For last week's blog post, we went back in time to explore Volvo in Motorsport. One of the most recognizable Volvos in Motorsport is the British Touring Cup Car 850 wagon. While that car is the pinnacle of P80 performance, that aggressive of a set-up isn't necessarily what everyone is after. This week, we'll be going over what you will need to do to make your P80 handle better on the street or the track.
Back in the 90's, Volvo debuted their take on a racecar. This car debuted in the British Touring Cup series. As many of you know, this car was the Volvo 850 estate. Volvo kept the body style of the car a secret until basically the last second because of the stigma around wagons. It was mainly a publicity stunt by Volvo's marketing department which gained huge publicity despite mediocre finishes.
But, it still showcased the performance capabilities of the P80 chassis, even in wagon-form. With over 25 years of product research and development for the P80 platform, people like you are now able to purchase the parts to make your car perform on both the street and the track. So, what do you need to do that?
Between all the Volvo P80 models, one of the most important upgrades to help make your front wheel drive or all wheel drive platform perform at a higher level is suspension.
For those who want a more athletic street car, stiffer shocks and springs may be all you need. Companies like Koni and Bilstein make damping options for these cars that are varying degrees stiffer than stock. Paired with a set of sport springs from either Eibach, H&R, or TME, your car will feel much more responsive. The springs will lower your car's center of gravity so cornering will be a breeze, especially with stiffer dampers and spring rates.
For higher performance and racing applications, coilovers are certainly your best option. With adjustable damping, preload, and height, these premium upgrades are sure to have your car feeling dialed. Companies like BC Racing and KW Suspensions have put together high-quality, bolt-in kits for the P80 chassis.
With such a long chassis paired with front wheel drive (or bias), the P80 platform is prone to understeer. Stiffening up the chassis can help immensely, allowing your car to turn in quicker and maintain speed through corners.
For the front end, a strut brace can help dialing in steering response. Fun Fact - Volvo made OEM strut braces for the P80 chassis! For the rear end, a sway bar can drastically improve understeer, especially in the wagon variants. For everything else in-between, Ultra Racing makes braces for every other mounting point on the car.
The BTCC 850 was actually a 2.0 liter, naturally aspirated model that made 290 horsepower. Getting that kind of power out of a naturally aspirated B5244S might prove to be difficult. For reference, Volvo spent over $20,000 on each cylinder head, let alone motor. But there are still things you can do to improve power output, especially with a turbo model.
The first modification for any turbo model would be to replace the stock, corrugated intake pipe. The corrugation reduces the pipe size, restricting airflow. To allow your turbo P80 to breathe better, we suggest the Snabb replacement which has options for both M4.X and ME7 models.
Next would be to improve charged-air flow. Reducing intercooler piping length with a do88 kit will improve throttle response and reduce intake air temperature. You can take this one step further with a larger intake manifold and throttle body. An intercooler upgrade would be necessary for any motor pushing over 350hp, but can't hurt as these high quality upgrades prevent heat soak from constant throttle abuse.
Reducing back-pressure in the exhaust is equally if not more important than reducing charged air. Upgrading the stock downpipe will free up easily 10-15 horsepower over stock without a tune. Our performance downpipe is sure to do the trick.
For any Volvo with over 300 horsepower, upgrading your connecting rods will help prevent catastrophic engine damage. K1 Technologies has created some top tier H-beam rods for high-horsepower applications, capable of withstanding over 400 horsepower.
The BTCC 850 had the best brakes available at the time it ran the track, a custom Brembo set-up. But what can be had for current P80s?
For the occasional spirited drive, a high quality set of pads and rotors will improve upon stock braking performance. Pads from Hawk and Porterfield are a more aggressive set-up that will bite much harder. One step further would be to opt for the larger 302mm brackets from the V70R. This allows you to run a larger pad and rotor, dispersing heat more efficiently.
Enclosed calipers offer the highest performance though, so opting for a StopTech Big Brake Kit is a guaranteed way to be able to hang with even the best of the best. With a 4-piston design, these calipers will maximize stopping power.
As for wheels, with both set-ups you'll need to make sure you have ample clearance for the caliper. We have a multitude of high-quality wheel options for your P80, including Cast Aluminum, Rotary Forged, and more.