Medchin New Reader
8/3/20 8:51 a.m.

So first: yes I'm stealing this project name from Brake_L8, while I doubt he is the first to call his rare Volvo a unicorn, it IS the first one I've seen here. As payment for theft/borrowing of your intellectual property Brake_L8 when I make an Enhörning T-shirt and stickers I will send you some for shipping.

It took extreme self-control to not post this before actually picking up the car, but honestly I was a little worried about getting sniped off this deal by someone more local. I've been hunting for a V70R to replace my busted IS300 5-speed for about a month now, and had made peace with the fact stick cars were simply out of my price range. I did the research and determined manual swapping one was doable, and that would be the way I'd have to get my hands on one... then a 6-speed car popped up for $5800 in Florida. I emailed the guy within hours of the ad being posted, got the details, made sure everything seemed above board... then bought some plane tickets.

Flying to Florida during a pandemic is 100% a bad idea, thankfully the airlines are MANDATING people wear masks. So the SO and I were PPE'd up, N95 with cloth mask over it, and home built face shields over that. We washed/hand sanitized every half hour in the airport or whenever we touched ANYTHING. Wiped down everything with Clorox wipes before sitting down. Everything we could do to make sure if this car kills me, it'll be in a much more fun way. Up at 4 am, at the airport by 5:30, in Florida by 11.

Met the seller at the airport, looked over the car, drove it a bit, paid the man and hit the road a little before noon. 11 hours home was completely uneventful. Once we were on the road we stopped twice for gas and to get some food, I averaged around 26 MPG. Got home a little after midnight. 

The only issues on the road with the car: "tailgate open" message the entire time, this is due I suspect to the PO's bad alignment job (see next post). When I turned on the headlights there's an out parking light. At the beginning of the trip she smelled oily, which with a little checking (before I bought the car) I think is just a really dirty PCV system, which is probably confirmed by the fact it doesn't smell at all now after driving ~800 miles at an averaged 70+ mph basically without stopping.

Medchin New Reader
8/3/20 9:03 a.m.

So what's the deal with this car? She is good looking from afar, but far from good looking. Previous owner spent the last 5 months in Florida barely driving the car, wrestling with the idea of selling it, and finally decided to let it go. Before Florida he had the car in Colorado for around 8 years, the owner before him was allegedly the initial buyer who lived in Alabama and eventually moved to Colorado where he sold the car to my guy. During his time with the car the PO had two... incidents:

 The first the rear drivers quarter panel was sideswiped (low speed) in a bank parking lot. This accident left a tiny low spot and some paint transfer from the other vehicle. Not a big deal, probably can have a paintless dent-removal guy take out the low spot and then buff off the transfer.

Second was the guy let his wife drive the car and she parked it in their driveway and thought she left it in gear... she did not. So it rolled down the driveway into a tree, cracking the rear spoiler, hatch, rear glass, and a little damage to passenger side brake light and body. There is some body damage here that I may try my hand at, but I'm gonna get a quote from a collision shop first before I ruin it.

PO replaced the hatch with an ordered non-R one (still e-coated, no mounting holes for the spoiler) and did an absolutely terrible job aligning it (sorry if you're reading this). I insisted he include the cracked spoiler for me to try to repair.

This will be replacing my IS300 for daily driver duties, and while I drive it I'll be slowly servicing, refreshing, and upgrading. First job is going to be trying to align the hatch and replacing the out parking light. Then I'm going to try to buff out the paint, and a big service as the car just hit 200k and it's service history is an unknown.

Medchin New Reader
8/3/20 9:25 a.m.

Bonus Roadtrip Observations:

  1. Florida's road are atrocious and it's a garbage state, 2/10. I'm sorry if you live there but I will not apologize. Worst mask percentage of anywhere, both gas stations and the airport.
  2. Georgia's road are smooth and nice 9/10, unfortunately up 95 we were in Georgia the least amount of all the states.
  3. South Carolina's road are also bad, but not as bad as Florida's, 5/10.
  4. North Carolina's road are reasonably nice, 7.5/10
  5. Road tripping during a pandemic can be pretty safe, with modern rest areas being mostly touch-less and limiting your stops. We drove 12 hours and had contact with less than 5 people, and most if not all of them were more than 6' away and behind a sneeze guard or glass.
  6. The seats in this car are comfortable. 12 hours in the car and the next day I wasn't sore, they didn't tire me out, bolstering is still good.
  7. Seating position feels crossover or small SUV high, despite being such a low car. It also feels like I have a foot between my head and the roof, and I'm 6'-1". I don't know how this is possible other than Swedish-Meatball-Magic.
  8. Brake and Clutch need adjustment, maybe just bleeding? Brake has over an inch of travel before it does anything. They're Brembos, they shouldn't feel like that. Clutch is very binary and snappy, may be me being used to the lazy clutch in the IS300, or it needs tuning.
  9. With the current brake travel heel-toeing is not easy, but possible. If I can get the slop out of the pedal it'll be fairly natural.
  10. Driver's side mirror glass is gone, replaced with what looks like a sticker, it's wavy and not full size, so it's next to useless. It also happened to fall at a perfect angle to reflect the backlit boost gauge. So as soon as the sun goes down, you can't see anything other than said boost gauge.
  11. The center console is crushed/cracked and this is incredibly infuriating because that's where my elbow wants to rest/brace.
  12. The factory headunit doesn't allow for any kind of external media beyond CD's, first owner installed an iPhone cord (yes, 1st gen iPhone, that huge chunky monster) that is somehow attached to the back of the head unit. This makes me think there is a way to get AUX input without spending too much money.
  13. The shifter gates are CLOSE. I struggled to find 5th on literally every shift. I was very glad there is a reverse lock-out on my first handful of 5-6 shifts. PO claims to have installed a short throw shifter, which I may remove to see if I get a more natural feel.
  14. All the door weatherstrip could do with some replacement, the road/wind noise at 80 is pretty loud.
  15. The AC compressor clutch is on it's last legs, this is a common issue apparently with these cars, basically if I turned the fan down we'd lose cold air so I had to have it on full blast full cold the whole time. When the sun went down I was actually cold.
mr2s2000elise SuperDork
8/3/20 9:30 a.m.



beautiful wagon 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/3/20 10:07 a.m.

Always liked these, congratulations on getting a manual!

Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter)
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) Reader
8/3/20 11:04 a.m.

Congrats! Your Enhörning is cooler than mine. I am curious about your thoughts on driving a manual-trans Volvo after you do it for a little while. I like my car for its uniqueness but I wouldn't say the manual... adds to the experience. It's fine but not like "OMG save the manuals" or anything. Having never driven an automatic, maybe they're that bad and the manual is the better option.

In any case, enjoy it!

Indy "Nub" Guy
Indy "Nub" Guy PowerDork
8/3/20 11:13 a.m.

Cool car.  I'll be following along with  your adventures. 

While your's is from up North in Scandinavia, there is some precedent for the name from "Main Land" Europe: Das Einhorn LebensmittelgeshcäftWägon

Medchin New Reader
8/3/20 11:22 a.m.

In reply to Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) :

I've always driven a manual as well, my first car when I was 14 was a 5-speed Hyundai Tiburon, I often am behind the wheel of my girlfriend's Camry which is of course automatic and it's just boring. I've driven automatic Camaro, BMW's, and other things belonging to friends and it never feels the same. A stick car just responds to the driver more in my opinion. Doesn't hurt that the automatic transmissions in the V70R are notorious for going bad, killing shift solenoids, and being a general pain in the butt.

In reply to Indy "Nub" Guy :

No doubt, my little German language knowledge tells me the Swedish translation is very close to the German one, and they love their weird wagon versions of sedans maybe more than the swedes do. I suspect a native swede would translate unicorn less literally than "single horn". Though that is almost 100% how Germans would translate it.

Medchin New Reader
8/10/20 10:14 a.m.

I actually got to do some small things to the car over the weekend. North Carolina as of late seems determined to prevent any and all outside work; it feels like every day for the past week around 4:30 it starts raining and doesn't stop until as the sun is setting.

The biggest news is I sold my IS300, so it has officially moved on the V70R is committed to being the DD.

The side mirror sticker situation was driving me crazy, so I found an OE mirror insert on Fleabay for 15$, 10 minutes later it was installed and adjusted and I felt better.

The hood struts were leaking and no longer could hold it up on their own.  Since I plan to do more under the hood in the future not needing to use a stick or board is worth the 30$ to get some new struts. 

See? No stick needed anymore. No wonder they were leaking/failing. These are probably the ones from the factory, I couldn't even find any Volvo struts online, and If I could I'm sure they'd be stupid expensive.

Now if only the weather will cooperate I can get to the other stuff I want to do:

I still need to adjust the tailgate so it registers as closed and doesn't look like garbage. I also want to track down an actual R tailgate so the spoiler can be reattached. I could drill the existing one, but I worry it would leak and not be as precisely fitted as I'd like.

I plan to delete the headlight wipers and motors. They work, but they're dead weight. One of the blades is missing, and I'd rather not scratch up my headlights every time I hit the wipers. We rarely see snow, and basically never enough to need headlight wipers. Plus I don't like how they look.

The biggest project is the paint. The clear coat has scratches and dings, there are areas it looks like it was in a sandstorm. It looks to me to be almost all in the clear coat, so I'll clay bar and buff the paint from nose to tail and see if I can't polish her up. In my ideal world I don't think I'll stick with this color forever, but a repaint is WAAAAY down the road, so it's worth the effort to make it look nice now.

Medchin New Reader
9/18/20 1:22 p.m.

Thankfully so far Unicorn ownership has been uneventful (knock on wood). Most of the stuff I've done has been routine maintenance, little cosmetic fixes, and minor mods here and there. I changed the oil, which was the first time I had really been able to get a good look at the bottom of the car since I bought it. I rolled on the hot asphalt when I did my initial inspection but couldn't REALLY see much. The underside of this car is CLEAN. Like I would eat off of it clean.

Only problem I saw was PO has exhaust through the hanger with what looks like an incorrect rubber and it wasn't holding it high enough, so his solution was baling wire. It's held so far so who's to say he was wrong. There seems to be a lot of that on this car. PO bought the nicer parts/accessories/etc but had no clue how to properly install them. Which is great for stuff you can't really screw up, but any time he tried to "fix" something he seems to have made a hash of it. When I bought the car I was under the impression the vent mounted boost gauge was the IPD one they sell since it's an IPD gauge. Not the case. He hole-saw'd the factory vent, then meticulously carved slots into the back of the gauge housing for the vent vanes and reassembled the vent. From the front it looked pretty good minus the little bit of hot glue you could see. I have no idea how he did it, and wouldn't dream of doing it that way. The gauge in that vent is a fairly good spot for the gauge but I didn't really like it. I'm planning to put a new aftermarket head unit in the car so I figured use that spot for the gauge as well. I sprung for the expensive Volvo double din panel because I read the aftermarket ones don't fit well. Now time to cut a hole in my 130$ piece of plastic...

used the boost gauge bezel as a guide (in this picture you can see the slots he cut for the vent vanes). Then using an undersized holesaw I cut the hole, and then chased it bigger with the dremel tool... It could have gone better. Apparently I'm not great at freehanding a circle.

After my "circle" was cut out I test fit the gauge a bezel, I knew I could hide this crime as long as I didn't go too crazy, so there was lots of little bits of grinding and fit-checking.

Pretty pleased with the finished product. I then super-glued the bezel in place, which was a mistake. Little bits of glue seeped out and then dried white, and I couldn't quite get it completely flush with the slightly curved face. I'll probably come back with some acetone and try to clean it up. Good news is the whole thing needs to get painted, because despite being a Volvo part, the color doesn't actually match the factory plastic. To fit a double din those little ridges also had to be ground down and I had to track down a mounting bracket because the new head-unit didn't come with one.

I removed the factory radio to check out the wiring situation and realized this radio upgrade will also be a performance upgrade. The factory radio must weigh 10lbs. The bracket that holds it is thick cast aluminum and looks like it could survive a direct missile strike. 

The A-pillar on the driver's side was also delaminating so I popped it out (which you can do without pulling the dash, which is awesome), cleaned it up and re-glued it.

Coming apart.

Fixed and reinstalled. At some point I want to convert the car to an all black interior, including the headliner (which I don't even know was an option from the factory) so it's good to know the A-pillar trim will be easy at least.

I've had issues with the hatch since the day I bought the car. PO replaced the hatch that was damaged with a non-R hatch (so no rear spoiler: BOO) and didn't have the body repaired, so the alignment of the hatch is jacked up.... and he tried to repaint it and did about the job you'd expect from a spray can from someone who has no idea what they're doing. It's like a 100' paint job. All of this could be overlooked in the short term if I could open the hatch. Which I couldn't, at least not reliably. Oh and the battery is under the floor in the hatch. So that needed to get fixed. I had to crawl into the back, pull off the interior trim, and manually open the latch from the mechanism with a screwdriver. Basically as soon I removed the interior trim the mechanism basically threw one of the actuator rods at me. There's yer problem. Reattached the rod and added a drop of epoxy where it had pulled out of it's plastic pressing and the hatch now opens and closes properly. During this process I noticed the hatch's electric lock solenoid wasn't plugged in... which explains why when I lock the car the tail lights didn't flash. PO had also cut all the loom routing zip-tie clips instead of shimming them so they could be reused; which I suppose if you're not around a lot of zip-ties would be all he knew to do. Fixed all of that, ran new zip-ties through the body of the old clips and secured the harness in place, connected the lock solenoid, and verified it worked. I also think that solenoid detects whether the hatch is closed or not, or that plug is shared with the sensor cause that fixed my "Hatch Open" message too. Fun fact, V70 hatches are made entirely of plastic. I at least expected a steel exterior panel like a door skin, but as far as I can tell the whole thing is plastic. Extra lightness I guess.

When things calm down around the house (I'm rebuilding our porch) I'm gonna get a quote from a body shop to just fix the sheet metal and mounting points in that back corner. If they come back with something nuts I've got a stud gun... I may try and yank it out myself. I'm already trying to track down a local proper hatch with a spoiler cause that's like 50% of the coolness of the R.

Medchin New Reader
9/23/20 9:51 a.m.

an interesting thing occured yesterday. It finally is cooling down in NC so it was the first morning I put on the heat on the way to work. Less than a mile into my drive the low coolant warning light came on. Over the weekend I had noticed a small, probably 3" diameter, puddle under the car, but had chocked it up to AC. I watched the temp gauge like a hawk the rest of the way to work but it stayed rock steady at normal operating temp. When I checked the reservoir at work it definitely was empty, but still wet.

Added more coolant at lunch, but it did exactly the same thing on the way home. I checked my parking spot before I left and there was a nickel sized puddle of definitely coolant (If you're not tasting the fluids on the ground under your car, do you ever really know?).  So I've got a small leak, or I spilled a little adding without a funnel. Refilled the reservoir again when I got home and looked more closely to try to find my leak. Seems like a very small leak on my upper radiator hose, which looks original, so that'll be getting replaced with a new silicone unit, already ordered.

This morning all was fine on the way to work.  So I suspect the heater core was dry, PO lived in Florida so probably rarely if ever used the heat, or the core may have been replaced and then never used. I added maybe a pint, pint and a half of coolant and it's stabilized so that seems to line up with a heater-core capacity in my mind. Definitely still need to fix the leak but it's small and I'm aware of it now.

In more exciting news in browsing craigslist (always dangerous) I found a guy selling a set of IPD's SS Oval tube catback exhaust (with minor modification) for $200. I've had my eye on it and the turbo back pipe and for that price I couldn't pass it up.

Story was guy put it on his family XC70 after the factory exhaust rusted out cause he got it on sale. Immediately realized it was too loud for his family car, tried to quiet it with an insert, which of course didn't work. He removed the insert and welded up the hole, and did a pretty good job for stainless, way better than I could have done since I don't have a machine that can do stainless.

I'll give it a quick clean-up and when I have a chance throw it under the car. If you're curious here's IPD's video on the difference between factory R exhaust and their Oval tube:


My neighbors are gonna love me cheeky

Hoondavan HalfDork
9/23/20 10:20 a.m.

This is a unicorn! How do you like the spaceball shifter so far?  

It's pretty wild to find such an obscure exhaust part on your local CL.  I'm betting they guy was pretty stoked to sell it without having to box it up and ship it.  I'll be watching closely, I've always wanted one of these in the minty green/blue.  

I'd argue that I-95 is in worse shape through big sections of NC & SC than Florida, but it's been a while since I've driven north, so maybe they've made things better.  Mask compliance is suuuper spotty in FL.  Regardless of what stores have posted there's always at least one person who just doesn't seem to care.


Medchin New Reader
9/23/20 10:36 a.m.

In reply to Hoondavan :

In regards to the shifter: it's fine. My last DD was an IS300 with an almost identical spherical shifter so I'm used to it by now. I think it could afford to be a little smaller to fall into the palm nicer like the IS' was, and I have big hands. I also still don't know how I feel about the plastic trim instead of a proper leather boot. It simultaneously feels nicer and cheaper. I will probably pull an auto bezel (which had the leather) from a junkyard and modify it to fit and see how I like it.

 As for finding the exhaust, that's why I jumped on it. Retails for like 900$, though it does go on sale for $600 or so (which it is right now, but you're pre-buying as they have none in stock). IPD claims 14-16 HP gains from just the catback which feels oddly exact. Everything I've ever read says the 2.5T loves a bigger exhaust.

I don't really recall 95 in Florida specifically being bad, but all the state and county roads were awful. huge potholes, bad patches, tar snakes, not fun when you're driving a brand-new to you car where you don't quite know how wide or long you are, what your turning radius is, and you're hyper aware of every squeak, creak, and bump it makes. Unfortunately here in NC the mask compliance is only a little better, every store you go in there is at least 1 person not wearing a mask (regardless of posted signage) and half a dozen wearing ineffective masks or wearing them incorrectly. People: what a buncha' bastards.

Hoondavan HalfDork
9/23/20 10:44 a.m.

I think I've read that the turning radius on these cars is really, really wide...which (if true) you've already noticed.  The blue looks great, BTW...not sure if I've ever seen an R in that color.  Most seem to be silver. 

The biggest issue w/roads in Florida is that they can't really keep up with the development.  By the time they finish any big road expansions they're already inadequate for the population.  They're always building.  Things are really, really flat in NE FL, so it's tough to find roads that are actually enjoyable to drive.  Tradeoffs for being close to the beach, I guess.

Medchin New Reader
9/23/20 11:36 a.m.

In reply to Hoondavan :

correct on the turning radius, AWD cars always suffer on the turning radius but the R does seem extra wide; definitely takes some getting used to compared to the fairly tight radius from the IS. The car photographs way blue-er than it appears in person, I'm torn on the color, I'd like the black to be blacker or for the flake to be more bass-boatey and flashy. I understand from a manufacturer standpoint why it's so muted. Eventually I'd like to repaint the car. and it'll either be dark dark black or white with some metal flake, I like the idea of everything blacked out... but I'm also a sucker for a white car over black everything, especially calling it a unicorn. That's a long way off though.

Medchin New Reader
9/25/20 9:43 a.m.

Well good news/bad news. The coolant leak doesn't seem to be actually the radiator hoses.

  1. The leak is more than small, it drains all the fluid I add in a few hours. 
  2. Despite this fact the car never runs hot, it sat for a weekend leaking and didn't run hot the following Monday morning, all my driving since I noticed the leak I've watched the temp like a hawk and it never moves.
  3. It only ever appear to drain to the bottom of the expansion tank, regardless of how long it sits or how much I add.
  4. The amount on the ground is minimal, which makes me think most of the fluid is adhering to the body, suspension, etc. Appears all down the passenger side.

All of these things lead me to believe it's actually the expansion tank, I think there's a crack or hole that has occurred/appeared when the temps dropped here. I already ordered some new IPD silicone turbo coolant hoses and radiator hoses, I figure they're an upgrade anyway, and I'll go on and order a new expansion tank from the Ol' Rockauto. I may try to remove the expansion tank this weekend and repair it so I stop painting the driveway while I wait for the new tank to come.

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