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Volvo Estate Racing in the 1994 BTCC: The Good Ol' Days

The sight of white and blue Volvo 850 estates racing sports sedans from major European automakers is one of the most iconic sights in motorsport. But believe it or not, the Volvo's presence in BTCC actually dates back to 1994, exactly 20 years ago.
Volvo BTCC racing 1 photo
Volvos's strange track project was launched in April 1994 with two 850 estates (V70 predecessor) run in collaboration with Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Everybody laughed when it came out, but the Swedes were out to prove you could make something that's dynamic from a practical family vehicle.

One of the drivers for the team was none other than Rickard Rydell, 26 at the time. The other car was driven by Jan Lammers, a 37-year-old Dutchman who had F1 experience under his belt.

 "When I signed up for Volvo and TWR around Christmas 1993, I didn't know about the estate plans," says Rickard Rydell. "If I'd known, I would probably have hesitated. It was lucky I didn't know!"

The first Volvo to race in the British Touring Car had a 5-door wagon body, strengthened by tubular steel and powered by a highly tuned naturally aspirated 5-cylinder engine. The 2-liter was derived from the 2.3-liter in the street-going car and made approximately 280 hp at 8,500 rpm, up from the 225 hp of stock 850s. This was linked to a six-speed sequantil gearbox. Front suspension was a McPherson strut system, the rear being Volvo's own Delta link with coilover dampers.

"It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed,"
says Rickard Rydell today. "It doesn't feel like it. But now looking back it is clear that we were focusing on the right class at the right time."

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