RWD - Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer

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Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer 700 1988

Hi guys, I'm new here but I wanted to share my story and solicit some advice from you guys.

I took our family Volvo 740 that we have had in California for 18 years and shipped it to Latvia. I have decided to do an restoration on the Volvo.

The Volvo has 370,000 km on the odometer, no frame damage and zero rust. The car has been a California car it's whole life. The interior and paint has been worn from the sun and general wear and tear.

What motivated shipping the Volvo was that we had bunch of stuff in USA that needed to get to Latvia, but shipping the stuff separately would cost almost as much as shipping the car. So we just threw stuff in the Volvo and shipped it instead.

Here are some pics and the story:

The Volvo in California, I was utilizing it for tow when building a shipping box back in 2014.

The Volvo at the port of Los Angeles, ready for shipment to Latvia (Europe) by sea:

All the cars that are heading for Europe at the Port

Saying good bye (for now)

Now in Europe. The Volvo in Lithuania. Filling up before final trip to Latvia.
I drove to pick it up with the M5 E39.

The BMW has also been shipped to Latvia. It's my favorites car.

It is not the only Volvo in Latvia that is from California. To the left the 940 is my countryside dirt-road and winter beater. The middle is my friend's Dodge RamCharger, a pure summer car with no roof.

So... the Volvo idea is to restore the car, paint and interior. The undercarriage is near perfect. I want to make a pristine retro classic out of it.

I was searching for a shop in Latvia that does old Volvos, but since they are so few, and there is no money in the parts, finding parts and someone who is an expert on Volvos is tough. I was ready to dive across the country just to find someone competent that help me restore the car.

It just so happened that I was biking to my grandma's on the countryside (I spent my summers as a kid there.) and a girl in a Volvo is pulling out in front of me from the side road and it turns out I know her, I pull over and say hello. She's heading to the mechanic, a pure-Volvo guy and the shop is hidden behind the local school and also turns out to be the closest mechanic to my grandma. Total jackpot. I can leave the car on the country side in a familiar place and my other friends already know the mechanic and say he is an honest straight forward guy. He also already knew of the Volvo being shipped to Latvia, before I met him.

On the country side in grandma's town, about to deliver it to the mechanic.

The mechanic is a Volvo fanatic, and has a Volvo 240 with big ass turbo, 300hp and BMW wheels.... so he has wheel/hub converters from Volvo to E39 BMW. I ended up trying the Style 65 BMW M5 E39 wheels on the Volvo. The rear tires are 275/35/r18 and stil out of the wheel arches. I do like the look but I prefer something more classic Volvo for the wheels, at least on this car.

Old parts coming out, new parts going in..

The old ball-joints were original still the original Volvo.

The mechanic also offered the undercarriage support in poly urethane and newly painted. Some guy in Latvia builds these kits.

What is your guys' opinion of going full poly-urethane for the bottom?

I want to re-do the interior, make it feel new(ish). I want to re-paint all color faded parts, re-upholster the seats and paint or replace all the carpet.

The carpet is all sun-faded, stale and worn.

The roof is in bad shape and needs to be re-done. Top rear left plastic piece is missing as well.

I ran into an obstacle. I have a great upholstery guy but I need to source the original carpet that is in the trunk area and the original cloth for the seats.
Does anyone here maybe have suggestion where to find original cloth and original carpet for the upholester guy? Maybe someone has a product # or ID or something?

What would be the best option to make the steering wheel look good? Replace it? But with what? I want to keep as much as possible original.

My questions I am searching for answers (maybe someone here has an answer):

- What color code is the interior plastics, and/or what is the closest paint I can buy to match this beige. I read somewhere that SEM Camel is a close/good option?

- Where can I find the upholstery fabric or fabric code/source?

- Where can I find the carpet fabric or code/source?

- The dash board is cracked. What are my options? The upholster guy and mechanic said it is not an easy fix.

Current action item list:
- Re-upholster seats
- Re-upholster the roof liner
- Clean and paint floor carpet.
- Replace trunk carpet
- Re-paint all interior plastic parts
- Upgrade headlights to be CE certified (US style but new)
- Re-paint bumpers and get new side mouldings
- New front windshield
- Paint entire car
- Find Volvo rims from a classic that fits this car the best
- Clean/detail motor and replace worn visually worn parts (engine is in great mechanical shape)
- Replace steering wheel

What else do you guys think I should do to the Volvo while going at it that would make it cooler?

This would be the dream- to bring it back to this shape.

Anyway, that is the beginning of my project. Let me know what you think.

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    Volvo 740 paint update and other stuff that is on my mind 700 1988

    Hello fellow Volvo drivers, here is the update on the project.

    The project is coming along, but like with all these projects, a lot of the process is like pulling teeth, tedious and long, a lot of searching for parts.

    The paint process coming along. My painter is extremely detail oriented and it is helping with making this project a beautiful result.

    What makes this extra difficult is the size of the vehicle, painting such large surfaces such as roof takes a lot of time and precision.

    Door fitment being tested.

    Engine bay before and after.

    Picture from today, after polishing.

    The bumpers original shape was brutal, the car was beat up heavily and someone totalled their Corolla by rear ending the Volvo. The Volvo being the tank that it is, only had a scratched bumper.

    Doors getting prepared.

    Fenders getting prepared and getting anti-rust treatment.

    Other than that, there is a ton of work in the details. The devil is in the details. I have major resistance with the interior, so many parts broken and need to be replaced and the beige interior plastics being weaker than the dark interior plastics, the dark interior plastics from a car in much better shape are being repainted in beige.

    I also found an instrument panel repair guy, who will fix the cracks in the instrument panel.

    The beige interiors are real rare compared to blue or black here in Europe. The seat fabric on this Volvo particularly is real real hard to find. I have been searching for interior fabric since 2018 summer. It is extremely hard to find the fabric. I called SMS Fabrics in United States and they sent numerous samples but nothing matches correctly to the original fabric. I think I got stuck with a special interior that no one really has since I have not been able to find another Volvo with same exact interior fabrics. VP-Autoparts.se in Sweden managed to locate the closest match, but it is the fabric used below the seat cushions, not on top, it's from the 'cheap' part of the seat, not usually visible, and not a perfect match. I am starting to give up and looking at doing marine grade pleather for the seats.

    I am having trouble with the carpets as well, the rear carpets are worn and I am unable to find a good match for the carpet. Also the rear wheel arc covers are molded carpet that fits around it nicely, where I can't just go buy carpet and put it flat there, since it is in form of a shape.

    Overall the interior is wearing me out, by being worn out... the interior is huge and there are so many plastic pieces and carpet pieces... still searching for all the parts. I still need to find the roof liner since we threw the one I had away since it was rotten, issue is that I have a kombi with sun roof, which is again, quite rare.

    Then the engine.. that's the next challenge, hopefully re-building and re-finishing the engine will be easier than the interior. I am right now afraid the interior restoration might cost as much as painting the whole car.

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      Volvo 740 paint update and other stuff that is on my mind 700 1988

      Sveiks Tera!

      I'm really enjoying your story. My 1992 745 has now been gone for a couple of years and I'm still nostalgic about it. If you're looking for an awesome set of Volvo wheels, I highly recommend the Rigel wheels I had. They look great with or without the hubcaps.

      1992 745, >500k km (now gone, but not forgotten)

      Cut and paste link:


    progress of painting 700 1988

    Hello guys, it has been some time since I updated here but the process of repainting the Volvo has not stopped, although things have not been moving as quick as projected, yet it is known these projects always take longer than expected.

    Here is an update of what has transpired in last 5-6 months and where we are at now.

    The Volvo has been taken apart. Here are the pics of progress.

    I ended up buying another Volvo 940 pictured here, so I can transport all the parts of the Volvo 740 around, and to have another winter car. Now I got 3x Volvos... and I must admit significant time currently is going to keep the two Volvos rolling due to recent issues with both and getting the 3rd one restored.

    Engine still in the car.

    Engine removed from the car.

    The engine on the floor.. the engine is great, so I am on edge how deep I want to go into and if I should a full engine overhaul.. probably will run another 200,000-300,000 km in current shape with little repairs.

    Got brand new head lights ordered.

    Brand new tail lights ordered from United States to Latvia. Made in Estonia... which is like 100 miles from where the Volvo is.. so the tail lights traveled across the world just go to straight back, next to where they came from.

    The interior getting plucked, because all seats and all panels will be re-done. The original interior panels are destroyed from sitting in California sun for last 30 years, and very brittle. That said they will be replaced either with original color panels or others panels painted the original color and all dynamatted to remove the rattles and all new clips.

    Parts from the Volvo in the garage I built to store the Volvo and it's parts while it is being rebuilt.

    Engine and Volvo 740 side by side.

    The Volvo 740 getting towed to the painter.

    On the trailer, another view.

    At the paint shop, getting prepared for sealer.

    Details being worked out.

    Smell of progress

    All the paint is coming off with sanding machine because the paint remover was unable to remove the original paint. It had no effect on the paint. The car also proved itself to be painted by hand, not by robots, due to 12 spots where over spray was counted.

    Top view of bare metal roof.

    The sealer is on the car.

    Guide coat is on, time to find all the dents.

    The dents are showing up through the guide coat.

    Removing some of the heavier dents.

    Picking up the original factory matching color.

    We got the expensive clear coat for the car, extra hard and did a test-spray on another car's hood and it was perfect with no orange peel what so ever.

    I have already made new original stickers for the car.

    Still need some finishing touches on the stickers before printing. Not ready for print just yet...

    There are plenty of tasks and problems to solve that are running parallel to the car's painting process. There are plenty of parts to source. For example, the sun roof rubber strip that goes around the sunroof plate, is cracked and dry from California sun, no longer in production... been searching all day for the part.

    - The whole engine needs to be disassembled and cleaned and see what parts need to be replaced.
    - New radiator with AC outlets needs to be sourced.
    - New wheels that fit the car, that will also need to be re-finished for a brand new look.
    - Chrome parts such as headlight moldings need to be re-chromed.
    - Random trim on the car all needs to be polished and the faded plastic painted semi-gloss (satin) black.
    - Interior needs to be re-sown, still need to find fabric.
    - New interior carpet needs to be made.
    - Many plastic parts to paint and re-finish.
    - New tires and windshield wipers.
    - Instrument/dash panel has a crack in middle that needs to be solved.
    - Dyna mat all the panels so they don't rattle.
    - Muffler needs to be re-done
    - Headliner was damaged from rain and thrown away, need new one
    - Clean water drain pipes from sun roof
    - Radio antenna brought back to stock and clean
    - Clean all parts
    - All new rubber hoses
    - New brake lines and brakes

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    Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer 700 1988

    Trying to work out the interior fabric right now..

    Checked with SMS fabrics, but they sent me something that is not matching at all with the interior. Then I found this site:


    I'm looking at one of the following patterns for the trunk carpet:

    From globalupholstery.com

    Pattern: Expo Toast 370662X50

    Pattern: Reseda Toast 370682X50

    Here is the current state of the trunk carpet and head rest cushion. The rear carpet is heavily faded. The fabric on seats is alright, none the less I want to re-foam them and replace all fabric.

    Do you think any of these samples above look close enough to the original carpet (actually cushion cloth color because that is not faded)?

    Do you have any suggestions how to proceed better?

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    Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer 700 1988

    If a glass shop is going to do the windsheld, remove the cowl cover and wipers - then you might zip tie the grille to the bars, as the gunk that Volvo uses to hold the grille on eventually lets go,

    If you remove the door panels, take the time to renew the window switches - its in the FAQ and is quite easy if you don't lose the springs and take care not to mix up the parts (they are all have different bodies)

    You will notice that the contacts on the seesaw copper part is worn more on the UP contact - I cleaned and burnished the contacts, and turned the seesaws around.

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    Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer 700 1988

    Hey Tera,

    Can't offer any help... Just here to say I enjoyed reading your post and viewing the excellent photography. Wish you the best.
    Art Benstein near Baltimore

    A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

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      Restoration project: zero-rust Volvo 740 w/ 370,000 km on odometer 700 1988

      Yes, I too thoroughly enjoyed your post and story!

      Dashboard is a tough one. Either a dashboard cover or a good used dashboard might be your only options. Check the salvage yards...
      Will I buy another Volvo??? We'll see....

      Cut and paste link:

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