Although it’s not the most common thing to hear, Paul Newman, a legendary actor and racing driver as well as a purveyor for pasta sauce, developed an interest in Volvo station wagons after he died. But not just any Volvo wagons for soccer moms. The American iron was needed to make the star of “The Hustler” or “Cool Hand Luke,” a classic film. Before he could start shoehorning into Fords and Chevy V8s, there was this car.
This 1988 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon is currently being offered for auction at Bring A Trailer. The actor purchased it brand new and had it modified with many performance and appearance improvements, not to mention a new spicy powerplant. This Volvo was still smelling like a new Volvo when it arrived at HESCO Engineering, Alabama, in 1988. They then transformed the vehicle into the ultimate sleeping machine. A turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6 engine from Buick Grand National was installed to replace the Volvo’s 4-cylinder stock motor.
The horsepower of the standard Volvo turbo 4-cylinder was increased by approximately 150 to an impressive 320 horsepower at the Grand National mill. Although the Grand National’s factory power output was only 235 horsepower, Newman’s modified ex-car features an aftermarket exhaust system and high-flow intake as well as a performance chip to the ECU. The Grand National’s 4-speed auto gearbox was abandoned in favour of a 5-speed Borg-Warner manual, which is based on a fourth-generation Pontiac Firebird.
[Featured image by nakhon100 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0]
You can also speed through corners.
Paul Newman, as we all know, was more of an endurance racer than a drag-racer. His Volvo wagon needed to accelerate and stop as well as go around corners. Bilstein shocks and springs were installed to replace the stock suspension. They also added beefier sway bars, and lower springs which dropped the wagon by 2 inches. Gemini also replaced the stock wheels with 16-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels. You might find 16-inch wheels in bargain basement econoboxes today, but they were revolutionary back then.
We find the perfect amount of flair and taste on the exterior. The exterior features include a front lip spoiler and side skirts as well as a rear diffuser, which are all in metallic gray. This wagon came with all the standard equipment, such as heated leather seats and fog lights.
Newman’s wagon has 76,000 miles and the current owner says that only 3000 of these miles have been added. Paul probably drove the car every day for at least one year. The 740 Turbo’s price at press time was $26,000, which is a reasonable amount for an elegant grocery-getter who has serious celebrity connections and a similarly serious secret hidden under the nondescript hood.
[Featured image by Johannes740 via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0]