November 2, 2005 It seemed an entirely appropriate exhibit for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Association's annual trade show set amidst the glittering lights and over-the-top excess of Las Vegas. Until we noticed the badge – it’s a Volvo. This hand-built hotrod is based entirely on Volvo components and a twin turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine from a car manufacturer more widely known for safety and functionality.
"The car came to our attention from its owner, Leif Tufvesson," said Anne Belec, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, LLC (VCNA). "And when we saw the pictures, and the level of detail and quality that Leif put into this vehicle, we knew it had a place on the stand at SEMA." Sitting next to VCNA's other SEMA entry, the XC70 AT, the two cars are a study in contrast. But Leif is a former Volvo employee, having spent time at the prototype department in Gothenburg, Sweden, and knows that quality is a hallmark of the brand.
It's the quality and care for the details that makes Leif's T6 roadster stand out from the crowd of lowered small cars with mega-wattage stereos at the 2005 SEMA show. Built entirely by hand in his garage, with his own tools, painstaking effort went into every part. You won't find a mail-ordered headlight or a grille from a Prowler on the T6 Roadster. What you will find are OEM Volvo parts including a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter inline 6-cylinder engine borrowed from an S80. "This engine has a few other tweaks," says Leif, "that probably bumps the horsepower from 268 to around 300."
Where you find the engine, however, isn't under the hood. It's in back, located just behind the supportive leather bucket seats that were also lifted from a Volvo S80. The gearbox is a 5-speed Geartronic transmission that sends the power to the rear wheels. To help keep the engine cool, the rear decklid automatically lifts when a preset temperature is reached inside the engine compartment. Up front is a small compartment containing the mechanicals for the functioning ABS brakes and the top-notch audio equipment.
The custom fabricated tubular steel frame was hand formed and utilizes rear subframes from the donor S80. Leif fabricated stainless steel A-arms for the fully independent front and rear suspension systems. Volvo C70 spindles, custom carbon-fiber leaf springs and a shortened S80 steering rack can be found up front. Around back are S80 front spindles and lower trailing arms with remote-reservoir Ohlins shock absorbers. The rear coil-over shocks, incidentally, are centrally mounted in the engine compartment. Braking up front is handled via 6-piston calipers and 330-mm discs while the rear discs are carried over from the Volvo S80. The front wheels are 8.5 inches wide and 20 inches in diameter, the rears are a full 10-inches wide and 22 inches in diameter.
Inside, the T6 Roadster looks as if it rolled off the Volvo factory line in Torslanda, Sweden. Aside from the seats, the instruments, headrests, shifter handle and pedal assembly can all be found in the Volvo S80. A steering wheel from a Volvo S60 adds a sporty look, while the instrument panel has been hand fabricated to locate the gauges centrally in the passenger compartment.
Leif began building his masterpiece way back in 1998. He placed the engine and transmission on a chassis jig in his shop and built the tubular frame around the mechanicals. The body came next. Consisting mostly of 1.5-mm aluminum, the entire car weighs just 2,400 pounds. His idea with this project was to design and build a car utilizing different Volvo forms. The rear hood is shaped like the Volvo P 1800, the rear lights like the old Volvo PV 444, the grill like the new Volvo XC70, and shape of the sides like old Volvo Amazon and the new C70, S60, S80.
"It's really exciting to have my car on display at SEMA," says Leif. "This is such a great show, and it's an honor to have the recognition from VCNA. If anyone is interested in a T6 Roadster for their own garage, look for me on the stand at SEMA!"