The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Volvo V90 describes the car as a “sleeper” owing to its stock appearance that hides a swapped-in Chevy V8. We’ll just have to find out if its price will result in a rude awakening.
I’m sad to report that there was nothing stirring about yesterday’s 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. At least that’s what the gist of your comments led one to believe. That’s too bad, since personal coupes in decent condition at reasonable prices seem to be getting rarer and rarer these days.
Unfortunately for the seller of that Monte Carlo, not even a well-regarded V8 engine could make the car’s $9,800 asking price palatable, and the car dropped in an 80 percent No Dice loss. Of course, I’m sure it was nothing personal.
You know what? That Chevy may have had a V8, but what I think dragged it down was that the big engine was driving the wrong set of wheels. After all, lots of power and FWD rarely makes for a winning combination. For pure tire-chewing satisfaction, what you really want is to route your ponies through the back tires. As we all know, oversteer is a hell of a lot more fun than understeer.
Today’s 1998 Volvo V90 three-row wagon directs its power, appropriately enough, to its back wheels. And by power, I don’t mean the puny 181 horsepower the factory 2.9 liter six pumped out. No, I mean POWER by way of a 4.8-liter Vortec V8 that has been dropped into the V90’s wide and welcoming engine bay. That’s claimed to be good for 300 ponies; routed through the correct set of wheels, that should make for an entertaining ride.
The ad says the Chevy small block sports a “Z28 tune” and is paired with a 4L60E four-speed automatic. Everything else on the car remains stock. The resulting outcome of that heart transplant is described by the seller thusly:
This car is not a stop light assassin (have other tools for that), however it is very amusing, sounds amazing and is very reliable and easy to drive.
We might be interested in those other assassin implements the seller mentions, but for the moment we’re going to focus on the Volvo. That looks to be in pretty sweet shape and hides the under-hood shenanigans adeptly. The bodywork features innocuous dark gray metallic paint which appears to be the original coat. That seems to have held up remarkably well for the car’s 200,000+ life (the drivetrain is claimed to have a more modest 120k). It’s serviceable everywhere but on the rear bumper where typical of this era of Volvos, it’s chipped and crazed.
The car rides on its factory alloy wheels, and having owned one of these, I can attest to how difficult it is to keep brake dust out of the multitude of spokes circling each rim. Still, those wheels help support the whole Witness Protection Program the car’s got going on for the Chevy drivetrain.
The interior looks decent for the car’s age and miles. There is some cracking on the top of the passenger airbag cover but that’s pretty much the case on all of these cars. The car is upholstered in leather, and that’s matched with some fancy but fake wood trim. The seller says the floor mats could stand a cleaning but that otherwise, everything in here looks to be in good shape. The interior’s killer feature, of course, is the third-row bench that can turn the car into a reasonably comfortable seven-seater in a pinch.
Whenever you do a drivetrain swap you’re going to run into certain incompatibilities that will eventually need to be addressed. In the case of this V8 Volvo, the ad doesn’t mention whether things like the speedo and tach have been updated to speak Chevy’s language. It does say that “Lights, Gauges, sunroof, windows, ac, locks, radio all work” so perhaps that hurdle has been overcome. The a/c has apparently been completed along with what the seller says is a final tune of the driveline. On the downside, the cruise control, headlamp wipers and one of the driver’s door window switches are all on the fritz.
The Volvo’s title is clean, however the seller notes that it is a Pennsylvania title though the car is located in Laguna Niguel, California. That’s owed to California not taking kindly to engine swaps that might mess with emissions. It’s doable in the state but probably would require a good bit more work to make it a legal beagle. The seller says the Volvo is being sold to raise cash for a camper van. That seems like a step backward, but then who are we to judge?
To step into this V8 Volvo, you’ll need to come up with $13,900. That gets you what looks to be a solid and entertaining car that’s pretty practical to boot.
What do you think, could this sleeper wagon get you to wake up and smell the kaffe? Or, is that $13,900 price just too dear for a car with residency issues?
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