This Sleeper Volvo V70R Does More Track Days Than Grocery Runs

2004 Volvo V70R
2004 Volvo V70R

Cars are freedom. You can remember that feeling of getting your driver's license in high school, climbing into your first car for the first time, and thinking: Holy crap, I can go anywhere. As we grow up though, life takes over for many of us, and that simple fact slips out of mind. That is, unless you're like Aaron Segal and his tuned 2004 Volvo V70R.

The second-gen V70R was already a pretty special machine out of the box. Volvo's most advanced performance wagon yet, it paired that classic two-box form with a 300-hp 2.5L inline-five engine, Haldex all-wheel-drive system, adjustable suspension, big brakes—and for those making good decisions, a six-speed manual transmission with the now-iconic "spaceball" shifter. A true Swede army knife, if you will.

Looking for a do-it-all car, Aaron bought his used V70R as a college kid with little money and less sense. He was determined to learn how to modify it and make it exactly what he wanted. A few years later, he's built it into his forever car. You know when someone is just matched so perfectly with their ride? It's like that. See what I mean in our newest episode of Carisma on YouTube:


[Editor's Note: Aaron works as a product manager for The Drive's parent company.]

Aaron started off with swapping in an 8Eight Fab Turboback dual exhaust in his dorm's parking lot in the dead of winter, shoveling snow to make space to work on it. Then he moved on to the suspension: TME lowering springs, upgraded rear sway bar and bushings. Relatively basic stuff that made a big difference in how the car felt.

He loved working on it, and his ambitions grew accordingly. He wanted more power, but instead of bolt-ons, he decided to go for a full engine swap to a '4T5' five-cyl out of a late-model Volvo S60 built by Re-Volv (340 hp/380 lb-ft), a well-known performance shop in the Volvo community. That project led to others: a SNABB intercooler, inlet pipe, short shifter, and intake; high-pressure fuel pump; and a lightweight flywheel. Finally, he found a rusted out V70R with the rare and treasured Atacama cabin and swapped that full interior into his wagon.

The result? A forever car that he's taken literally everywhere—across the country, through snowstorms, into dunes at the beach, and on more than a few race tracks. The process of building it, learning from it, and driving it every day makes him excited to get out there and experience the world. If he can figure this out, he can do anything.

"It's become this extension of myself. People know me, and they know my car. It goes hand in hand," he says. "This is an association with me, and there's nothing else I can find that can really do it."

And it's OK that most people see it as just another Volvo wagon. Because when someone does recognize it for what it is, it's like a secret handshake—instant connection with another car person.

"It's so cool to pull up at a traffic light, somebody rolls down the window and goes 'Oh my god, where did you find this? How did you get one? I can't believe it's manual!' There's nothing better than getting that kind of reaction from somebody from what is just a gray Volvo station wagon."

Want to be featured in a future video, or know someone who might? Hit us up: