Volvo 260 Tuning

"The 260 could be a real surprise."

The Volvo 260 had a long production run in Europe from 1974 right up to 1993 so there are plenty of useful project shells around. With the top of the range T5 engines there are also plenty of tuning options around, with engine swaps being quite popular on the smaller engined models. Handling modifications are usually your first port of call for the 260. We would go to a maximum drop of 35mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the 260 with a nice fat peak torque band.

Enjoy your 260 to the full with our tuning tips and turn it into a fun car.

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you (1784cc, 1986cc or the older SOHC engines) get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

Volvo 260 Tuning modifications.

This will help to ensure you retain some economy low down. One of the best mechanical mods you can do is to fit a fast road cam. When pushing up the power you will need to pay attention to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel. An aftermarket fuel pressure regulator will almost certainly give a snappier throttle response than the standard Volvo one. To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this.

Volvo 260 Intake and Exhaust.

Typically these uprated upgrades are usually installed by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you begin.

Getting the correct grade of uprated parts for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 competition upgrades just won't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your 260

  1. Braking Mods - Stopping your 260 ought to be high on your agenda.
  2. 260 Handling Mods (Suspension) - Fitting a more sporty Suspension kit greatly enhances your 260 road holding and cornering. Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.
  3. Fast road Camshafts are are often the best upgrade for an engine, but they must be setup by someone qualified to set them up and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .
  4. Turbo upgrades - A New Turbo is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, which permits you to burn more fuel and make more power. Although one of the most complex modifications but provides the best gains.
  5. Air Intake and high flowing exhausts - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD POWER on most cars, but they will enable you to enhance power after other mods by lessening the restrictive flow.
  6. Flowing and porting the Head - Head work will get air flowing into the engine while removing turbulence or restrictions.
  7. Lightened Flywheels - a lighter flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. In some cases flywheel lightening is not a great mod for all 260 engines.

260 Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Sports exhaust, Remap, Lighter flywheel, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels, Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

Your goal when modding your car should be a nice flat torque band. You want to avoid sending all the power to be at the top end unless you are creating a motor sport car.

The whole point of our articles is to give a limited introduction of car tuning performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best uprated kits and all aspects of modding cars.One of the most cost effective mechanical tuning parts you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road camshaft .

The intake and exhaust durations play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully release the power gain.

When pushing up the power you will need to look at to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you have flat spots and surges after your mods you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned 260s uprated injectors.

260 Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the 260.

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 24 - 38 and fit modified stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Upgrades to the 260's suspension and handling

When it comes to modding your 260, one of the most often aims and reasons is to enhance its handling. However, we continue to encounter the same mistakes.

Adjustable Coilovers allow you to lower or raise the car and this allows you to fine tune your cars handling to suit your driving style.

Is there anything I should keep in mind while deciding on suspension mods for my 260?

Uprated Bushes

Bushing upgrades are needed so what's involved?

It is possible to connect the 260's suspension components to the chassis of the 260 using poly bushes, which are direct replacements for the original rubber mounts. The rubber ones usually start to fail with time and need replacing anyway so why not upgrade.

By replacing new OEM rubber bushings, you may greatly improve your vehicle's performance.

Because the polyurethane bushes are firmer, the ride may be a bit rougher, but they will last longer and maintain the handling.

Increased vibration and play may also accelerate the decay in other suspension components.

With a new set of polyeyurothane bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushings may be minimized.

Volvo 260 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Contrary to popular belief there is usually very little if any power gain reached by fitting an induction kit, they only help and are recommended after you increase the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

For most 260 engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of supplying cold air.

Sports exhausts balance the flow of gases through the engine. But if your exhaust is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of your flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Getting a professionally flowed (ported and polished) head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. In nearly all cases of 260 tuning your clutch will start to complain and this needs to be uprated - read our article on clutches for more information. The best mods in our experience for your 260 are a remap especially on a turbo, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

We've also come across some owners toying with twincharging conversions and making some seriously high power gains.

Adding forced induction will see significant power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Turbos are usually harder to add than a supercharger. Turbos give boost in exponential proportion to th engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

Superchargers will give a boost which is correlating to engine speed so is easier to map. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

It is a good proposition though to drop in a T5 engine from a newer model along with the gearbox and drivetrain. Superchargers are generally easier to add than turbos. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. It is easier to map a supercharger because the boost is proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. Alternatively you could add water injection to control knock.

Volvo 260 Wheel modifications.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the 260, big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the higher the top speed will be due to the change in your effective final drive ratio the downside is the slower acceleration. Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory.

Due to this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 inches, although we know some of our members have installed larger rims with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 260 options in more detail with our 260 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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