No restoration of this extent is without unforeseen challenges. Given that the vast majority of parts for the car are no longer available, the Rebuilding Generations team had to procure many of the parts from more than five 780/740 donor cars! Even when the 780 was new, it was an unusual car that most dealerships found challenging to repair.
Since most of the body panels and interior trim were uniquely Italian made, they were also not installed typically for most cars, so the team employed lots of “tricks” to get everything apart and back together.
One challenge was to not introduce new problems in the disassembly process. Taking off a door panel might mean destroying the clips or even the fragile pressed board backing. Pulling an engine harness might put torque on a 30-year-old set of wires and risk breakage, which we ended up doing and found ourselves with a “no start” situation for five days before we found one random broken wire inside what appeared to be a perfectly fine engine wiring harness. Unfortunately, the 1980s Volvo interior plastic is not known for its durability, even back in the day. Lots of broken clips had to be plastic welded or carefully sourced from a donor car. All the seats needed their internal cables repaired to ensure the 8-way power seats are working. Even the original to the show trunk badges had to be measured and recreated by a graphic designer.
Other unique aspects of the restoration have included having to mount the 780s frame to a spinning rotisserie to spin it sideways to clean and restore the underside. The pairing required extensive custom welding (not your average Camaro). The well-engineered “multi-link” rear suspension was no small task to remove and to pair back with upgraded coil overs. Seemed like a simple plan to make sure the car would sit with a lower stance as it did in the 1990 show. But five full removal and re-installations were required and in the end we abandoned the coil overs for a more conventional set-up with lowering coils.
Rust proved to be another challenge. For sure, this was the worse rust of any 780 we have seen after this car lived for more than a decade on the Pacific coast. The main reason for the rust was a likely failure by ASC to prime the front and rear window frame after they removed the glass for the initial restoration. Water had seeped behind the trim work and rusted out the edge of the roof. The “easiest” solution was to cut the outer roof metal off of a donor car and Neil Ramey and his amazing body shop team restored the roof to a condition that looked absolutely factory-new.
The most anxiety-producing moment was 7 days before SEMA when we had an engine fire when trying to determine a no start and testing fuel pressure. It could have been far worse but did add about 30 hours of unexpected clean-up and repair. The good news is that the paint was not damaged. The engine wiring harness had to be replaced, however, along with several cosmetic repairs!
In the end, the challenges have proven to be some of our most significant learning experiences. Who says team RG can’t replace a starter in 10 mins or pull a rear suspension in an hour?! For now, we look forward to our time at SEMA enjoying this beautiful car!