Not many people know this, but for a few years, Volvo sold the XC90 SUV and the S80 sedan with thumping V8 engines. Volvo’s V8 was made by Yamaha (the company that built the original Ford SHO’s engine), and provided Volvo’s understated carriages with a hearty 315 horsepower. Though it proved a little rich for Volvo’s Wasa-munching customers, the engine soon found application elsewhere in Noble’s insane, roadhugging, hand-built supercar, the M600, where it made 650 horsepower with the help of twin Garrett turbochargers.
While your 2008 Volvo S80 won’t make that power without some serious modifications, some enterprising mechanics have found a great consolation prize. With the right pipes—or no pipes—your sedate Volvo S80 V8 sounds exactly like the Noble Supercar, and much, much meaner than any family car has a right to. Just listen! At idle, this late-model Volvo (in grey!) has the lumpen idle of an early-seventies Mopar coupe, and higher in the rev-range, is a dead ringer for the Audi R8.
To our ears, it’s foolish to spend $20,000 (late model S80 V8 plus custom exhaust) on any other sedan—what other car will leave bystanders agape, hands clasped to the sides of their heads, thinking: that sound… from a Volvo!?