1970 Volvo 145
It was the Summer of 1970 when Sally Orcutt wandered into a Volvo dealership in New England. She took possession of her new Medium Blue Volvo 140 Wagon with a 4-speed manual transmission and a Blaupunkt AM radio, a trusted friend that would share in her life’s adventures for 19 years. Shortly after acquiring the Volvo, Sally was given a sabbatical to study multi-grade teaching techniques in London, England. She would need a car while in England, and she had a perfectly good, almost new Volvo, so off they went to England. The Volvo made its second trans-Atlantic voyage unscathed.

A year later, Sally makes another major life-changing decision and moves to Palo Alto, California and obtained her Master’s in Education at Stanford. Another boat ride for the Volvo. She lived in Palo Alto until around 1987 when news of the death of her sister brought her back to Massachusetts.

The Volvo apparently didn't like this last move and over a short period of time the Volvo developed a host of issues, some just annoying and one serious. Sally had serviced the Volvo at a little shop in Wellesley, Massachusetts. This time it was deemed unsuitable for repair and Sally gave up her trusty traveling companion to the shop owner. The two had traveled 139,000 miles together and another 12,000 odd miles on various other modes of transport. The shop owner apparently saw something in the blue Volvo and tucked it away in the back of the shop where it stayed untouched for the next 30 years.

The year 2019 and along comes Andrew, who has an affection for all things Porsche. When Andrew was young, he couldn't afford Porsches, but he could old Volvos. He put himself through college, fixing up his favorite Volvo, the 140 Series. In July of 2019, and Andrew is visiting his girlfriend in Wellesley, Massachusetts. One morning while walking his girlfriend's son to a summer program, he takes a shortcut down a narrow street. There is a dusty old repair shop on his right. As he walks by, Andrew sees a glimpse of the familiar roof of a Volvo145 wagon peeking out from under a pile of Styrofoam boxes. He pokes his head in and drags the youngster inside for a closer look. Sally Orcutt would not be happy with the condition of her beloved traveling companion. Andrew, however, looked through the debris and knew this was a Volvo worth saving.

So that detour brought the 145 a step closer to me. Andrew had it shipped to his Connecticut home and began getting it back in running order. That is when my friend, Mike, stumbled upon it while he was at Andrew's annual BBQ for local car crazies. Mike is a very knowledgeable vintage Volvo guy owning a very original 122S wagon of his own. Mike also knew that I had just sold my Mercedes 450SLC and swore off buying another car until...well until something exceptional came along.

So I took Michael's text picture bait and called him while he was still at Andrew's. About 5 weeks later, the Triple-A tow truck brought it home to me. Now, as Andrew puts it, "fun with old cars" begins.

The Restoration

I owe the acquisition of the 145 to my friend, Mike Marciano. I'm not new to owning and preserving classic cars, and much of that knowledge comes from knowing Mike. Mike helped me restore a '65 Morgan Plus 4 back in 2006. We did almost everything at my home in Connecticut. Our effort was recognized by the Greenwich Concours when the Morgan was awarded the best English Sports Car in its class. When Mike texted me the 145 pics, it didn't look awe-inspiring, but he kept insisting that it was basically solid and very original. That, plus a blessing from my wife, sealed the purchase.

I'll be honest here. The paint is all original and it is far from perfection but patina is in right now, right? I plan on stopping the surface rust from getting worse, and eventually, I'll repair the rust hole by the driver's side rear wheel. But not until I know how much I'll have to drop to get it mechanically reliable.

Work began at Auto Turismo Sport in New Milford, Connecticut. ATS is known internationally as one of the top Italian sports car repair and maintenance shops in the US. I managed the shop for a few years, and the shop's owner, Steve, son of the founder, knows more about how to make older cars run than anyone I know. Steve's assignment was to inspect the 145, tell me what needs to be done and get it running well enough for a Vehicle Identification Check so I could register it in Connecticut. Lucky Dan was the tech assigned to the project, and his first test drive was a disaster. The rear Zenith sprung a leak on the hot manifold, and a temporary oil pressure gauge line Andrew installed during the top end rebuild melted and sprayed oil all over the place. Dan managed to get it back to the shop before any severe damage occurred.

The inspection revealed that the brakes were awful, steering loose, and lots of electrical things weren't working. Sally had deferred a lot of maintenance which led to her parting with the 145. My orders to Steve was to get it running and stopping, and I'll take it from there. Thankfully, Andrew, the guy who discovered the 145, had cleaned out the fuel tank, fuel filters and replaced all of the brake lines and brake master before I brought it home.

A few weeks later and on my maiden voyage, the Volvo drove okay. The steering was better but not great, and it developed a desire to take a break every mile or so. I managed to get it home so Mike and I can begin work. We mapped out a plan that held up for a while, and then it was every man for himself. Mike's Porsche 356 that he has owned for 40-years developed an engine issue, so he had to go where his heart is, and that is with the 356. Let me say this right now. I joined the TurboBricks Forum and the Facebook 140 Series Group. I could not have figured out a lot of the 145s issues without help and support from many Forum/Group members.

Before Mike had to divide his time between his 356, we did manage to solve most of the electrical issues and install a lighting package specified by lighting expert Daniel Stern. So we have a mix of LEDs for turn signals, brake lights and running lights, H4s and Kaioto 7" fog lights upfront. It took three hazard flashers to find one that worked in the 145 and that drove me crazy. A Hella driving light under the rear bumper would function as a work light or super reversing light if needed. I damaged the turn signal switch working in a tight space and sourced a few used ones, finally finding one that worked. We installed a new set of Hella horns modifying the factory bracket to fit.

I wanted a "rally car look" like we are leaving for the Peking to Paris Rally in a few days. I ordered a set of Panasports and Yokahama Avid Ascend GTs. Andrew had installed a set of KYB shocks while in his brief care. I set out to find an original removable roof rack by emailing everyone who supports the classic Volvo community. It took a while, but Joe Lazenby contacted me, and although he supports mainly 544 and 122 owners, he had a 145 rack in storage.

The interior is all original. I brought the front seats into my basement to clean and repair the webbing. I sourced the original Pirelli material to replace the plywood boards we found holding up the cushion. That is a 2-man job to get the webbing tight enough. I removed the gauge cluster and sent that out to Palo Alto Speedometer for cleaning and repair. The odometer was working correctly, but making a clicking noise plus the dash lights were out. I could jump the rheostat myself, but hey, they could do it while restoring the cluster.

I took the door cards off, cleaned them, lubricated all of the window winding stuff and reinstalled them using new plastic shielding. I found one of the welds holding up the driver's side window had broken, and that required a little McGyvering since I don't weld. I substituted some small screws, a generous dollop of JB Weld and a prayer. The vent windows were missing latches and I set out to find replacements. I just got my Hagerty Driver's Club package and went to store the documents in the glove box. I found the two vent window latches sitting in the glove box in a plastic bag. JB Weld to the rescue again, and the latches are back where they belong.

For a successful rally look, you need lots of clocks and timers. I sourced a Mitchell Aircraft clock on eBay and installed it where the ashtray sits. I own a few Heuer stopwatches from a previous rally car build, and they would occupy space in front of the navigator. Sally splurged on a Blaupunkt AM radio that didn't work anymore, so I found a Blaupunkt repair shop to bring it to life again.

While all of this was going on, I addressed the stalling issue by rebuilding both Zeniths and sending the original Bosch distributor out to Ignition Engineering in Anaheim, California, for a rebuild. They would install the Pertronix kit and remap the advance to improve drivability and performance. A new Pertronix coil added to round out the package.

I brought the 145 back to Steve's shop to repair the front suspension. It required a new idler arm and tie rods plus a 4-wheel alignment. Steve set the timing advance specified by Ignition Engineering and adjusted the Zeniths. I sourced a new Nardi leather steering wheel. It took a few tries to get the correct hub. I managed to find one in the UK with a lead from a Forum member.

At the same time, as all of this work was going on, I decided to restore a rare Cannondale road bike I acquired 25-years ago. I would need a period-correct bike rack that would work with the Volvo rack to complete the project. Again, eBay to the rescue this time. I purchased a vintage Thule bike rack for $25.

I love those travel decals people used to put on the windows of their cars back in the day. Mike's 122S wagon has a bunch of them since the 60s. Sally's Volvo has been to a lot of places, so I found a collector of original decals and not the cling vinyl reproductions. I proudly installed a collection on the rear window.

I would like to acknowledge all of the vendors that helped me during the project:

Don Theibault - P1800.com
Daniel Stern – Danielsternlighting.com
Mike Dudek – iRoll Motors
VP-Auto Parts – VP-Autoparts.com
IPD – IPDusa.com
Hi Performance Auto Service
Bellla Volante LTD- bellavolante.co.uk
Susquehanna Spares – jmlazenby46@gmail.com
Turbobricks Forum
Ignition Engineering -Ignitionengineering.com
Custom Spares – customsparesltd.com
Auto Turismo Sport - autoturismosport.socialcomments.com/
Ingo Prangenberg – vintageblau.com
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