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Volvo fan’s quest pays off with a classic find
9:50am Wednesday 18th April 2012 in Features
AFTER months of searching, Stuart Taylor finally ended his car quest outside a village pub in the snowswept Yorkshire Dales in early 2010.
For there stood his heart’s desire, a 47-year-old example of the Volvo PV 544Sport, still roadworthy but needing some attention.
“I did the deal with the owner in the pub, handed over £2,000 and drove it through the snow all the way back to York. It was some test drive,” recalled Stuart, 62, who now lives in Weaverthorpe, near Malton.
Initially, Stuart had to build a car port at his then home in Copmanthorpe, York, to carry out the renovation work, which continues today in preparation for a planned entry into a series of rallies with son Adam, 28.
“I shopped around for a lot of parts. There are still companies around making them,” said Stuart, who even removed the two-litre engine and replaced it with an original 1.8-litre version from a Volvo estate that was used in this model.
“We had to strip the car down and unbolt the wings. A lot of parts had to be replaced or worked on. My wife, Jackie, helped me lift out the engine and gearbox.”
With a painstaking attention to detail, Stuart travelled to the Volvo musum in Gothenburg, Sweden, to get more information and see the original Works car.
Stuart, who has previously restored a Land Rover Series 3 and Aston Martin DB6 and has several years of experience in rallying, reckons his current project will cost in the region of £8,000 once completed.
It has also required about 700 hours of work.
He had some help from Volvo dealership Ray Chapman Motors at York Business Park, where he also recently took delivery of his 17th Volvo, a V50.
Ray Chapman Motors provided the father-and-son classic car race team with an XC90 support vehicle when the car made its debut at the press launch of the RAC Rally at the Croft Racing Circuit, near Dalton-on-Tees, and the pair are now planning to compete in rallies at the end of this year.
Stuart, a retired marketing consultant, said: “Ray Chapman Motors has been so supportive and encouraging during this project and their generosity was really appreciated. They have been a tremendous help to me as a local enthusiast and I’m sure the Volvo will do us all proud during the rally season.”
Dealer principal Duncan Chapman said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to assist Stuart in this fascinating restoration project and if anymore classic Volvo owners are out there, we’d love to help so we can see even more of these cars in the public arena.”
Further assistance came from Park Engineering in Malton. “A lot of the work on the engine was done by them. They did a super job,” Stuart said.
Stuart and Adam intend to share the driving and navigator roles when the car is ready for competitions.
Stuart said: “Eventually, we would love to compete in the long-distance endurance rallies such as London to Lisbon or London to Casablanca, but the ultimate goal would be the Peking to Paris Rally.”
It was Stuart’s father who sparked his passion for all things Volvo when he became the owner of a a1965 Volvo122S, which Stuart was able to drive soon after passing his test, just a week after his 17th birthday.
The PV model started production in 1947 and as a two-door, fourseater they were compact, light, but very strong and while they started life with a 1400cc engine, later models incorporated more powerful engines and versions included the P1800 Sport, made famous by Roger Moore in his role as The Saint.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the PV 544 forged a racing heritage, winning the likes of the Rally of Sweden, the Acropolis Rally of Greece and the RAC Rally in 1963 and 1964. The car also achieved class wins in the Little Le Mans race at Lime Rock, in the USA, and won the East African Safari Rally and was three times European Rally Championship winner.