The LS-Swapped Drift 1989 Volvo 240 DL of Your Dreams Is on Craigslist

V8 manual sedans are a dying breed, unless you go make your own.

byVictoria Scott|
Builds photo
Philip Leusca


Volvos are already pretty decent drift cars out of the box with decent aftermarket parts support and almost indestructible everything, in my experience. They can be improved, and the proof is right here with this LS-swapped '89 Volvo 240 DL listed for sale on Portland Craigslist.

The Volvo 240 DL originally came equipped with a 115 HP 2.3-liter inline-four, which was sufficient for its 2,800-pound curb weight, although the power could be described as a little lacking for wide-open-throttle, United-States-style drifting. Fear not, for that 2.3-liter is gone and the power has been more than doubled in this Volvo, with the substitution of the American motor-swap-standby: the trusty LS 5.3-liter V8 from General Motors. It gets better, too, for backing up the GM V8 is an Aisin AR5 manual transmission delivering power to the rear wheels via a Ford 8.8 rear end. Additionally, there's a whole host of handling upgrades throughout the chassis to help put all that power down—sideways—in a more predictable manner.

LS powerplant swaps aren't uncommon in drift scenes, as they're reliable, full of torque, and relatively inexpensive, but what's less common is seeing a swap into such an otherwise stock-looking car. The blue interior and iconic spatula-style headrests all look mint, with the only clue to the power under the hood being a Holley Sniper EFI display panel next to the instrument clusters. The outside continues the stealthy theme; aside from the tasteful hood mirrors and the 17x9 wheels, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was Grandma's old 240 DL.

The Drive spoke with the seller, Philip Leusca, who bought the car earlier this year as an unfinished project and completed it. He told me that the understated nature is the whole point of the build. "Who doesn't love a good sleeper?" he said. What about the power output? "It's hard to tell how fast it really is because of the noises," he said, noting that the solid engine mounts and aftermarket exhaust create a raucous cabin. But, "you're not really focusing on the speed of the car, you're focusing on keeping the car in a straight line and trying not to die." He noted that he previously offended a 392 Challenger owner with the car's performance, which speaks to it being fast enough in my book.

Leusca is only selling the Volvo because he simply has too many projects, which I believe most of our readers can empathize with deeply. If you'd like to add a well-sorted drift brick to your garage, however, it's listed now for $9,900 in Portland, with a parts list that makes it seem quite worth it.

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