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  Volvo 850 Estate BTCC
 

  Article Image gallery (21) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Sweden
Produced in:1994
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Tom Walkinshaw Racing
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 10, 2018
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDuring the announcement, in the fall of 1993, of Volvo's imminent return to touring car racing, an estate version of the 850 model was prominently featured. Many thought this was simply a PR stunt and come the car's competition debut a conventional 850 saloon based racer would be the weapon of choice. Volvo managed to keep the exact choice a secret, which helped to build the anticipation for the opening round of the 1994 British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton.

Built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing for, the two 850s that rolled off the TWR trucks were indeed Estates. Exactly why and who made the suggestion to run an estate is a matter of debate between the people at Volvo and TWR but even before the two joined forces, an experimental 850 Estate existed in Sweden, built for Volvo by a local specialist. In addition to the PR benefits, it was also believed that the high tail had some aerodynamic benefits as well. Either way, both Volvo and TWR approached 1994 as a learning year, so little was lost would the Estates fail.

Some at Volvo were hesitant to work with TWR as less than a decade earlier, the Jaguars and Rovers that raced against the 240 Turbos had famously sported stickers that read 'Real men don't drive Volvos.' The British company was generally considered the best in the business and the Volvo executives eventually set the animosity aside. The contract, however, was not signed until September of 1993, which meant that little time was left for the design, construction and development of the car. As a result, the first 850 Estate racer did not run until the week before the Thruxton debut.

The TWR design team, lead by Richard Owen, started with a standard 850 Estate shell that was completely stripped down to bring it close to the 950kg minimum weight. Added to the shell was a tubular steel roll-cage that added both driver safety and chassis rigidity. Much work was spent on the five cylinder engine, which was sized down from 2,319cc to 1,999 to meet the two-litre requirement. The five-cylinder engine was chosen as the 8,500 rpm limit was expected to be dropped. Mated to a six-speed, sequential gearbox, it was mounted so far back in the chassis that the driveshafts could run in front of the engine.

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  Article Image gallery (21) Chassis (2) Specifications