Swedish Style, Serious Stance – Greg Carnforth’s 1965 Volvo Wagon
When he’s not building insanely cool Swedish station wagons, Louisville, Kentucky’s Greg Carnforth can be found building airplanes. He flies them too, just like he flies down the road and around the track in his newly finished ’65 Volvo wagon.
We have seen offbeat, LS-swapped, track-suspended wagons before, most recently with Suzi Bauter’s ’63 AMC widebody. And frankly, these wagon builds are such a breath of fresh air, we think you’re going to be seeing a lot more in the years ahead.
As for Greg’s Butternut ’65 Volvo, it’s a marque dear to his family so it made sense to build a Swedish grocery getter. “My Mother has had Volvos for 30 years,” Greg said. “My kids all drove 240’s, and I just loved the clean lines of this particular body. You can see the hints of a ‘40 Ford in the hood and a little early 50s Chevy in the taillights.”
Those overtones were only enhanced with the swapped coupe doors, a custom grille, reworked power windows and a few other tweaks. Ron Huntsman at Danny Taylor Automotive Art & Design bodyworked it before shooting the yummy Axalta butternut. But there was plenty of action before the bodywork and paint happened.
After locating the vehicle in Texas, Greg discovered it was a one-owner wagon. He shared the story of the acquisition with us. “I bought the car, flew to Dallas with my younger Brother Chris with the intent of renting a trailer to take it home. The car had not run for three years and the tires were a bit dry-rotted but the thing ran well! We fueled up, added water and oil, made a few sight-seeing laps around Dallas, and drove it back to Louisville, Kentucky at 56 MPH. My plan was to cut a few coils, add tires and wheels and enjoy (since it was a four door). That plan soon went off the rails when I realized that Volvo Coupe doors had the same hinge configuration and were four inches longer than the front doors on the wagon. I soon had sketched a chassis and set the parameters for what you see. I hate exhaust hanging under a car, I like cars that are light, I like the dying art of shifting gears, and I don’t want to be able to hear a cell call.”
So Greg got busy building the car and three years later, rolled into the Goodguys 1st Kentucky Nationals in Lexington and promptly took home the Fuel Curve Feature Pick. We like different at Fuel Curve and Greg’s wagon is as different as you will find.
Ride height was set using a Mustang II front suspension configuration with QA1 coilovers, Heidt’s spindles and Jim Weimer Rod Garage upper and lower control arms. Out back, NASCAR Truck Series trailing arms are shored up with QA1 coilovers and a Coleman sway bar. Wilwood big brakes gets its slowed down for hot corners.
The pedestrian factory 4-banger was yanked and in went the LS V8 donated from a 2004 Pontiac GTO. Greg built the short block using Mahler pistons, Texas Speed internals, an LS6 intake, Bosch injectors and more. It was all assembled and finished off at Louisville’s B&R Machine. Once it was buttoned up, it went for a dyno-run at Auto-Motion where it recorded 473 ponies to the HRBB “Amarillo” rear wheels.
Inside, Greg went after a factory look with sporty refinements. The original seats were cut and restyled. A custom headliner was made as were the door panels and dash. Its an exquisite cabin all trimmed out by Larry Bell at LB Customs in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The cheery on top is the original Nardi steering wheel Greg scored off Craigslist. It rounds out the sporty feel.
Since completion, Greg has logged approx. 1,500 trouble-free road miles. The Volvo has been a big hit as you might imagine. It took home Best Import at a recent LS Fest and collects hardware wherever it goes – It’s just so cool and so different. Coupled with Greg’s build quality, supreme fit and finish, and serious style, it was an easy choice for our Fuel Curve Feature Pick.
Photos by Steven Bunker