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  • An Autocross Ready Diesel-Powered 1964 Volvo Amazon

An Autocross Ready Diesel-Powered 1964 Volvo Amazon

Retro Rocket

Kevin Aguilar
May 16, 2019
Right now, you might be wondering why a classic European car is gracing the pages of this truck-focused magazine and who would even build a car that's as obscure as Marc Terrien's '64 Volvo Amazon. Well, first, it is diesel-powered, which makes it unique. Second, Marc's company, Heritage Driven, actually specializes in projects like this.
Heritage Driven is best known for preparing classic import vehicles such as Land Rover Defenders for off-road and overlanding purposes. However, like most shop owners, Marc enjoys having a fun side project to wrench on after hours. For this effort, Marc wanted to build a vehicle he figured was lost and forgotten. The Amazon definitely fits the bill, because original Volvo ads stated the car would not last longer than one would expect it to, and even suggested (in so many words) owners drive it like they hated it. The way we see it, this car certainly was not meant to stand the test of time.
Photo 2/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 1
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 1
  |   In the world of custom diesel applications, 200 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque doesn't sound like a lot. But that performance—by way of Cummins' R2.8L turbodiesel—is plenty for cool engine-swap applications like this '64 Volvo Amazon.
Marc's plan was to resuscitate the aging Volvo with Cummins' latest "crate-engine" package, highlighted by the company's R2.8L I-4 turbodiesel engine. The intent was to make the Volvo a great little cruiser that can be taken on long road trips and even compete on an autocross track.
With the car in the shop, the old B-18 I-4-gas engine and four-speed manual transmission were removed and the R2.8L was installed with custom engine mounts. As the comprehensive crate setup includes everything from ECM to wiring harness, throttle pedal, and other essentials for making the effort turnkey, making the engine run really was as simple as connecting the wiring harness to a 12-volt battery for ignition, as well as mounting and setting up the drive-by-wire throttle pedal.
Photo 3/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 6
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 6
  |   Yes, that's a Cummins R2.8L turbodiesel in this crazy little classic car. This crate engine is a great package for people interested in reviving a vehicle like Marc Therrien's '64 Volvo Amazon. In this car, the turbodiesel gets up to 46 mpg.
The car's stock airbox feeds the turbo, which sends air into a custom air-to-air intercooler before entering the engine. Spent gases are released by a 2.5-inch exhaust equipped with a SpinTech muffler. Keeping the engine cool are Flex-a-lite's clutch fan and a Champion Radiators aluminum radiator. Since this engine won't run without a steady supply of diesel fuel, the kit's internal pump is connected to an RCI cell.
Photo 4/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 13
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 13
  |   The drive-by-wire throttle pedal supplied with the R2.8L crate-engine package is installed and works flawlessly. Wilwood clutch and brake pedals help shift the Tremec six-speed manual transmission and bring the Amazon to safe stops.
After the engine swap was complete, transferring rotational force (at the flywheel) to the rear wheels was the next task. This job is handled by a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission that not only handles the R2.8L's 200 hp—thanks to a .57 Overdrive gear—it also helps the little diesel achieve maximum fuel efficiency. A Tom Woods 1310 driveshaft connects the Ford 9-inch rearend that is loaded with 3.25 gears for exploiting the Cummins' 390 lb-ft of torque, while keeping rpm down for cruising.
Helping this car handle better around curves is a suspension that's upgraded with 2-inch drop springs and IPD sway bars. Furthermore, traction is increased with a set of 17-inch Method wheels wrapped in 205/50R17 Falken Pro G4 tires.
Photo 5/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 2
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 2
  |   Seventeen-inch Method 501 Rally wheels let you know this car is ready for speed.
In the cabin, a new Ididit steering column supports a Sparco wheel, and the shaved dash holds a set of Dakota Digital VHX gauges to monitor engine vitals. For creature comforts, a Vintage Air air-conditioning unit and a modern sound system were added. Rounding out the interior mods, seating is handled by a set of Procar buckets. The Amazon's plaid side panels are a nod to Heritage Driven's specialty of working on British-built Land Rovers.
Photo 6/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 12
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 12
  |   Making the car's old gauges work with the new engine was not worth spending countless hours trying to accomplish. Instead, Marc uses Dakota Digital VHX units to handle the task of monitoring vitals.
Photo 7/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 10
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 10
  |   Keeping the driver and front passenger planted are Procar bucket seats featuring thick side bolsters.
Photo 8/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 9
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 9
  |   Inside, the doors are covered in plaid material to pay homage to Heritage Driven's specialty of building British Land Rovers.
With this car bound for the 2018 SEMA Show, the exterior needed to be beyond simply "presentable." If you're familiar with classic Volvos, you'll notice the car's original trim is deleted, the (pop-out) side rear windows are now fixed, it sports a custom front valance, and the rear bumper is shaved and tucked closer to the body. After smoothing the entire body, Marc painted the Amazon "Dr Pepper" red for an attractive and very unique appearance.
One of the coolest things about this build is that once the car was complete, Marc drove it from the shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Making a road trip like that to debut a freshly built car takes a lot guts and confidence. For Marc, it's a walk in the park, as he is a skilled customizer with plenty of experience in making a classic vehicle like this solid.
Photo 9/14   |   1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 3
1964 Volvo Amazon Retro Rocket 3
  |   While cleaning up the exterior, the rear bumper was shaved and tucked closer to the body for a more streamlined style. The RCI fuel cell is also visible as it peeks from underneath the car.
At the show, the car was parked in Cummins' booth and shocked all passersby, demonstrating what can be done with the R2.8L turbodiesel engines. Post SEMA, Marc drove the Volvo back home and tells us the car averaged 40 mpg and didn't have a single issue. If that isn't proof in the pudding, we don't know what is.
Fast Facts: This '64 Volvo Amazon is repowered with a Cummins R2.8L turbodiesel crate engine and Tremec six-speed and has AC, cruise control, and a tilting steering column, while getting an average 40 mpg. It was driven from Albuquerque to Las Vegas for SEMA 2018 at 75 mph on one tank of fuel.
Year/Make/Model: '64 Volvo Amazon
Owner: Marc Terrien
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Odometer: 5,050 miles
Engine: Cummins R2.8L I-4
Programming: Mild ECM tune, integrated cruise control
Fuel: Internal pump, RCI cell
Air: Custom air-to-air intercooler
Exhaust: 2.5-inch stainless tubing, SpinTech muffler
Transmission: Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission
Lubricants: Synthetic
Horsepower: 200 hp
Torque: 390 lb-ft
Tires: 205/50R17 Falken Pro G4
Wheels: 17-inch Method 501 Rally
Suspension: 2-inch drop coils, IPD sway bars, Mustang II rack and pinion
Axles: Custom Ford 9-inch rearend, 3.25 gears, limited-slip differential
Body: Miscellaneous trim deleted and shaved, "Dr Pepper" red paint, custom fascia, shaved bumpers, fixed (non-opening) side rear windows, rolled fenders
Interior: Procar front seats, plaid door panels, suede headliner, shaved dash, Dakota Digital VHX gauges, Vintage Air air-conditioning, Wilwood pedal pedals, Kenwood head unit, 10-inch subwoofer, MLV sound deadening
Fuel economy: 35 to 46 mpg
Fun Fact: This Volvo originally had a B16B 1.6L I-4 gas engine that only had 108 hp and 110 lb-ft of torque. With a mild custom ECM tune, the Cummins R2.8L replacement powerplant puts out 200 hp and 390 lb-ft, which significantly changes the capabilities of this classic compact car.

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