REVIEWS PART 1
After sending out requests to different restomod companies, in the end, four of them seemed to have time to take on his 480 at the moment. He had not checked them out in detail before - just noticed that the companies Supersnabb, Lonestar labs, Sunset garage and…eh, must have been some bug because the name was so weird that the e-mail had to be salvaged from the spam folder.
Anyway, that spam folder message was the first one he checked out.
The 480 ES-R. @Edsel
Ah. They have tried to make their own version of the 480 Convertible concept. That’s kind of interesting, even though I think that I prefer the 480 as a hatch, I can appreciate the effort. Overall, the looks feel a bit “OEM+”, well, if the convertible actually had reached production at least. The red feels kind of sporty and period correct, not the most exciting paintjob maybe, but complements the lines well. What if I take a closer look…
Hm. I am not sure if I like the redesign of the front, to be honest. Removing the fog lamps makes the car look povo spec rather than improved. The debadged grille, well, it could have worked, but I am not sure that cluttering down the grille with some new diagonal…thingies…was the right thing to do here. And putting a small vent on the panel between the DRLs at just one side, it makes me scratch my head. Minor gripes, but they don’t really improve on the design. The DRLs have clear lenses, some LED graphics and a kind of aggressive look. Nice so - but why not continue with the corner lights, keeping them amber clashes with the rest. Also, I am not a fan of the removal of the popup lights. Having the only Volvo with popup headlights, they should probably be kept untouched IMO. Yes, I understand that the headlights could probably be integrated into the DRLs with modern technology, I just think that it is a bit sad to let them go.
Not much is going on on the sides. Subtle side skirts, colour matched trim, a nice little vent in front of the rear wheel, small details that actually improves the looks this time. Sometimes black alloys will only look like steelies with no hubcaps, but I think they do work here.
The rear…well, it is an attempt to look like the original convertible, more or less, without succeeding 100%. I can appreciate the effort, though. Overall, the exterior is a mixed bag. Do I like the convertible or not? I am not sure but it is a fun touch. Some of the modifications are improvements, some are not, all of them are rather subtle.
The interior reminds me of the original, but updated in tasteful ways with better materials, better craftsmanship and a modern infotainment system. I like the red stripe over the dash, I don’t know if it is a nod to the 242 GT or not, it feels like it and I like it. The digital gauge cluster feels very 80s, nice. What if I take a brief look of the specs?
Seems like the body modifications are mainly aluminium - well, may be needed to lose some weight on a convertible conversion, I guess, and they won’t rust at least. It is converted to a double wishbone suspension in the rear, while the front suspension is still stock. It also retains the stock engine, but now with a healthy tune to 150-ish hp, so it would at least be able to roast a stock 480 Turbo. They promise an 8.9 second time 0-60, 16.62 times on the quartermile and a 157 mph top speed. Hardly a race car, but a nice improvement nonetheless. Gearbox is a more modern manual, now with 6 speeds, and the transaxle now has a torsen limited slip differential. Vented discs all around, variable EPS, ESC and launch control, the later sounds a bit overkill on a rather tame car, oh well. The upgrades in safety more than well compensates for the loss of the roof, this is apparently no backyard hack job, which they promise should be true when it comes to reliability, too. . Fuel economy is good at 31.8 MPG, $40700 is a sensible purchase price, and the service costs suffer from a rather huge bump to $1262.20, but that’s probably expected with modifications like this.
The next entry was from Sunset Garage, a quite well known name in the business that had made multiple show winners in the past. That did sound promising.
480 ES “SANDIA” @HelloHi
First impression is that it is a remarkably sporty entry, and the design of the bodykit kind of takes away some 480 identity. Hard to explain why, might be the bulging wheel arches. Not saying that I don’t like the looks, it just kind of replaces the 480’s personality with its own. Also, they have managed to do some wizardry with the paintjob. Colours I generally don’t am a huge fan of works well on this car, and they even manage to make the green-ish shades work together with the orange stripes. But let’s zoom in on the render…
The shovel-like appearance of the front air dam works together with the rest of the bodykit, as does the reshaping of the grille. Other than that, and the DRLs getting clear lenses, it feels like not much have happened up front. I don’t know if I am a fan of the idea of shrinking the corner lights, though, and keeping the 80s amber colour when the DRLs now are clear is clashing a bit. But it keeps the popup lights, as opposed to the ES-R.
Together with the rather aggressive bodykit, the BBS fans are a natural choice. The door handles are changed for a slimmer type, a small detail giving cleaner looks.
The spoiler on the rear hatch is rather huge, but then again, with this bodykit nothing else could be expected, and the aggressive rear diffusor kind of complements everything. If I am a fan of it? Maybe the whole bodykit is a tad too much but they have managed to make it work, so I should not complain. The new taillights are rather nice looking, but at the same time, they do take away one of my favourite features of the 480, the large, uninterrupted black area in the back. Let’s see how the interior looks then…
Interestingly enough, another one with a red, or rather orange, stripe on the dash, this time it feels even more 242 GT. It also utilizes digital gauges, for a car with a “rad era” exterior styling like the 480, that is a nice complement. Unlike the ES-R it utilizes a HUD infotainment system. Even this interior has slightly improved craftsmanship and materials compared to the original. Speaking of materials, I am a bit ambivalent to the extensive use of tweed cloth. I get that it is a retro touch but it is on the border of being too much. Especially the tweed steering wheel is something I am skeptical too, especially considering that it is questionable how it will cope with grime and wear. The contrasting orange stripe on the seats is nice, though. Also, even if I don’t need the practicality, it is a bit sad that they seem to have removed the back seats for no obvious reason (unlike in the ES-R where I could understand it). I really like the 4 seater layout of the 480 from an interior aesthetics standpoint. The back seat area covering is a bit questionable in its quality too. How about the tech specs then?
This is still all steel - but both front and rear suspensions are changed to double wishbone and pushrod units respectively. And…ah, a T5 entry. I saw them coming. Not surprising, who can’t love a T5? And…oh. 315 hp. Yummy yummy. It should make the car blazingly fast I guess… Yes. 5 second 0-60 times, 13.15 seconds on the quartermile, and a 169 mph top speed. Whoa! Even this one has a 6 speed, but this time a DCT, well, “save the manuals” and all that, but it feels like a nice compromise, it’s not some old ass Powerglide or lousy Nissan CVT at least. Torsen diff - also included here. Even this one has vented discs all around, complemented with ESC and launch control. The later more expected this time, in a car with twice the horsepowers. It also had variable EPS, but what it didn’t have was the safety package of the ES-R. Actually, it probably was less safe despite the roof being made of steel instead of canvas. And it probably couldn’t be trusted to hold up as well as the ES-R even if you should not have a crash. And servicing would be more expensive at $1904.70. At $45000 it maxed out the whole budget. And it only managed 25.8 MPG but that was at least a slight improvement. It would probably be a more exciting car than the ES-R, but also put a larger strain on the bank account.
Another well known name in business that also was known for making show winning stuff had replied. Lonestar labs. Interesting that two of the really big names did show interest in his 480, he thought.
VOLVO 486 R @Texaslav
Not gonna lie here, at least the first impression says that it is a good looking entry. It is still easy to identify as a 480, yet it looks so much more menacing than the original, and even if I generally prefer brighter non-metallic colours, the dark purple works well in complementing the looks, I don’t think another shade would have been more suitable.
When taking a closer look, the front splitter is designed in great harmony with the rest of the car, looks natural, does not clash at all. The fog lights are upgraded to more modern, crystal clear units, which feels like a rather natural upgrade. There is now some aggressive looking LED graphics in the DRLs, and I appreciate that the corner lights are now clear, no clashing 80s amber here.
The aggressive styling of the hood complements everything very well, and the popup headlights are kept here - like they should be. And the vents behind them feels a bit like a nod to the Ferrari 328 which without a doubt is one of the better looking cars of the 80s.
What’s most eye catching on this car, though, is the redesign of the doors. The kink in the glass opening is a bit unorthodox but it actually gives a pretty interesting look to the doors, maybe the 480 should have looked like this from the start. The only thing that worries me is that it might be expensive if the custom glass would break, but hey, why worry now?
Wheels are maybe a bit simplistic compared to the BBS fans of the Sunset Garage entry, but their looks does not feel out of place at all.
Generally, the rear has received small upgrades compared to the rest, but that is the best looking part of the 480 anyway. The small spoiler over the rear window looks like if it belongs there. And more or less the only thing I have a hard time with on this car is the rear bumper. It looks like if they ran out of imagination, or maybe time there. It is mostly a blocky thing with a large gaping hole. But is it enough to ruin the otherwise great looks of the car? Absolutely not. Let’s zoom in to the interior…
The dashboard here seems to be based on the original but with more minimalistic looks than the rather messy stock dash, even here we have a digital gauge cluster but also with more minimalistic look than the others. Nice, it feels like retrofuturism as its best here. It also seems to utilize the stock seat frames, but reupholstered in black leather, keeping the cool 4 seater layout of the original. It has a nice infotainment system, albeit no HUD like the Sandia. The brushed aluminium touches gives a nice, sporty feel to it. Overall, it seems to have a nice bump in quality and much finer materials than the original. To me, this feels like how a good update of the original interior should look. With a layout pretty close to stock it still gives a totally different, and better, feel. What about the mechanical bits, though?
It was said to be impressive when Volvo squeezed in the 6 cylinder transversely in a S80, but Lonestar labs has managed it in a much smaller 480! Wow! Despite being N/A, at 302 hp it is almost as hot as the T5 sunshine garage offered. Probably it can be trusted more than an overboosted T5 too. Like the ES-R this utilizes lots of aluminium in its body mods, and the rear suspension is changed, but this time for a more modern multilink unit from an S40. What it also has in common with the ES-R is a 6 speed torsen diff equipped manual transaxle. Performance is almost as good as the Sunset garage entry. 5.34 seconds 0 to 60, top speed a little more than one single MPH slower, 13.62 second quartermile times. The difference would probably not be noticed IRL. Like the other entries, it has 4 wheel vented discs, variable EPS, ESC and launch control. Seems like that is natural upgrades nowadays. It has about the same safety package as the Sunset garage entry, the difference should not be that large there. At $43700 it would be easier on the wallet, not to mention that the service costs would be way lower at $1466.70 and that they promised 29 MPG. On paper almost as good as what Sunset garage could offer, but with way better economy. There could still be weaknesses that only the simulation could reveal, though.
The last, but was it really the least, entry came from Supersnabb.
My first thought is that this is a total mess! Why all the yellow? Yes, I get the colour scheme, but couldn’t they have kept a bit more restraint to it? Like only having the thin stripe and maybe the mirrors and fog lights as a fun little detail. Now it completely takes over, and the yellow dots on the door….couldn’t someone have given the exterior designer his meds before he got completely bonkers with THAT at least? Also, the satin black bodykit and lower body panels rather contributes to the messiness than toning it down.
VOLVO 485R TIC @Ludvig
Ok…I will take a more in depth look of it. The front air dam is maybe a tad extreme for my tastes, but without the yellow (again) it could have worked. And I can’t see why it was necessary to add a second diagonal bar to the front end. The hood, I don’t know, even if the sculpting on it is a bit unorthodox I actually like it….and this one kept the popup headlights.
I could have done without the roof rack on this type of car, but the panoramic sunroof is kind of nice. Also, I must give the designer credits for choosing very suitable wheels for the car, instead of 3-spokes painted in yellow which maybe was the expected choice…OK, I will stop being salty about it now.
The rear…yeah. They almost managed to not ruin it. But there is more yellow dots here…oh, I should stop I promised… (singing Donovan’s “They call me mellow yellow” for myself). Also, the bodykit just turns weird here. Two giant boxes hanging down from the rear bumper. Sure, “boxy but good”. Maybe they misinterpreted stuff here, huh? The centre mounted dual exhaust - I could have liked it with a little more work actually. I wonder if the interior is equally terrible…
Wow…One thing is pretty clear. Supersnabb doesn’t have the same designers for their interiors as for the exteriors…and I know which one of them they should fire, lol. The orange S60R style leather looks classy and even if they are at the limit of being kitsch, the blue seatbelts are a nice touch. Maybe they could have matched the carpet with the seats rather than the exterior, though, it becomes a tad too blue. Interesting is that like Lonestar Labs, it seems like they have based the dashboard design on the stock one, but it has a totally different feel. If the Lonestar is cyberpunk, this is feelgood. Can’t explain it better. Overall, this interior is more warm and welcoming than the others, and I sort of like it, even if I could have made without some boyracer touches like the giant subwoofers. Since the interior was a positive surprise, what could be said about the technology then?
Another entry that keeps an all steel bodywork like the Sunset Garage entry. Like the Lonestar Labs entry it has a S40 rear suspension, or in this case C30 but the cars have the same platform anyway. It is also another T5 entry, no surprise. This time with a milder 278 hp tune, but it should be more reliable, Supersnabb is actually known for doing high quality restomods, I should give them that. Surprisingly enough, it is mated to the stock gearbox, I would have expected to see an upgrade at least to a 6 speed there. Not that it would be necessary with six gears in itself, but still. On the other hand, they have managed to squeeze an electronically controlled LSD into it…
Performance is slightly worse than the Lonestar Labs entry. 5.47 seconds 0-60, 13.74 second quartermile times and a 155 mph top speed is promised.
Like all the other entries it has variable EPS and ESC. No launch control this time, but I am not really sure that I care that much about it anyway. Safety should be on par with the Lonestar and Sunset cars - interestingly enough the convertible beats them all. At $44 400, it almost maxes out the budget, at $1448.40 service costs are only slightly better than for the Lonestar entry and at 27.4 MPG the fuel economy is slightly worse. I have ruled out this one more or less on looks alone, but hey, I could as well try it in the simulation for shits and giggles.
COMING UP: SIMULATION AND FINAL VERDICT!