece cut out of it naturally.

Hans-Peter Rombouts, New Zealand © 1999 - 2021