30 years since the Volvo 240 Turbo reigned over the race tracks of Europe
1985 was a golden year for Volvo in motor sport. “The flying brick” - the Volvo 240 Turbo - won the European Touring Car Championship (ETC) and the German equivalent, the Deutsche Touringwagen Meisterschaft (DTM).
When Volvo launched its 240 family car in 1981 with a turbo engine, it opened up a whole new market for the company. It demonstrated that Volvo was capable not only of building safe, durable cars, but that they could also be fast and fun to drive. With turbocharging, the robust B21ET 2.1 litre engine generated 155 hp, which meant the 240 Turbo could do 0-100 km/h in 9 seconds and had a top speed of 195 km/h. The 240 Turbo Estate was the world’s fastest estate car.
In 1982, new international Group A regulations were introduced. Cars to be used in competition were to be taken directly from the assembly line and the number of modifications was to be limited. In order to compete in line with the Group A regulations, at least 5000 cars of the model type in question had to be built each year. They had to have at least four seats and the minimum weight was related to the engine capacity. The regulations suited the Volvo 240 Turbo perfectly.
The regulations also required at least 500 so-called evolution cars to be built - which was why the 240 Turbo Evolution was created. In July 1983 the 500 cars were lined up for an inspection to ensure they were uniform - split across two fields in the USA, one on the west coast and one on the east coast. The cars had bigger turbos, modified engine control systems and Water Turbo Traction – which involved water injection into the intake, an invention developed and patented by Volvo.
1984 was the year in which the 240 Turbo began to compete for real in Group A racing. Volvo was responsible for the construction and ensuring that the required components were uniform. Competition was handled by independent teams. The first year’s dividend was two wins. Swedes Ulf Granberg and Robert L. Kvist won in the ETC event at Zolder in Belgium, while compatriot Per Stureson won at the German Norisring track in the first season of DTM.
Volvo’s focus expanded in 1985. Now two teams were contracted to operate as a factory team. These were intended not only to beat competitors such as Rover and BMW, but also to compete against each other.
The Swiss Eggenberger Motorsport team participated in ETC under the name of Volvo Dealer Team Europe. Their drivers were Swede Thomas Lindström, Sigi Müller Jr. from West Germany, Italian Gianfranco Brancatelli and Belgian Pierre Dieudonné.
The other team in ETC was Sweden’s Magnum Racing. Ulf Granberg, Anders Olofsson and Ingvar Carlsson were their drivers.
In addition to this, IPS Motorsport competed in DTM. Per Stureson had been provided with a new, competitive car for the nascent season that offered more power and better handling. Initially, competitors and audiences found it hard to take the blocky Volvos seriously. But “the flying bricks” would soon prove their competitive edge - despite lining up against cars with significantly bigger engines like the Rover 3500 V8 and the BMW 635.
The racing version of the Volvo 240 Turbo had aluminium cylinder heads and forged pistons, connecting rods and crankshafts. The injection used a custom-built Bosch K-jetronic system and the Garrett turbo charged up to 1.5 bar. The result was that the 2.1 litre engine was generating around 300 hp and gave the car a top speed of 260 km/h.
All detachable body parts such as the doors and bonnet were made from thinner metal than the production cars. The rear axle was six kilos lighter, the brakes had four piston callipers and ventilated discs. A rapid refuelling system made it possible to fill the car with 120 litres of high octane petrol in just 20 seconds.
On 13 October 1985, following the race at the Estoril track in Portugal, it was all over. Volvo had won six out of 14 races and Lindström/Brancatelli had won the entire ETC series at a walk! What was more, Per Stureson won the German DTM championship after one victory and five podium finishes.
As if ETC and DTM were not enough, Volvo also won the touring car championships in Finland, Portugal and New Zealand in 1985. In addition to this, a right hand drive 240 Turbo won the Scottish rally championship in the same year.
The interest in Volvo’s Group A story in the 1980s has grown ahead of the 30th anniversary of the title victories in 1985. This includes celebrations that took place at the world’s biggest Volvo gathering - VROM - in Gothenburg in August.
Volvo Cars uses the world’s most advanced chassis simulator to develop the next generation of its cars
Volvo Cars has become the first premium car maker to purchase the world’s most advanced Vi-Grade chassis simulator – the same equipment used by Ferrari and Porsche – to develop next generation Volvos.
The simulator offers exciting virtual environments including Germany’s renowned Nürburgring as well as test tracks at Volvo Cars’ own secret testing facility in Sweden. It allows Volvo Cars to conduct extremely early stage development work on high speed stability, balance and individual drive mode settings, leading to the development of cars that are more responsive, more rewarding and even more enjoyable to drive.
“We are making substantial investments in people, technology and facilities in order to redefine the Volvo driving experience. Our aim is to deliver full control, ease and dexterity at the wheel. We will improve drivability across the entire Volvo Cars range,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo Cars.
The Swedish car maker uses the simulator’s virtual environments to support early development work on high speed stability, balance and individual drive mode settings. The use of simulation means that settings can be rapidly tested combining the experiential judgment of a real driver and computer-aided objective data analysis.
The move heralds a new beginning for Volvo Cars in terms of driving experience, claims Dr Mertens. “We have made some critical investments both in terms of our R&D facilities and in our product components in recent times that are now beginning to pay dividends. Our completely new scalable product architecture (SPA), our modular powertrain program and the latest chassis components are the starting point.”
Freedom to innovate
The new simulator means more freedom to innovate in the concept development phase and shorter development time, according to Dr Mertens, enabling a more emotionally resonant driving experience.
“The beauty of the new simulator is that it provides us with the opportunity to physically experience the calculation models and evaluate them using human test drivers, rather than staring at graphs and numbers in a meeting room,” says Stefan Karlsson, Manager Vehicle Dynamics at Volvo Car Group. “This is further testament to our commitment to human centric development and a cornerstone of developing a driving experience that is truly Designed Around You.”
US urged to establish nationwide Federal guidelines for autonomous driving
The US risks losing its leading global position in the development of self-driving cars if it allows a patchwork of varying state laws and regulations to develop, according to Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.
In a speech to be delivered Thursday at a high level seminar on self-driving cars organized by Volvo Cars and the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC, Mr Samuelsson will say the US is currently the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving (AD), but add this position could be eroded if a national framework for regulation and testing is not developed.
“The US risks losing its leading position due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” Mr Samuelsson will say. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the US took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”
Mr Samuelsson will say the absence of national Federal oversight in the US runs the risk of slowing down the development and introduction of autonomous driving technologies by making it extremely difficult for car makers to test, develop and sell AD cars.
“The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states,” he will say. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”
Mr Samuelsson will address a select audience at a seminar entitled “A Future with Self Driving Cars – Is it Safe?” at the House of Sweden in Washington DC, during which he will emphasize that the introduction of self-driving cars on the world’s roads will happen more quickly than many lawmakers anticipated.
He will urge regulators to work closely with car makers to solve controversial outstanding issues such as questions over legal liability in the event that a self-driving car is involved in a crash or hacked by a criminal third party.
Mr Samuelsson will clearly state Volvo’s position on both of these contentious issues.
He will say Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode, making it one of the first car makers in the world to make such a promise.
He will add that Volvo regards the hacking of a car as a criminal offense.
“We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car. We do not blame Apple, or Microsoft for computer viruses or hackers,” he will say.