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Electronics Home Page
started back around 1973 my sophomore year
in High school in the central
I immediately set out start to try to improve this car but I was uncovering extensive rust everywhere. The engine had some major problems as well. Fortunately, there was a guy in Pana who was a Volvo expert…and mechanic, Eldon Hammond. He owned several Volvos including two 544’s. One of these cars was just a body with no engine….and more importantly no rust. He sold me the body less the fenders for an unrecalled amount and in exchange for the rear end of my black 544.
The transformation then began with transferring all of the parts from my old black rusty 544 to the body of the 1959 544. It was cherry red but not very shinny. It was essentially void of interior and no head liner but it was solid as a rock. It was now time to start overhauling the engine. The removal of the engine was achieved by laying a 4X4 post with a huge nutted eye bolt across the opening of our attic door located in the garage.
“come-a-long” or ratchet hoist
was used to pull the
engine. I would never attempt this now with such minimal equipment but
say it worked perfectly. I even pulled the transmission along with it.
my mom’s disbelief as I pushed the car away from the engine
hanging from the board in the attic hole. I lowered the whole thing
creeper and began disassembly. I first separated the transmission from
engine. Then removed the intake and exhaust manifold then the head
I was left with just the block.
The head was taken to Brunners
that had a machine shop in the back.
They surfaced the head pulled the valves and installed the new ones.
cylinders were bored out .187” to accommodate larger pistons
which would yied 2000
Hammond installed the
new pistons. The
new assembled engine was then installed into the red 1959 544 in
shop. I assisted Eldon in this operation. The motor mounts had to be
to accommodate the larger B18 engine from the 63 model into the older
compartment that formerly housed a B16 engine. All of the wiring and
cluster was transferred from the 63 to the 59, thus making it a 12 volt
from the previous 6 volt. Over the course of a few months the car came
being a 59/63 Volvo PV544. All I had to do now is come up with some
decided to use the rusty ones from the black car and start in on
work . I sanded and
grinded all of the rust
those old fenders and riveted aluminum skin around the areas where they
attached to the body of the car...and
Bondo did the rest. This
worked quite well
eventually began to crack years later. I then visited numerous junkyard
I finally got the fenders on and brakes overhauled and had begun various stages of body work. The car was multicolored at this stage with orange, red and black colors resulting from the three cars that now had become one. Of course the fuel gauge didn’t work and I ran out of gas one day. I called my mom from a house on the highway and she came to rescue me with the gas can. I poured a gallon or so of fuel in the gas tank and cranked up the engine pumping the accelerator to get some fuel back in those float chambers of the SU carburetors. The grounding strap from the engine to the frame had not been attached and I got a spark from somewhere igniting the flooding carburetors that are notorious for fuel weeping . My mom saw the flames before I did and came running to let me know. When I raised the hood the flames really got wind, destroying the wiring and hoses etc.
This was a huge setback but Eldon came to the rescue and he dragged me to his shop where we redid what needed to be done in order to drive the car home. I spent the next month or so meticulously replacing all of the wiring from the firewall forward. Once that was completed I went after the body work and eventually got it ready to paint.
A new Beginning
I worked several months sanding, priming, riveting, smearing nearly 2 gallons of white diamond Bondo onto that car…and at the end of the summer in 1974 the car got painted.
I can’t recall who actually painted the car but I had gotten a referral from someone about this guy who I was told: "when he was sober he was an excellent painter" and he was also the only one I could afford. I had selected cherry red Dulux enamel. I dropped the paint and the car off at this guys house and walked home. A few weeks later I was home sick from school and was staring out my bedroom window from my bed when I saw this shimmering dright shiny red something coming up the road. I totally freaked out when he pulled up in our driveway ….it was my 544. I could not believe it nor could the guy that painted it . I remember his comment “ that ferin you got paint flowed out like glass”.
This put a whole new light on everything. The 544 was no longer a mismatched junker but it had become a beautiful foreign classic. By Labor Day of 1974 the car was worthy of being in the Labor Day parade, and so it was.
The following year I was constantly adding accessories to the car. 8 track, FM converter, cb radio, oil gauge, tachometer, water temperature gauge and at one time even a vacuum gauge. I also put these huge fog lights on the front.
sat in my back yard for 7 years
absorbing the intense rays of
The next restoration
point I decided that I had the
resources and the desire to really
get the old red 544 looking good. The car was worth it. It deserved it
having owning it longer than any other vehicle and having been through
together. Mechanically the car was still strong but the interior had
replaced and needed re upholstering. I first did the head liner and
did the seats. I ordered a new dashboard. The big restoration came
2003 in preparation for the 30th anniversary of
parade. My plan was to trailer the 544 back to
On the trailer, getting ready to go to Pana for the Labor Day parade.
Driving in the parade.
Here is a partial listing of all that has been done to this car over the years:
2 water pumps
Header (installed in 1974, $46.00 from JC Whitney and still in service)
alternator and regulator
replacing old Bosch unit (came from a junk yard in
brakes have been redone numerous times,
this past year I got new drums(new
the Revolvestore in
New Su carburetors (totally reconditioned Su carbs purchased on Ebay)
Rebuilt heater blower motor
Complete front-end rebuild included upper and lower control arm bushings and Kingpins. Tie rods
Gas tank coated due to rust
YouTube Videos (New, Dec. 2007)
Here is a YouTube video of the Volvo in the 2004 Pana, Illinois Labor Day Parade.
If you cannot see the YouTube image this is a link to the video.