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Old 09-15-2013, 11:20 PM   #1
83glt
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Default 1971 145 Express Competition Service Rally Car Restoration Project

INTRODUCTION

I’ve finally gotten around to starting a build thread for my recent acquisition. There is a long history behind this car, so that’s where I’ll start. Most of the historical information presented here has been sourced through various folks familiar with the car’s history and ownership. Special thanks to Ian from High Performance Auto, Mitch Duncan, Daniel Johnston, Dave Burnham, and several others who I hope to acknowledge as the build goes forward.
Because I’ve already owned the car for almost 5 months, I’m playing a bit of catch up here. So I apologize for the lengthy first post.

Here's how the car looked once upon a time:





THE HISTORY


Back in the early 1970s, this car was imported from Sweden to Torrance, CA where Volvo had located their North American Competition Service Parts Division. There are only about 4 of these Express cars known to have made it to North America. About 4000 or so were built and most saw service in Europe as ambulances and working vehicles as it was meant to supplant the Duett. Initially this car was used as it was intended – as a parts runner to local dealers. But at some point, Wayne Baldwin, who more or less ran the racing parts department, decided to turn this Express into a monster of a car. Wayne would go on to become a very successful rally driver for Volvo and was highly regarded for his mechanical skills – at one point building an entire 242 Turbo himself with parts off the shelf! Ultimately Wayne turned the Express into a rolling show room for Competition Service complete with just about every performance part they could throw at it. Full rally suspension, Stage IV rally engine, complete custom interior, custom wheels, rally gauge cluster, GT steering wheel, oil cooler, high capacity fuel pump, special gear box, roll cage, a shower in the back – apparently to hose down the dusty rally drivers, and much, much more.

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Old 09-15-2013, 11:21 PM   #2
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In March of 1976, Road & Track magazine published an article featuring the Express and all of its performance components. It was also something of a road test article. Rather than describe the article in detail, I’ll attach a copy here for everyone to enjoy. It also has most of the photographs of the Express from its prime that I have at the moment, though there may be additional photos and potentially an original build sheet being dug up. Check it out:





Arguably,soliciting this article was meant to reinvigorate Volvo’s performance parts division and certainly was meant to be a marketing exercise. It might be said that it helped push Volvo back into motorsports in a bigger way and ultimately led to its successes of the 1980s. That’s just my opinion anyway. True Volvo historians may disagree, but I always think of the 1970s as a time when Volvo was mainly focused on safety development, but still offered performance parts for those independent drivers who wanted to race Volvos. Regardless, there’s no question that the Express is a part of Volvo motorsports history and I’m honored to have the opportunity to bring it back to its former glory – however daunting the task will be.

After the article was written, and following the Express’ service as a rally support vehicle in CA and Mexico, Wayne brought it to the Rockleigh, NJ area when Competition Service was transferred to Volvo’s North American headquarters there. The Express remained in the ownership of Volvo at least through 1982 (I found an old NJ registration card in the glove box listing “Volvo Corporation North America” as the owner). Sometime after that a Volvo employee bought the car and drove it for personal use for about a year. That owner sold the Express in 1988 (last registration sticker on the car) to a local mechanic who he was friends with. It was all downhill from there sadly. The mechanic basically let the car sit on his lot outside for 25 years, all the while being exposed to the elements. As might be imagined, this took a toll on the car. Also, at least a couple sources have claimed that the Stage IV engine was auctioned off at some point. From what I’ve seen this appears to be at least partly true as the block still has several of the performance bits. I’m not going to know for sure what’s really inside until I tear into it – which is a ways off yet.
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:25 PM   #3
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HOW I GOT IT

There’s another long story about how the Express came into my possession that I need not go into here. Suffice to say that I picked it up for $500 a couple days before it was scheduled to head to the crusher. I hadn’t had a chance to do much beyond looking through the window until that point. The former owner had basically been brushing me off for a couple years as I kept pestering him to sell it to me. I had seen it sitting on his lot for about 6 years, but until we moved to the area I never had a place to keep it and work on it. Anyway, long story short, I was finally able to purchase it and I took delivery at the end of April earlier this year.


CONDITION


This is how it looked last year when I really started pushing the prior owner to sell it to me. This spot was its home for the past 25 years or so:


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Old 09-15-2013, 11:26 PM   #4
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:28 PM   #5
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:28 PM   #6
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:31 PM   #7
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Cool level: 10
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:07 AM   #8
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WTF? A spare rallye cluster? I've never even seen one in person and you have 2?

It's about time you started a build thread. I'm looking forward to seeing the Express restored to it's former glory and am happy to help in any way I can.

There's a great article about Wayne Baldwin and his co-driver/wife Debra in this 82 Via Volvo magazine. The article refers to a short film featuring Wayne (& Debra) in action called "Blueprint for Endurance". If anyone has a copy of it, I (and I'm sure others) would love to see it.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiperfauto View Post
WTF? A spare rallye cluster? I've never even seen one in person and you have 2?
Didn't I mention that before? I got really lucky there. It was in the Castrol oil box in the back just sitting there. It's a good thing I didn't toss the box around when cleaning out the back. The odometer on it only reads 995 miles, and it looks pristine, so I have to figure those miles are accurate.

Thanks for the article link. I'd love to see that film as well.
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:57 AM   #10
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This is so awesome, I can't wait to watch it progress.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:13 AM   #11
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Wow, great progress!
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:55 AM   #12
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Cool project! Enjoy the experience!
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Old 09-16-2013, 06:23 PM   #13
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wow, this is a really cool car. looks like you have ALOT of body work on your hands. Good luck.
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Old 09-16-2013, 06:41 PM   #14
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Definitely a labor of love. Jason I see you've busy. My project not so much, a little stall.
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Old 10-22-2013, 12:31 AM   #15
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Some more progress to report. I finished stripping the paint from the fuel tank bay. Then I sand blasted with the spot blaster to get all the rust out of there. I highly recommend this Harbor Freight spot blaster for small jobs like this where you need to work in close quarters and blast rust out of tight corners. It worked well. Here are some pics of the prime/paint and fuel tank install. This is an early tank with the smaller fuel sender, but I'll use it for now. Eventually I'll probably swap back to the correct later tank with the larger sender. In many ways, this was really a practice run at some of the body work that lies ahead.



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Old 05-22-2014, 02:33 PM   #16
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Some more progress to report. I finished stripping the paint from the fuel tank bay. Then I sand blasted with the spot blaster to get all the rust out of there. I highly recommend this Harbor Freight spot blaster for small jobs like this where you need to work in close quarters and blast rust out of tight corners. It worked well. Here are some pics of the prime/paint and fuel tank install. This is an early tank with the smaller fuel sender, but I'll use it for now. Eventually I'll probably swap back to the correct later tank with the larger sender. In many ways, this was really a practice run at some of the body work that lies ahead.



Is this primer and paint? GL in the new place! Learn to weld yet?
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Old 05-22-2014, 06:03 PM   #17
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Is this primer and paint? GL in the new place! Learn to weld yet?
Yes, I primed using a self-etch primer that I had on hand and sprayed a few coats of silver that I had made up by a body shop a couple years ago. It came out looking really good, but it may be redone at some point now that I can really go at the car.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:06 PM   #18
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Thanks for saving that.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:20 PM   #19
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You sir are a braver man than I. Best of luck!
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:40 PM   #20
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I'm going to continue to post photos of the most rusted areas. I was concerned when I first got it, but as I peeled back the layers I found that surprisingly there is actually plenty of good metal left. New body panels - floor pans/butt cheeks, inner/outer wheel wells, etc., are all available, so there will be lots of new sheet metal going in. A lot of what's there can be saved. It doesn't help that the red lacquer paint oxidized to a rust brown color. :( - it makes it look much worse than it is. Also, I'm not going to mess around with fenders/hood and front doors. Those will just be replaced.

Still, there's no delusion here that this won't be a long haul. I wouldn't do this for any car though, and if it all goes to hell at least I'll have learned how to weld by then!

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Old 09-18-2013, 11:00 AM   #21
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Subscribed for 145 love. Miss mine a lot, love that you got one with such amazing history!
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:52 PM   #22
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Subscribed for history!
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Old 09-19-2013, 06:58 PM   #23
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Great to finally see a thread on this car, after talking to you for eight months about this thing! Glad I helped convince you to stay on your pursuit until you brought it home! This is absolutely a car that deserves a restoration if there ever was one!
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:06 PM   #24
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That is a neat piece of history, glad to see it get some love.
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Old 09-19-2013, 09:01 PM   #25
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This is the most rediculous and awesome restoration ever. Only bugeyed Alfas that rusty get restored.
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