Aaron Harrison’s modified Volvo C30 dispels any notion that Volvlos are plain and boring, just check this thing out!
Volvos. There was a time when these stout, boxy, Swedish cars were known for two things as far as your average UK buyer was concerned; amazing safety and the ability to transport an entire antique shop across the country without breaking a sweat. Volvos were solid, dependable cars for solid, dependable people.
Chances are your geography teacher had one; probably a 240 estate in that weird maroony-red they often came in, and chances are he loved it more than corduroy.
Thing is, Volvos have always had a bit more going on than meets the eye. The old 240 – that most Volvo-ish of Volvos – could be had with the famous ‘red block’ turbo motor and that, coupled with its rear-wheel drive layout, equalled great hooning potential. We like Volvos.
Over the last quarter of a century or so, Volvo has endeavoured to change its image. Out went the boxy styling (though the incredible safety record remained), in came challenging designs and a desire to take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Running the amazing T5 in the ‘94 BTCC certainly went a long way towards dispelling any notions of Volvos being staid and boring, and by the time the sharp looking C30 hit the scene in 2006, we were about ready to accept that Volvos were now a little bit cool and unconventional.
There’s certainly a lot to like about the C30. It came with a decent variety of engines (including the five-pot monster eventually used by the Mk2 Focus RS), looked distinctive, and boasted a pin-point sharp chassis. The ideal starting point for a project then, certainly that’s what Aaron Harrison, the owner of this one, thought.
“I was serving in Afghan when I decided to look into the C30, especially after I saw the Polestar racers and the road cars,” Aaron explains. “I wanted a D5 but they’d stopped selling them by the time I was ready to buy, so I got a D3 instead.”
The car was totally as Volvo intended when Aaron bought it back in 2012, and it remained that way for a short while, Aaron taking time to plot his next move and how he’d set about stamping his personality onto the car.
A desire to have something other than the more commonly tweaked Golfs, Leons, Fiestas and Civics was behind his decision to buy it in the first place, but that also meant that Aaron wasn’t exactly blessed with a wealth of ‘off-the-shelf’ tuning gear.
“I was at Heaven on Wheels a few years ago and got a bit pissed, probably not the best thing when surrounded by amazing cars and lots of inspiration. I remember calling my mate who fits all my parts and saying something like ‘sod it, let’s get some hydraulic suspension on it.’”
The four-way manual, two-way wireless hydraulic setup really is something special, a real work of art – and all custom made for this very car. The Jack Daniels-themed hydraulic ram install in the boot is just the icing on the cake of a very cool set up.
A number of different alloys had already been bought, fitted, run and replaced by this point, including a rather fetching set of Jaguar ones, but the allure of the Rotiforms proved just too much for Aaron to resist.
In the end he plumped for perhaps the classic Rotiform design, the ever popular BLQ2. The only issue was that he couldn’t get a set in a Volvo-friendly PCD so had to go much further in his quest to make them fit, eventually having a set of 20mm 5×108 to 5×112 adapters made up, plus a whole lot of offset-based maths to make sure the wheels would still fit within the arch. They did (just) and boy do they look at home on the C30, particularly when the hydro setup is at its lowest setting.
Diesel tuning has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years and eking extra shove from derv motors is a much more rewarding process nowadays. The 2.0 unit slotted between the wings of this C30 isn’t to be sniffed at, especially now that Aaron’s had it remapped by RICA Engineering and fitted a K&N filter. The result is a handy 201bhp and 451Nm of torque, plenty to pull the car along at a respectable rate of knots.
That said, this build has never been purely about number chasing and pushing for more power, with the majority of Aaron’s time having been spent perfecting the looks of the C30, both inside and out. Peek under the bonnet and you’ll be confronted by a selection of carbon hydro-dipped parts, including the air intake, airbox, battery and fuse covers plus many more.
The interior certainly hasn’t escaped Aaron’s keen eye for detail and you’ll now spot the aforementioned JD boot install, a collection of desirable Volvo optional extras and a full set of red Canbus LED bulbs, lending the whole interior a classy vibe.
The Volvo C30 was somewhat divisive when launched a little under a decade ago and the styling won as many admirers as it did detractors. What’s beyond doubt is that it is distinctive, and still looks fresh to this day, so Aaron wisely chose to work with what Volvo had given him.
There’s no tacky aftermarket kit, no stick on vents; just a lot of smoothing, colour coding and de-badging. All of this has served to underline the car’s sharp styling without going over the top – certainly not an easy thing to achieve.
As to the future? Well, Aaron’s nowhere near finished with the car and a number of plans are in the works. Bigger brakes will soon find their way onto the front hubs, while a change of either wheels or the wheel colour will take place sooner rather than later. After that it’s time for more power!
Aaron plans to fit a front-mounted intercooler, beef up his fuel system and fit a hybrid turbo of some kind, all of which sounds like the perfect recipe for a cool as hell modified Volvo as far as we’re concerned; true Swedish hardcore.
OWNER: AARON HARRISON
TECH SPEC: MODIFIED VOLVO C30
Volvo C30 D3 in white, smoothed front bumper, gloss black roof, Volvo load bars and colour coded roof box, colour coded callipers, Lamin-X tinted headlights and foglights, white LED side and license plate lights, chrome indicator bulbs, 5% window tint, hideaway US front number plate, US rear plate, SimplyClean US plate holder, JimmyUp US show plate holder, LoLvo US show plate, Heko wind deflectors.
RICA Engineering remap to 201bhp and 451Nm, K&N panel filter, air intake, air box cover, battery cover, fuse cover, oil cap, coolant cap, water cap, engine badge, engine cover caps and slam panel all carbon hydro dipped, red rocker cover.
4-way manual, 2-way wireless hydraulic suspension, Volvo strut brace, Rotiform BLQ2 8.5x18in (front) and 9.5x18in (rear), Nankang AS-1 205/40×18 tyres, 20mm 5×108 to 5×112 adapters.
R-Design off white/off black leather seats, Dolby Digital Pro Logic 2 surround sound system, In Dash sat nav, Volvo sunglasses holder fitted to driver’s side, Volvo sill protectors, red Canbus LED interior bulbs, Jack Daniels & hydraulic ram install.
Words Jarkle Photos Jon Davies