Think Volvo touring cars and you’ll probably first conjure an image of the 850 estates from the British Touring Car Championship. But the ‘Flying Bricks’ were winning races a full decade earlier. The 240T European Touring Car Championship car in action at FoS this weekend claimed outright victory at Zolder in 1984, and the Swedish firm took overall ETCC championship honours in 1985. And that’s not to mention a DTM championship win in the same year.
Volvo’s main opposition in the ETCC came from the BMW 635i, Rover SD1 and TWR-prepared Jaguar XJSs. It was Walkinshaw’s regular contesting against the Volvos that led to the Swedish manufacturer leaving the championship after three years. But TWR obviously liked what he saw in the Volvo because TWR subsequently raced them in Australia.
Back to the 1984 season. Luna Sportpromotion’s first 240T was destroyed, so the car you see here took over for the rest of the season. It made one appearance in the UK, in the Silverstone round of the ETCC, and claimed a win at Zolder. At the end of 1984, the car was refreshed by the Volvo factory before being sold to a Portuguese team who raced it in their domestic touring car championship in 1985 and and 1986. Thereafter, the car was maintained but never raced.
Andrew Beverley bought the car early last year to compete in the then newly announced Classic Touring Cup. He races a Cobra as his main car, and the Classic Touring Cup runs throughout Europe at the same venues on the same weekends. ‘When I heard about the series, and saw this car was available, I did the deal to buy it in 48 hours,’ says Andrew. He was drawn to the Volvo because they were rarely seen in racing the UK. It’s therefore distinctive and stands out. In fact, its appearance at FoS is the first time it has been seen in the UK since 1984.
Right now, it’s running the same engine it did for its win at Zolder. Andrew has gathered the spares to build another engine to preserve the original, so at the moment it’s running a ‘safe’ 320bhp rather than the 350 to 400bhp it would have had in period. So what’s it like to drive? ‘It’s very primitive in many ways,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s quite heavy and has skinny tyres. But it’s very lively. The turbo lag is tremendous – you have a power band of about 1500rpm, and you only have about 40bhp before the turbo comes in.’
If the UK has seen the 240T in motorsport, perhaps those 850 estates wouldn’t have been such a surprising entry to the BTCC grid.