Victorious Vintage Volvo

RJ84 Volvo Photo 05

This 1962 Volvo P1800 coupe is nicknamed “Mobil 1” and has a much storied history in vintage sports car racing. The car has won five consecutive Volvo Historic national championships. It has extensive upgrades from its showroom condition to make it road worthy and race ready.

Duane Matejka of Pipersville, Pa., built the car in the middle of the 1990s. He campaigned it himself from 1997 until 2004. The car was then idled for several years. In 2010, the well-known Volvo came into the possession of Jim Perry. He has raced it since then under the P and B Motorsports banner.

One of the obvious improvements made to the car for racing purposes is the addition of a tubular roll cage. It was fabricated out of sturdy 1-3/4-inch steel tubing. It is painted an industrial looking light gray color, which is also used on many other parts of the car.

The Volvo B18 engine was replaced with a B20 engine that was bored 0.040 over and blueprinted. The crankshaft was precision balanced. The original F-head cylinder head was ported to establish better flow for double-springed valves. Baffling similar to that provided in R-Sport kits was placed in the oil pan to prevent loss of lubrication under heavy cornering G forces. A Volvo 240 alternator replaced the generator.

The numerous modifications increase horsepower and torque by about 50 percent. The original dual SU carburetors have been replaced by dual Weber GCOE’s. A Volvo R-Sport manifold with ceramic coated headers that terminate beneath the passenger side door. Cooling takes place through a German racing radiator fed from an aluminum expansion tank located where the battery was originally. A Sellholm-Volvo M47 transmission is hooked to the engine and the clutch does not have to be used when running up through the gears.

An Accusump pre-pressurizes the car’s oiling system and maintains oil pressure. The car has strengthened motor mounts and a beefed up suspension with adjustable gas shocks to improve ride and handling on the race track.

Disc brakes were installed on the rear axle, to replace the original rear drum brakes. Racing wheels and tires are mounted. Inside is a special racing seat with a five-point racing harness. Instrumentation is 100 percent Autometer, taking the place of the original Smiths gauges. Most prominent are the oil pressure gauge, supplemented by oil temperature, voltmeter, fuel pressure, and water temperature gauges. EGT (exhaust gas temperature) thermocouples are mounted on the header to monitor the air-fuel ratio. A fire extinguisher is mounted behind the seat to deliver fire suppression if necessary.

Other features of the victorious Volvo include the use of a limited-slip or welded differential and a competition exhaust system with headers, no mufflers and laterally directed exhausts.

To improve track performance Jim Perry relies on a data acquisition system that combines a GPS, a video camera, a throttle position sensor, a steering angle sensor, a brake sensor and a Lateral G Force sensor.  He also has a cool suit refrigerant system to keep him cool while he’s turning in some hot laps.

About John Gunnell 139 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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