Volvo 242 Group A Turbo “Flathood”
Volvo “Bricks” (the 200 and 700/900 series) generally aren’t worth very much. Their average market value belies the fact that underneath the frumpy sheetmetal, they’re actually very good cars—reliable, robust and safe. Many worthwhile cars from the ’80s and ’90s, the era in which the Bricks were produced, have since hit the nadir of their depreciation curve and started to come up in value, but given the Volvos’ stylistic debits, I really don’t any of them gaining significant traction in the marketplace—ever, really.
Except, that is, for the car featured in this post. Under consideration today is the 1983-only Volvo 242 Group A Turbo “Flathood.” A specialty version of the standard 242 Turbo coupe, the Flathood (so-called for the straight front edge of its hood, a feature which had, by 1983, been superseded on American 200-series Volvos) was produced solely for homologation purposes, allowing Volvo to run a racing variant of the car in the European Touring Car Championships, a.k.a. Group A. To compete in the series, the Swedish automaker was required to construct 500 copies of the roadgoing version, and they produced exactly that number. They then shipped all 500 across the Atlantic, returned 30 back to Europe to race, and stripped the remaining 470 down to regular 242 Turbo specification and sold them through their regular dealer network.
However, not all the racing-specific gear was removed. Various theories exist as to just how similar the US-spec car is to its track-ready doppelganger, but what’s known for certain is that the Flathood retains its uprated springs, intercooler and Euro-style nose. Sadly, the racer’s water injection system, Getrag 5-speed, limited slip differential and uprated brakes were all removed, but most folks who have driven both say that the Flathood feels much faster than a contemporary “regular” 242 Turbo, so it’s suspected the 2.1l, SOHC 4-cylinder B21FT engine produces more than its rated 157 hp, perhaps from an uprated turbo.
I would love to own one. The Flathood has a sort of classic Volvo dorky style about it, emphasized by the distinctive fascia. It’s rare as well, and its official name—242 Group A Turbo—draws a direct connection with that golden age of fire-breathing turbocharged racing machines. Also, the Flathood’s inherent mechanical attributes—RWD, manual transmission, upgradeable turbo’d engine, rack-and-pinion—generate appeal all on their own. But the mystique of the car, the fact there’s a story arc to its creation and the uncertainty surrounding its exact specifications, these things give the Flathood almost irresistible appeal to Volvo Brick lovers. Count me among them.