Volvo PV544 with a Tank-Sourced 38.8-Liter V12 Is Not Your Ordinary Engine Swap

The idea of slotting an unusual engine inside an otherwise pretty mundane car has always seemed particularly funny to some people, but it must have been born out of a real need originally.
Volvo PV544 engine swap 5 photos
Photo: MaskinarN on
Volvo PV544 engine swapVolvo PV544 engine swapVolvo PV544 engine swapVolvo PV544 engine swap
Somebody had two vehicles, and at one fatidical point one of them had a severe engine failure, while the other was involved in a crash that left very little in one piece other than the engine. What was that man supposed to do with two piles of scrap metal? Go out and buy a new car? If only life was that good.

Instead, he made the best of what was lying around by taking the functional engine and replacing the faulty one. And that's how the first engine swap took place (not actual history, so you might think twice before quoting us).

Then word got out, and the neighbor from across the street realized he also had an engine lying around, and even though the one in his car functioned just great, he decided to replace it. And so, out of neighborly competition, a new trend began to spread out (again, the theory is not entirely bomb-proof, but you can imagine that's how it went).

Fast forward to 2017 and many GM V8s and Toyota 2JZs later we come across this Volvo PV544. The car, as you can see, was not in its best shape, but that's nothing compared to what its owner, Victor Jonsson, had in mind with it.

You see, Victor got his hands on a diesel engine that used to power a mobile military bridge layer, and decided to marry it with the Volvo body. The engine was a 38.8-liter V12 we can only assume that has the same weight as a small car while producing 520 hp and 1,696 lb-ft (2,300 Nm) of torque.

So, how did Victor go about this? Well, he copped off the front end of the PV544, because the behemoth wasn't going to fit in the engine bay that used to host a 1.6-liter four-cylinder unit. He then built a custom-made chassis that looks to be about 30 feet long and borrowed the axles and suspension from a heavy-duty truck.

The real problem, however, wasn't fitting the engine, but finding a way to cope with all that torque. None of the transmissions he found could deal with so much twist, so he had to come up with a planetary gearset that reduces the output to a more manageable 516 lb-ft (700 Nm). That made it possible to install an automatic ZF gearbox originally mounted on a BMW 525d.

There's a very short video below of the engine starting and running surprisingly smoothly before coming to a very abrupt end. Not sure if Victor intended this clip as a teaser, but that's precisely the effect it had on us as we're now itching to see how his project pans out.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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