Last fall we acquired the perfect Shirt Transport Vehicle (STV): one as equally at home on the track as it is rollin' through the donut shop drive thru. Something comfortable and useable everyday. Something that gets good gas mileage and is a pleasure to go on long highway cruises in. Err..., nah, not so much. None of this really applies to our truck, except the donut part. It's really awesome for eating donuts in the front seats.

As might be expected of anything straight from 1975, our C303 did not come to us in pristine condition and tetanus shots were required. We’re totally cool with that. That gives us a chance to flex our wrenches and do a little grease work. So we’ve slowly been changing all our fluids and discovering random things here and there that need’a fixin’. After all, it is almost 40 years old and mostly still original. We’ve done some of the easy basics like plugs, distributor and wires. We’ve changed trans fluid and by the looks of it, not a moment too soon (yikes, see pic below!), selector box fluid, engine oil and diff fluids.  We still can’t quiet crack the portals open for a fluid change for fear of cracking either the portal housing itself or the very rusty drain and fill bolts so we’ll have to get back to that another time.

Pro tip: if you need gear oil for something this old, try suppliers of industrial farm equipment. They no longer carry straight GL-1 at your local AdvancedPepZone.


The STV Gets New Stuff

Our good friends over at Michelin/BFG took a look at our ride and decided to help us Crush Everything. If you haven’t seen some of our off-roading hoonage yet, check out Truck Yeah! or make sure to watch Gary Gastelu of Fox News take it for a ride! We started the day at Monticello Motor Club's new off-road course on some pretty old original spec rubber. And though our truck was beastly enough to get through all the challenges on the OEM tires, at mid-day we cold pitted to swap on the BFGs and whoa-nellied our way through the woods. 


Yeah, that's a Praga hogging "our" bay at the garage. Once it pointed us by we got 5 of BFG's sweet 35" KM2 Mud-Terrain tires mounted.

With its new kicks the truck barely flinched at obstacles we skated and squirmed over before. And they're far more livable when cruising at Vmax on the Interstate to get to mud wallows (which would be all of 50 mph). Best of all? No airport-style hearing protection required!

After a long day of salamander hunting in the woods we left with some minor battle scars such as a few new dents on the front skid plates from overzealous throttle application while fording unknown waters. (And why exactly would someone hide a rock that big in a puddle that deep?!) Custom pin-stripes were painted with the delicacy of an axe from passing branches. No biggie, that's why we're rocking 4 layers of camo paint! As one scrapes off it reveals the next below it, self-optimizing the camo pattern. However, you may have notice our elaborate cooling system hanging off the front grill in the Truck Yeah! pics. Why yes, that is a bag of ice! The cooling system was designed for crawling through the woods in the dead of a Scandinavian winter, not a steamy August afternoon in the Northeast. We’ve since replaced the highly sophisticated bag’o ice with a low tech 24v fan. 

The looks-to-be-original Swedish exhaust took a beating and was now sporting a couple pinhole leaks. Somewhat inefficiently, the OEM exhaust crisscrosses under the cab to exit back out the driver’s side. We’re guessing this was due to some kind of Swedish vehicle regulation (no side exit exhaust allowed on sidewalk?) because we can’t figure out any other reason for all the extra tubing. Anyway, the good folks at Magnaflow were more than willing to let us test out one of their mufflers on the STV. They sent us more SS tubing than we knew what to do with ("Hey, let's fab up some stacks!") and Mario Andretti’s favorite same side inlet/outlet muffler! Score! Only thing was uuhh… how do we attach it to the rusty header hoosey-wutsy?


Enter Whalen the Welder, a good friend of blipshift. So we got to work!

Jacking the Volvo up for enough ground clearance was easy. Spoiler alert! Other than for our tire changing, at no point in any of our servicing did we ever need to reach for a jack. Who needs a tent, a family of four could comfortably camp out underneath this thing! Considering the old exhaust was being held on by rusted-through straps, it put up a reasonable fight before coming free.

Can you tig it?

We roughly laid out the path for the new exhaust and figured a way to mount the new muffler using the OEM rubber isolator mount on one side, and fab-ing up some brackets out of the extensive Magnaflow kit to mount it all up there.

Makin’ brackets outta Magna Bolts!

Welding brackets to muffler. Them BFGs look goooood:

Mocking up the next cut and welds:

Mmmmm, welds...

Weirdest snake we’ve ever seen:

Finished product!

And now the beast sounds the part! Clearly, we'll need to schedule a work day to verify and test the changes.

You know, for science, and uh, the kids!