“After the Bilsport Efficiency & Customized Motor Present [AKA Elmia] was cancelled for the second yr, I nearly gave up,” says Johan Balsberg of his ‘Amalow’ construct. We’re undoubtedly glad he didn’t.
In case you caught my current story on Sture Balsberg’s Volvo Amazon Property, you’ll know that this characteristic on his son’s automotive was coming. Johan’s 1965 Volvo Amazon Sedan is equally as cool as his father’s Property, however the strategy taken has been somewhat totally different.
Johan’s curiosity in previous Volvos stemmed from his grandfather, who had a pink 1967 Amazon 122 saved in his barn on the household farm in South Sweden. He had purchased it from the Volvo manufacturing unit model new, and drove it proper up till 1996, when he sadly handed away.
In 2015, on Johan’s commencement day, the Balsbergs celebrated with an enormous backyard occasion. When Johan rolled into the backyard, there sat his grandfather’s pink Amazon, with a blue and yellow ribbon tied throughout the hood. It was a reasonably rad commencement reward to say the least.
As the automotive was in utterly unique situation, Johan didn’t need to modify it. As an alternative, he purchased one other Amazon to tinker with.
There’s a tried and examined approach of modifying an previous Amazon – suppose historically lowered on a pleasant set of metal wheels and a traditional beige paint job. Johan, nevertheless, determined to go the identical route as his first present automotive, an Audi A5 on air. The late-model A5 would have been a a lot simpler proposition to maintain modifying, however Johan got here to a realization. “It’s really easy to switch new automobiles at this time, and that’s why there are a ton of them on the market. The elements for newer automobiles are countless, however you find yourself as simply one other face within the crowd. I needed to stand out from the remaining,” he says.
Whereas enthusiastic about the way to strategy the construct, Johan began drawing up a blueprint in his head, imagining how the Amazon would look on airbags and break up wheels. The physique, nevertheless, was all the time going to remain inventory. “The automotive has the proper physique. I don’t see a purpose to chop into the physique to make the automotive wider. It’s pointless,” Johan defined.
Between the Amazon’s teardown in Might of 2019 and March of 2020, the rust points had been mounted, the physique was sandblasted and the panels had been straightened. Whereas the Volvo was on the physique store, Johan and his father used the unique pink Amazon to test-fit the air suspension and construct a whole trunk setup. They laid out all of the elements and categorized them, so when the present automotive got here residence, every little thing was able to bolt straight in.
Each single chrome half has been re-plated to look model new. A very powerful side for Johan was consistency; his thought of an ideal restomod crumbles when the particulars are poorly finished.
Getting the precise substitute elements for the Amazon was each simple and onerous. There are corporations like VP Autoparts and Scandix that may present new elements, however there are particular elements which are extraordinarily onerous to search out now, like door trims and window frames. Having mentioned that, probably the most elusive half for this restoration was the entrance grill, and in the end Johan needed to go for one from an earlier mannequin. Johan says, you solely see the proper grille pop up yearly on-line (if that), and when it occurs you’ll have 50-plus bidders all attempting to purchase it.
When it got here to stance, Johan needed the ‘lip to fender’ model. Due to the customized suspension setup and a slight fender roll, the Amazon achieves it very properly.
The wheel alternative was a straightforward one. Johan needed one thing old-fashioned and opted for BBS RFs measuring 18×8.5-inch within the entrance and 18×9.5-inch out again, each ends wrapped in 225/30R18 rubber. Behind the wheels, the unique disc and drum brakes have been utterly rebuilt.
As for the beforehand talked about suspension, the Air Elevate Efficiency 3P system is displayed fantastically on a customized laminate wooden flooring. The structure was designed by Johan and his mom, who has a eager eye for element. LED lights shine brightly on the dual polished Viair 444C compressors, two air tanks and the customized onerous traces.
Underneath the hood, Johan has swapped out the unique Volvo B18 engine for a stroked 2.2L B20.
The modification checklist isn’t lengthy, however that was by no means the purpose. To wind as a lot energy out of the B20 with out going loopy, Johan fitted a ‘Stage 3′ head, Enem H3 camshaft, bolstered rocker arm stands, double valve springs, and a Mangoletsi consumption manifold that mounts twin Weber 45DCOE carburetors. The whole lot else was refurbished to look new.
Johan says the engine makes round 190hp, which is greater than sufficient to benefit from the automotive.
It’s onerous to see why Johan wouldn’t benefit from the automotive while you have a look at the inside. The unique seats have been re-trimmed in gentle and darkish gray with black piping, and the Nardi steering wheel options customized gray stitching that matches in with general color theme.
Similar to within the engine bay, the inside particulars are nearly countless. On the again, you’d usually discover a hat shelf, however Johan needed a sound system to finish the cabin. With solely millimetres to spare, the customized speaker field – which is wearing the identical black perforated material because the roof liner – encompasses a pair of Cerwin Vega’s highest-spec 6×9-inch audio system and a single Cerwin Vega amplifier.
4 weeks earlier than Elmia 2020, Johan, his mother and father and a few mates labored 10-hour shifts on the automotive for a few week solely to be taught that the present was being cancelled as a result of pandemic. The unhealthy information didn’t finish there both. Johan’s painter received caught in Spain and elements had been held up, so the entire construct was placed on ice.
The automotive was stored secret and Johan stored engaged on it, fixing and tweaking issues in hopes of constructing it to Elmia 2021. However as we now know, that present ended up being cancelled too. By this level, the considered abandoning the challenge altogether had undoubtedly crossed Johan’s thoughts, however in the end he persevered.
In the summertime of 2021, Amalow was displayed on the Vallåkra present in South Sweden – the occasion Johan says it was truly constructed for. For many years, customized automotive builders have been battling it out to assert Vallåkra’s coveted ‘Finest Volvo In Sweden’ award.
Present-goers had been blown away by Johan’s creation; nobody had any thought the place the automotive got here from or who owned it. The Amazon ended up taking probably the most prestigious award on the Vallåkra present for apparent causes. It was a complete breath of recent air and stood out from the remainder of the contenders, similar to Johan had supposed it to do.
I met Johan for the primary time in Norway on the 2021 Oslo Motor Present, and that’s the place I received to be taught extra about his automotive. At that occasion, the Amalow ended up taking residence 5 awards, together with ‘Finest in Present’ for the Road class.
Having the entire household concerned has been a enjoyable journey for these final couple of years. With Sture’s old-fashioned tackle issues and Johan’s new faculty enter, the Balsbergs have created a few actually distinctive Amazons. Their story doesn’t finish right here, although. There’s one other automotive coming to finish the trio, and I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s finished.
If you wish to know extra in regards to the Balsbergs, try this video.