The presentation of a potent racecar, the Volvo 240 Turbo

That’s almost the beginning how every saga or story begins. But this is no saga, not fiction or made up! Even if you almost would believe so. Though this is the story about the ugly duckling who became a beautiful swan. Or more exactly how the Volvo 240 went from a regular family car to a very strong and successful rac ecar. When the Volvo 240 Turbo was presented in the middle of 1981 it no more than a sensation. Suddenly, the Swedish and mediocre family car, Volvo 240, was equipped with a very potent engine at 2.127cc with a total of 155hp @ 5.500rpm, this at a turbo pressure at 0,67 bars. A Saab 900 Turbo at that same time had 145hp @ 5.000rpm and the Audi 200 ST 170hp @ 5.300rpm. So the new Volvo was absolutely a potential race car. And the performance of the Volvo 240 Turbo was not bad at all. The given top speed was 196km/h (Saab 900 Turbo maxed out 198km/h and Audi 200 ST - @ 203km/h). 0-100km/h performance was 9,4 seconds (Saab 900 Turbo @ 11,7 seconds and Audi 200 ST @ 9,5 seconds). And 0-402m was set at 16,2 seconds (Saab 900 Turbo @ 17,4 seconds and Audi 200 ST @ 16,3 seconds).

So why wouldn’t be possible to build a racecar out of Volvo 240 Turbo?
       

X-ray of the Volvo 240 Turbo.
   
(Photo: Volvo Cars AB)


The beginning of Volvo Group-A

Bo Wikås (or Bosse) on former Volvocar AB started to investigate the possibilities for a cup-series with Volvo 240. The interest among the drivers around Sweden was pretty big at that present time. This was just the relatively cheap and competitive race class that the people had wanted for a long time. At the break of 1981-82 the thumbs up came, the Volvo Turbo Cup started and became an open class for Volvo 242 or Volvo 244, model from 1975 and up was allowed, fitted with a Volvos B21A-engine equipped with the Volvo R Sport-performance kit. The ffect on the engine went up to 180hp and with a higher turbo boost at 0,80bar, which was seen as a reliable and less more expensive engine to run the cars with.

Six races was quickly booked the first year (1982): Mantorp Park, Anderstorp, Karlskoga, Falkenberg, Knutstorp and Kinnekulle here in Sweden. The premier at Mantorp Park was promising, a total of seventeen cars showed up to the starting line. "Elgh pushes train" was the headlines after the race where Swede driver Eje Elgh in Volvos guest car had pushed Ulf Granberg (who worked as a train driver) of the track in the first corner of the race! Various Swedish race celebrities joined the at the premier: Picko Troberg, Börje Thor, Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson and Göran Lindvall with others. Volvo Turbo Cup became just the success Volvo had waited for. Veteran drivers joined and the younger drivers did their best to make it as hard as they could for the veterans. The Volvo Turbo Cup grew rapidly (and became the be forerunner of today’s "Volvo Original" that we have here in Sweden today, Volvo Original is a car class which every car had to be fitted with the same tuning part and the parts could only be original parts from Volvo).

Börje Thor became the champion the first year (1982), the second year (1983) Ulf Granberg. Volvo Turbo Cup even gusted the F1-track Donington Park in England, a memorial occasion. The pub owner and his staff in Redgate Lodge (by the first corner of the track) will probably always remember the Swedish meatballs, "Sibylla-Korv", herring and potatoes and all that belongs with it.  (help translations: Sibylla-Korv; Sibylla is a kind of fast food kitchen/restaurant whom sell hotdogs and hamburgers, Korv; hotdog/sausage).

But there was a far more advanced plan behind the idea of Volvo Turbo Cup. Was it possible to race at an international level with the Volvo 240 Turbo?

In France, Volvo France had started to backup a private initiative. This was a Volvo 242 who would be prepared for the "Championnat de France de Production" 1982, this was a French "development" of Group 1+. Joseph Lebrishos and the tuning company of Ecurie Danielson in Magny-Cours had free hands with the Volvo engine. Lebris meant that he got 320hp out of the engine which would come good in hand for the little lawyer Jean-Louis Bosquet, who was the driver. Back home here in Sweden, Thomas Lindström and his father Tage Lindström in Norrköping had some similar ideas, to race with a Volvo 240 Turbo. The Lindström's had glanced on the Group-A, and meant that a well prepared Volvo 240, would have the fighting chance here. In the autumn of 1982 there was a lots of rumors flying around, would Volvo officially get in to racing? Would it in that case be with a factory team or would Volvo just  backup privateers? Bosse Wikås telephone ran warm...

Volvo Turbo Cup at Karlskoga 1983.

(Photo: Teambild.se)


A slow beginning

Well in time for the first ETC race in 1983, two Swedish team showed up in their Group-A prepared Volvo 240 Turbos. It was Thomas Lindström in his black Volvo 240 (quickly got the name "Schwedische Kohlenkiste"), and Lindström was to drive with Stanley Dickens. The other team was Ingemar "The Pelican" Persson (he manage his own factory Mercerdes-team in DTM today) and his good friend Per Stureson. Both the cars were just assembled and had millions small problems!

"Our car was pretty much what we expected", Lindström commented.

But wow, did we get passed by the straights! The Jaguars just went by us and it was the same with the BMW's 635. But in the corner there were no one that could take us, our Volvo's went great there.

"What we would have needed was more power under the hood. We could hang in with last year’s BMW's cars, the 528i. But how did that help when the BMW 635CSi had about 50hp more? The BMW 528i was similar to the Volvo, about 240-250 horse powers. The new BMW 635 had about 290hp, 40-50 hp more to our Volvo. And the Jaguars presumably had over 400hp!" We are now waiting for a new intercooler to get classed in the Group-A by Volvo. That should give us about 40-50hp combined with a couple of other parts" Thomas said.

This was just what Bosse Wikås and Gunnar Andersson on Volvocar respective Volvo R-Sport was working on in 1983.

Volvo 240 Turbo Group-A (IPS Motorsport) at Donington Park 1983.

(Photo: Dan Morgan)


Volvo's change of mind
 
Well Volvo didn’t take things slow, Bosse Wikås advanced to project leader, this to find out if "Volvo Group-A was something to invest in". Information was collected from all over Europe. Advantage was compared with disadvantages. In a interview in 1983 Bosse Wikås was however denying that Volvo was to enter their own factory-team in Group-A.

The purpose with the development work now was to supply the privateer entries with the best parts for racing possible. Well as far as this it was clear that Bosse Wikås kept his poker face, to not acknowledge anything yet. So to speak, there was small talk about that Volvo was going in to the ETC, but nothing was official. Volvo had in mind to first gently support some privateer teams, and if Volvo did it good - well then the way to a Volvo factory-team was open. And in 1984 it all really begun. In ETC Thomas Lindström/Anders Olofsson (Valentin Simons for the first rounds) drove with their new black Volvo and Ulf Granberg/Greger Petersson/Robert L. Kvist with the white Luna-Volvo. Per Stureson and Ingmar Persson entered in the DRM-series (DTM). Already in the first race of the ETC -84, 500 km di Monza, Lindström/Simons finished at a good 6th place. On Valleunga, the week after was Ulf Granberg in the lead in the rain for a while, but was forced later to break. The best Volvo was a Belgian equipage who finished iin 10th place. On Donington Park the Swedes once again did a good job, Granberg/Petersson finished 8th place. In Enna-Pergusa, way down in Sicily, Lindström/Olfosson
finished 6th place and Granberg/Petersson finished 8th place.

One of the Belgium Dealer Team cars, built by Guy Trigaux Engineering, at Monza 1984.

(Photo: 240grupp-A Archives)
 

Double o'Volvo 1985  
 
Throughout the ETC -84 season data, advantages and disadvantages had been gathered by Volvo, and taken into consideration, and what options Volvo now had. And Volvo gave the green light during the winter of 1984 to enter a factory team now. And man who have seen the potency of the Volvo 240 Turbo was a Swiss, Rudi Eggenberger on Eggenberger Motorsport, Eggenberger have had great success with BMW and taken them to victory in the ETC series 1980, -81 and -82.

As mentioned, Rudi Eggenberger had seen the potential of the 240 Turbo, and wanted to get the responsibility to take care of Volvo's now official factory team in the ETCC 1985. Volvo had contacted other companies to manage their team 1985: Schnitzer Motorsport and  Brown Motorsport but Eggenberger Motorsport had presented a good deal that Volvo settled with in the end.

So Volvo signed a contract with Eggenberger in the winter of 1984, Volvo supplied the Swiss, with all parts and two new chassis. While construction took some time, drivers was a other matter, one choice was obvious, Thomas Lindström would be part of the team, Sigi Müller JR. from the former West Germany and the Italian Gianfranco Brancatelli, who was previously included in Eggenberger BWM team would also be a part of the team and the Belgian Pierre Dieudonné, who was in the GTM Volvo team during the season -84. The drivers was paired up like this: Car #1 Lindström/Brancatelli and Car #2 Müller/Dieudonné. The Eggenberger Motorsport team were to go under the Volvo Dealer Team Europé, meaning that the team was not located directly under AB Volvo Car but the combined efforts of Volvo dealers across Europe, but it was still acting as a factory-team of course.

AB Volvo Car also signed a contract with Swede Mats Magnusson, the Magnum Racing. The contract included him as team manager, and his own team will be responsible for one car. Magnum Racing picked Ulf Granberg, Anders Olofsson and Ingvar Carlsson as drivers, who would share the car during the season -85 in the ETC. The two Volvo teams would be competing not only against other teams, but against each other throughout the season. A summary of the ETC-series of Volvo teams: Monza- unplaced, Vallelunga-2nd place, Donington Park-4th place, Anderstorp-1st place, Brno-2nd place, Österreich Ring-1st place, Salzburg Ring - 1st place, Nürburgring-1st place, SPA Francorchamps 24-hour, 3rd place, Silverstone, 3rd place, Nogaro-6th place, Zolder, 1st place, Estoril 1st place and finally Jarma-2nd place.

Granberg/Olofsson's best result came at Brno, they finished 1st, and a 2nd placing on Anderstorp here in Sweden. The year 1985 would prove to be a sensation as far as Volvo was concerned, Eggenberger Motorsport took the title without any major problems, however the TWR Rovers did their best both on the track and of the track.

Per Stureson and Ingemar Persson entered in DTM 1985 (IPS Motorsports) and had sold the car from the previous season, and built a new car, the effect was close to 300 hp. However this season Stureson did all the drivning himself and Persson acted as manager instead. The team had a great season with not one aborted race,
Bergischer Löwe-26th place, Avus-Rennen-6th place, Flugplatzrennen Mainz-Finthen-2nd place, Flugplatzrennen Erding Heat 1-16th place/Heat 2-2nd place, Flugplatzrennen Diepholz Heat 1-7th place/Heat 2-5th place,  Westfalenpokal-Rennen-3rd place,  Siegerland-Flughafenrennen-3rd place and Super-Sprint, Nürburgring-8th place. IPS Motorsport actually managed to win the DTM title, an amazing feat considering the opposition that existed to meet in the series!

But after Volvo's two fine titles in the ETCC- and the DTM-series there were many who were hanging lip and just could not accept that Volvo was best in 1985.

There were many rumors and even writings of how things were with Volvo's classification of their "Evolution" model. At one point Volvo was accused of driving with illegal front suspension mounts. Not to mention any names or to point in any specific direction but those who accused Volvo themselves were racing with to big engines and many other unauthorized parts. At one point, one could even see the rear window of a not so suspicious TWR Bastos Rover, "Real men do not drive Volvo, terribly unsportsmanlike by Rover. Conclusion is that one should not blame others for cheating when you yourself do not play by the rules...

Tests on Jarma in Spanien 1985 with the Eggenberger team.

(Photo: 240grupp-A Archives)

Photo session at Nürbergring 1985 with the IPS Motorsport team for the magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

(Photo:  Auto Motor und Sport)
 

The end of Volvo's factory teams

At the end of 1985 after the Swiss, Rudi Eggenberger won ETC title for Volvo, he wanted to renew his contract with Volvo, the answer was no from Volvo. They had found out and considered Eggenberger had violated a clause in the contract with Volvo, the clause included a water injection system that Volvo Motorsport has developed WTT (Water-Turbo-Traction), a system that changed the car's characteristics on the track that would reduce wheel spin at, for example output of a curve. This clause said that Eggenberger cars had to run with this, Eggenberger had other thoughts regarding this WTT-system, he chose to mount a "dummy" meaning that all the parts put in its place, but served no function, but was only fitted for show. Eggenberger said that he felt it was important to win and show results, and this was not possible with the WTT system, when it was not working correctly, but was full of flaws that risked chances of winning. Volvo called this a violation of the contract. Sad, very sad when Eggenberger was the one who was basically  responsible for getting Volvo so far, so far as to take home the title ETCC 1985.

Rudi Eggenberger went ahead and started to manage a new team with the new Ford Sierra Turbo instead, against the Volvo!

Now it was open for anyone to take over where Eggenberger was forced to exit. Many had made their interest to work with Volvo, but no one seemed to be of interest for Volvo though. But a company named R.A.S. Sports (Ring Auto Sport) located in Belgium, had courted Volvo and given such an attractive sponsorship, and financial solution, that Volvo could not refuse. So in the winter of 1985, Volvo had signed a contract with RAS Sports.

However n
o new cars were built in 1986 by RAS, the cars Eggenberger built (chassis #501 and 502), was transported to RAS Sport in Belgium. The chassis was taken apart by RAS's mechanics, checked up, and built up again with new improvments, the chassis shown to be flawless. Also the Magnum Racing car (#503) from 1985 was also rebuilt, into a test/reserve car. So after having dissolved the Eggenberger team the new RAS team was now without drivers, test were conducted to test drivers at Estoril in Portugal, the RAS team wanted a European team with no Swedish drivers however Volvo demanded on the team having Swedish drivers. RAS was contacted by Formula driver Jacky Ickx, RAS also had the German driver Hans Heyer in mind. Other drivers that was tested was Antonio Rodrigues (from Portugal), Anders Olofsson, Ulf Granberg, Thomas Lindström (all from Sweden) and Johnny Cecotto (from Venezuela). However RAS and Volvo settled with the four last mentioned drivers.

Once the drivers was selected,
 it needed to be decided who was going to drive with whom? It was settled with Lindström/Cecotto in car #1 and Granberg/Olofsson in car #2. The drivers changed cars with each other during the season, and was often matched together depending on what track and so on. In the end of the season (the trhree last races) RAS entered a third car in the team, with driver Mauro Baldi out of Italy and Per Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson from Sweden also joined, they shared the test/reserve car. The couple Lindström/Cecotto won at Hockenheim, Olofsson/Cecotto second at Misano, Lindström/Granberg won at their home track (Anderstorp) and won again at Brno, Cecotto/Olofsson came 1st at Österreich Ring and Lindström/Cecotto won at Zolder. This meant that Volvo was quite sure now that the RAS team had secured their way to winning the ETC title -86, but it began to happen things that was not to the Volvo's  advantage. Rumors that the RAS team was driving with an illegal dashboard, illegal drive line, illegal fuel tank and illegal fuel.

The results of these accusations was totally unnecessary disqualifications as far as Volvo was concerned, and started a wildfire. AB Volvo Car got sick with all this bad publicity and announced, approximately two weeks after the end of the season in -86, that Volvo will withdraw from Group-A racing.

It would also appear that RAS (Ring Autosport) would not have their contract renew anyway, they had violated the clause of the WTT-system (just like Eggenberger), because, that it appeared to be defective and caused unnecessary risks, risks of losing races.
No matter what had happened and took place during the years when Volvo took part in the ETC, positively and negatively, Volvo had clearly shown that the Volvo 240 Turbo had been a clear success in Group-A, and a strong competitor to be reckoned with as far as other teams was concerned!

As early as 1984 it was said that "the Volvo was something to look out for" and a year later in -85 the words was changed to that "Volvo was something you must beat"... Now those word speaks for themselves
folks!

Even so
withVolvo pulling out from racing in -86, so went the privateers on to drive in the ETCC and even in the WTCC (which was new for 1987) in the coming years. They had shown that the brick shaped, and slightly out of fashion car, had taken all the big luxury cars to the test, the Volvo 240 Turbo that would become known as the Worlds Fastest Taxi/family car. Shown that the Volvo 240 was a car with nice handling and an excellent engine, just check the results if you feel you need more persuasion.

Thanks to Volvo's involvement in Group-A this made way for a number of drivers at a international level in racing in all it's forms from saloon car racing to racing in the famous Le Mans.

RAS Sport #1 at the great Spa 24-hour race in 1986 with Johnny Cecotto.

(Photo: 240grupp-A Archives)


Statistics


Driver titles(1985-1986)

1985 ETCC - Thomas Lindström - Volvo 240 Turbo (289 point)
1985 ETCC - Gianfranco "Branca" Brancatelli - Volvo 240 Turbo (289 point)
1985 DTM - Per Stureson - Volvo 240 Turbo (117,5 point)
1986 ATCC - Robbie Francevic - Volvo 240 Turbo (217 point)


Victories (1984-1986)

Total: 26
ETCC: 11
DTM: 5
ATCC: 5
Macau Grand Prix: 2
Nissan Mobil 500 Series: 1
Fuji Speedway Inter-tec: 2

Ulf Granberg (totally two races)
Robert L. Kvist (totally one race)
Thomas Lindström (totally nine races)
Gianfranco "Branca" Brancatelli (totally seven races)
Anders Olofsson (totally one race)
Johnny Cecotto (totally two races)
Per Stureson (totally two races)
Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson (totally two races)
Heinz-Fredrich Peil (totally one race)
Robbie Francevic (totally five races)
Michel Delcourt (totally one race)
Siefried "Sigi" Müller Jr. (totally one race)
Pierre Diuedonné (totally one race)


Podium placings (1984-1986)

Total: 64
ETCC: 31
DTM: 15
ATCC: 11
Macau Grand Prix: 3
Nissan Mobil 500 Series: 2
Fuji Speedway Inter-tec: 2

Ulf Granberg (totally nine races)
Robert L. Kvist (totally one race)
Thomas Lindström (totally nineteen races)
Gianfranco "Branca" Brancatelli (totally eleven races)
Siefried "Sigi" Müller Jr. (totally five races)
Pierre Diuedonné (totally five races)
Johnny Cecotto (totally ten races)
Anders Olofsson (totally ten races)
Anders Lindberg (totally one race)
Per Stureson (totally ten races)
Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson (totally six races)
Heinz-Fredrich Peil (totally two races)
Dave McMilan (totally one race)
Robbie Francevic (totally nine races)
John Bowe (totally two races)
Michel Delcourt (totally one race)


Pole position (1985-1986)

Total: 18
ETCC: 11
DTM: 6
Fuji Speedway Inter-tec: 1

Gianfranco "Branca" Brancatelli (totally eight races)
Ulf Granberg (totally two races)
Johnny Cecotto (totally two races)
Per Stureson (totally three races)
Heinz-Fredrich Peil (totally two races)
Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson (totally one race)


Fastest lap (1984-1986)

Total: 25
ETCC: 14
DTM: 7
ATCC: 3
Nissan Mobil 500 Series: 1

Ulf Granberg (totally four races)
Gianfranco "Branca" Brancatelli (totally five races)
Thomas Lindström (totally four races)
Johnny Cecotto (totally two races)
Per Stureson (totally two races)
Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson (totally four races)
Heinz-Fredrich Peil (totally one race)
Robbie Francevic (totally three races)

 



Text composed by: Björn Ohlson (Note that some parts of the text are borrowed from the Swedish car magazine Bilsport, No 1-2 2001, text was written by SvenEric Eriksson)

 

Milestones in Group A for Volvo
 
 1981
Volvo introduce their new model: The Volvo 244 Turbo.
 
 1982  
The Volvo Turbo Cup launches for Volvo 244/242 turbo. Greger Petersson, Anders Olofsson and Peggen Andersson goes to Silverstone in England to test their Volvo 242 Turbo.
 
 1983
Thomas Lindström and his father Tage Lindström was the first to build a Volvo 242 Turbo Group-A car, and the first Volvo team to compete at an international level. Thomas Lindström wins the Nordic Championship 1983. Volvo presents the new Volvo 242 Turbo Evolution model manufactured for the US market, 500 cars was produced to meet the regulations that Group-A required. All these Evolution cars was exported to the United States.
 
 1984  
Volvo 240 turbo shows real potential, Swedes Ulf Granberg and Robert L. Kvist becomes the first drivers in a Volvo 240 Turbo to take home a victory in the ETC (also first time for a turbo aspirated car to win a ETC-race) and Per Stureson becomes first driver in a Volvo 240 Turbo to take a victory in the German DTM series. Four teams in the ETC, Volvo Belgium Dealers Team, TL Racing, Luna/Sportpromotion and IPS Motorsport.
 
 1985  
Volvo goes all the way and launches their factory team, Volvo Europé Dealer Team. It is a success and Volvo wins the European Championship (ETC) with the Swiss Rudi Eggenberger as team manager.IPS Motorsport, with Per Stureson as driver, wins the German Championship (DTM).
 
 1986  
Volvo once again start as a factory team in the Touring Car Championship (ETC changed name in 1986 to TCC), now under new management with Belgian RAS Sports (Ring Auto Sport). But did not go all the way due to some disqualified races. Australian Volvo Dealer Team (AVDT) wins the Australian Touring Car Championship with Robbie Francevic. Volvo officially leaves Group-A and the racing world, and the time is over for the factory teams, Volvo recalls all factory cars back to Sweden.
 
 1987  
Hans-Åke Söderqvist (former employee of Volvo Motorsport) continues to race with the Volvo 240 Turbo, both in Sweden and at a international level. The team Söderqvist Racing Sport (SRS) is formed. Peggen Andersson leaves the Swedish racing scene and goes to Asia to continues to compete successfully in a Volvo 240 Turbo, now as a factory driver. Victory in Malaysia for Peggen. Leif Wiik buys RAS car #2 (#604) from Volvo Motorsport.
 
 1988  
Peggen Anderson continues his victory suite in a Volvo 240 Turbo in Asia with the ZepSpeed team​​. Overall victory in Thailand. Hans-Åke Söderqvist (SRS) also continues to race the Volvo cars.
 
 1989  
Few Volvo left in the various lines around the world.
 
 1990  
Competing with Volvo 240 Turbo decreases SLOWLY. The Volvo Motorsport Department (VMS) is closed and development stops and VMS sells the remaining spare parts to Leif Wiik in Finland.