2005 Volvo S40 T5 AWD Two words people don't usually associate with Volvo Cars are "sporty" and "performance" but lately, the Ford-owned Swedish car manufacturer is appealing to a newer market; us!
In the '70s and '80s, Volvo promoted one thing; safety. Its vehicles were known to keep you secure in accidents, but the penalty was - how can we put it? - design. Remember the old box your mom used to drive? It wasn't a beauty but since then, Volvo has learned some new tricks and now offers more attractive models, which are earning the respect of the Euro community.
Its liveliest offering is undoubtedly the second-generation S40 introduced in '04. We'll never forget the amazing example built by Evolve (et 2/05) with its 425hp big-turbo motor, custom widebody, race suspension and brakes, etc. But despite this and several other impressive Volvo show cars, the trend for tuning Volvos has yet to flourish nationally.
Fortuantely, more Volvo tuners are coming to the forefront, such as ipd, Heico Sportiv and, of course, Evolve. The typical owner profile is changing as well, with former VW/Audi owners stepping into Swedish engineering, such as Richard Mann from Santa Clarita, CA.
Richard came from a Passat background. "When I was looking for a first car at 17, I wanted something that was at least reliable," he began. "My dad found me a Passat V6 so I bought it, joined a website and started checking out various cars, parts and shops. One thing lead to another..."
For Richard's first project, his B5 Passat had a full Dietrich RS4 body kit, DTM Autohas carbon hood, DPE wheels and more. After displaying the car at the last New Dimensions show in NorCal, he quit attending shows and meets to concentrate on enjoying the car. But buried deep in his mind was the desire to progress, so he sold the Passat and looked for his next project.
Two years prior, he'd test-driven a Volvo S40 with no intention of buying one. But when the time came to pick a new car, he recalled that fulfilling test drive. "I wanted something that would be planted on the ground and have power as well," he told us. "I couldn't get a lot of either out of my old car, and most Passat guys just move on to Audis."
Wanting to be different, Richard narrowed the decision to an AWD S40 T5 six-speed - a rare form of S40, he located a slightly used one in San Diego, CA.
With a new canvas to work on, Richard researched how he could personalize his Volvo. From its previous owner, the car had Enkei wheels, lowering springs, a roof rack and Heico front spoiler. However, Richard removed these parts and started saving to apply his own style. "I was dating my girlfriend (now his wife) and saving money for our engagement and wedding," he told us. "So I'm grateful she allowed me to put money away for the car. And the first big thing I did was the coilovers."
Richard appraoched Supreme Power Parts (SPP) for KW Variant 1 coilovers. "I've always been a KW suspension fan and the V1s aren't ridiculously expensive." The ride height drop was 2.5" all round.
Next on the list were wheels, and SPP again came to the rescue. "I'm a firm believer that wheels make or break a car. I don't care if you have a widebody kit, cheap wheels on a car will look bad," he proclaimed.
While budgeting for his wedding, Richard had to wait for an affordable design that would fit his agenda. A month passed until Supreme came across a set of 19x8.5" BBS LMs in custom black with red pinstripe. "I instantly fell in love with them but there was a problem. They had a 5x112 bolt pattern and my car was a 5x108. It didn't concern me to have them re-drilled because I trusted Supreme."
Next, Richard inquired about a body kit. That's when he met Don Nicholson from Evolve. "I was talking to Don and he had an overstock of S40 body kits, so gave me a deal I couldn't ignore," Richard admitted.
Modeled on Evolve's '05 SEMA concept car, the kit included its large-mouth front bumper, side skirts and rear valance. Richard took the kit to A-1 Autobody in Orange County, CA to be painted and fitted.
Richard finished the exterior by modifying his tail lights and turn signals. They were shipped to Jon's Tinted Tails in New York to be sprayed with clear coat to make it look as if they came from the factory.
Engine performance couldn't be overooked and Richard knew he could squeeze more horsepower from the turbo.
The 2.5 liter five-cylinder twin-cam came with 218hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, and when Evolve needed a car to develop new software, they tested Richard's S40 and worked out some bugs in its program. So instead of peaking at 8psi, the turbo now spools up to 12psi. And according to Evolve, the software has been dyno tested to give an additional 34hp and 37 lb-ft. of torque.
An exhaust fitted by the car's previous owner was already enhancing the distinctive sound of the five-cylinder motor, but Richard decided to fabricate an intake himself. "My buddy and I took apart the airbox one afternoon," he explained. "We noticed the ECU was lying there helplessly, so we made an intake using a cone filter and built a bracket for the ECU to keep everything secure."
Since there are so few S40s in the scene, and relatively few modifications available for them, Richard's accomplishment for the Volvo community is impressive. And as the price of used S40s continues to drop, we expect more Euro enthusiasts to face the challenge and consider a Volvo project.
2005 Volvo S40 T5 AWD
Owner: Richard Mann
Location: Santa Clarita, CA
Occupation: CAD engineer
Engine: 2.5 liter five cylinder turbo with Evolve software, Flowmaster exhaust, custom intake using AEM filter, Otto intake bracket
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission
Brakes: custom drilled OE rotors, Porterfield carbon/kevlar pads, Evolve stainless lines
Suspension: KW V1 coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" BBS LM wheels painted black with red pinstripes, 225/35-19 Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior: Evolve front bumper, side skirts, and rear valance, carbon door sills, OE BMW M3 lip spoiler, 5000K HID foglights, tinted tail lights and turn signals by Jon's Tinted Tails, OE Euro mirrors
Interior: Heico leather shift knob
Thanks: My beautiful wife Melissa, Eric Nareshini at Supreme Power Parts (www.supremepowerparts.com), DJ Tony B, Don at Evolve (www.evolvecars.com), Jon at jonstintedtails.com, Wayne at A-1 Autobody