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Meet Chevolvo: A SBC-Powered Volvo P1800 – 2021 Goodguys Summit Racing Nationals Mini-Feature

(Image/OnAllCylinders)

When you hear the name Volvo, we’re guessing a small, 2+2 sports car is not what comes to mind. But yes, for about a decade between the early 1960s and 70s, Volvo offered the P1800. A sporty, stylish coupe with a four cylinder engine that made a respectable 100 to 130ish horsepower, depending on the year.

Oh, and James Bond drove one before he joined MI6.

But Volvo didn’t send many P1800s to the States, making them a pretty rare breed—so we dang-near fell over when we saw Mahlon Downard’s aptly-named “Chevolvo.”

“It’s a cool looking little car,” Downard says with a smile. In describing the thought process behind the build, he tells us that he wanted an old-school funny car look, but more importantly, Downard explains “I wanted to be different. It’s so hard to be different.”

The Volvo P1800 was originally his son’s but, after storing it for a while, the elder Downard got on the phone and asked “What are ya going to do to this darn thing?” and the son simply responded with “Do whatever you want dad.”

And Chevolvo was born.

As the name “Chevolvo” implies, the original four-pot Volvo motor is long-gone, replaced by a small block Chevy that’s attached to a TH350 automatic transmission. The SBC build was mild, with a COMP Cam and Weiand intake—nothing too extreme as Downard wanted it to primarily be a comfortable driver.

Out back is a Ford nine-inch rear end and up front now lives a Mustang II-style front suspension package.

Despite its track-ready gasser vibe, Downard built Chevolvo first and foremost as a road car. The engine and transmission combo make the car very streetable and Downard says Chevolvo will happily cruise down the highway. But he also hints that Chevolvo will likely see some fun runs in the future.

Downard admits that stuffing a SBC into a tiny little Volvo wasn’t the easiest endeavor. “It was tough,” he says. “You can’t buy anything. We had to make everything, like headers and that stuff. We had to make it.” The most difficult job, he explains, was modifying the firewall and transmission tunnel to make everything fit. The back end is also modified with big wheel tubs to house Chevolvo’s massive rear tires.

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For a guy who wanted to build a vintage style gasser that was a bit “different” than the rest, we feel a lime-green SBC-powered Volvo P1800 fits the bill nicely.

Check out some more pics of Chevolvo below and let us know what you think.

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