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Northern Composure

A hot rod and a retro funky wagon - and both are Volvo-based!

Courtesy Volvo

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The Hot Rod

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American hot rodding meets Swedish craftsmanship. The result is fluent speedlish.

Where the winters are blood-slowing cold and hang like ice for months, there's plenty of time and reasons in Sweden to find shelter in a warm workshop and fabricate something spectacularly impressive.

Leif Tufvesson is one of Sweden’s most skilled specialist automotive artists. So consider the irony of cold climate and hot rod. Leif, who in 2004 won the prestigious “Hot Rod of the Year” award from Hot Rod Magazine, now returns with a completely new creation - the new Caresto V8 Speedster.

Once you move the eyes past the perfect paint work and begin to think about what's hiding under the aluminium bonnet, you're about to realize that V8 Speedster isn't another glass-smooth, pretty, modernised rod. That little extra expected from a master rodder such as Leif is mid-mounted and drinks ethanol. That's right the V8 Speedster legally drinks and drives.

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Of course the engine is a V8, but this narrow 60-degree all-aluminium V8 is from Volvo. The car is constructed entirely in aluminium and carbon fibre with an advanced sports car upper and lower A-arm suspension fitted with Öhlin shock absorbers. Leif previously worked for the Volvo Concept Centre, and for six years was responsible for the development department of the Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg.

So is it a hot rod or a sport rod? "Actually, it’s a sports car with a design idiom that is a further development of the classic hot rod. Perhaps it could establish a new school of thought and coin the term sport rod. My idea was to build a car that is as much fun to drive as it is to look at. Road-holding characteristics have never been the hallmark of traditional hot rods," says Tufvessson.

The V8 Speedster is designed with handling in mind – excellent road holding with a near-ideal 60/40 (back/front) weight distribution

The car is extraordinarily well built with millimetre precision in every fabricated body panel. The leather interior is exquisitely crafted with a time-warp retro feel. The steering wheel, instruments and gear selector come from Volvo, as does the V8 engine, the 6-speed automatic transmission and the car’s electrical system. The engine is tuned with the environment in mind, and has been converted to ethanol by Scandinavia's leading car tuning company BSR.

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Leif designed and built the entire car himself, though he has taken advantage of his wide contact network of sub-contractors in terms of paint finish, interior fittings and CAD-milling. Everything else is manufactured and assembled in his workshop in the old brickworks outside Ängelholm in southern Sweden.

It has taken Leif less than two years to build V8 Speedster and one similar to it, which is residing back home. Leif and his company, Caresto, a name also sported on the grille of the car, had two objectives when building the cars: "On one hand the aim is to sell the cars, and it is my hope to build at least six examples of this particular model. On the other hand it is, in fact, for my own enjoyment’s sake, because I love building cars. It’s my hobby and at the same time, it’s my job."

The ask: around 2.5 million Swedish kronor (approximately $500,000). But then V8 Speedster is a hand-fabricated, high-tech and high performance sport rod.
 
The exterior and interior design has also received equal amounts of acclaim – an area where Leif has collaborated with car designer Per Gyllenspetz, who, with his 20 years of design experience, has guided the design.

A number of the car’s different components deserve special mention.  The removable composite hardtop is a great example of Tufvesson's craftsmanship. The three integrated rear-view cameras, the advanced techniques of the rear lights as well as the CAD-milled aluminium wheel spindles, exhaust panel, interior details and the lamp housing for the Hella Xenon headlights.

There are other details such as the temperature-controlled bonnet that opens automatically for additional cooling that prove he's thought of everything.

The Wagon!

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Believe it or not, young Swedes grow up dreaming of modifying their Volvos; taking a few inches out of the ride height, adding some pork to the treads and dropping in a late-model drivetrain.

But a twin-cam, 24-valve 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine from an early '90 Volvo 960 sitting inside the perfect body of a 1967 Amazon two-door wagon is rare even in Sweden. Oh, and the turbocharged six is pushing out 600hp.

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To explain how this very interesting Volvo wagon made it from Sweden to Las Vegas isn't a complicated tale. At the 25th jubilee of the Vallåkra Custom Car Meet outside Landskrona, Sweden last summer, Mattias Vöcks’s classic Amazon wagon was voted best car to represent Sweden. The prize was an expenses paid trip for Vöcks and partner (the Volvo) to appear at the SEMA show in Sin City.


The judges said: “This Amazon represents true Swedish car-building art with its focus on high build quality and unique detailing. It reflects personal craftsmanship of the very highest order. This is a car that stands out from the crowd while at the same time acknowledging a Swedish motoring icon that turns 50 this year. Finally, the winner truly epitomizes the title of “Sweden’s Hottest Volvo” with its 600 horsepower under the hood.”

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Vöcks, 27, has long been active in automotive circles. In fact, his hobby indirectly led to him earning his living at sports-car manufacturer Koenig. His most recent creation, a Volvo P1800, aroused considerable attention when it was unveiled. “Volvo is the make that I like most and I have actually customised several Amazons previously. It all began when I was given an old Amazon by my grandmother, and it’s continued ever since,” said Vöcks.

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