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Finally...Gary's 74 144


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Been meaning to do this for quite some time, never really got around to it. Finally got some mass picture uploading done, so here ya go...
The car...

The story...
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} </style> <![endif]--> It all began in the mid 1980?s when I first helped my dad combine 2 164?s into my mom?s daily driver when I was 8. Dad had a 122 at that time, which got sold and later replaced with a 73 144. After seeing that, I liked it so I decided that was something I wouldn?t mind driving when I got my license. Well that car got sold before I realized I liked it, but when I was 15 I started looking for something to fix up for when I got my license in a couple years. After 6 months I finally found a 74 144 for $1200 that was actually a solid color, (oxidized burgundy from Maaco except for the trunk lid and rear valence panel that were the original red) had current non-operational status, and actually ran almost decent. After looking at it, the price dropped to $800, so when dad went up with me to drive it (since I didn?t have a license) it needed work, but the price dropped to $430 (the owner?s monthly rent) so it came home with us. So begins the tale of the ongoing project car.

First thing it needed was to get it to run under it?s own power reliably. The previous owner paid for a new fuel pump which never got installed, the transmission was worn out in first through third gear, the seat belt and window crank on the driver-side were shot, lights didn?t work right, the left rear caliper was dragging and the pad had worn into the rotor beyond repair, and then of course there was the normal tune-up stuff. I also came across a set of 240 Turbo wheels so the car got a little dignity instead of the narrow stock wheels it came with. At this point it ran well enough to run on the road occasionally to keep it in decent shape while working on other projects, including rebuilding all the calipers and watching as chunky brake fluid was bled from the lines. From that point, any jobs I could get to make money I?d take so I could put this or that on whether it be cosmetic or mechanical. Over the next 3 years the engine was rebuilt (twice due to bad parts the first time) and bored to 2130cc with an IPD Street Torque cam and header. The suspension got IPD sway bars, stock bushings, new shocks, and that was followed by a conversion to an M41 overdrive transmission, an aftermarket ignition, and a few little things like a new windshield, working headlights, and all the stuff to make it legal. Finally it came time to get it on the road and smog-checked. Passed on the third try about 5% under the maximum limit because of the cam, but it passed and was registered, and I now had my license!

Now that I had a car and my license, I finally got a full-time job but was still living at home so any money that didn?t go to gas went to the car. With the daily-driver status now, it had to be weekend projects if it was big as this was my only transportation. When summer arrived, it saw a lot of use in what some might consider rally-type use while driving the 3 miles into a summer camp along dirt roads. After my first two minor accidents on the road that weren?t my fault, I slowed down a little, but I was still impressed that after hitting a Dodge Caravan and only getting a broken turn signal lens and being hit by an Expedition and only having $120 in repairs from junkyard parts, the car held up really well to my abuse. Summer ended so it was back to work and working on the car. Next up was the B20 electronic distributor, MSD ignition and surface-gap plugs from dad?s outboard boat engine that seemed to work wonders on the car, a new fuel tank and new (not from the junkyard) fuel pump, cleaned radiator, new water pump, and seats from a 240. I thought at this point, ?now this is really a fun car, and if I do this it?ll be nicer, but I can do that at the same time and it?ll be even better!?. That seems to get me in trouble, but any time something needs replacing, it almost NEVER goes stock but rather an aftermarket or modified part of some kind.

For the next year or so it was basically just upkeep, a new stereo, IPD white-face gauges, urethane bushings front and rear, Bilstein shocks, and a few other things I?ve forgotten. I finally landed a decent paying job so I thought I?d try the Toyota Celica transmission conversion to replace the overdrive unit I was having minor problems with as well as add a heavy-duty clutch and lighten the flywheel by 7 pounds. That was a serious headache due to the local recycler trying to scam me with a bad transmission (ended up in court over that deal), a few bad parts in the kit I purchased and having to replace the transmission 5 times throughout the process. On the flip-side, I got to where I can do the transmission replacement by myself in about 90 minutes to remove and the same to install. After getting that in and working right, it really ended up being a nice conversion that I?ll never do again. That was followed shortly afterwards by a custom 2 ?? free-flow exhaust which really woke things up and gave it enough tone to let people know it?s not your typical Volvo, yet not sound like the typical teenager?s import car with some obnoxiously loud muffler either. Then came the dreaded noise in the differential, to which I answered back ?Why not put in a limited slip while I?m having someone in there doing bearings.?

After buying the parts, I took it to the shop that was going to do the work since I didn?t have the experience or tools to do it. I walked in carrying the parts, left the parts in the shop, and get a call the next day with the wonderful news that the car was broken into overnight and they destroyed the trunk, dash, passenger door and took a few things. I must say, hearing that sets a horrible feeling in your stomach when you hear that your ?baby? that spent it?s first night out of your care at a shop was just broken into for no real reason. Ironically, the drivers door was actually unlocked, yet they still did $2300 in damage trying to get in. They finally got the differential parts installed since they were taken into the shop and didn?t get stolen, and after a fight, I ended up fixing that shop?s mistakes as well, but still had to deal with my insurance trying to total the car based on the damage. Fortunately I had kept all my receipts so after showing them to the adjuster, they allowed me to keep the car without a salvage title and get the car fixed. The money from the insurance went to getting the entire car sandblasted, the new door and trunk installed, the dings filled in, and the car painted in the original color with a base-coat/clear-coat paint job. I did all the parts removal and had everything sitting in the garage for 6 weeks while the car was being painted, but when it came back home it looked simply incredible! I got everything put back on including a set of tinted windows I got from the local recycler as well as new late-model 240 door panels and matching seats, new 240 door trim, and a couple emblems that were missing. It looked amazing but now I was afraid to drive it in fear of getting a scratch, but I had to since I was otherwise stuck driving my truck at 10 miles per gallon. When I first pulled into work with the ?new? car everyone was amazed, and after 7 years I still get people asking me what year it is, telling me they had one just like it, or just complimenting me on such a nice car. Seeing what it looked like at this point, I decided to enter it in the VCOA meet in Davis, California in May 2004, only to end up taking the Best in Class for the 120/140/160 series! That was a huge shock as there were some really clean cars there, but since that event it has taken numerous awards at the same show and a couple other years, including the Volvo Club of America?s West Coast National meet in 2007. Since then it has also received an R-Sport instrument cluster and an Air/Fuel gauge to aid in my constant tuning, plus a modified air intake without the airbox, a polished intake manifold, and was run at the local track which turned up a 18.22 @ 73.6 with a slipping clutch and myself having no experience running at the track as well.


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
The mod's list...
Engine: B20F
IPD Big Bore Kit (2130cc)
IPD lifter kit
Custom engine stabilizer
17lb. Flywheel (7lbs. Less than stock)
IPD Alloy Valve Cover
Vintage Performance Development Type II head
Cometic .035” head gasket
Vintage Performance Street Cam
Steel timing gear set

IPD/Clifford headers
Custom 2 ?” exhaust with Dynomax muffler

MSD 6A Electronic Ignition controller
MSD Blaster 2 coil
1975 B20 distributor (magnetic pickup)
Accel Spark Plug wires
NGK BUHW-2 Surface-gap spark plugs

Fuel System:
84 240 fuel tank w/pre-pump
Megasquirt Version 3.0 fuel management system
Innovate LC-1 Wideband O2 system

K&N cone filter
Custom Cold Air intake
Polished intake manifold

IPD sway bars
Superpro urethane bushings
Custom-made adjustable torque rods
Bilstein HD shocks
Lesjofors Sport springs/lowering kit w/1” spacers in rear

IPD stainless steel brake lines
164 vented front discs
modified 240 front Girling calipers
PBR Deluxe brake pads
ATE Super Blue brake fluid

Toyota Celica 5-speed transmission (kit from Dellow)
IPD Heavy-duty 1,500lb clutch pressure plate
Custom 1-pc driveline (Driveline Specialties)
Detroit Tru-Trac 912A411 torque-biasing limited slip differential w/ 4.10 ratio

1989 240 seats/door panels
R-sport gauge cluster
New carpet
240-style headliner

Volvo Polaris 17x7 wheels
Falken Ziex 512 tires
Original factory color paint in modern-day base-coat/clear-coat, after complete bare-metal sand-blasting
Tinted windows
IPD airdam

Stereo System:
Alpine CDA-9813 60x4 head unit
Pioneer AS-1394 4” front door speakers
Pioneer TS-D690 2-way 6x9’s in the rear deck
Kicker S10L7 dual 2-ohm voice coil, sealed 1 cu.ft. box w/Pioneer GM-X354 2x70w amp

Upcoming Additions:
TD04-13C turbo on a custom manifold


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
The pic's...
Sadly, I don't have many prior to the breakin, as I didn't even have a digital camera until then. From the breakin forward though...

As it looked when I was driving it from 1997-2003 as my daily:

Damges when the car was broken into. This ended up paying for majority of the paint work.







The Celica transmission





The 164 rotors, 240 calipers

The VPD Type II head (after it FINALLY arrived)


Last edited:


New member
Sep 2, 2009
looks great, sad though one cannot leave others belongings alone...

the way you aproach this project looks a lot like I do, getting as much as possible from "basic" mods.. bit off oldschool combined with modern available upgrades...

couple of questions..

why did you use 2 series callipers instead of the matching 164's? and what mods were needed to use them?

I've read about the Celica box, which one is it? I heave no idea if it's to be found overhere but I take it could be used in other Toyota's too..


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Um, still TALKING about MS?? It's been on MS for several years now, for fuel anyway. Haven't gotten it up on spark yet, which is in the plan...when life settles down and I can actually spend some time on this car again.

One of these days I'll get my writeup on doing the caliper upgrade. Reason for going with the Girling's from a 240 is they have a better feel than the ATE's that the 164's use. Also keeps the same piston size as the stock girling calipers that were on my car, so the master cylinder sizing is perfect for the swap. As for what's involved, there's some LIGHT trimming on the caliper, drilling the holes out slightly, and adapting the lines. Took me MAYBE a day to get the swap done, with basic hand tools.

The Celica trans is a W50, from the mid-70's Celica's, and it was also used with a different shift tower in some of the trucks. If I were to do it again, I'd go with a T5 in a heartbeat.

I know a lot of you knew I've had the car for a while, but not many have heard the FULL history of the car. Not too many people still have their first car, let alone one in this kinda condition. I NEVER intended for something like this for the outcome of the car, though I also never really had a final goal for the car.


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
No more lower. Already had to keep the back end up a little more than the front, due to driveline/tunnel clearance with the 3" driveline needed to handle the length of a 1-piece with the Celica box. Also gotta be able to drive it without fear of bottoming on stuff.


New member
Apr 19, 2010
Northern California
I'm very happy to see a thread about this car. Earlier this year sometime I searched all over TB trying to find a thread detailing the info in your signature to no avail. Not knowing the car at Davis I was drooling over, studying and taking pictures of was in fact the same car. Wasn't til over the summer I put the two together :lol:

Anyway, great car and inspiration for my build.


I hate you all, equally
Oct 16, 2003
Elk Grove, CA
Hadn't seen this until now. Good write-up Gary!

...heh, I still remember it when you had just gotten it back from being broken into, pre-paint/bodywork. Those idiots, if they'd only tried to open the drivers door. :roll:


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
So after MANY years of the 140 being neglected in terms of tuning, playing, etc. I've finally gotten the bug again. It still needs a clutch BADLY (open to donations of a clutch to hold 300hp....if anyone is feeling generous).

Played around with MS to brush up on it before tuning the wagon and another local's car in a year or so. Flashed to hi-res 11d code, reset some parameters to scale things better, and low and behold it's alive! I've switched to tunerstudio and won't go back to megatune either. FAR better autotune function, more capable and user-friendly.

As for the car, with the BASIC tune power is up. I played with it a bunch before flashing to hires, haven't driven on hires yet, but in the garage it's far happier. It'll idle in the mid-12-low-13 AFR range instead of mid-11's, response is wicked, and it's smooth. Working on cold-starts now, made some progress there as well.

Also swapped to a vacuum-sensing FPR. If you've got a late t-jet style with the FPR on the rail, grab one from a 76 280Z. It drops right in and gives you a vacuum sense as well. Gotta see how that helps out on tuning. Hopefully this weekend I'll get the walbro swapped in as well plus get rid of the fuel accumulator, the noisy bosch pump, and have things a bit more streamlined. I did manage to clean things up a touch while I was under the hood as well, in terms of hose routing. I may even ditch the hose from the breather box to intake and put a filter on the box itself, which should lend to an even cleaner engine bay.

It's nice to be playing with the old friend again while I'm waiting on parts for the wagon. I just feel so at home in it.

And....I may have someone coming to scheme up an idea or three for a steering rack.....:oogle:


Vintage anti-ricer
300+ Club
Oct 21, 2004
BFE Desert east of Cali
Well, been messing with it quite a bit lately. Slowly working the bugs out of the MS tune, realizing how it was initially set up was, well, not quite optimal. Still on fuel only, for now, though I have a prototype CAS adapter sitting on the workbench when I get a few minutes to test-fit it, then wire it and all that jazz, and run coil packs!

In the meantime though, just got done tuning it after a recent realization that WUE was still enabled at operating temp, so the maps were skewed. Trimmed that, tweaked the AFR tables, set to bombing around the hood a little and found it's a torquey little beast now! 1st thru 3rd will make the rear end squat nicely, it pulls STRONG from about 1500 to around 4k, which is just past where the timing stops, though it'll still wind past it without too much issue. Needs more than the stock timing curve of the smog dizzy though. For just being on fuel though, I've picked up a LOT of grunt. Got the overrun fuel cut setup and running seamlessly, accel enrichment is about 90% there and seamless as well, idle AFR's are trimmed. Gotta do another road trip and see what the mileage is, but prior to some additional fuel trimming I got 280 miles on 3/4 of a tank, which ain't too shabby...at 75mph spinning 3800rpm!