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We’re thankful someone dropped a V12 tank engine in a classic Volvo

classic volvo with a tank v12 pictures specs performance hot rod
Victor Jonsson/Garaget
Engine swaps get a little bit boring after a while. Name a car, truck, or van that hasn’t received one of Chevrolet’s ubiquitous LS V8 engines. We’ve encountered many classic Volvo models converted to run on American V8 power, but we’ve never seen one powered by a tank engine. Until now, that is.

An enthusiast in Sweden must have felt the same way as us about V8 swaps, so he went to the engine depot and came back with a 38.8-liter (seriously) V12 engine that started life in a Swedish tank with East German roots. The naturally-aspirated 12 cylinder burns diesel fuel to produce 520 horsepower and nearly 1,700 pound-feet of torque, according to The Drive. How’s that for a hot rod? Finding a transmission and a rear end capable of handling that much torque proved difficult so the builder, Victor Jönsson, got creative.

The V12 is backed up by a set of planetary gears that reduce its torque output to a more reasonable but still mad 516 pound-feet. The power then flows through an automatic transmission sourced from a BMW 525 tds, a diesel-powered model never sold in the United States, before splitting ways at a rear axle from a General Motors truck. The same truck donated its front suspension to the project. The build isn’t finished yet so final specifications haven’t been published, but we don’t think it will lack in the performance department.

First start in the car

The engine is almost as long and as wide as the Volvo PV544 receiving it, so no amount of crafty fabrication work can make it fit under the hood. No problem: both the engine and the body now ride on top of a custom-designed box frame that’s almost 20 feet long. The engine is mid-mounted; we suspect installing it over or ahead of the front wheels would make the build far too nose-heavy and correspondingly unsafe to drive. The PV544’s original front sheet metal sits over the front wheels like a war trophy as a reminder of what the car once looked like.

The build still needs fine-tuning — and, by the looks of it, a great deal of welding — before it’s done. The engine starts and runs, though, and a video posted on YouTube suggests it’s so loud that the person firing it up needs to wear ear protection. Mufflers should quiet it down considerably, and then this Scandinavian mash-up will be free to roam the land like no tank or Volvo before it.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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