When we started to put together this month's issue there was some debate about whether it was suitable to place a Volvo on the cover: particularly a C30, a model that's not even on sale until the autumn. Then we looked at the photos, listed the spec and it became what's known as a "no brainer".
Need proof? Here's the original text we were going to squeeze on the cover: 507hp, sequential twin-turbos, all-wheel drive conversion, air-conditioned intercooling, F1-style widebody, adjustable spoilers, 14-piston brake calipers, 19x13" rear wheels, 355/25-19 rear tires, pushrod rear suspension, project built in just 70 days.
In fact, specialist Volvo tuner Evolve crammed so much innovation into the project we don't have the space to do it justice, so we're going to concentrate on the highlights.
Before we do, cast your mind back to et 2/05 when we featured the Evolve S40 built for Volvo's SEMA exhibit. Prior to that the company had also built a S60R, but the S40 got our attention. It too was all-wheel drive, squeezed 19x11s under the stock rear bodywork using formula car suspension, had a 425hp turbo upgrade on the T5 engine and looked like it would dine on road kill.
Fast forward two years and Volvo Sweden commissioned three tuners to build exciting versions of its new C30 hot hatch, (et 2/07). Two went to US tuners and the third to Heico Sportiv in Germany. Each interpretation had a unique style, but Evolve's car was the headline grabber.
Having taken delivery of the C30 T5 two weeks before its official unveiling in Paris, the tuner had to keep things under wraps. And what better way to disguise the car's appearance than take a disc grinder and cut off both sides of the car?
The project proposal to Volvo had outlined a Formula One-themed project, and part of that involved creating the single-seater's distinctive wedge shape. In order to recreate this, the team wanted to give the impression of side pods mounted on the car, along with a narrow nose and very wide rear tires.
After trimming the sides, they experimented with wedges. Originally, the car was widened 6" at the rear and 4" front. They finally settled on keeping the 6" rear extension but tapering the car down to stock width at the front. This gave the shoulders the desired F1-look, but getting the doors to look factory was a real headache. Apparently it took days of trimming, filling, removing and repeating to get the doors looking this good.
The stock C30 T5 is equipped with plastic fender flares and side sills but these were removed for the project. In fact, the bottom of the car was cut away below the doors to shorten the profile of the car. New metal was then added to join the side panels to the floorpan. This metal was painted black, which disguises the NACA duct just ahead of the rear wheel, and carries air into the void behind the rear quarter panel where the exhaust is routed. "We had intended to have the tailpipes exiting on top of the fenders but it looked wrong, so they come out of the back with billet surrounds," Evolve's Don Nicholson explained.
Without plastic fender flares, the crew also had to construct its own wheel arches. Otherwise, the sides of the car would have been featureless.
The nose was extended 4" by making the grille surround longer to exaggerate the wedge shape. The grille itself is stock but painted graphite, and the valance below was cut away. A new wing was added which has adjustable planes to increase downforce like an F1 car.
Apparently, the license plate tub is about all that exists of the original rear bumper. They had to build something entirely new from two-pack urethane to meet the wider side panels and new arch contours.
It also incorporates a sheet metal rear diffuser that's about 30" deep under the car which will clean up the air around the new suspension arms.
The fuel filler was also relocated to the bumper because it could no longer sit on the rear fender, and the stock tank that's positioned under the rear seat was in the way of the new AWD driveshaft. So the entire tank assembly, complete with pump, return lines, sensors, etc was placed on the floor of the trunk and the filler located under the tailgate.
Finally, the stock rear wing was moved back and raised slightly. Aluminum end plates were then added and an adjustable "wickerbill" incorporated to give it a F1 feel.
507hp T5 motor
The factory C30 T5 gets a 218hp 2.5 liter five cylinder motor. Not a bad start, but "we wanted to be creative in every aspect," Don told us. So the team added sequential twin-turbos - a small one for instant spooling that runs up to 2800rpm, then a machined-barrel valve with its own Turbosmart wastegate operated by Turbosmart's e-boost controller switches over to the big turbo. There's a check valve on the "push" side of the turbos, and a Turbosmart BOV to prevent the turbos stalling each other.
Much of the ingenuity behind the Evolve C30 comes from project manager Mano Agulian. A full-time pastor, he assembled a team with little experience and taught them a skill on the job to give them a career path. Several have gone on to work in the industry. "Having novices learning a trade on the car certainly added pressure," Don conceded, "but it made the project more satisfying."
In addition to the turbos, Mano decided a regular intercooler wouldn't cut it. So he developed an idea from Don who studied top fuel dragsters as a boy. The result was the Charge Air Cooler; an air-conditioned plenum chamber that super-cools the pressurized air as it passes through. It does this with a second AC evaporator coil that should provide consistent coiling and is a neat packaging solution that definitely deserves closer investigation.
The motor also received bigger injectors, a 3" exhaust and Powerchip software. With the turbos spinning at 25psi, the motor is claimed to produce 507hp and 468 lb/ft.
All-Wheel Drive Conversion
At present, Volvo claims the C30 will only be FWD. However, that wouldn't work with 507hp, so Evolve incorporated the S40's six-speed manual and AWD components. To do so they built a rear subframe and brackets to mount the rear diff. They also relocated the fuel tank and built a custom exhaust that loops around it.
The AWD Haldex software was tuned in-house and the controller was wired into the car's main CAN-BUS network so it retains full DSTC traction control and ABS. "We did nothing to compromise the safety of this car," Don assured us.
Up front, tubes were fabricated to carry Koni dampers with Eibach coilover springs. The upper mount gives camber, toe and caster adjustment, as well as Evolve's quick-change height adjustment. This allows the car to be raised or lowered from under the hood with the turn of a 17mm wrench, and without removing the wheels.
On the rear, control arms were fabricated. These are connected to an adjustable ladder bar and Koni dampers operated by formula-style pushrods. This setup again allows massive adjustment, while a nut in the center of the rear diffuser gives the quick-change height adjustment as well.
The team felt cutting-edge carbon/ceramic rotors were the way to go, but when they got to thinking about calipers they didn't want to do what was typical. "Since we were partnered with machine shop Sirius Custom Engineering in Duarte, CA, we decided to design our own calipers," Don explained.
The team eventually opted for 14-piston front calipers. Each side required a total of 137 separate parts to be machined. The calipers themselves are aluminum but each 25.4mm piston was machined from stainless steel.
The design also called for the calipers to be built in two parts, a front and back plate with a 15mm air gap in between. Each piston cylinder was then finned to take advantage of the air-cooling this gap would provide.
If you look at each front caliper, they are completed by two six-piston calipers, with a two-piston subdivision being used for the hydro-mechanical parking brake.
The rear calipers are again custom, this time restricted to six-pistons manufactured in the same way.
The front rotors are internally vaned 386x34mm with billet hats and a fully floating assembly. The hats and rotors are actually drilled internally to channel more air, while Evolve's logo was machined into the front face. The rear rotors are 362mm in diameter.
Wheels & Tires
Rewind to the beginning of the project. Don approached Pirelli to discover the widest tires available. As it turns out, they had the biggest in production - 355/25-19 PZero Rosso. These were delivered to the workshop and helped determine the width of the car as it was built around them.
The wheel centers were also machined in-house from billet. They had a single-nut pin-drive fitting like an F1 car, but these inevitably require a special tool to tighten.
The wheel centers were painted graphite to match many of the exterior highlights, while the wheel barrels were given a brushed finish before being clear-coated. And in case you're wondering, those are 5" lips on the rear that make up almost half of the 19x13" rear wheels, with 19x9s on the front. The front tires are an equally oversized 265/30-19.
So there you have the highlights of a very radical Viking Warrior. The car itself is destined to remain on the show circuit with Volvo before it either disappears to Europe or is crushed. Fortunately, Evolve was able to use the car to develop several components for the C30 T5 when it hits showrooms later in the year.
And if you decide this hot hatch is your style, Evolve is going to have its own software, 3" exhaust and downpipe, 19" wheels, 330mm four-piston brake kit, rear sway bar to control understeer and even a styling kit for you to spruce up your own project. Contact evolvecars.com for details.
Evolve C30 Fast Facts
*Hours of labor: 3482
*Days to complete project: 70
*Race-spec Heim joints used: 39
*Components in each front caliper: 137
*Pounds of billet aluminum machined: 550
*Pounds of aluminum chips recycled: 135
*Hours of CNC and lathe time: 1250
*Cost to reproduce the C30: $227560
Location: Monrovia, CA
Occupation: Owner, Evolve Cars
Engine: 2521cc, DOHC, i-5 with Evolve sequential twin-turbo configuration using barrel valve, Turbosmart wastegate e-boost controller blow-off valve, custom Charge Air Cooler using secondary air-conditioning evaporator assembly built into intake manifold, custom 3" exhaust system channeled through quarter panels to quad outlets, bigger injectors, Powerchip software
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive conversion from Volvo S40, custom Haldex software
Brakes: Evolve 14-piston front calipers with individually air-cooled cylinder and piston assemblies, 386mm two-piece fully floating rotors with integrated cooling passages, custom air-cooled six-piston rear calipers 362mm floating rotors, mechanical/hydraulic parking brake transfers cable into hydraulic pressure to activate front calipers
Suspension: Evolve coilovers using fabricated struts with Koni dampers and 500 lb Eibach springs, adjustable for height, rebound, compression, toe, camber and caster, Evolve stabilizer bar and quick-change height adjustment system, Evolve multi-link adjustable ladder bar rear suspension with pushrod-actuated coilovers using Koni struts and 1000 lb Eibach springs, adjustable for height, rebound, compression, rear wheel adjustment for toe, camber and caster, plus quick-change height adjustment
Wheels & Tires: 19x9" front, 19x13" rear Evolve F1 multi-piece wheels with single-nut pin-drive locking mechanism, graphite painted centers and brushed aluminum hoops, 265/30-19 front and 355/25-19 rear Pirelli PZero Rosso tires
Exterior: F1-inspired bodywork where sides of car were cut off and reattached with 6" added at the rear, tapering to stock at the front fender, body terminates at bottom of doors to eliminate side sills, adjustable front splitter mounts to extended nose, twin exhaust tips exit from rear quarter panels with billet aluminum surround, functional rear diffuser, roof spoiler with adjustable wickerbill, car painted BASF/Glasurit Competition yellow with graphite and silver highlights
Interior: Evolve two-tone leather using perforated black and graphite hide, yellow stitching, rollcage