This Story About Tracking Down A Long-Lost Volvo Racer Is What Car Culture Is All About

Photo: Dave S. Clark
Photo: Dave S. Clark

We’ve already seen stories of people tracking down long-lost cars from their youths, but none of those stories involved a badass Volvo 142 racecar. This one does.


Dave S. Clark, founder of traveldriverace, a website devoted to cool automotive travel destinations, wrote a great article about tracking down his father-in-law’s old Volvo 142 racecar.

The quest began a few years ago when Dave was wrenching with Carlo, his father-in-law. In the middle of their engine swap, Carlo began reminiscing on his days behind the wheel of an old Volvo 142 at Speedway Park in Edmonton, Alberta in the ‘70s.

That’s when Dave started wondering if his father-in-law’s old car was still out there somewhere. Dave feared the worst going into the search, saying:

I started to hunt for the Volvo, fully expecting to be disappointed in what I’d find. Time isn’t nice to old race cars, and I thought the most likely outcome was finding it rotting and neglected, wasting away since the race track closed. Or maybe it had met a darker fate, crashed into a wall then stripped of all its go-fast parts and sent away for scrap.

Still, Dave figured he’d try anyway, so he asked the local Northern Alberta Sports Car Club if anyone remembered the boxy old sedan; no dice. Then Dave posted wanted ads on the internet containing a single small black and white picture of the Swedish racecar, but nobody responded. Dave felt defeated.

That’s when a brilliant thought came into Dave’s head. He had once covered a race in Edmonton as a reporter, and interviewed a man named Barry who had raced a Volvo P1800 for years. After snooping around to find the man’s contact info, Dave shot the guy an email, and got a response.


It turned out, Barry had bought the 142 from Carlo!

Unfortunately, Barry had sold it to another racecar driver near Toronto, who had no idea where the car was. It was a tough break.


But then, in a bout of serendipity, Dave caught a less-tough break:

Then, out of sheer coincidence, Barry was forwarded an e-mail from the racer he sold it to. It was photo of the 142, painted in the same style it was when Carlo raced it. The current owner had repainted the car and wanted to show its previous owners that he had taken it back to its former livery... As soon as I saw the photo, I knew it was the right car.


Eventually, Dave got ahold of the new owner named Leon, who had been putting the car through its paces on the track for over 14 years. Dave and Leon exchanged photos and stories, and when Dave told Carlo he’d found his old car, it was a great moment:

I surprised Carlo and told him that I had tracked it down and showed him some photos. It was great to see his eyes light up and his memories of the car flood back to him.


Then, last summer, Dave got to see the old girl in action at the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park:

When I arrived at the track on the first day, my very first sight was watching Carlo’s old 142 tearing down the main straight at Mosport, side by side with another 142, which it edged out into Turn 1. It gave me chills to see the car, still in its full glory, speeding down the track.


Here she is, tearing it up after all these years:

Dave’s story has a happy ending. Sure, his father-in-law didn’t take owner of the car, but still: the car wasn’t in a rotting pile of scrap metal, it wasn’t rotting out in some woods behind a hoarder’s house—it was still out there tearing it up like the glory days. Dave was pleased:

Not only did the car survive, it found a loving home. Leon thinks of it as a part of his family and I know that it couldn’t have gone to a better guy. I’d love to see it on the track again and hopefully Carlo will see it someday too.


Man what a perfect story about a perfect old Volvo.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.



I used to speak with Leon and his brother Ian at and around the track a bunch a few years ago. Good fellas.