The start of Volvo Motorsport
When Volvo was to enter on a international level in racing in group-A in the 80's, a new division was formed at Volvo, the Volvo Motorsport division (VMS). Former known as Volvo Service (1962-1977) and R-Sport (1978-1983). The VMS-division was to start the production of race parts to the racing teams. The Volvo Motorsport division went active when Bosse Wikås (Wikaas), at the time being Volvocars AB, gave the sign in 1983 that Volvo was to enter the racing stage.
Bosse Wikås later became head of the VMS-division in 1984, he then took over for Swedish rally legend Gunnar Andersson, who had been the head of Volvo competion since 1962 (during the Volvo ompetition Service- and the Volvo R-Sports era). The name Volvo Motorsport first got activated in 1984, and it was now the real work began; now the VMS-division put in the high gear for the first time. The VMS-division premises was located in a part called Kville, and it was were the magic was to take place, where all the mechanics was to perform the magic. VMS had to borrow personnel from other divisions, one was the Volvo Penta division; Björn Scheuer, Frank Millqvist, Kent Melin, Lars Sandberg and Brage Sundström (Sundstroem). All had their own area of expertise. The man that tested, managed and cared for the test rig of the engines was the engine guru Bengt Andersson.
In 1983 a meeting was setup, where among others Gunnar Andersson and Bo Wikås took part, here they discussed the start of the Volvo Motorsport division. Projects cars was a subject (240A: the Infra Paint-car and 01A: Volvo 760 Turbo Group-A), the needed production of the 500-series of the Evolution model of the Volvo 240 Turbo, this model had to be manufactured by Volvo to be able to enter in racing (Group-A).
(Photo: Bo Wikås (left) and Gunnare Andersson (right) at the Kville premises 1984, "time to leave over the keys" - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: A small draft from which the was to be the start of Volvo Motorsport 1983 (Project 240A that was the Infra Paint-car - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The Kville Workshop 1984, (from left to right) Tony Garnemyr, Kenneth Larsson, Stefan Hejius and Håkan Ivarsson - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The Kville Engine shop 1984, (from left to right) Gert Hansson, Jan-Erik Westerström and Frank Millqvist - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
In 1982 at the Volvo Service division a test car had already been built. This test car was a project built and started by some of the personnel (that were interested in racing); Robert L. Kvist, Göran Sällström, Börje Thor (Boerje) and Gunnar Dandenell. The building of the car took place after work hours at the Service division and the guys did it out pure fun and interest. The head of the Service division was no the less then Bengt Lidmalm (the father of the Volvo Indigo). Kvist and Thor then raced the car, in various selected races in Sweden and in Europe. The car got its name (Infra Paint) from the Swedish paint company, with the same name, which did the paint job on the car. The car was also known as the IP-car for understandable reasons. During the races in 1983 the expert help came from Göran Sällström (Sällstroem), Björn Scheuer, Frank Millqvist and Brage Sundström (Sundstroem).
(Photo: Robert L. Kvist (left) and Kent Olofsson (right) working on the Infra Paint-car 1983 - (c) Robert L. Kvist)
(Photo: The Infra Paint-body back at Volvo after the paint job 1983 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
01A, the project car
Another important project that was launched was the development of the newly arrived 1982 model of the Volvo 760 Turbo, a racing development for Group-A. This project was launched in 1983, and the plan was that the Volvo 240 Turbo was to be the developing car of the coming Volvo 740 model. Now the test car more known as 01A or Grålle (Grolle), and was a Volvo 760 Turbo 1982 model, this project car was built by Stefan Heijus, Tony Garnemyr, Håkan Ivarsson and Kenneth Larsson while the engine was built by Frank Millqvist and Janne Westerström with help from Brage Sundström who was engine engineer at Volvo and the building of the transmission was managed by Kent Olofsson. The engine was tested out by Bengt Andersson. The economical part as for buying the parts needed was Kenneth Bengtssons work.
(Photo: Volvo 760 Turbo test, AKA "Grålle", driven by Eje Elgh while being watched by all the Volvo heads and involved - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: 760 Turbo testings at Nogaro in France with Ulf Granberg 1984 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: A early test with electronic injection system in the 760 Turbo 1984 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
Later on it would show that Volvo was going to enter the racing stage, things went from fun & games to a serious level. The Infra Paint-Volvo came to good use now. Testing's were performed with Swede Thomas Lindström, that in the same time was testing his own, fresh and newly built Volvo 240 Turbo. One test took place at Zolder in Belgium at the 10th of November 1983. And Thomas Lindström was to enter the ETC-series (European Touring Championship) the same year.
And 1983 was like every other premiere year, it went slow but forward anyhow. Except some parts these cars were just a regular standard Volvo by the looks of it. Parts that were replaced was parts like the brakes, the wheels with bolt-on centre hubs (hubs that were mounted on the 5-bolt hubs and these were manufactured at Thomas Lindströms company TL Racing AB), a new fuel system and a roll cage that was welded onto the chassis. Some team first had the old GLT-front but changed to the newer and more aerodynamic GLT-front, also the USA-headlights were used by some teams.
(Photo: Testing at Mantorp Park track 1983 with the Infra Paint (Kenneth Larsson on the wheel), TL Racing and Sportpromotion team - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Testing at the Nogaro track -84 with the Infra Paint, (from the left) Lars Sandberg, Björn Scheuer, Ulf Granberg, Kent Melin and Anders Olofsson - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
The initial teams
Already in 1983 four race Volvo 240 Turbo's was in use in Group-A in Sweden and at a international level: 1. Team Infra Paint (drivers Swedes Robert L. Kvist and Börje Thor), 2. TL Racing AB (Swedes Thomas Lindström, Stanley Dickens and Anders Olofsson), 3. IPS Motorsport (Swedes Per Stureson and Ingemar Persson) and also 4. Sportpromotion (Swedes Greger Petersson and Anders Olofsson). Other names worth to mention is Thomas Lindströms father Tage that was mechanic in the TL Racing team and Mats Magnusson that worked as technical boss in the Sportpromotion team.
None of the mentioned above team had any parts from Volvo Motorsport, not official anyhow, as no parts had yet been manufactured. The team more or less used standard parts except some parts. (Note that the car in photo 1, 2 and 4 have no rear spoiler, as the Group-A spoiler did not arrive until the end of 1983).
(Photo: The Infra Paint-car at the Swedish Falkenberg track in 1983 with Börje Thor - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The TL Racing-car at Silverstone in England 1983 with Thomas Lindström - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The IPS-Volvo also here at the Falkenberg track in 1983 with Ingemar Persson - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The Sportpromotion-car at the Falkenberg track in 1983 here with Greger Petersson - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
The #1 upgrade in 1984
1984 was to be the start of the Volvo 240 Turbo in Group-A, more team joined, and Volvo Motorsport had produced and manufactured parts to make the 240 Turbo more competitive. As mentioned before, one of the first parts Volvo Motorsport produced was the Group-A rear spoiler.
The 240 Turbo got a good update or if you like a "tune up". Most of the work took place at Volvo Motorsport by the mechanics at the premises at Kville in Gothenburg. Here we had men working like Håkan Ivarsson, Gert Hansson, Jan Westerström, Stefan Heijus and Kenneth Larsson and others.
Previous to the 1984 season Volvo Motorsport had produced new parts such as a new manifold intake, a new intercooler in aluminum (manufactured in Germany by Längerer & Reich), a new and better fuel injection system from Bosch (a modified standard system was used in 1983), a better and optimized cylinder head (model 405) that was prepared by the Swedish company Grottis Head Service, Volvos own patent water injection system (also more known as WTT built by idea of Björn Scheuer). The B21-engine got more horse power then 1983 (approx 250-260 hp -83) and was not approx 300 horse powers (more specific 295 hk).
Thin plating parts was also produced such as door, front fenders, boot-lid and hood, the plating went from 0,90 mm to 0,60mm plating. Also thinner windows were produced in 1984. A new and lighter roll cage was introduced in 1984 to, the Rubi roll cage (made in Germany), a bolted roll cage consisting of 20 parts and only had a total weight of 29 kilos. This to ensure the safety of the drivers! And thanks to this roll cage Robert L. Kvist made it alive after a horrific crash at the Brno track during practice, sure he had to spend a week at the hospital but he was very well alive! And this showed the true Volvo fan that was to purchase his Volvo that he was to be just as safe on the road as on the race track...
And this year Volvo had three teams at the track so to speak, this was however not official but more of "camoflauged" teams... Also, more known as a Dealer Team, which meant that the Volvo Dealers donated a certain percent of every sold car to the Dealer Team. This team was the Belgian GTM-team (Guy Trigaux), and the team had two cars in the European Touring Championship. You could also say that the Luna/Sportpromotion team was in this however the team was no Dealer Team. One important thing to mention is that without a driven person like Göran Sällström at the front, the Volvo 240 Turbo probably would probably never reach the altitude it did.
(Photo: Some new parts that came in 1984 (however the rear spoiler came in 1983) - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The GTM-cars in the pits at Zolder in Belgium 1984, in front is the Luna-Volvo - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Greger Petersson (Sportpromotion AB) and Ulf Granberg with the new-built Luna-car 1984 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
Win #1 + #1 1984
Volvos two first victories came in 1984 with a Volvo 240 Turbo, in two different championships; Per Stureson at the Flugplatzrennen Mainz-Finthen track in Germany (DTM - German Touring Championship) May 27th and the second came with Ulf Granberg and Robert L. Kvist at Zolder in Belgium September 23rd (ETC - European Touring Championship).
And this two victories made the first win ever for a Volvo in both DTM and in ETC, but also the first win for a turbo charged car to in both DTM and ETC.
There and then, already in 1984, a phrase started to go around "that the Volvo was something to watch out for".
(Photo: Per Stureson in the IPS-Volvo at the Mainz-Finthen track in DTM 1984 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Ulf Granberg in the Luna-car at the Zolder in ETC 1984 - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
The Works teams 1985
1985 was the most successful year so far as far as Volvo was concerned, and this success came from the 240 Turbo. What about the results? Well Volvo struck a double win this year by clinching both the championship in ETCC- and DTM-series. And people responsible for this were the people behind the scene; Frank Millqvist, Brage Sundström, Björn Scheuer, Lasse Sandberg, Kent Melin and Göran Sällström, without them the success would probably not have been. Of course we can't forget about the head of Volvo Motorsport, Bo Wikås, who was the public face for Volvo. We can also thank all the mechanics that worked at Volvo Motorsport.
After hard testing of both car and drivers Volvo decided for Rudi Eggenberger (out of Schweiz) to be the one to take Volvo to the win in the European Touring Car Championship 1985, well... Said And Done. In 1985 a new meaning of the Volvo was flying in the air "that now the Volvo was something to beat". Now that's got to say something about the progress Volvo had done in only two years?!
The #2 upgrade in 1985
In 1985 the Volvo Motorsport division produced a 3-split rear axle with 1,5 negative camber, where the differential house was in aluminum and the driveshaft tubes was in cromoly, where both materials are proven to save weight. A total of 6 kilos was saved compared to the original one in steel.
When Eggenberger Motorsport was signed by Volvo, Rudi Eggenberger (Team manager) produced and manufactured a new kind a wishbone that was adjustable. This was a three part wishbone with two arms connected by a unibal joint, adjustable camber and caster. Now this was something that was lighter and a whole different thing compared to original from Volvo that was used in 1984. Also a new kind a tubular swaybar with was produced but by Volvo Motorsport however solid ones was also available.
The engine got tuned and now went from 295 hk (1984) to 320 hk. The Magnum Racing team kept on trying shocks from Swedish Öhlins in combination with testing brakes from Brembo. The Eggenberger team kept to the AP-brakes and a bigger 4-pot caliper was classed.
(Photo: The Eggenberger Motorsport wishbone - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The 3-piece 1031-rear axle from Volvo Motorsport, 6 kilos lighter then the 1031 steel rear axle - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Öhlins shocks tested by the Magnum Racing in 1985. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
The #3 upgrade in 1986
1986 was an important year when it came to the updates of the 240 Turbo, for example Volvo established a co-op with Porsche and Bosch to improve the fuel injection system and the 531-cylinder head.
Lots of other updates were in the makings 1986 but were scrapped due to the fact that Volvo withdrew from Group-A two weeks after the season. But some projects were realized and made it to the test on the 240 Turbo race cars! However parts that never made it to the manufacturing part was a engine block with loose cylinder canals, an improved rear axle with driveshaft tubes in a new appearance (with less camber and 2mm toe in), the AP-brakes was to be completely replaced by Brembo-brakes (Brembo had a model of calipers that was 10 kilos lighter then the AP-calipers). But parts that came of use was centre hubs with cooling flanges, ventilated bell house for the brake disc's (front), rear control arms in aluminum (test were also made on Kevlar control arms, however only at test no races), wishbones and a lightweight front axle beam made from Streamline metal (however these front axle beams were later removed as they had a tendency to crack and needed reinforcement welded).
Something else were also put to use and that was a radiator that was placed in the rear of the fuel cell metal cover, a radiator for the rear axle to maximize the airflow.
Maybe most important, was the new anti-spin system (ABS) that was manufactured by Volvo Motorsport, the so called ETC-System, (short for "Electronic-Traction-Control-System"). This system worked as following; 530ml/min on 1, 2 and 4th cylinder, 580 ml/min on the 3 cylinder and magnetic valves on 2 & 3rd injector to serve as an antis pin system to cut the fuel when the wheels start to spin. This meant that the driver could full throttle through a turn without risking the car to spin and to lose control over the car. But as mentioned Volvo pulled out of Group-A (ETCC) in 1986 but Volvo Motorsport continued the work of producing parts for the remaining privateer teams that kept on racing the Volvo 240 Turbo.
Hans-Åke Söderqvist (Söderqvist Racing Service) was one team that was born in that time (1987) but only with Volvo until 1988. In the end of 1988 the Volvo Motorsport division was cancelled and the development of race parts stopped. What parts that remained at Volvo Motorsport was bought by Leif Wiik from Finland.
(Photo: The dash control panel of the ETC-system on the #605-car. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The magnetic valves for the fuel in the engine bay and the ABS-kogg. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The 1986 wishbone model that was used on the #604-car. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The front axle light weight beam with reinforcement welded. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: The Brembo brakes and the ventilated bell house for the brake-disc. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Centre hub with cooling flanges. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
(Photo: Rear mounted radiator for the rear axle. - (c) www.240grupp-A.se)
The brains and mechanics behind Volvo Motorsport's succes
(Note that all the personal was not employe's of Volvo Motorsport, some where consultan's and some where staff's borrowed from other departments at Volvo)
Brage Sundström (in grey beard and beige jacket)
Stefan Heijus (2nd from the left)
Olli Hakala (1st from the right)
(c) Olavi Hakala)
Matti Hakala (in the middle)
(c) Olavi Hakala)
(c) Anders Lindberg)
(c) Anders Lindberg)
Volvo Motorsport, the uprising and downrising
During 1986 Volvo did something called a Technical Validation, where Volvo had compared themself in relationship with other car makes, the opponents. And Volvo had projects going on the Engine department, and what Volvo knew was that they needed to increse the power of the engine, this made Volvo confident that in 1987, that their cars would, at every race, be in the "top-3". And Volvo also added to this fact that they would probably be a stronger oppnent at the end of the season then at the beginning of the season. This Technical Validation made by Volvo was enough to give the "ok" to compete in racing. However Volvo made the final decision to abort the development on the engine department, and on the plan to continue competing in 1987.
Volvo knew that they had lost many wins during the 1986 season, this because of a flat battry, a broken preassure sensor, a spring that had failed and so on. And this misfortunes is something that you need to take into the calculation, as this is how motorsport works. But for Volvo this meant that they had to count out a number of 1st-3rd placings, during out the season as this things happen in racing. Now that Volvo had got themself an experience from getting a number of disqualified races, this because of the opponents that engaging protesting against Volvo, for have beaten them on the track. So no matter how much you want to keep with inside the regulations, how you interpret them and to make the best of it, but due to this a number of rwins most be discounted for, because of wins being disqualified in. This was something Volvo could do to by getting more ambitious, to protest against the other teams and to try to get them disqualified to. However this was not Volvos way of doing things, they only played fair and square, as Volvo did not want to win races that way, its not how Volvo see themself as they are the bigger team. Playing a fair game that is. However Volvo always had to take in to calculation that other team would not play it fair. So when you put the risks in perspective, and put it into a reasonable result Volvo would take a great risk entering the race stage once again in 1987, Volvo simply put their priority, and wanted to use that money, in an other way now.
However many opposed to Volvos decision to withdraw from racing, among these that oppesed to Volvos decision making, was reporters that meant that saloon car racing would loose its glory, and that the spectators, and opponents, would also find that the saloon car racing, in Europe, would loose a great asset to racing. Volvo said that it would mean little if they left the Group-A racing, as other car makes was entering in the Europe like the Holden Commodore and the Rover would also withdraw, with Rover have being one of the top competitior for many years. Volvo also added to this that there were no doubt that they would be just as great competitior as before in the European Championship (ETCC) and in the nwe World Championship (WTCC). Volvo would not participate if they didn't see that they had a good chance of winning.
Volvo competing is a commercial investment, something Volvo most definitely wanted a return from, as this is the stock owners money, that Volvo had go the trust to manage, which means that when Volvo entered in racing it was not for just for the racing it self but to get a financial return from it. To loose a race is never fun and it have not been easy to take that lost, but this is not the reason why Volvo does not choose to enter in WTCC in 1987...
The plan from the get ,go was to enter the European Championship stage, with tge Volvo 240-model, this to make way for the coming 700-series model. Though Volvo encountered a great problem while on their way to pass the 700-model into Group-A and saloon car racing. These cars was to go to the Italian car market, however the Italians had a change of mind in the last minute, they only wanted to take a part of the total 5000 cars, that first was agreed upon. The Italians could not see how to feed that market with all these cars. Those cars that was to be the start of the taking over after the 240 Turbo in the WTCC, the models that was chosen from was either the Volvo 760 Turbo (that hit the market in 1982) or the Volvo 780 Bertone Turbo (that arrived in 1986), the 780-model being a saloon car with only two doors, built by Bertone in Italy, and had a lower front and smoother front then the 760-model.
So the Brick from Sweden became something Volvo could never had dreamed of on the racing track. But then again so it was and so it became! Even so Volvos involvment in racing was short it was very good and successful. Conclusevly this led Volvo to winning both the European Championship (ETC) and the German Championship (DTM) for production saloon cars in 1985. However in 1986 Volvo failed to win the European Championship (ETC), but was close to do so, though in Australia that same year, Volvo managed to clinch the Australian Championship (ATCC) "down under".
And the Volvo 240 Turbo is still to this very day, a fearful opponent to face, on both the race track and in rally. Swedish people like Bernt-Inge Steffansson (SAM), Stig-Olov "Stecka" Walfridsson, Susanne Kottulinsky and Tom Trana was all great rally drivers in a Volvo 240 Turbo.
But what became of them all? People that is. Well some went on to Asia to compete and other carried on racing saloon cars either here in Sweden or abroad, then in other car makes. What of the head of Bo Wikås? Well he went on to be head of the Aftermarket department at Volvo Cars, here he remained until his retirement. Bosse described his time at Volvo Motorsport as eventful, interesting, speedy but mostly fun! The mechanics all returned to their regular daytime works at Volvo Cars.
Volvo had also taken part and sponsored in other sports such as Tennis and Sailing with their own brand "Volvo In Sports".
So this was the short version of what was going on inside and outsied the walls of the Volvo Motorsport department. Thank you for have taken part and for reading about what took place in that short period of time at Volvo when they engaged in racing.
This text is written by Björn Ohlson and is protected under the laws of Copyrights, it is strictly forbidden to copy or to use this material in any way without permission. This also concerns the photos.