Spannerhead Dot

Mystery Brick:
Volvo 242 Group A Turbo “Flathood”

September 24, 2012 by Matt

1983 83 Volvo 242 200 Coupe Group A Turbo Flathood Flat Hood Silver

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242 Turbo coupe, the Flathood (so-called for the straight front edge of its hood, a feature which had, by 1983, been superseded on American 200-series Volvos) was produced solely for homologation purposes, allowing Volvo to run a racing variant of the car in the European Touring Car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.

1983 83 Volvo 242 200 Coupe Group A Turbo Flathood Flat Hood Engine Motor B21FT

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 stiffer springs, intercooler and Euro-style nose. Sadly, the racer’s water injection system, Getrag 5-speed, limited slip differential and bigger 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.

1983 83 Volvo 242 200 Coupe Group A Turbo Flathood Flat Hood Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

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.

Filed under: Volvo


  1. John D says:

    A part of me has always wanted to love the Volvo ‘bricks’…but I just can’t do it. I have an affinity for the 7 series (probably because the 740GLE was my first car), but I have never liked the looks of the 2 or 9 series at all. I guess I feel the 2 series just looks kind of weak and defeated. Something about the styling and proportions. It is neither sleek and sexy nor strong and muscular. Just looks all wrong to me. And the 9 series is simply a bloated luxury version of the 7. Not that I have an opinion or anything… ;)

    But ever since I’ve rubbed shoulders with those who love the ‘turbo bricks’ I do have an appreciation for them and sincerely wished that I found them attractive or desirable. Part of me wants to get in on this cult following they have. They are unique and unpretentious and special,only appreciated by a select few, and that is attractive to me. But I’m not sure that I could ever count myself one of you. I think my dislike of the car’s asthetics stands in the way too strongly. I guess one could that that I am a fan of the car’s followers, but not of the car itself. Weird.

    • Matt says:

      Technically, as I understand it, anything with a Redblock is considered “a Brick.” So the 7/900 series would fall into that category too. But yeah, I understand where you’re coming from; the 200-series’ looks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea for sure. I like that you used the word “unpretentious;” I totally agree and that quality is a big reason I like its styling.

      So if you like the followers, but not the car, I suppose a Volvo/Mustang hybrid would be your ideal, then? :) Take the Volvo’s followers and the Mustang’s attributes and you have the perfect car + scene.

  2. John Laughlin says:

    Remember, a stock 1983 242 Turbo without the flathood didn’t have the intercooler kit installed. So, likely that they were comparing cars that were 100% stock. A few years ago (about 10 years before this page was written), I had an ’82 242 Turbo in silver. It typically had boost spikes, which meant that even though it at the time didn’t have an intercooler, it still wound up being quicker than it was when the wastegate opened at the normal set pressure of 6.5 psi. I frequently saw 10 psi on my calibrated boost gauge. After addition of the intercooler, it usually was doing 12-13 psi in cooler weather and 10 psi when the weather was hot out.

  3. John Laughlin says:

    Also, the 242Ti flathood shown at the top of the page used to be owned by the guy I bought my current 245 Turbo from.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the insight, John! Always nice to hear from owners (and former owners). A not-so-small part of me pines for a Flathood. Any online info about your 245? Would love to see it.


    I had a heavily-aftermarket Volvo 240 Turbo/intercooler with a water cooled turbo, Upgraded Bilstein struts and shocks, lowering springs, a flowmaster muffler, upgraded tires and rims( (225/50’s), and a darkened charcoal paint job. And a Nakamichi stereo with Infinity speakers replacing the stock radio. It might have been an ’89. I learned to drive a stick and went for long drives listening to rock and roll (naturally). The car drove great, but honestly it was very expensive when it needed new parts, which was way too often. I had to get rid of it after the dashboard cracked, the leather fell apart, the roof leaked, the glove compartment (!) fell apart, you name it- it broke. I sank over $6000 to make the car fast and look great, but the maintenance was killing me. I just regret not taking a full set of photos of it after I got it painted. With all the black trim it was, at least to me, a really beautiful car. And I had it in the shop so often, I learned a great deal about the internal workings of an automobile- I even had my own C/O wrench to do adjustments when it idled a little rough. Leave it to Beaver, right? But no more Swedish-made cars for me after that. Especially when my Swedish-American mechanic moved to another state….

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