Volvo 740 Tuning

"The 740 is one of the best Volvos from a tuning point of view."

The 740 was introduced in 1984 and ran right up to 1993 and has been a good solid mid size car in the Volvo range. Because of its smaller body (than the 940 at least) it offers great potential as a performance car. The engines of choice are the meaty 2.0 and 2.3 Turbo petrol engines with both offering a lot of power.

Post 1990 models had the better TD04 turbo from Mitsubishi which addressed low end lag at the expense of top end power. A hybrid turbo can really improve both pre and post 1990 engines. Later models also saw a revised fuel delivery system offering both more power and extra efficiency.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Many 740 owners uprate the handling of their cars with tuning suspension parts as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you 740 substantially enhancing your drive.

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 25mm - 40 mm and fit performance stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Don't just look at the peak power figures, you need to see the whole torque curve when determining if a mod is right for you 740.

Spending jus ta little money on the best engine and handling upgrades should transform your car into a high performance car.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Before we start discussing tuning we really need to address the handling of these cars. Look to uprate the handling of your 740 with slightly stiffer suspension and a modest drop. This will improve cornering. If the suspension is old then replace worn bushings with polyurethane ones. We would suggest a maximum drop of 35mm on the sportier models and a bit more, 40mm, for most other models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this and you'd also need to realign the entire suspension geometry.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the 740 with a nice fat peak torque band through the rev range. Focus attention on the engine's breathing first and then look to internal improvements for a larger power gain.

Spending a little money on the engine and handling will transform your car into a very credible performer.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes and the turbo engines in particular. The non turbo 2.0 is ok, but will not set the world alight and for the amount you'd need to spend on it, so a swap to the turbo makes economic sense. Although there are still plenty of things that can be done to the NASP 2.0 to improve power you have to be realistic as this will be very expensive for anything more than a modest gain. In car tuning the more you start with the bigger the return on your investment, so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Engine Tuning modifications.

The following mod are frequently added by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, lighter flywheel

    Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,

    Typical stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam.

    Doing this will help to keep the cars economy at lower speeds. A fast road cam will be one of the best power mod you can do mechanically to your engine. Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. An aftermarket fuel pressure regulator will almost certainly give a snappier throttle response than the standard Volvo one but will not necessarily increase the power. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned 740.

    Volvo 740 Intake and Exhaust upgrades.

    Breathing mods are usually next up. For NA (naturally aspirated) engines go with a washable panel air filter constructed from a cotton gauze. On the nice turbo lumps an induction kit will help increase peak power on certain Volvo engines, and give you a much more sporty sound. (Read our article on induction kits for some essential pointers in this often misunderstood area.) A good free flowing sports exhaust with a high flow catalyst is essential to balance an induction kit, just adding an induction kit on it's own will do little to increase your power.

    In nearly all cases of 740 tuning your clutch will start to slip if the existing clutch has seen high miles or your power gain is greater than 40% of standard, and this will obviously need to be uprated - read our article on clutches for more information. NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them but with turbo engines this is another story. A tuned/remapped turbo tuned/remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gain but add in a better release valve and wastegate and hybrid turbo and you will see enormous gains. Despite the large cost involved, adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains, but you'll be looking at changing most of the internal components.

    If you are NASP powered and feel the need for forced induction then it will be easier to bolt on a supercharger than it is to get a turbo working. One of our members has a supercharged Volvo that turns in good track times. On a turbo kit the boost curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it hard to map, but supercharger's linear power gains make mapping a lot easier. Alternatively you could add water injection and use high octane fuel to control knock.

    Volvo 740 Wheel modifications.

    The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. The downside to large alloy wheels on your 740 is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on performance. Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 17 inches.

    Please join us in our forum to discuss the 740 options in more detail with our 740 owners. It would also be worth reading our Volvo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification.

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