New guy – 1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom

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  • #71706
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    I have lurked for a while – I am not sure that new folks are welcome.

    I am Russ McLean, 77 years old, from southeastern Arizona, USA

    This Volvo is the realization of a 55 year old dream. The second picture is on RT-66 in Shamrock, TX. The third picture is at the Lewis Museum, on RT-66, in Moriarty, NM.

    Most of the mechanical and electrical work is mine, the body modifications, fender skirts and paint was sent out.

    Russ

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    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71710
    Rik Hoving
    Keymaster

    Hello Russ, welcome.

    On topic?, yes you are. We are pretty open minded here, and do not have any cut off dates.

    And as for a Volvo PV as dream custom… here is mine. Digital restyled ‘64.

    ADE84B4D-F6F5-4B43-A189-368239BB30D0

    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    #71715
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    Hello Rik,

    Love your ’64 transformation. And thank you – I was contemplating rounding the upper door corner – this picture tells me that I must round my door corners.

    Russ

    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71716
    Tony
    Participant

    Welcome Russ.

    The place isn’t dormant, people just don’t post stuff.

    Post and you will get a response. 😉

    #71730
    James D
    Participant

    Cool car. I like it. Lets see more.

    #71741
    Ian Gibbons
    Participant

    Welcome Russ. This place has a much slower pace than other forums but you don’t get all the negativity towards customs that occurs elsewhere. We are all here because we love customs.

    #71772
    Randy
    Participant

    looking great Russ! I like it!  Why this particular car? Story?

    #71775
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    OOPS, I zapped post – Oh well, it was too long.

    My first car, at the age of 20, was a 1960 Volvo. Moved to Burlington, VT for work, and did some autocrossing, including one run on a frozen lake. Eventually, traded it for a new 1967 Fiat 850 sports car.

    A few decades pass, a marriage, 3 kids, lots of night school, a divorce, eventually re-marry (still going after almost 30 years), 2 step kids, several job changes, a major heart attack/open heart surgery, career obsolescence, semi-retirement, more heart problems, lots of old cars and trucks (nothing “show worthy” – fun beaters to take trips in), etc

    In 2015, my mitral valve was failing (collateral damage from the heart attack), I could feel the Coriolis forces swirling me down the toilet. My skin color was best described as “cardboard”. I was not expected to last this long – was grateful for the good years.

    My cardiologist found a surgeon that was using a non-invasive technique to repair mitral valves. I quickly went from “time to get my affairs settled” to I want to do another project. I started searching for another Volvo PV544. I found this 1962 in Hayward, CA (San Francisco Bay area) for just under $3,000. It was advertised for months, the Volvo restorer types did not want it.

    I showed up at my 1 month checkup, and we drove off on a 2,000+ mile mini vacation to get the car.

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    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71777
    Tony
    Participant

    Good story.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 16 hours ago by Tony.
    #71778
    Mild Mitch
    Participant

    Welcome! And glad to hear you’re still upright and suckin’ air!

    Great story, and cool Volvo. I remember riding in one of these as a kid in the ’60s. It’s pretty rare seeing a stock one, let alone a custom Volvo in the U.S.A. Congratulations on your project.

    Mitch

    #71790
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    This is the Volvo short summary: My “Working Notes” is approaching 300 items. I’ll just hit a few highlights. Initially, I needed to get the Volvo reliably running and stopping.

    1. The seller warned me that I needed to attend to the front brake lines – Fortunately, I snapped it off in my own driveway. Took me a while, installed a dual master cylinder using the factory under-floor pedal linkage.

    2. In 1962, Volvo switched from dual SU side draft carbs to dual Stromberg side draft carbs. Fought them for a while and went to an aftermarket Weber down draft carb (and exhaust headers). NOTE: Volvo soon returned to dual SU side draft carbs.

    3. I never could find a replacement vacuum advance module for the Bosch distributer, eventually bought an aftermarket electronic distributor.

    Skipping ahead a couple hundred line entrys…

    4. Installed an under-dash air conditioner evaporator and promptly spent several months chasing over heating/vapor lock problems. After lots of trial and error (and VISA card charges), I can sit in a traffic jam at about 100 Degrees F. Just have to avoid Tucson and Phoenix, AZ during the hot months.

    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71791
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    This is the how did I get involved with customs.

    In the late 1950’s, I occasionally would buy the $.25 “little book” car magazines. Rice’s Drug Store was right across from the Boy Scout meeting, and they had a good magazine rack. Money was tight, so I did not have a spare quarter every week.

    As the ’50’s closed and the ’60’s opened, elegance was phased out and “Show Points” became important. Random-non-functional-scoops and kitchen drawer pulls on the grill. About 1960, Bill Cushenberry built the El Matador – I just was not able to “get my head around” a grill full of what appeared to be apple corers. I stopped buying the custom car magazines. I was maybe 14 at that time.

    About 3 years ago, I was helping a son move. Was driving a Uhaul truck and put up in Flagstaff, AZ for the night. Stopped in a bookstore and bought CUSTOM STYLE (2006) by Pat Ganahl. I much preferred the early custom years.

    Two years ago, I decided to attend a custom car show, Lead Ain’t Dead 2019 in Dewey, OK. About a 60 mile road trip on Friday (7 customs and my old truck) to Daryl Starbird’s museum in Afton, OK. The ugly old truck with the headlights on made it easier for the lead car to keep track of the convoy. Picture is taken on Friday, after the road trip. Saturday the truck was parked out of sight.

    I came home with the idea of returning to Dead Ain’t Dead in the Volvo with a few mild custom touches.

    Russ

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    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71794
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    November 2019, drove to Mojave, CA and attended a Gene Winfield seminar. Bought an English Wheel on the way back (Harbor Freight, Lake Havasu, AZ) – Almost did not fit in the back of the Subaru…

    Early 2020, Attended a top chopping class and a metal working class in Phoenix. My goal was to make fender skirts for the Volvo. Was beginning to get the “HINT” that this 75 year old was not going to develop the necessary skills “in this life time” <wink>.

    By this point, the Volvo had a bigger Volvo engine (not-quite-stock), cruise control and air conditioning (congestive heart failure requires some adjustments…). I mangled a couple innocent blanks of 18 gauge steel and had to admit failure.

    I found a set of 1953 Buick headlight bezels in fair condition. I was able to do the prep work needed to sink the Volvo headlight buckets. I delivered the Volvo to Ed Smoot in Phoenix for hand made fender skirts and a headlight “job”. Then COVID happened – I an 200 miles from my car. Since I wanted to keep the car dechromed, Ed offered me a good deal on welding up all the trim holes. Lots of messages, phone calls and pictures. Ed had a great idea for the grill and the tail lights. The front and rear pans were bondo, rust and poor repairs. Ed fabricated new pans.

    I wanted primer, Ed wanted to shoot real paint (his specialty is high end metal finishing and paint). I have primer tastes (child of the 1950’s) and a bondo budget. Toward the end, we both lost track of how much was spent (“That is a great idea, would two thousand cover the labor and materials?”). We both were happy with how it worked out.

    I drove it to Lead Ain’t Dead 2020. Took the long way and made one more run of old US-666 (“The Devil’s Highway”). There is a 90 mile stretch of road, North of Morenci, AZ that has more twists and turns than a constipated rattlesnake. Warmed over motor and a couple of suspension tricks – I had a ball. I met a total of 6 vehicles going my direction in that 90 miles. 3 quickly pulled over and let me go by. And I quickly pulled over and let 3 go by.

    I had a few mechanical glitches, was able to fix them and keep going. I won the Koolest Kruiser award. The biggest thing for me was the people. See the picture below. The title is “Ive never seen gas fun off a drive shaft before”. I instantly had help and a jack. Someone ran home and got jack stands. Drove me to a parts store. And would not let me buy the beer.

    Russ

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 5 hours ago by Russ McLean.
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    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

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