Machiel hung a 940 Turbo block in Volvo Amazon: ‘I can’t do it hard enough’

Lots of donor components

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

The Volvo 121, also known as Amazon, is usually as Swedish as a Viking. Calm and determined. Until you see Machiel in his dark blue 121 next to you at the traffic lights. There is a good chance that you will lose the sprint.

Machiel Spiering (1975) sets the bar high, very high. If a car doesn’t have at least 250 hp, he won’t even get in, so to speak. In the past, a few Porsches are featured and nowadays he gets his pleasure from motorcycling and from his Volvo 121. The Swede, built in 1969, does not get a second of rest as soon as the Dordrecht resident squeezes behind the wooden Momo steering wheel. It is true that Machiel gives the engine a long warm-up time, but once it is up to temperature the Volvo will have to deal with it. There is every reason for this: externally, apart from the 17-inch steel rims and flat fifty-series tires, the classic may look like a 55-year-old Volvo, but underneath everything is different.

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

Machiel bought the Volvo ‘as it is’. Normally a participant in the ‘Beating Heart’ section converts his car himself. The 121 was certainly not at the top of his list, but when the hood opened Machiel was sold. The 75 hp B18 S four-cylinder has been replaced by a B230 FT, from a 940 Turbo. The transplant has so far produced three times as much power. An excellent horsepower/weight ratio for Machiel.

Volvo Amazon with 940 Turbo engine

’98 cases occurred in the boiler containing lead-containing super’

So much for the good news. “He drove, but that was about all there was to it.” Nevertheless, Machiel does indeed work on his Volvo himself. He continuously perfects it. “I took over the project from an acquaintance who no longer had time for it due to new priorities. Although the Volvo drove, a long list of improvements and adjustments awaited me. First I dismantled the LPG system, because the engine was not running well. Moreover, I find it harder to find LPG filling stations in places I like to drive to. Let’s face it: I don’t have gas running through my veins, but leaded Super 98. When I was little I fell into the kettle with gasoline.”

Difficult operation

The operation is anything but simple, Machiel continues. “With the installation of the gas system, all petrol supply was removed. That gave me the opportunity to do it right the first time with a safe aluminum racing tank with all the necessary accessories and pipes.” This is just the beginning of the long process of perfection. “Because the engine was no longer running and the fuel supply had to be re-installed, I was able to immediately focus on mapping a universal racing ECU, specially designed for maximum power. Programming and making it work together with the 940 Turbo engine, the B230FT, was quite a challenge for the consulted specialist, but the result has been satisfactory so far. But yes, I can’t do it loud enough!”

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

That last word reveals that Machiel is not yet one hundred percent happy. “It is a fairly old, traditional construction, which is ventilated by only eight valves. Yet you can get a lot more power from that engine. Especially now that a whopper of a Chinese-made turbo has been added to the exhaust system. For my taste, it gives the Volvo a slightly too clumsy way of revving up. In the sense of all or nothing. The camshaft also has an influence. It is still standard.” On the chassis dynamometer, the B230 FT currently produces 221 hp at the wheels, which equates to 270 hp at the crankshaft, at just 3500 rpm. A camshaft with sharper and higher profiles should increase power to 300 hp. “The question is whether the M90 ​​five-speed gearbox from the 940 Turbo can handle the significantly increased torque in the long term. Fortunately, the flywheel and clutch are designed for the forces released, because they come from an 850 T5R.”

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

Amazon not yet fully developed

You can actually read that the Volvo is far from fully developed. Machiel keeps running into new headaches. Warming up, for example. “The first ride was more or less problem-free, but as I put more strain on the engine on longer rides, it started to get hotter. The cooling was only fully suited to its task on paper. In practice, the heat that the engine develops remained stuck at the top of the engine compartment. The dome-shaped hood, as if it were a tajin, is the culprit. The solution was an electric fan of ten by ten centimeters from a gaming computer, which effectively dissipates the heat.”

Components of Volvo 240 Turbo

A strong engine also requires the necessary adjustments. So part of the chassis had to make way for components from a donor 240 Turbo. Such as the rear axle with limited slip differential and the wishbones. “Remarkable to say the least, because a 240 Turbo is very valuable,” says Machiel. “Even the brakes come from there. You don’t even have to change much on the Amazon to get the brake calipers and hubs to fit. It gives me much more self-confidence during the outings we go on in groups. The GAZ shock absorbers and the stabilizer bars, which have PU rubbers, also contribute to the improved road holding. Especially in Italy with its bad roads, I notice a big difference compared to a standard 121. Since I travel thousands of kilometers to the Dolomites and back, I want good seats. The old standard ones are no longer sufficient. Fortunately, there are quite a few Alfa 156 donors available and even with red leather interiors. The front seats were taken from such a donor and with some welding and flying it fits in the Amazon. It is difficult to get into the back, because the backrests are obviously not foldable. That’s why I’m on the lookout for seats from an Alfa GT Coupé. Not that it is comfortable to sit in the back with the necessary roll cage, but still.”

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

In the near future, Machiel will increase his performance further

Machiel regards the trips to Italy as excess. Closer to home there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Amazon. “I can drift with it wonderfully, which makes it suitable as a rally car. It is not without reason that various teams took part in the Monte Carlo Rally and nowadays in the Historical variant.” Machiel does not have to spare his Volvo. Because although the 121 seems very nice at first glance, it is far from perfect. “I don’t think a car needs to be cleaned through life. The more beautiful it is, the more difficult it will be to dredge through the mud with it.” Machiel will spend the coming period further upgrading the B230 FT power source. “I already have the required camshaft and the agreements to adjust the mapping have been made. Now plan a day off, preferably before spring arrives.”

Volvo Amazon with 940 Turbo engine

The list of adjustments is this long:

Was 1,800 cc petrol (75 hp) 1969

Is 2,300 cc petrol turbo intercooler (270 hp) 1993

Where does what come from?

Engine: Volvo 940 Turbo

Turbo: online, unknown Chinese manufacturer

Wastegate and Blow-off valve: Tial

Gearbox: M90 five-speed gearbox from Volvo 940 Turbo

Flywheel: Volvo 850 T5R

Clutch: Volvo 850 T5R

Radiator: aluminum, custom made + SPAL fan

Electric fan oil cooler: from a gaming computer (10 x 10 cm)

Fuel pump: Bosch

Racing tank: universal

ECU: VEMS ‘stand alone’, for maximum mapping options

LPI: removed

Roll cage: Safety devices

Fire extinguisher: auto parts store

Chassis: Volvo 240 Turbo

Rear axle: Limited slip, locking

Brakes: Volvo 240 Turbo

Shock absorbers: GAZ

Stabilizer bars: with PU rubbers

Rims: 17 inch Citroen C5

Send: Momo

Seats: Alfa Romeo 156

Volvo Amazon with engine 940 Turbo

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