Back in 2006 Volvo released something totally new and different from what they have ever done in the past; they created a premium 2 door FWD hatch. It grew popular with young and old, was featured in a very popular movie, and went through revisions of styling and options over the years, but sadly production was stopped in 2013. Let’s have a moment of silence…
Aftermarket performance parts slowly took to the market with exhausts, intakes, and tunes, but owners craved more, and the demand created more opportunity for vendors to create new products as this car was basically a sleeper from the factory.
In 2010, Polestar Performance released the C30 Polestar concept with 405 horsepower and AWD. The K26 turbo, Haldex AWD and body styling stirred up lots of chatter on the ol’ interwebs. This car sparked a ton of talk on the only pure C30 forum in the world, C30Crew.com as well. Everyone now wanted to go bigger and build one to have as their own. There were a few that went down the bigger K16 turbo route, sleeved blocks, forged internals and what not which brought on a lot of issues like tuning, fuel trims with self-learning algorithms that caused some issues. Those that still run a K16 turbo have learned to deal with the nuances, many reverted back to K04. This caused much of the community to accept that there is nothing else one could do to a C30 beyond the “bolt-ons”.
In 2013 there was a post on C30 Crew about what it would take to do an AWD conversion. There were pages and pages of “it can’t be done you dumb ass” or “you need this and that” and “how will you get your ECU to control it”. It caught my attention, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want an AWD C30?! I already went the K16 route before and was starting to get tired of the car.
With massive financial and technical support, only a couple companies have achieved what we all want. The AWD conversion done by Polestar was not a viable legal solution because their vehicle used the modules from a V50 which basically forces the C30 to take the identity of the V50. If you were to look it up with VIDA it would show a V50 VIN. Plus, the power output was not what I would want; it was only a 70/30 split with the Haldex in the V50 and S40. Elevate has done it as well, but it was a pre-production car and was crushed after SEMA. I wanted my car to read as the original VIN and have it know it was a C30, just as if Volvo created it from the factory… time to research!
I bought my C30 back in 2009. Normally after about two years, I get bored and move on with the next car project. So if Max (My C30) can get converted to AWD, I will definitely want to keep him. These cars are not worth much money anymore and it is paid off, so I thought, why not try? (We car guys are not the brightest when it comes to car parts and money…)
Reading up the forum chatter about the conversion, I read a ton of posts about people thinking they know, assumptions, even arguments. Since it has not been done before as an individual, I didn’t know what was real or bogus. I finally stopped reading the thread because no one has done it, so no one knows. It was just a lot of talking but as usual, no doing. It’s time to change that yet again!
As the chatter grew, a few people bought donor cars to try it, some started to swap parts, and one even finished, but could not get the Haldex to work with the Volvo CAN network. I was hoping someone would figure it out so I could do it after to save me the headaches and R&D.
I started talking to my buddy Rich Forsythe (basically my brother) about the conversion, jokingly at first, but you know how Rich and I are… so we exchanged some info, and we both started deep diving in research bliss. Going into this, neither of us really knew if it was possible on the module/single VIN side of things, but we both knew the mechanical would be rather doable, and I think Rich was getting more excited than even I was at this point.
I found a nice S40 donor car on the east coast that I ended up purchasing; however, I didn’t know what to do with it because at the shop my buddy and I have in Kansas City, we only have 1 lift and we could not afford to have Max (my C30) on it for that long. I talked to Rich more about it and we both agreed it would be best to send the S40 donor and Max down to Houston for the conversion, and let’s face it… Rich is the man! Huge shout out to Momentum Volvo in Houston for letting Rich take on this project! I have been there countless times, and they are great people! They also donate to the C30’s Conquer the Dragon event C30 Crew puts on every year!!
I ended up getting the car for 700 bucks on an online auction, but with fees and all that it was close to 900, and shipping was a grand to get it to Houston! It was then though I knew this was going to be pretty pricy, but I am committed at this point. Life’s short, screw it!
Donor car was pushed in on a 2×4 make shift dolly with 2″ plastic casters, they actually got it in!
I reached out to George at VIVA Performance and purchased an AWD Quaife LSD, aluminum Single Mass Flywheel and a SPEC 6 puck racing clutch and had it all shipped to Houston. George was great to work with and I highly recommend VIVA! They also donate to the C30 Dragon event as well! I told Rich if you need anything else just ping me and it will be on its way.
Now time for the technical info!! Let’s start with the front…
The front sub-frame on the C30 needs to be used to keep the suspension angles/center of gravity the same so it handles as a C30. The S40 AWD front sub-frame gives a higher ride height which either adds more stress on CV’s when lowered to proper height or requires the use of the S40 AWD upper strut mounts and steering rack. The steering gear ratio is less tight as well and has a longer shaft to compensate for the added height. To use the C30 front sub-frame, the engine needed to be raised with spacers about a 3/8 of an inch to help with the alignment of rear shaft and clearance for the angle gear.
The S40 M66 transmission has to be used; the C30 M66 is not the same, the right axle output size is larger on the S40 AWD for the angle gear collar. The LSD bearing size in a C30 M66 are both 50mm, but for the S40 AWD it’s a 50mm and a 60mm. The final drive ratios are different, as the FWD is 3.66:1 and the AWD is 4.00:1, but it is a pleasant change as the car now pulls in 6th gear were as the C30 M66 in 6th acts as an overdrive but runs lower RPM’s on the highway. While the trans was out, Rich made sure it had new clutch lines, throw-out bearing, bleeder valve assembly and fresh lube, and finished it out with new fluid. The fluid and trans from the S40 looked brand new!
The driver side keeps the C30 shaft, but the passenger side needs to be an S40 AWD drive shaft. With the angle gear in the way, the piping needs to be changed to the turbo. The S40 charge pipe needs to be used to clear the new bits. Ideally you would want to use an S40 AWD downpipe as well, but a 3/8 in spacer was added to clear the angle gear and it worked, but it changes the angle for the piping on the rest of the exhaust.
Now let’s talk about taking the power from the front and getting it to the rear…
The drive shaft from the S40 is a perfect fit, there is no modification needed at all. Both cars have 103.9 inch wheelbases. We were surprised that the holes needed for the center bearing support and such were all there, almost as if they wanted to make it AWD but didn’t, the same goes for the S40 saddle fuel tank, bolted right in! No fabrication was needed, just OEM Volvo parts that bolted right in. The fuel pump also plugs in with the c30 harness. No modification needed there. Rich did mount the EVAP on top instead of by the camber arms, this will make working on camber arms in the future a piece of cake.
The rear sub-frame and rear spindles (stay arms) from the S40 are needed. The differences are very apparent; the shock mount location is changed, brackets for the rear differential, and the suspension attaching points are lower to accommodate the rear differential and evaporative components. The sub-frame bolts right in with no issue. Luckily, I am running CEIKA adjustable coil overs along with adjustable height shocks, so the different shock height was no biggie. A bit of adjustment and it is back to the correct ride height. If you don’t have this option, the stock S40 rear suspension can be used but will be at stock S40 ride height. The upper rear camber arms from Massive Speed Systems are also recommended to acquire the desired rear camber.
The donor came from upper east coast so it had a lot of surface rust; in fact, it came with studded winter tires on it! Rich used a needle scaler and got rid of the surface rust and coated it with a rust proof coating. New bearings were installed as well since we know they have been through hell, now would be the time to do it. The exhaust system will need tweaking as you now have a drive shaft in the middle and the rear sub-frame is different. An AWD exhaust and downpipe would be ideal to use. The rear section is now entirely an S40.
Wiring was not hard, but it did take a lot of thinking and looking at diagrams to get it right. The S40 is wired in between the CEM and the SWM for the CAN network. This pulls CAN signals from the network by the DEM to allow the rear pump engagement. So naturally we wired it exactly like the factory S40. We use the European diesel ADM location to tap into the CAN network. This needs to be done correctly and in series to not cause a disturbance on the CAN network. Power is supplied to the DEM harness by CEM fuse 51 and grounded under the passenger seat at ground point 31/67.
Once it was all ready to be checked, the car started while on the lift and the rear wheels turned! It was finally done! Or so we thought… There was an error on the dash for traction control, and the goal of this was to have it be flawless with no lights, no codes, just pure OEM like. Granted, a huge milestone was reached regardless! So Rich started thinking again…
The S40 AWD uses a Gen 2 Haldex unit. This is more of a reactive Haldex and needs to register front spin on the network before activating the rear tires, not ideal but works. This also causes an antiskid message when active. This can be solved by toggling the AWD on and off when needed to eliminate the light. Rich researched the Haldex systems and applications to discover that the Gen 3 is instant by priming the rear pump as soon as the key on signal is seen by the DEM. Easy swap from an XC90 and we now have instant AWD on the rear of the C30. The Gen 3 also does not send the BCM an ID signal on the network so the Anti-skid message is no longer an issue. The BCM does not register a configuration concern using this method. This discovery makes us proud to say we now have a ground breaking solution that can be done by anyone with extensive technical abilities!
This conversion was done using only OEM Volvo parts with NO fabrication, NO programming, and NO support from Volvo or Haldex. Volvo would not even be able to get involved as they cannot reprogram modules for things like this, and all of the government obstacles they would face. Research, R&D and patience is how we were able to make THE FIRST legal, how they would do it from the factory C30 in THE WORLD!
The only issue is with the fuel tank, as the new saddle tank pumps from one side to the other so your fuel gauge will be VERY inaccurate until you run multiple tanks of fuel for it to calibrate. The rear exhaust was wrapped in titanium heat wrap to keep the fuel tank safe beside it.
**Side note: This also works on the P1 S40/V50 Gen 2. You can add a Gen 3 DEM and have “instant” AWD on the P1, a first in that world also! This was verified by a V50 manual AWD owned by a good friend of ours.**
Testing and Conclusion:
After the conversion we needed to see how it would do and if it was mechanically sound. What better way than to drive it 1,000 miles to the Dragon in North Carolina from Houston, Texas. It had zero issues and it drove and rode smooth as silk. Having a SMF with a fresh 6 puck was a bit of a chore to get used to. A few runs on the Dragon and I had to relearn how to drive this car as it was a whole new beast. It was a blast, as you can drift it on demand and stay in full control making some very awesome turns with a smile and a laugh. The car was driven hard and was put through all the turns that the Dragon has (318 crazy turns in 11 miles) and it ran it multiple times with zero issues. After a week in the mountains I drove it from North Carolina back home to Kansas City, MO another 800 miles. If you drive it hard, you will definitely want to disable DSTC. It will spin all the tires and still squeal in 3rd! If you can find a good donor car for a great price and have the ability to perform the conversion, I highly recommend it. It will be an entire new beast that will put a big shit eating grin on your face! It was totally worth it.
Huge thanks to Rich Forsythe for going above and beyond to make my dream come true and giving the insight for others to be able to do this as well. Working with Rich is always a blast and we in the C30 community all value his help, knowledge and support. We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated and caring individual in our community. Thanks to Kevin Reed for also lending Rich a hand and Momentum Volvo for hosting a venue for this new creature to be born!
Photo: © distortography
Contact via Instagram:
Travis Morgan, Founder of C30 Crew and Owner of Max (@rimshotwheelie)
Rich Forsythe, Master Volvo Tech and Total Badass (@moosetech1)
Kevin Reed, Volvo Tech and V60 Bus Driver (@kevinreed1982)
Dedicated C30 Forum: www.c30crew.com (Travis: Travman, Rich: MooseTech) on forum.