When you think autocross or even track builds, the Volvo brand doesn’t really spring to the top of your list as a must have on the build list. No, when you think of Volvo, you think of safety, practicality and simple Swedish elegance to make the school run or daily commute a tad bit more interesting. Imagine my surprise when I saw this young kid tearing through the autocross course in his then Volvo 850 and now his Volvo S60R. It is with great pleasure that we present the Alden Rush’s S60R for the December 2015 Euro Garage Files.

What type of car do you have?

A 2005 Volvo S60R

Alden pushing his S60R to the limit at a San Diego Region Autocross Event

Alden pushing his S60R to the limit at a San Diego Region Autocross Event

A lot of people give their cars nicknames/actual names. Do you have one for your S60R?

Nothing special, other than ‘LOLvo’ when it’s misbehaving.

Is this car your daily driver? If not what is your everyday car?

Most of the time. My folks help me out with one of their cars when the Volvo grenades itself at autocross, so it’s always nice to have their help.

Mod List! Let’s have it!

  • HG Motorsports custom catback for Volvo S60R
  • 3” downpipe
  • Piston style wastegate actuator
  • Upgraded intercooler and piping
  • Larger intake
  • KW Variant 3 Coilovers
  • Camber Plates
  • Thicker sway bars and endlinks
  • Delrin Bushings
  • ESP class legal front splitter
  • Engine tune to match the mods
UNDER CAR

Never a dull moment with the S60R, Alden can be seen here making some repairs with his father.

What was the biggest “surprise” obstacle you faced when you worked on the car (as in what was maybe supposed to have been an easy task but ended up being a pretty huge undertaking)?

The front sub-frame bushings. The only way to take them out is with a hole saw, except these bad boys [bushings] don’t just cut out, they turn into molten rubber while you’re cutting them. So I ended up with toxic rubber fumes and molten rubber spraying everywhere. The worst part was, the rubber never solidifies again, so you’re left with puddles of sticky toxic waste.

Have you always wanted to build a S60R? If not what other cars have you built/modified?

Not entirely. My first car was a 1996 Volvo 850, and I wanted to stay in the family of cars I was familiar with. The S60R also doesn’t take quite as big of a hit on the wallet as STi’s or Evo’s would.

The SCCA seems to actually hate your car booting it from a class mid-season (something they normally don’t do). What are your thoughts on this decision as this directly impacted you from trying to win a regional championship jacket?

I’m not sure why the SCCA has a vendetta against the Volvo. They left the Polestar version of my car (500+ hp) in ESP, but moved the “R” version. They also left the Audi S4 in ESP. I have continued running ESP locally (shh!) and am one event away from the championship jacket in ESP.

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Switching to a more aggressive linear instead of a progressive spring allows Alden’s S60R corners as well as a 3549lb car with a 43 foot turning radius can.

Let’s talk suspension. Given the geometry what do you think is one thing the car could do better (i.e. sweepers, hairpins, transients)?

Hairpins. The car needs more camber and stiffer springs. The S60R needs a lot of front camber to keep the tires from rolling over in the hairpins due to the 3,549lb curb weight. Stiffer springs will help prevent body roll and provide better corner exit. The KW’s came with progressive springs, so replacing those with linear springs was quickly a priority.

What would you say the car’s primary strength is?

Power out of turns. The AWD system along with 300+ WHP really allows me to get on the gas early and keep the pedal down in places many cars couldn’t.

Having ridden in your car at a practice event, I have to say the car feels exceptionally well planted in the transients (slaloms), but it’s a LOT of car (wide and heavy). Some people say that the weight allows for sure-footed handling through a variety of conditions. Do you agree?

Powering through towards the finish, Alden can hit the gas early through high speed transients.

“The AWD system is front biased, so hopes of low speed power-oversteer are out of the question. The car is one of the most planted that I’ve driven through high speed transitions however.”

I think that observation is pretty spot-on. The car really struggles through tight turnarounds. With a turn radius of 43 feet (no, that is not a typo…it truly is 43 feet!), it’s hard to maneuver the car in close quarters. The AWD system is front biased, so hopes of low speed power-oversteer are out of the question. The car is one of the most planted that I’ve driven through high speed transitions however. Overall, I would say that the weight is noticed the most in tight transitions.

How reliable is your Volvo given the abuse that you put it through?

It has only been taken out of autocross on a flatbed twice this year, once for a power steering fitting that came undone, and the other for a blown radiator end tank. Overall, aside from engine troubles, I would say that the reliability rivals most other cars at autocross.

Did any car serve as inspiration to your build?

None in particular. Most Volvo forum members tell me I’m going to break something and to not modify my car. Most members either go for insane HP builds, or want EVERYONE to keep their R’s completely stock. Nobody is overly interested in taking their S60R to the track or autocrossing their car. It seems most are interested in HP numbers and straight line performance.

Are there any sponsors you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your car to the way that it is?

My mom and dad. They let me use their garage and always help me out. My mom will come to events and get upset if I hit too many cones or spin out. My dad actually just started autocrossing, and attended his first event a few months ago.

As most raced cars undergo continuous changes, what are the next plans for the car?

Unfortunately, the Volvo will be retired to a fun car for practice days. There is no way that it will be competitive in ASP. I will still be modifying it and hopefully hitting some track days though! Next year, for competition, I will be driving an E36 M3 that I’ve been building with my dad for STU.