Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Well, we finally did it. After months of scrounging for parts and lugging around two transmissions we finally got one into the reverse-less Volvo 164.
I am very pleased to report that after months of searching for parts, and 2.5 weeks in the shop, the 164 is kicking with the manual transmission. Anyone who has a 164 : this swap is completely worth it. The car is SUCH A BETTER CAR now. It does not sputter and die when cold starting, it roars and wants to peel out. The transmission makes all the power readily available and I love driving it. Jessica is pleased because it now goes in reverse.
If you didn't know, the car, when we bought it in June 2007, was equipped with a leaking, slipping automatic Borg Warner 35 transmission. This transmission is mediocre at best and only has 3 forward gears. I figured we could just put in a manual transmission at some point in the future.
We had initially wanted to do most of the work ourselves but we ended up taking it to a shop - a special Volvo shop - that would have all the right tools and knowledge. It ended up costing a lot more than we expected, as most of these old car projects tend to do.
These were the parts that I brought to the shop:
another M410 transmission
pedals: clutch and brake
rear transmission support bracket
These were the parts the shop had to come up with:
crossmember (as it turns out this is common to 140 series cars)
front urethane trans mount
bracket for clutch pedal (custom fabricated)
redone clutch kit by Otts in North Portland
It was very hard to find all the parts but luckily the shop - Vol Tech in Portland OR - that did the swap (I do not have an adequate garage nor adequate skill for such an undertaking) was very resourceful. They pulled the crossmember off of one of their 142 race cars. They also fabricated a custom clutch pedal mount that looks very clean and well done.
In retrospect I wish I had done two things differently:
I wish I had gotten our full parts car over to the shop for them to take all the parts from. I had a parts car but only scavenged some parts from it before it was sold for scrap.
I wish that I had just gone ahead and installed the Ford Mustang T5 transmission. The cost would have been very similar in the end, and the availability of Ford clutches and trans parts all over would really have been nice. I have retained a spare M410 to have in case I still want to do this, but hopefully this will be the last of Volvo modifications for some time. I want the car's monthly cost average to drop to something more economical before we consider any more upgrades (megasquirt and spark conversion, new baseball glove style interior, bomber-style shark teeth painted on front fenders).
It feels good to have a truly unique car. The money I've spent on this pales in comparison to many people's Civics, BMWs, Acuras, etc that remain fairly commonplace and not as Jalopnik as my tastes. I definitely consider the 164 to be a type of found art, in a Richard Prince sort of sense.
I would like to thank all the people at Vol Tech, Cameron L., Suresh and Lee from Vancouver, William from SE Portland whose 1971 Volvo we ripped up for parts, and the people of Brickboard.com for all their help!
A history of the design of the Volvo 164 LINK