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Old 10-14-2009, 04:26 PM   #1
cutting, welding, bashing
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Cheltenham, UK
Default Dirtbikes Project... Volvo'd Mk1 Escort

So I thought it’s about time I actually started a project thread, I’ve been on this forum long enough.

It started back in 2003/4 when I decided that I should put my plans into action.
A Volvo turbo powered Mk1 Escort.

While it’s not a Volvo it’s very much Volvo powered.
The UK Escorts of this era had a kerb weight of between 1900 and 2100lbs depending upon which engine and option were spec’d.
I don’t think the car will be as light as that once finished due to the larger heavier duty items that have been used to replace the weaker Escort components.

Phase 1
The first phase was to aquire the car, after about 6months hunting around I settled on this one I currently have.
Here is a shot of the car as I picked it up on the trailer:

Initially I was simply going to cut up the engine bay and trans tunnel in order to make the engine fit between the narrow wings of the Escort and leave the back end leaf sprung.
The first job was to modify the front panel to allow the intercooler to fit.

After this work was completed I decided that I should address the rear axle as the original Escort English axle is known to become a weak link anywhere north of 150bhp, I managed to source a Ford 8” axle (baby version of the 9” axle) that had already been narrowed to somewhere close to the Escorts stock axle wdth.

Whilst I was at it I decided that I should also relocate the dampers, as the stock damper location is at a 45 degree angle mounted to the bottom of the boot floor. So holes were cut in the inner wheel arch so that the turrets could be fabricated.

At this point I decided to pull the car from the guy that was doing the work as lots of time and money were passing and not a huge amount of progress was being made so I relocated to a friends old workshop and began working on it myself.

I was expecting traction to be a problem so whilst I was in there cutting things about I thought that it was probably a good idea to make some provisions for the axle tramp that was almost certainly going to be a problem, to solve this I made some radius arms that ran from the top of the axle into purpose made boxes welded into the rear floor where the rear seats would ordinarily reside, the idea is to stop the axle rotating and cause the leaf springs to wrap up and then release causing axle tramp/hop.

I began working on the interior and focused on the seats. I managed to get hold of a couple of Cobra Suzuka seats for a really good price, they were ex display and were advertised as GTR width (fat b*stard size) the only problem was that when I got them home and measured them I found that although they were labelled up as GTR width they were in fact standard width so I had to look at selling them on and finding something else. Lady luck was on my side I managed to sell them on and make a little and I then happened upon brand new delivery mileage only pair of Honda Civic Type R seats. The sub frames were modified to fit the brackets that I’d made and welded to the Escort floor.

I decided that I would have my friend that was capable of welding modify the inner wings to give me some more room in the engine bay as well as provide a good air intake path for the turbo.

My attentions now turned to brakes.
Because of the severity of the bulkhead modifications I could no longer use an escort pedal box so I decided that a wilwood reverse mount pedal box with clutch pedal was going to be perfect for my needs.

2 brackets were welded on the bulkhead to allow the pedal box to be mounted onto the bulkhead. This took many hours of positioning and propping up with blocks of wood to get it into the correct position.

With the pedals now mounted I decided that I need to work out what brakes I’m going to use on the front as the stock 247mm solid discs were not going to be up to the job (I knew this from my previous Escort running vented 247mm discs with stock calipers).

Fortunately as I was having this dilemma I read an article in a magazine about relocating the disc to the front side of the hub so that it is sandwiched between the wheel and the hub. The logic behind this states that the alloy wheel acts as a huge heat sink, sucking the heat from the discs, the stock location for the disc on the rear of the Escorts iron hubs and is probably the biggest reason that brake fade and warping is an issue.

The company (caprisport)championing this conversion had a kit available, it consisted of a 283mm Ford Sierra Cosworth front disc and a Ford Mondeo(Contour) Caliper with an adaptor bracket.

To use this brake system I had to upgrade the wheel size from the 12” steels that came with the car to at least 15” wheels.
EBay turned up a set of Compomotive ML’s for a reasonable price.
I test fitted them and they were a tight fit on the rear, they were also advertised at an incorrect offset so I was a little disheartened by this set back.

After I’d stewed on this gaff for a little while I decided that it was probably a good idea to upgrade the axle shafts to something more suitable for drag racing and while I’m at it I’ll get the axle casing narrowed thus solving my rear wheel fitment options.

So I contacted Hauser race cars and commissioned them to narrow the axle by 20mm per side. This solved the issue of rear wheel fitment and allowed me to fit 239mm solid rear discs.
Volvord Project Thread :http://forums.turbobricks.com/showthread.php?t=184497
1972 Mk1 Escort, B230, 16v, T5/4L60E, 8" Axle, KMS MD35, AIM EVO Datalogger

"Volvord MK1 Escort Project" : http://www.jwbr29544.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/escort

Last edited by dirtbike; 10-20-2009 at 02:43 PM.. Reason: website struture
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:27 PM   #2
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Default Part 2

Phase 2

Unfortunately at this point I lost interest for a little while, distracted by recent purchase of a 95 940 turbo wagon, this subsequently had a 3” exhaust which ultimately ended up living on Chesh’s 940 for him to travel to Sweden.

During this time where I was distracted I made a big decision regarding the Escort, I decided that I should stop compromising the build so much and focus more on making it into a more purposeful and extreme street legal race car, rather than a road car with an engine swap.

This meant bigger more purposeful wheels as the goal posts now moved again and I decided that the 15 x 6 Compo ML’s were not really going to be wide enough to support the potential I had planned for the car so I contacted Image wheels in Tipton Dudley to make me a set 3pc split rims, I ordered a pair of 16x8 wheels primarily to fit the front knowing that the rears weren’t going to be as much of a issue as the axle had been narrowed a while ago.

As the plans had been stepped up I contacted a friend of mine that runs a local race car fabrication company called Cotsweld. They had specialised mainly in drag racing air cooled VW’s (his own car running 10.3 on a naturally aspirated motor) but they had also built a some none VW drag cars. The Escort was booked into have a 6 point cage fitted and the back half removed and a bespoke 5 link rear end made and fitted.

The car came back to me with very little escort left behind the b pillars, whilst it was in having the back end tubbed and new boot floor installed a new rear panel was also let in as the original was far from straight.

So the car came back and looked fantastic but I had a problem that had been niggling away at the back of my mind. The new wheels highlighted the issues I was having with the front suspension, they were a little on the wide side for the front with the struts in their stock location but I knew that this could be rectified relatively easily by using adjustable track control arms and adjustable top mounts.

This started a minefield of front suspension geometry problems…
As soon as I rectified one area I created problems elsewhere, so here is a brief list of the things that were done.

I removed the spring cups from the struts so that I could suck the struts closer to the inner wings using the new top mounts

Insert Top mount Pics

By pulling the tops of the struts in it gave me a massive amount of negative camber which was no good so I used adjustable lower control arms to restore the geometry to a more acceptable state.

Rally design adjustable lower arms

Because the Escort relies on the Anti rollbar to locate the struts I found that now I had the car lowered and wheels with something like the right amount of camber I had major caster problems.

The lowering of the car flattened the antiroll bar angle making it even worse is the lower anti roll bar mounting bracket, this left the anti roll bar almost perpendicular to the road which pushed the rear wheel back in to the wheel arch.
This not only looked awful but it meant that the car had too little castor. If the car was driveable it probably would have been dangerous due to the castor angle, this would of made the car extremely “twitchy” at speed.

You can see in this pic the effect of lowered and suspension combined with bigger wheels and lowered anti roll bar

I drilled new locating holes in the antiroll bar mount moving the anti roll bar forward, this corrected the caster problems only to then highlight more problems.

In order to fit the tall Volvo engine into the car I had to do something with the crossmember in order to keep it under the bonnet. So I had previously bought a lowered steering rack crossmember this is designed for high ride height rally cars and is supposed to be used with different steering arms to enable the geometry to be corrected by the increased ride height, as I had gone the other way I was now in a lot of trouble with angle of the track control arms.

The inner mounts for the track control arms where now lower than the outer ones meaning that any body roll would have resulted in a smaller tyre contact patch with the ground subsequently meaning less traction, so in short I’d created a front suspension setup that was giving the right amount of caster and camber but as soon as I tried to corner I was going to remove the amount of traction available for the front tyre, not to mention if I hit a pot hole I was likely to be exiting the road due to horrendous bump steer

Last edited by dirtbike; 10-20-2009 at 02:44 PM.. Reason: Website structure
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:28 PM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Default Part 3

Phase 3

I was now very despondent because of the set backs with the front suspension, so I focused my efforts on the rear end again…

I decided that I should get hold of some rear wheels to match the fronts but I decided that I should step things up a little on the back so I went back to Image wheels and asked for some 16x10 rear wheels. In case you haven’t already guessed this mean that the rear axle would need to be narrowed again, fortunately the moser shafts had more than enough spline to remove nearly 35mm from them and the casing was also narrowed by the same amount. Rather than pay out to have someone else do this I spoke with a friend who had narrowed his ford 9” axle, he still had the kit he made for doing the job, so with his permission I modified the kit so that it was now capable of supporting the diff of both a 8” and a 9” axle with either the larger or smaller outer bearings.

With the 35mm removed from the casing I marked up the flanges and took the casing to my friends workplace where we used his Esab 200amp mig welder to reattach the bearing housing to the axle casing.

The finished product was now a narrowed for the 2nd time rear end with room for some much bigger wheels.

I briefly returned to the front suspension again by fabricating a new crossmember but again I ran into problems with geometry so made some new lower track control arms and bought a new crossmember (again this was another lower rack mount).

The track control arms where fabricated out of some 10mm mile steel plate that used to be part of the stair case at my friends workplace (the builders had removed it so we relieved them of some steel).

We CNC machined the profile out

The arms then had the adjusters Tig weld into the plain profiles.

The crossmember still left me with control arm angle issues so I decided that I should take a look at chassis mounting the engine so that I could potentially use the stock crossmember helping with the geometry issues. So I set about making up a jig for the block that would let me hang the bare block from the inner wings while I took measurements.

I then made up some card board templates for engine mounts, once they had been finalised they were transferred to steel and I fabricated them and welded them to the chassis

I was now waiting on a T5 to Volvo adaptor plate from Dale at Avalanche performance. I collected this while I was in the US last December. The adaptor plate was attached to the gearbox and the engine so that I could begin fabricating the gearbox mounts.

With the Engine and gearbox now securely mounted I decided to replace the lowered rack crossmember with a heavy duty standard height version without the engine mounts attached (as the motor was now mounted to the chassis).

I decided to cut a big whole in the boot floor so that I could mount my Jaz Fuel Cell, I used some 25mm x 25mm box section and made a cradle, I also made sure that I mounted the cell with the correct orientation (sump with rear facing outlets)

I now had to remodel the trans tunnel because the new ride height since the 4 link would of prevented the driveshaft from reaching the rear axle as the tunnel wasn’t tall enough.
I cut out the stock rear tunnel and fabricated a new one.

Last edited by dirtbike; 10-20-2009 at 02:45 PM.. Reason: website structure
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:48 PM   #4
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Awesome project and super detailed posts. Very cool!


(I crushed a 240 with some stuff done to it. Honest.)
Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
Turbobricks isn't a car forum any more. Its a forum for lame kids.
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:48 PM   #5
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dude, that is ****ing sweet! can't wait to see more progress..

1989 Volvo 744T- 16v turbo, '94 FD-block, RSI pistons/rods, GT35R, Tial 38mm, RFL, MSnS-E, DSM spark, 100lb Delphis, 4.6 springs, Bondo header, Heebspeed intake, Q45 90mm TB, Bosch 044 FP, 12x24x3 ebayIC, w/c t5, Clutchnet 4puck/PP, 4.10 G80, IPD sways, 960 brakes.
1998 Volvo S70 T5m- Stock, 229k
1998 Jeep Cherokee XJ- Stock, 154k
1983 Ford F150- '89 5.0 H.O, C6/4x4, F+R LSD 4.10, 7" lift, 35s.
1990 Cobia San Marino 225 ECS- MCM 350 Mag, GM Bowtie Intake, HR-Titan 19p.
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Old 10-14-2009, 05:03 PM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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I've got some new brakes on the front and back as well as soon new seats but I'll save the details until I've taken some pics.
I decided that maybe if I had a project thread it may drum up some support and enthusiasm to finish the car as it's been a long old process.

Thanks for the kind words,
Kenny I may be asking you about a header if thats a possibility?
Matt sorry I didn't make it to SE this year to witness your cars awesomeness, all I saw last year was failedness lol

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Old 10-14-2009, 05:07 PM   #7
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Wow- good work thus far!

Originally Posted by Double02 View Post
Classic TBricks - pages of discussion debating whether or not to spend $20. On a tractor.
Originally Posted by DarkKratoz View Post
Incorrect, the Frigidaire is Mark's 86 745. It's in appliance white and it is Best Car.
The Fridge; '86 745 DD-with full '94 LH2.4 swap. Now with M90!
2000 AMG E55 wagon.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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Holy smokes that a lot of fab work! Looks great.

Originally Posted by MAVAWRECK View Post
i think you guys ignore me sometimes cause i dont have a turbo or a black primered hood. I make cool engine noises with my mouth when i drive though.
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The best in-car (mouse)trap is a snake. If you use a rattlesnake, be sure to remove it before you drive the car.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:41 PM   #9
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yeah you should definitely bring this over with you when you move.
"They bum rushed them in their own crib, they drank all their beer, they partied with their ladies and they left with the trophy"

Now with in-house Dyno tuning!

Megasquirt Tuning!
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:24 AM   #10
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1983 242dl
*6.0 lq4 swaped* Build thread
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:50 AM   #11
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Wow, this thing is bad ass!
1 Owner - 85k mile 1980 242
Recaro LX Bs - 16" ARE 398s - 25/25 Sway Bars - Bilstein HDs - SuperPro Poly/STS Derlin Bushings - MSD - R Sport Wheel

-Project Thread-

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Old 10-15-2009, 04:27 AM   #12
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There is a lot of nice work there. Those Mk1's are getting very sought after and valuable though, and the purists will no doubt hate that sort of thing!

Reading through it I couldn't believe how many similarities there are with my own car, from the bulkhead, pedal box and tunnel mods, 5-linking and tub mods, front suspension location and geometry changes (although I went outboard rather than inboard), and cutting the inner panels to make space for the turbo, etc.

I have an M47 just now but plan on fitting a T5, and unbelievably have even finished off the stick opening in the same way as you did! I even looked at using the same modular Image wheels for sprinting as Minilite no longer make the sizes I need on the rear for slicks.

I went with an I6 whiteblock rather than the redblock so space is even tighter, but your internal master cylinders help there too. The steering might still be in the way to some extent? It would be much easier on a LHD car, but solving the problems is what makes it fun.

I didn't go into such detail on my build because I didn't think the non-volvo bits would be of much interest on this site, but I really enjoyed reading yours.

This is a great project, and you are at a nice stage on it as it start to come together. I'll be watching it's progress from now on.

Keep it up and good luck with it.

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Old 10-15-2009, 07:37 AM   #13
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Don't worry Kenny it'll be coming with me, I hope Florida isn't big on visual inspections when importing foreign cars???

I hadn't seen your project at all Jim, cool car!
There are a lot of similarities in the aftermarket world between the sunbeam and the escort mostly because they're primarily being used for the same thing, rallying. I learned that most of the off the shelf parts just don't work the way I wanted and have had to end up making my own.
I really liked your bulkhead, it's much neater than mine, saying that it's amazing what seam sealer and a paint job conseals so there is hope yet for mine lol...

The sunbeams and the escorts were direct rivals to each other and unsurprisingly they have both rocketed in value over the last 5 years.

To all the Ford purists I could give a crap, I'd rather cut it up and make it my own than make it into a historic rally car and end up banana'ering around some local stage in the forest lol...

I've got to get a lot done before I move so I'm going to focus on making it mechanically sound, ie stopping and steering, the next priority will be any other fabrication work and finally the engine build.
Once the fabrication work is complete I want to get the shell dipped to and coated to avoid any potential rust issues later down the line.

I look forward to updating this regularly but we'll have to see how quickly it progresses lol...
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:07 AM   #14
Karl Buchka
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This is bad ass. Great work so far! What are the engine plans?
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:27 AM   #15
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Holy Crap a non sarcastic comment from Karl :P
(well atleast I think it wasn't sarcastic...)

Engine will be B230 based 16vT

I've had to mount the engine upright since deciding to go 16v, the engine bay is soo narrow that it's all becomes very tight very quickly when you start filling the engine bay.

I've mounted the engine slightly closer to the passenger side so that there is more room for header and turbo combinations, downside is the amount of room it leaves me for an intake manifold but I've got a plan for that but I need to test fit it first so that I can be sure it'll work.

Specs for the motor are pretty basic as it stands:
Late B230 Block
16v Head (choice of auto or marine cams)
JVAB rotating stuff
HY35W turbo

I'm still unsure what the outcome was with the JVAB piston failures, whether it was user initiated or inherrent design flaw, I'd be surprised CP would knowingly produce/design something like that but who knows...
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Old 10-17-2009, 05:14 PM   #16
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Out of curiosity, what made you think of going with Volvo power in your Mk1?

The obvious fitment would be a Sierra Cosworth turbo motor and T5 which are fitted in a great many MK1 and MK2 Escorts. These generally produce anywhere between 200 and 500 bhp, was it the low cost and relative strength of the Volvo unit that swung your mind?

In my case the Lotus engine gets unreliable and fragile above about 240bhp in N/A form, and parts are very expensive. Joss Ronchetti has just won the 2009 Classic Thunder Touring Car Championship in his 2.8 litre Sunbeam Lotus with 350 N/A bhp, but that has had mega-bucks spent on it (and still dropped a valve in qualifying for the last round which forced a bit of broken liner out of the sump).

A turbo B6304 by comparison is dirt cheap.
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Old 10-17-2009, 05:17 PM   #17
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Hell yea! I'm very much diggin this project. That car looks sick, props! Keep it up!

1997 855 R - gone
1991 944 T - gone
1992 944 T - gone
1998 S70 GT - gone
1986 244 GLE - gone
1975 242 DL - Sitting, waiting, wishing.
1988 764 - gone
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Old 10-17-2009, 06:16 PM   #18
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Keep at it Nick, I want a ride in this and a race against it in the 750 before it goes overseas.
& & @

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1 RIP, 1 750R and 1 Sold Many moons ago!!!!
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:38 PM   #19
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Jim, You're almost right when it comes to why I chose the volvo motor, aside from the much lower cost of a volvo turbo engine compared to the cossie it also makes the project a little different. As you said the cossie turbo in a RWD Escort has been done to death where as this is a little different. It's a shame ford actually beat me to the punch line when they brought out the Focus ST with it volvo T5 derived lump...

CFL940, it's gonna reside in the same state as you as of next year, quite possibly the same city...

Chesh, The likely hood of us getting to race is looking more and more unlikely, everything just takes so f*cking long to do.
I've not given up but I have to be realistic about how much I can achieve as well as emmigrate and hold down a job...
You can pit what ever rental you've got against it when you're next visiting the rellys...
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:39 PM   #20
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Since I decided that the seats where too heavy and better suited the 242 that I had at the time I removed them from the Escort fitted them to the 242, I felt the red of the Type R seats matched the 242 GT interior.

So now that the Escort was without seats I decided that I should look into something more fit for the purpose and get some fixed back race seats. As I had lost a considerable amount of weight from when I had the Cobra Suzuka seats I was now kicking myself for no longer having them.

So I set about getting hold of some decent seats but put off by the high price of new ones I looked at the myriad of no name junk out there until I stumbled on some FIA approved and date stamped fixed back seats by a company called BiMarco, a Polish seat manufacturer and the only polish manufacturer to gain FIA approval. The price was right and I liked the fact that they were a little bit different than the usual Cobra, Corbeau, Sparco etc…

I’ve also decided that a brake upgrade would be nice so I managed to get hold of a pair of refurbished Brembo 4 pot alloy calipers and some 315mm BMW discs redrilled for my ford 4 stud pattern.

315mm x 28mm plays 283mm x 22mm, at least if I don’t have the power to produce 11’s from the rear tyres I should be able to from the fronts lol…

Brake fade shouldn’t be an issue…ever!

You’d think the company that refurbed the callipers would of at least stuck the stickers on straight

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Old 10-18-2009, 08:08 AM   #21
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Bout time you showed this project off Nick, love the work that's going into this! Didn't realise you were off to America!
2003 - Volvo S60 D5 SE 180k
1989 - Volvo 360 GLT 55k
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Old 10-18-2009, 09:19 AM   #22
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Heard you were tying the knot Nick, congratulations

The car is fecking amazing, a lot of work. Hope you get it how you want it.

Dont sell it when its done

< Volvo withdrawals.
1985 Bedford cf. B230e aw71L
1990 240 turbo. b230ft m47 chips
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:24 PM   #23
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Whilst on the subject of braking I have now got a new set of callipers for the rear.
The new brakes are VW/AUDI rear handbrake units, the pad carrier is iron but the piston body is aluminium so they are a little lighter than the old iron sierra callipers I had planned on using

A few more pics of the front and rear brake setups

I think this picture really puts the front brake size into perspective with the size of the front wheel arch.

I started making up some new rear axle retaining plates that would also give me something to mount the callipers to.
I started off with 2 6mm thick plates of steel, I then measured up the flimsy retainers that moser gave me so that I could replicate the design on the thicker steel.
Once I had my measurements I drilled the 6 pilot holes and laid one plate on top of the other, welded the 4 corners so that I have a single 12mm plate.
By doing this I was able to save time by producing 2 identical plates at the, although this saved time it was still a slow process.
I had to drill several holes around the perimeter and then hacksaw between the holes before using a die grinder to clean things up.

I have also decided that I will abandon my idea of using an electric power steering column as there is not enough room under the dash to mount it.
Here is a picture anyway

Steve, Assuming immigration goes without a hitch I'll be moving next March
Thank you Mike, buy another Volvo dammit and quench that withdrawl...

My neck and shoulders are now aching from drilling, cutting and the hunched over die grinding :(

Last edited by dirtbike; 10-20-2009 at 02:47 PM.. Reason: website structure
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:00 PM   #24
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Is that a Corsa power steering column?

I was thinking of trying to fit one as my steering is nicely weighted to give good 'feel' without assistance, but I can't change to a quick rack without it getting too heavy. Its really hard work trying to turn the wheel fast enough to autotest!
The electric column (plus a pulse/speed sender unit) is the easiest to fit but requires some cutting about at the dash to fit.

The pulse frequency can be adjusted to alter the level of assistance to taste.

The other option is a remote electric motor powered hydraulic pump and normal power rack (I think Citroen Saxo's have these) but a bit more involved to fit.

Like me, I don't suppose you would have space for an engine driven pump even after cutting the shell again to suit?... begs the question, do you really need power steering?

For everything except autotesting I find it better without?
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:08 PM   #25
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Bingo we have a winner lol...
You're correct Jim its from a Corsa C.
I've given up trying to make it fit, it was more of a nice to have than a necessity.

If you know anyone I'm only looking £65 shipped...
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