Meet Sean Fogli and his LS-Swapped 1983 Volvo 240

With the hood closed, windows rolled up, most people might walk right by this 1983 Volvo 240 –but once you start looking at it, you can tell it’s far from stock. The LSX badge will be your first clue. Under the hood is a 2008 Gen IV 6.0-liter stock long block that was pulled from a 3500 van, topped with an LSA supercharger. The engine is mated to a warmed-over 2002 Camaro T56 transmission with a narrowed 31-spline Ford Explorer 8.8 rear end with disc brakes. 

It’s owner and builder, Sean Fogli, loves that the car is different. One of the things he loves most about it is “the places it has taken us and the people we have met. The car community has some of the best people on the planet” he says.

According to Fogli, the inspiration for the build started with its transmission. “We were at the Portland swap meet in April of 2018,” Fogli said. At his traditional 4:30 a.m. breakfast before entering the swap meet, he and his friends shared what each was looking for. “I wasn’t really looking for anything but mentioned if we found a good condition T56, I would be interested,” Fogli said. About an hour later his friend spotted a transmission at the front of a gentlemen’s trailer. 

“I don’t even remember if it had a sign on it, and I know there was no price. We asked for details and found out it was from a 2002 Camaro that a tree fell on. It had 80,000 original miles, and they used the engine for a swap and had the transmission left over,” Sean shares.

Fogli said that after settling on a price, he and his friends spent the rest of the swap meet looking for something to put it in. Unfortunately, they did not find a worthy candidate, but a few short weeks later, Fogli found a shell to start the build. 

“I pulled the Volvo from a field; it had not run in years, many years. It had moss and stuff growing in it, on it, and it was a wreck, but fairly complete. I was mostly looking for a good shell to start with, something two-door, no sunroof, and roll-up windows. This checked the boxes, had zero rust or rot, and it had a basketcase drivetrain and interior.” 

Fogli said before the Volvo, he had built a 1968 Ford F100 with a Ford Coyote swap and ran it in autocross and track days, and took it to SEMA. It competed in the Optima Ultimate Street Car series in 2016. From this experience, he knew he wanted his next build to be something faster, lighter, and have a little more safety built in it than the truck had. 

“I love the 240 Volvos –they are a great platform, very similar to a Fox body, but without the huge entry price. Those cars used to be cheap and easy to find in good shape,” Fogli said. 

It took Fogli approximately a year from pulling the Volvo from the field to build a drivable and track-capable car. 

“I did just about everything on the car in my home garage. I had help on the upholstered parts in the interior, I farmed out the tig welding on the stainless exhaust to a friend, and had a shop shoot the paint on the engine bay.”

One of the challenges he faced with the build was its rear suspension. “I built all the rear suspension stuff; I had narrowed the rearend at home, cut most of the brackets by hand, and was elated with how things were coming together,” Fogli said. Once he got everything under the car, he found out that the ride height versus the shock travel was not going to work. 

Upon this discovery, Fogli began to work on frenching in the shock mounts into the unibody, something he says he is delighted he did, but noted that performing the work on the garage floor without a lift was unenjoyable. 

Once complete, Fogli posted a photo of all his work. “All my go-fast car buddies told me I have to redo the panhard bar and make it adjustable. So everything came back out, I cut off the old panhard bar, built new brackets, a new panhard and got it all back in the car.” The silver lining, though, was that Fogli now had a product he could live with that can be adjusted to dial in the rear suspension. 

Another challenge Fogli faced was finding stock components to retain the OEM look and feel. “Sourcing the rear deck lid, the hood, and the interior bits are the hardest things to find. Getting a nice, uncracked dash or a good condition flat hood is becoming harder and harder Nobody re-pops many of these parts –it’s not like it’s a C-10 or a Nova.” As a result, the car has many creative one-off custom parts on the vehicle.   

According to Fogli, the hardest decision he faced regarding the build was whether to flare the fenders or not. 

“I intended on flares and 315’s originally, but the longer I worked on the car, the more I loved the slab sides and stock look it had.” 

Upon the car’s completion in April, its first real outing was a big west coast loop. “I loaded the car and trailer up in Portland and headed to Davis, California for a Volvo Club Of America show over the weekend, then drove south for a photoshoot in Los Angeles and off to LS Fest.” 

On the first day of LS fest, Fogli says he destroyed the power steering on the road course. “It was hot, really hot. I took a little time and let myself calm down before I got to work in the dark. I ripped off the old pump, replaced it with a new pump, added the power steering cooler and new lines, bled the system, and proceeded to beat on the car for the rest of the weekend. I didn’t win anything, but we had a blast and didn’t let the little hiccups ruin my adventure.” 

Since then, Fogli has participated in two Optima events, a handful of SCCA track night events in both Portland and Seattle, and SCCA time trials in Portland. He attended Goodguys Puyallup, lots of autocross events in Oregon and Washington, as well as Cascade Sports Car Club HPDE and Instructor days, and attended SEMA. “It was an awesome summer — broken parts, upgrades, a few sets of tires, and lots and lots of fun,” he says.

Throughout his journey with the car, Fogli earned several awards, including the IPD Garage sale award winner, and SCCA Time Trials Portland ‘Spirit of the event.’ Additionally, K&N selected Fogli as its entry for the 2019 SEMA Show and Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Streetcar Invitation award. Fogli says it’s a beautiful recognition.

If he could do it all over again, one of the things Fogli said he would do differently is to incorporate “a big-inch naturally-aspirated engine, dry sump, and bigger coolers. I love the LSA set up on the car and will keep it. It’s a very budget oriented build with lots of home-built parts and pieces.”

Fogli says it needs more power, bigger tires, some suspension upgrades, and he’s already started on a second build phase. What he is calling “Rev 2.0” includes the addition of a cam, injectors, pulley, valve springs, ported blower snout, upgraded cooling system, oil coolers, some brake cooling ducts, revised front and rear coilovers, and some 315 tires all the way around. 

Fogli says he drives the car very often and drives it hard, albeit never in the rain. The vehicle has also been shown a few times since it’s been completed. Still, Fogli is not one for sitting around and hanging out and says he would much rather be out doing stuff with the car, like racing, or doing autocross. One of the things he learned from the build is to drive it. 

“I have built several cars, and I have a passion for the build. In the past, I would get a car done and not have a real use for it…the build was just for the build, and I wouldn’t have any emotional attachment.” 

About six or seven years ago, Fogli said he started to use his builds more and more, and then builds took on a different perspective. “Now, I cannot wait to get things built so that I can use them and figure out what to do better. I’ll still sell it, but I’ll have a ton of amazing memories made with the project during and after the build.”

Fogli said he used to have pretty show cars, but they just sat there most of the time and traveled to a few shows but never got used. “This thing has been beaten on since it was finished.” He added that he had broken a few parts along the way, but for the most part, it held up to several track days, autocross, the occasional drag races. “Get out there and use your toys, it’s way more fun,” Fogli stated. He added, “the build was awesome, and I had a wonderful time visioning it ahead of time and actually making it happen. When things started to come together with the interior and the systems powered up is when it got nerve-wracking and super exciting all at the same time. Since then, though, taking the car out and doing events has been the most fun.”

Specifications: 

  • Engine: 2008 Gen IV 6.0 pulled from a 3500 van, stock long block
  • Power Adder: LSA supercharger
  • Transmission: Warmed-over 2002 Camaro T56
  • Rearend: Narrowed 2000’s disc brake 31 spline Ford Explorer 8.8
  • Other Driveline Parts (clutch, driveshaft, etc.): ACT Clutch, TruTrac limited slip
  • Horsepower/Torque Numbers: Estimated 500
  • Chassis/Suspension: JRZ RSone coilovers, Kaplhenke Steering Arms, Sway Bar Links, rear upper control arms, Custom STS Machining Delrin lower control arm bushing, Custom rear lower links, and all customer rear suspension geometry and brackets. Ridetech single-adjustable rear coilovers frenched into the unibody.
  • Brakes: STS Machining Adapters with S60R calipers and 330mm rotors front, Wilwood 13-inch rear brakes
  • Tires/Wheels: CCW Classic Race Wheels, 18×10-inch square setup with matte black inner and outer barrels, and matte metallic brown centers. RE71R 275/35/18 square 
  • Exterior (paint, wrap, aero, custom bodywork, etc.): Mostly factory paint on the car, converted to an early flat hood with fresh paint on the hood. Rear quarters have been separated from the inner wheel tubs, and all-new inner sheet metal built, quarters are pulled 1.5-inches and heavily rolled to fit the 275’s. Front fenders are trimmed, rolled and pulled, as well.
  • Sponsors: STS Machining, Mac’s Tie Downs
  • Special thanks: Kristi my wife, Asher, Andrew, Scoot, Scott, and Taylor (the twins) and a bunch of others that helped along the way

Photography by Nicole Ellan James

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About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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