Ian's 145 Expressions

After reading all of these wonderful build threads that appear on here I thought it must be my turn to reinvigorate my long 145 journey from zero to something closer to hero.

My journey started waaay back in about 1994 or 1995 (or it could have been 1996) when, after a protracted negotiation (plus some help from my dad and $600), I claimed ownership of a delapidated sky blue 1971 145 Express. At the time I was the owner of a 70,000 mile 1970 auto 144, my dad had a 1974 144 GL with OD (480,000 km) and my mum had a nice 1974 75,000 km 144 auto with SS exhaust and C cam (best auto cam for big valve head). We were a true Volvo family, now with an addition (and a 1968 122S and 1948 Ford Super Deluxe V8 to keep them company).

Anyway, back to the story. A bit of history on the van. Back in 1971 these vans were delivered to dealerships who signed in 1970 to form Volvo Australia. This particular specimen was delivered to Lloyds Volvo in Subiaco. It was used by Lloyds as their mobile service van until the mid-late 1980's when it was sold to Dave Eaves. I've heard a few stories from Volvo owners who remember the sight of the light blue van being driven around the streets during the 1970's and 1980's.

Dave ran a Volvo garage and wreckers in O'Connor (it was called Volvserv or something like that). The story gets a bit hazy during the years at O'Connor. Used to ferry bits around the place, the old girl sustained a few dents internally and became coated with a liberal dose of engine oil. Not satisfied with(out) the 'push you back in your seat' power of the B20A, M40 and 4.30:1 diff, a hair dryer was attached. With boost wound up to the rafters it was power for a good time, not a long time. One leg out of bed later and a replacement B20B was in order (with a little less turbo boost).

By now the old girl was suffering the old 140 brake hose degradation problem. Having poor brakes, a driver with little respect and a heavy right foot only ends in disaster. In this case the hired help tried to mate the Volv with the rear end of another car on the freeway while doing a terminal velocity test. So much for that lovelly alloy grille. Back in the yard and fitted with a donor set of panels and grille from a 1973 140 she was back on the road. Unfortunately the battering took its toll and she was placed into the corner of the yard and forgotten. Several years later and a wrecking yard move she wss in my posession. (Sorry, photos are in a box that has seen several intetstate moves).


  • Do go on 👍👍👍
  • carnut222Greg S @carnut222 Daylesford VIC
    Look forward to hearing more about your project!
  • We managed to get the van back to my parent's house where a condition assessment was made. Conclusion: What the heck have I got myself into?

    Rust: driver's footwell Flintstoned, passenger footwell Flintstoned, driver and passenger doors rusted in 'that' spot, a little behind one rear wheel and bubbles along the rear window sill.

    Body damage: front subframe and right rear corner.

    Based on the front subframe damage, due in no small part to the freeway collision, the repair would have to wait until uni studies were completed. I'd already checked the wreckers for a suitable donor front end, with no luck. It turns out that the floor pan is not a standard 1970/71 or later. What mold is this thing made from?

    And then one Saturday morning there was an advert for two, yes two 140s.....FREE. We were the first on the scene, staring down at an abomination. The previous owner had tried to put panels from a '74 on a '69 as well as trying to fit a 1.8 (coughs) Mitsubishi in front of a B-W35. My eyes hurt at the sight, but it was free and it was ours. When home we checked it all out; minimal rust, floor pan the same and straight. Tick, tick and tick. Let the games begin!

    The plan; swap the bent bits for the straight bits. It sounds easy right? Boy was I in for a job and a half, during a Perth summer.

    Luckily there are tools to help with this type of job. If you haven't used them before, they're called spot weld drill bits. Here's an example: https://www.totaltools.com.au/99174-Toledo-Spot-Weld-Remover-10mm-313301
  • carnut222Greg S @carnut222 Daylesford VIC
    I have fond (or not so fond?) memories of using spot weld drills in an air-powered drill back in uni days...worked for a guy who rebuilt wrecked cars, and in fact rebuilt a wrecked 1986 740 Turbo for my dad. We cut the back half off and welded on a new back half - cut through around rear of rear footwell and through C-pillars. Lots of spot weld drilling and air-chisel to split apart the panels. Good luck with your project and we look forward to seeing some pics. John Pearey in VIC (RIP) had one of those bright Volvo blue 145 Express vans that I went to look at probably back in 2001 time frame. It had a bit of rust in the roof which put me off, but I sure wish now I had bought it. I wonder where that one ended up? John Johnson from Voldat has one too. Great looking vehicle!
  • By this time I'd finished my uni degree and had started working as a graduate engineer. At least now I had some money coming in, even if afternoons were spent in the hottest and most cramped positions. The heat meant I was lucky to complete five welds per night. I can't remember how many spot welds had to be drilled for each car. The number was closer to 200 each I reckon. Like I mentioned previously, it took all summer to deal with both cars. I chose to leave a section of floor attached to replace the Flintstone holes in the van.

    That was the summer of 1998. For those in Victoria, September 1998 was the time that Longford Gas Plant blew up, causing many Victorians to experience at least a month of cold showers. I know it well because in April 1999 I found myself with an incomplete van on one side of the country and me walking down the bleak, windswept streets of Melbourne (for six weeks apparently).

    By then dad and I had cross-wired everything, lined it up and welded the two sections together. It was a rudimentary setup however, according to the drawings in the green book, we had one non-body measurement out by 2mm and everything else spot on.

    So there we were at a standstill again, waiting (sort of). One thing I've learnt with 140s is that there are two front ends and three lengths of trailing arms. For six months in Melbourne I was either living in a hotel or sharing a company apartment behind Melbourne Central for six weeks at a time, interspersed with a few days back in Perth. Those short stints were enough to replace all of the bushes in the early front end (yes, the one without those horrible cut-away bushes). At the same time I replaced all bushes in the shortest trailing arms and panhard rod. Why the shortest arms? The shortest arms minimise the likelihood of the tyres scrubbing on the rear arch.

    After six months I moved into a slightly different role, permanently in Victoria and without the regular trips back to Perth. Things ground to a halt, sans paint, sans interior and sans completion. It was time to get some help.

    Cue Tom Bujna. Tom was a panelbeater-spray painter who worked on jobs at his house, like a number of painters seem to do. Tom agreed to take on the job, knowing that I was not in a hurry and wanted a good job done. What colour though? I hated that sky blue colour on such a big scale, so colour 105 was a no-go. I wanted something period and 'cool'. White? No. Baby poo yellow? No. Colour 102? Yeah baby!

    So, now the van is out of the way what do we do? Time for the interior. Working with Armadale Canvas Works we came up with a design that would suit the heritage of the vehicle and make a statement. It had to be leather. Leather is one thing that Melbourne has that Perth does not. Feeling cashed up I visited Leffler Leather and walked out with a couple of hides of their finest Australian hide, the same stuff that graces BMW and the top end Statesmans. https://www.leffler.com.au.

    I'm going to skip a bit ahead now to 2001 or early 2002. Still in Victoria I received word that Tom was moving back to Hungary and was finally completing my van (yeah it was dragging on). I booked some holidays back to Perth to take delivery of my shiny new van. Over the next year I spent as much time as possible putting things back together to get her mobile to shift east. That finally happened in 2005 after I changed jobs and moved to Adelaide. Here she is before the move by Westfarmers Transport.
  • I can't post the other image with the server being a pain.
  • carnut222Greg S @carnut222 Daylesford VIC
    Wow that looks fantastic, and great colour choice!
  • carnut222Greg S @carnut222 Daylesford VIC
    And Virgos with Pirelli tyres...those were the days.
  • edited March 2019
    They're Bridgestones. I found Pirelli too soft and tended to follow the ruts too much. Pirelli on a 140 made it feel like a soggy sponge. Michelin was a better choice. I had a P1 V40 with stock 205/55 Pirelli. I hated the feel, the road waffle and the incorrect speedo. Changed those out with 195/60 Kumho and it changed everything. It became quieter, smoother and it handled like it was on rails. It also corrected the speedo error.
  • carnut222Greg S @carnut222 Daylesford VIC
    Roinik wrote: »
    They're Bridgestones. I found Pirelli too soft and tended to follow the ruts too much. Pirelli on a 140 made it feel like a soggy sponge. Michelin was a better choice. I had a P1 V40 with stock 205/55 Pirelli. I hated the feel, the road waffle and the incorrect speedo. Changed those out with 195/60 Kumho and it changed everything. It became quieter, smoother and it handled like it was on rails. It also corrected the speedo error.
    Ahh, OK I thought that tread pattern was a P6. My mom’s 84 240 Turbo (USA) cam with P6 tyres on Virgos. I’ve had a soft spot for Pirelli tyres since then, but think I made a mistake putting some Pirelli Dragon Sport tyres on our C30 recently. They have good grip but seem to have a lot more coarse road noise than the previous tyres. May try some Continentals one day?

    We’re waiting for the rest of the story....
  • carnut222 wrote: »
    We’re waiting for the rest of the story....
    And moar pictures. :)
  • The colour scheme.
  • Well it's been a while since any updates and the continuation of the story. Winter got in the way of things and progress basically stopped for a while. I don't have the luxury of a heated garage and the Mt Gambier winters are pretty cold.

    During the rebuild to get her driving I found that Tom, the painter, had not reformed the front guard properly where it had obviously been damaged at some point. This meant that the RHF indicator had a 1/2" gap behind the base. My heart sank into despondency at the sight. The paint is metallic with 6 layers fading out to 2 coats of clear. The paint looks great, but matching it off the gun was going to be a PITA. Luckily there is almost 2 litres of colour spare. To get her moving I pulled dad's old engine and an early 140 M40 gearbox out of the shed and 'slapped' it all together. After a cool 500,000 km, the old B20 fired, ran and did what it was meant to do.

    A couple of weeks later and full of bits and pieces, I retrieved the van from the transport company in Adelaide, shifted it into storage and closed the door. At the time I was spending most of my time working, renovating and generally not being at home. I did retrieve her from the storage place when they wanted to jack up the prices, but still she sat, waiting.

    Two more moves and a lot more time later I found OzVolvo and started to get enthusiastic again. All of your build threads have put mine to shame. I have carted this old girl around for too long and watched things start to degrade. I've had my B20/1 8-bolt ready to go for a while, sitting there with the K-cam and all of these plans, complete with modified cam and timing cover to take an Evo-1 TDC/CA sensor, completely rebuilt injectors and fuel rail plus a cable operated fuel injection manifold. Enthusiasm had finally kicked in. Thanks OzVolvo crew.

  • In reality my current rebuild burst of energy has started in 2019. I don't have many hours to spend on this car and I have to make the dollars go a fair way. To that I'm probably not alone.

    So the first thing to do was to remove the dad's wheezy old engine and M40 gearbox from the van. That was pretty straight forward as it's only a B20 and there's plenty of room around everything. Here she is with the old engine and gearbox out back in April.

    At the same time I had a look at the front suspension to determine what was causing the sproing-clunking sound when I travelled over the driveway entrance. This turned out to be the springs not seating correctly at the top of the spring tunnel. Not only that, the springs had cut the rubber seating ring and ripped off the bump stops. Luckily I had replacements of these to work with. While I had the opportunity I pulled the lower control arms off, scraped, sanded, pickled and painted them. And that's pretty much where I left if for a while as winter well and truly set in. Cold (aka brass monkey cold), wet and windy. I really need to get my shed upgraded so that the roof doesn't leak and the wind doesn't howl through during winter.

  • Good to see a bit of progress Ian! It’s turned back to winter here in Daylesford at the moment. What happened to several weeks where I could have the shed roller door open? Looking forward to following your updates as the weather improves! :)

  • Winter wasn't a complete and utter loss of progress. I used the snippets of time to work on the engine to change a few things for good running. Off came the modified cam cover, TDC/CA sensor, modified cam nut and B30 pulley. Out came the K-cam and off came the flaky paint. In went a near new C-cam, on went a clean B20 cam cover, B20 pulley, NOS water pump and a fresh coat of red (ok, not the good Volvo red). By the end of July the engine was ready to go in.

    One thing that should be noted about the Express van is that they are fitted with a good old 4.3:1 rear drive ratio, perfect for a M41. So, why not? Out came the shiny rebuilt M41. Here they are together, saying hello and goodbye to each other.

    Truth be told, I had this gearbox rebuilt back in 2001 in Melbourne. The box is great and the J-type has been fitted with near new internals. Even back then it was nigh on impossible to find NOS J-type internals for these OD units. I'd always intended for this van to have the M41 so I've had the box wrapped in plastic in the shed(s) for all that time. The box is out of a deep red British import 1969 142 that was beyond salvaging.

    As winter dragged on and slowly morphed into something that resembled spring (it felt like the date changed and remained damn cold to be honest) progress was pretty slow. A few teething issues were found, like I'd installed the incorrect NOS release bearing for the new pressure plate. After a bit of rummaging around in the parts buckets I managed to find the correct release bearing (the really tall one). Pulling the dust cap off I was pleasantly surprised to find the grease in pristine condition after all those years in storage. Winner! Reinstated in the bell housing the travel and position felt like it was a good match.

    Towards the end of the hockey season I took a couple of weeks holidays and set to work. The engine was installed (thanks to the help of #1 daughter), static timing completed, electrics checked from end-to-end. New wires run for tacho, OD solenoid, OD column switch, fuel pump and carby choke/fuel shutoff valve. I decided to go with a 32/36 DGAV Weber carburettor instead of the original 1-3/4" Stromberg purely and simply because a: I had one and b: it is a sh!t load easier to tune for the B20/1 to get power and economy.

    To go with the B20/1 I chose to use a radiator that I'd had upgraded years ago. Running this B20/1 with a D-cam in a 122 for about 10,000 km we ended up installing a B30 radiator for the additional cooling requirement. This radiator is a 4 core copper unit with the metal tanks. I thought that it would slip in nicely to where the upright radiator from the donor car used to sit. Nup! It turns out that the subframe nose section and radiator bridge is subtly different between the two radiator models. No worries, a bit of panel beating and it fits like a glove.

    Almost there and I tried to fit the bottom radiator hose. FAIL! It turns out that the hose in my possession is for the upright radiator, so, $18.50 later and I had a NOS radiator hose. In my eagerness the hose went on and late on a Friday evening she fired up first time. Here she is waiting for a bottom radiator hose.

  • Winter here as well. I reckon we've had 3 days of spring and 2 days of summer so far. Tomorrow looks good to go and retrieve a M46 conversion for my (almost here) 245 from an 83 on death row.

  • Today's progress has been a little slower. A 'simple' door alignment for the LHR. The new seals on the back doors are making them difficult to close. I initially thought that it was misalignment, however that has been rectified and they're still difficult to close. Ah well, onto the LHF alignment. During the week I'll send the tailshaft in to get the front tube and uni joint replaced, plus balancing.

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