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Old 08-16-2017, 03:02 PM   #1
rwb
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Default Cheap, N/A, Fast 7XX-??? for Racing or Whatever?

Hi all, first post, sorry if I'm doing it wrong.

This is my first foray into anything Volvo, and my first time seriously taking on a build, so try to be gentle, or don't, whatever.

The build will be for an ice racing series, so we'll be doing the necessary stripping and caging first, then trying to squeeze in whatever suspension refresh and engine work we can. The rules state that the latter must appear stock and no turbos are allowed. We're also mostly broke.

I have what I believe to be a '90 740GL sedan. I'm working on identifying further details but unfortunately right now as I post this I only have photos of the sticker on the timing cover (so I know it's a B230F, with a K on the far right side, likely original,) and the vehicle ID. It's an auto, but this might change.

Wanted to present ideas I have had to see if they make sense, or I'm out to lunch and my priorities are whack:
  • Though well maintained, it's s-l-o-w. Particularly bad above 4k RPM and I'm reading that the "M" cam in this engine may be partially responsible. Used parts may be available nearby but TBD, so I'm wondering if there's a source I've missed for new camshafts for a Redblock (since IPD doesn't seem to stock an N/A cam.) Or will an adjustable gear + what's below more or less fix this for less cash? FWIW, emissions, mileage and "street drivability" are not concerns. Loud, rough and smoky is just fine.

  • Seeing various tricks for for breathing (porting head/intake manifold, 960 throttle body, 2.5" straight pipes, etc.) and compression (thinner gasket, decking block/head,) but tough to quantify what I might actually gain, and potential pitfalls of such (what might I lose?)

  • A/C is already gone, but removing power steering pump and adding an electric fan seem like no brainers, right?

  • Does anything need to be done to the computer to support any of this?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by rwb; 09-07-2017 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 08-16-2017, 05:43 PM   #2
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Really the only thing you can do for cheap is a better cam and strip it if you have to keep it n/a. Manual swap will help but it's a little harder to source all the parts for a 7/9. I ran a straight pipe and it made it sound faster but didn't improve anything. You can do engine work but it will not be worth the money for what you're doing.

Unless you dump money into it it's still going to be s-l-o-w
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Old 08-16-2017, 05:54 PM   #3
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Ignition chip if your car is lh2.4 would help a bunch with premium gas. If you take the head off and have it shaved down a bunch and run a pinto belt you can up the compression that would give you more power. I like the A cam instead of M cam or B cam is similar to A cam. More power up top, okay with automatic transmission.
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:04 PM   #4
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Ignition chip if your car is lh2.4 would help a bunch with premium gas. If you take the head off and have it shaved down a bunch and run a pinto belt you can up the compression that would give you more power. I like the A cam instead of M cam or B cam is similar to A cam. More power up top, okay with automatic transmission.
b cam was a pretty decent improvement in my case, for what i spent on it
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:55 PM   #5
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Many thanks sbabbs and esmth.

From what it sounds, a cam is probably the best first step, and looking at the cam spec reference, I'm hoping the A or B should be available in a junkyard car since it seems common. Otherwise I'll probably be posting in the classifieds, because I'm not even going to bother quoting a shipped cam from Sweden.

Very dumb questions ahead:

esmth, does 7/9 just mean a 7xx from c. 1990? Is it that weird?

sbabbs, any rough idea how much material you can remove for compression before you're breaking stuff? Is it not worth trying to accomplish something similar with gaskets?
And do you mean a timing belt made for a Ford Pinto motor, because you've removed enough that the tensioner no longer works with a normal belt?

Also, a 16v head swap is also not off the table if a head is available at the right price, and the conversion isn't too onerous. I saw an old forum thread (this will be a common theme) that suggested the DOHC motors benefit more from a chip, but I don't know if that applies to a B230/B234 Frankenstein.

Of course, all this needs to be accomplished before ice racing season, so I guess I'm really just trying to determine just how much to bite off right now.
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Old 08-16-2017, 07:34 PM   #6
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The biggest improvement you can make to your NA engine is the swap to the 16 valve head. With the same fuel injection system, same compression ratio etc, they are rated at 160 HP vs. 115 HP with the 8 valve B230F. That head just flows so much more air you aren't going to come close to it with the parts you have.
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Old 08-16-2017, 07:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
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esmth, does 7/9 just mean a 7xx from c. 1990? Is it that weird?

Also, a 16v head swap is also not off the table if a head is available at the right price, and the conversion isn't too onerous. I saw an old forum thread (this will be a common theme) that suggested the DOHC motors benefit more from a chip, but I don't know if that applies to a B230/B234 Frankenstein.
By 7/9 i mean 740 or 940. A good amount of parts interchange between the two.

a 16 valve conversion would be decent/cheap if you can find a car to take the parts from, and you might as well take the entire engine so you don't need to grind valve recesses into the pistons
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Old 08-16-2017, 08:57 PM   #8
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I had read and forgotten that the B234 was interference. If the head swap involves either new pistons or very precise grinds, grabbing the whole engine sounds easier if I can find it, but that sounds expensive unless the engine in the car currently is worth something in trade.

Which leads me to:

esmth, I am also in MA, and this car will be built slightly north. Do you have any recommended sources for parts used or new? It would be just awesome if I could pull a strong 16v motor, though I need to make a conscious effort not to overextend on this, so if there's a place to find at least a camshaft that would be a good start. I have secondhand verbal reports of "junkyards fulla Volvos" but I'm trying to collect as much info as I can.
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:00 PM   #9
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Remember the stock 16v 740 motor is called a b234 and the 740 chassis takes a different front crossmember to bolt it to. It is a different block a little bit then the b230 block. It has balance shafts to eliminate the shakey idle plus another belt that can break and then break the timing belt. Volvo made b230 motors with the 16v head on them stock in boats, find one of those and bolt that in. 2.5L steel stroker crank for more liters.. Also better PZ cams for 16v. You might get one cheap if your near boats.

Search for aq171 or aq251 both same b230 motor with 16v head in boats.

A hundred and seventy one horseypower more then the car motors...

IF your really ice racing, racing on ice, is more power really needed? I'd invest my money in one of those tools to put studs in tires myself....

The A cam came in volvo penta boat motors in USA. The B cam came in all the 70's b21f motored volvos in usa. If you can get to a junkyard in canada, more options for cams there also. Also more cams in boat motors like D or V. Boats in usa got all the real performance stuff for volvo. They even got the 531 8v heads.. No sense in going cam crazy with automatic transmission..

Last edited by sbabbs; 08-16-2017 at 11:09 PM..
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Old 08-16-2017, 11:02 PM   #10
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I had read and forgotten that the B234 was interference. If the head swap involves either new pistons or very precise grinds, grabbing the whole engine sounds easier if I can find it, but that sounds expensive unless the engine in the car currently is worth something in trade.

Which leads me to:

esmth, I am also in MA, and this car will be built slightly north. Do you have any recommended sources for parts used or new? It would be just awesome if I could pull a strong 16v motor, though I need to make a conscious effort not to overextend on this, so if there's a place to find at least a camshaft that would be a good start. I have secondhand verbal reports of "junkyards fulla Volvos" but I'm trying to collect as much info as I can.
Awe the yards near me rarely have the old volvos anymore. I'm in northeast Mass (near Newburyport). I've only seen a handful of redblock volvos in the yards the past year or two. I've never seen a 16v that didn't have the timing belt snapped in one.

Just keep checking craigslist often and you'll find some stuff for cheap. And call local junkyards and ask what volvos they have, or if you need a specific part, see what other cars use the same part and see if the yards have it. Some indy Volvo shops have stashes of parts as well

Last edited by esmth; 08-16-2017 at 11:16 PM..
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:33 AM   #11
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On the cheap, you can get the head shaved 40-50 thousandths, and use a thin Cometic head gasket to bump up the compression a bit, K cam works well with this. Stock computers handle fine.

Don't take off the power steering, it will steer like crap.

For ice racing, just get out there at first, don't bother trying to make the engine better until later.
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:11 AM   #12
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Unstudded class or more serious?
In the unstudded class, a bigger front bar and an expensive (relative to Volvo parts, not to cars in general) used limited slip might make more difference for you than even 10 (generous estimate) more hp you'll get with the likely bolt-on-n-offs. You'll need to be able to pilot it around curves in various ways, not spin a dyno roller harder.
Maybe install yourself a narrowband mixture guage so that you'll have some insight into how future tuning changes or parts failures and cold temperatures affect it. Possibly baseline the car's general operating condition like brakes, suspension, cooling system so that you can focus on your performance and the events rather than surprise repairs.
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Don't take off the power steering, it will steer like crap.
Do 700s have a different power steering setup than a 240? I've been running no power steering for over a year now just fine on my 240
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:54 AM   #14
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Cheap and racing? Is that possible?
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:02 PM   #15
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Cheap and racing? Is that possible?


Lob a B cam in there and go out on the ice.
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how psi stock cna support?

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Old 08-17-2017, 12:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esmth View Post
Do 700s have a different power steering setup than a 240? I've been running no power steering for over a year now just fine on my 240
If you look at any race car that weighs over about 2500lbs, you will find they all have power steering. Even sprint cars (1300lbs) have power steering. There is a reason for this. You will get worked over without it.

If you're going for steering "feel", disconnecting a power rack is not going to do anything. There's still the servo/spool-valve that's flexing and reducing "feel".
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:08 PM   #17
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I appreciate all the info, this is extremely helpful.

RE: the question of whether I really "need" more power for racing on ice is valid.

I believe we can use pretty aggressive V-bar chains on the drive wheels, and timing chains around the front so the traction isn't as terrible as it could be. We're also planning to just weld the diff since it only needs to work in one context for now.

I have no real expectations of setting the world on fire since this is several firsts for me, I'm just trying to preempt getting totally tooled on, because I've seen that happen.

Removing the power steering pump was suggested to me as a way to remove another parasitic load from the engine, and I didn't see a problem with it because I don't mind manual steering and these races are relatively short (small oval track, quick heats.) If that's only worth 0.35 WHP, I don't really care and I'll take the power steering.

brian smith, baselining is a good point. Thus far I've driven the car briefly and been assured it's well taken care of, but all this talk of engine mods assumes nothing fundamental is ready to disintegrate. Honestly, brakes only need to work, they won't be used severely; suspension was just going to be new bushings/rods/joints, finding camber/caster, and maaaybe struts. I focused on the engine for my questions here because there are so many variables, and man it's slow.

We'll probably actually end up with something like Redwood Chair's philosophy, assuming I don't get stuck just trying to build the cage.
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Old 08-17-2017, 01:31 PM   #18
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Ya you won't get anything out of a hot cam with the autotragique anyway unless you wind it up tight manually with the shift lever.

Even then full power on late shifts slamming in may affect your control of the car.

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Old 08-17-2017, 01:55 PM   #19
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I have some actual experience with road racing n/a "stock" b23's/b230's.

Shaving the head to raise compression, throwing the best cam you can find/afford at it and opening up the exhaust will be best bang for the buck hp wise.

If you can find/afford a 16v head and the parts to make it work, big improvement. Good upgrade for later on maybe?

Power steering doesn't rob enough hp to put up with not having it.

Gearing will help a lot also so be mindful of that as well.

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Old 08-17-2017, 02:07 PM   #20
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I will be somewhat disappointed if I'm not able to find and install a manual, that is definitely a goal. Worst case scenario is just leave the auto in 2nd, which is way less cool.

I figure if I'm likely to find anything that fits without a hassle, it would probably be an M45, which sounds like it's crap. Are any other Volvo manuals also a direct fit without needing a new driveshaft or other significant fabrication or modification?

From what I can tell the auto cars had shorter rear gearing, which seems like what I'd want...

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Old 08-17-2017, 07:16 PM   #21
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If you look at any race car that weighs over about 2500lbs, you will find they all have power steering. Even sprint cars (1300lbs) have power steering. There is a reason for this. You will get worked over without it.

If you're going for steering "feel", disconnecting a power rack is not going to do anything. There's still the servo/spool-valve that's flexing and reducing "feel".
I'm not doing it for "feel". the pump was a leaky mess and looping the lines was a cheap fix and it hasn't bothered me enough to find and install another pump.

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I will be somewhat disappointed if I'm not able to find and install a manual, that is definitely a goal. Worst case scenario is just leave the auto in 2nd, which is way less cool.

I figure if I'm likely to find anything that fits without a hassle, it would probably be an M45, which sounds like it's crap. Are any other Volvo manuals also a direct fit without needing a new driveshaft or other significant fabrication or modification?

From what I can tell the auto cars had shorter rear gearing, which seems like what I'd want...
You'll need a new drive shaft no matter what m45/m46/m47 you want to put in
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:37 PM   #22
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In that case, probably out of scope for now unfortunately. It seemed liked I could keep the revs high in 2nd without too much trouble so I'll deal.

So, let's say I take off the head to put in a cam, thinner gasket, deck it, whatever; am I likely to ruin other gaskets along the way, such that I should get a full set if I'm going to touch it at all?

Tuff240, what sanctioning body/class was that 240 run in? I see what look like Hoosiers catching air on that curb, combined with an N/A 8v 2.3 I have to guess you were similarly restricted from slapping on a turbo.

I might be deluded (I would never deny it,) but after Googling parts for this car for the past several days, if I can avoid smashing it up too badly I have a wild hair to maybe turn it into a Chumpcar or even just a nasty b*tch of a street car once it's done on ice. 16v +T that explodes every week? Is that going to be my life?
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:33 PM   #23
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I've ice raced B230F powered 240's for a little over 10 years now and depending on the class/track/tires/competition the stock motor may just be enough for you. One was manual and the other was auto, and for the track we ran they both worked well. A couple friends raced 740's as well and they were very similar in performance on the track. Driveability and reliability are the two key factors for a successful race car on ice. Tires used were either tractionized "rubber to ice" tires or "street studs", which were both regular street tires. There was a few classes over the years for more aggressive studded tires, but I never ran those.

Of all the stuff I tried over the years I will list a few things that did actually work well, and should to apply to any front engine/ rear drive car.

Ballast - Generally about 10% of the vehicle weight over the rear axle.

Swaybars - Remove for maximum articulation

Differential - Open diff. This may seem hard to believe, but under most conditions it worked the best. Welded had an advantage under certain conditions (high traction), but for the most part ice is slippery. G80 is an unpredictable pile of garbage. Clutch types depending on the preload essentially acted as welded.

Power steering - Races were short (max 15 minutes), speeds were high enough, and the track was slippery enough to not need it.

ABS - It worked surprisingly well for the one season I tried it. If the car has it I would keep it if it works.

Exhaust - 2.5 seemed to work well, but was probably more noise than power. The important thing is to make sure it's tucked up tight to the body.

Skid plate - Something strong with good coverage for the engine bay. Hammering 50lbs of half frozen ice and snow out from your steering rack and rad after stuffing it is not fun.

I'm sure there's other stuff I'm forgetting right now. Tires/class will have the biggest effect on how the car is set up, and how much power you will need. Again, reliability is key. Dragging your car around the pits in the morning because it won't start is a bad way to start the day. Having patience, and not getting frustrated the first time out is hard.

Get the car prepped, take it out, and go from there. Racing on ice is fun, and after a bit of seat time you will be hooked. If you are broke, there is no cheaper way to do wheel to wheel racing than in an old RWD Volvo.
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Old 08-17-2017, 11:34 PM   #24
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More good input. Definitely planning on a skid plate, have some sheet metal ready. Most of the rest of what you said intuitively rings true as well.

Kinda surprised to hear about the open diff, but I suspect the rules of the series I'm building for are somewhat unique. Last winter I was able to test out a Honda built to the same 4cyl class rules I'm following, and with V-bars on the front tires and timing chains on the rear, was very surprised by the available traction. It was underpowered though, and that's my biggest phobia. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there was also a prepped up 740 wagon there, and it... was off the pace, despite being driven well, so that's basically why I'm so scared.

My only experience with the car I'm working with now is a few quick rips down a dirt road and a visual inspection, but my snap judgement was that there would be plenty of headroom before I'm fishtailing out of control on the ice. That said, I do plan to try it again once it's stripped and see how it feels.

Last edited by rwb; 08-17-2017 at 11:49 PM..
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Old 08-17-2017, 11:57 PM   #25
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Tuff240, what sanctioning body/class was that 240 run in? I see what look like Hoosiers catching air on that curb, combined with an N/A 8v 2.3 I have to guess you were similarly restricted from slapping on a turbo.
SCCA ITB is what it was originally planned to run, but the Oregon region road racing sanctioning body ICSCC G Production class was better for the Volvo.
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