There's practically no car less pretentious than an old Volvo station wagon. They're practical, reliable, and as rectangular as the glasses worn by the professors who drive them. But their sturdy, rear-drive chassis also makes them perfect canvasses for sleepers, turning them into the ideal receptacles for everything from quad-turbo, 10.3-liter V8s to naturally aspirated V12s. A swap of the latter kind is underway over in Freudenburg, Germany, where one Sander Groenendijk is transplanting a 6.0-liter Mercedes-Benz M120 V12 into a Volvo 740 wagon—his first-ever car.
"I always had a soft spot for these Volvos, my parents always had Volvos too," Groenendijk told The Drive. "I love sleepers and thought it would be fun to put a massive engine with an amazing sound in my square 740 wagon. It was my first car and I always kept it."
The M120 in question was sourced from an early W140 S600, where it made just over 400 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. In its new home, though, independent throttle bodies fashioned from Suzuki GSX-R1000 motorcycles and a custom exhaust manifold may free up a few more, not to mention a banshee-like howl.
Mercedes' M120 is famous for producing an incredible shriek when uncorked; it's little wonder why larger versions of the motor were used in the Pagani Zonda.
When it's up and running, the power produced as a byproduct of that noise will flow through a 5G-Tronic five-speed automatic transmission out of a later CL600, which will be actuated by a custom controller compatible with paddle shifters. From there, it'll travel to an independently sprung rear axle from a Volvo 780, with a BMW 3 Series (E36) limited-slip differential to aid traction. And as no extreme engine build is complete without equally enhanced brakes, Groenendijk is upgrading the front assemblies to those from a Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Groenendijk's goal, for now, is to get the car driving on the road, presumably to enjoy the dissonance of a Lamborghini-worthy noise emanating from a linguistician-worthy vehicle. Down the road, he has fantasies of upgrading it to a manual box, and if possible, a 7.3-liter stroker crank, provided he can get his hands on one.
"Long-term goals would involve maybe a manual transmission, and if I can find it for mortal money, put in a longer-stroke crank to make it 7.3 liters," Groenendijk explained. "Brabus made a few back in the day, and so did AMG. They made a few 7.0-liter and 7.3-liter cars in the '90s, but those are very rare. Probably have to make one myself."
Those interested in following Groenendijk's build can do so via its dedicated thread on Volvo forum Turbo Bricks, or through his Instagram @shgroenendijk, where he'll post updates as they occur. Like so many projects, the V12 Volvo has been delayed by the outbreak of COVID-19, though he still hopes it'll be ready to screech down the streets sometime next year.