Home » The Real Story Behind Paul Newman’s Long-Lost V8 Volvo And The Mystery Of The Unknown 6th Wagon

The Real Story Behind Paul Newman’s Long-Lost V8 Volvo And The Mystery Of The Unknown 6th Wagon

Newmans V8 Volvo Real Deal Ts2
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I wasn’t sure I was in the wrong place, but I had a sense I was not where I was supposed to be. And then I saw it. A beautiful Volvo 960 wagon with an uncharacteristically throaty rumble. It couldn’t be? I tried to think back to the mythic Paul Newman V8 wagons I knew existed, and this didn’t look like any of them. The reason, as I was soon to find out, is that very few living individuals have ever seen this car in person and in fact, for the last decade, no one has.

It turns out I was in the wrong place, but it must have been the right time.

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This is a challenging story to tell because, like everyone else, I thought I knew all there was to know about Paul Newman and his hot rod Volvos. The famous actor (HUD, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Towering Inferno, etc) was a well-known hobby racer but also a very private person. In order to be able to drive fast without being noticed he eschewed sports cars for stealthily modified Volvo wagons that could outrun Corvettes without being noticed by the police.

I was wrong. They like to say that there are enough pieces of the ‘true cross’ in reliquaries across Europe that you could take the lumber and build a crucifix the size of the Empire State Building. To some degree, this seems to be true of Paul Newman Volvos.

A lot of people say they have cars from the legendary actor, but there’s always been a missing link to explain how all of the wagons fit together. The myth has been compounded by Newman’s own humble, quiet nature and the fact that the cars were built in an early/pre-internet time and not well recorded. There is, as a longtime friend of Newman’s told me, a lot of “embellishment” when it comes to these cars.

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Paul Newman V8 Volvo Puffer

It turns out the Volvo in this story, which I had no expectation of ever seeing, is the missing link. And it was total dumb luck that I found it and connected with the owner who, like Paul Newman, is someone you probably know.

Here, for what I think is the first time on the Internet, is the best and most complete accounting of what happened to the Paul Newman Volvos, including the revelation of a heretofore unknown sixth car.

Getting Lost And Finding A Lost Volvo Instead

Greenwich Grand Tour
The Grand Tour, which was nowhere near where I was. Photo: Hagerty.

The plan last Friday was to meet up with some friends from Hagerty and, with other journalists, drive from the parking lot of the Greenwich Concours to a fancy home in upper Westchester, New York, designed by architect Steve Harris, who was the Grand Marshall of the weekend’s Concours d’Elegance.

Looking at nice homes isn’t something I do regularly, but I have a lot of friends at Hagerty and enjoy being invited to their events. Plus, they offered me a ride in a vintage Cadillac. How could I say no?

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I have a degree in Geography from The University of Texas at Austin and this mostly comes up when people are amused when they discover I have the directional sense of a lead compass. Erica Lourd, our videographer/editor, was on hand to help me record some reels and just trusted me when I said we should walk back toward the highway.

This was incorrect.

“At least I got my steps in” was Erica’s charitable response when she found out that, instead of walking 200 feet to the meeting spot we walked about 6,000 feet in the opposite direction. Rather than wait, we hitched a ride back (in a 1970 Dodge Challenger no less) so we wouldn’t miss the start of The Grand Tour, which is a drive that kicks off the Concours weekend.

Hagerty Grand Tour
Where I was supposed to be. Photo: Hagerty

In spite of arriving in Greenwich 20 minutes early, we were now late. I could see that the drivers were finishing their briefing, and I knew I needed to quickly get into the Cadillac for the drive. However, as soon as we pulled into the parking I spotted the Volvo wagon. There were definitely signs that it was, at least, inspired by the Paul Newman V8 Volvo of much lore.

I couldn’t resist staring at the Volvo. Something drew me to it. I told Erica we had to shoot the car. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it said “PL Newman” on the license plate in the rear and “PUFFER” on the license plate up front. The wheels were wrong, but it might be something.

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I was hoping to interrogate the owner of the car, but before I knew it I was getting whisked into the back of the Cadillac. We went one way, the Volvo went the other, and I had to sit with the mystery.

Cadillac Drive Hagerty 1

After getting home and reviewing the footage and photos I was quite sure I’d seen a copy. This car doesn’t exist. I looked all over the web and couldn’t find a photo of a grey Paul Newman 960 that seemed to fit. Just to be sure I texted Jeremy Malcom from Hagerty, who was also unsure what the story was with the car.

“I’d have to check with Wayne.”

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Uh, Wayne CariniThe Wayne Carini? After a little light begging, Jeremy responded to my question of whether or not the car could possibly be real:

“Confirmed!”

My mind was blown. Wayne called me soon after and torched whatever was left of my imagination with the real story of what happened to the car. A tip from him led to another person with an even fuller history of the vehicles.

The Incomplete History Of Paul Newman’s Wagons, As Known By The Internet

Paul Newman Nisssan Ad
A Nissan ad featuring Paul Newman. Source: eBay

Paul Newman, the actor and philanthropist, was well known for his love of cars. He trained at Watkins Glen’s racing school in the 1960s for the film Winning about a race car driver hoping to win the Indy 500. Newman caught the bug and, in addition to acting, spent more and more of his time racing.

From Petrolicious:

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He notably won his class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona in a Sharp/Newman Nissan 300ZX, making Newman at age 70 the oldest driver to win a major professional racing event. He also tried the off-road Baja 1000 in 2004 and was in the 24 Hours of Daytona again as recently as 2005. For a time he owned a Can-Am racing team, but perhaps Newman is best known for his role with Newman/Haas Racing. Starting in 1983 Carl Haas’s racing and business acumen combined with Newman’s star power attracted not only some of the best drivers in the world, but also some of the world’s wealthiest sponsors, from Texaco to McDonalds.

Newman was also somewhat quietly co-owner of Connecticut’s Own Volvo dealership in Milford, Connecticut (since rebranded as just Westport Volvo), with his longtime friend and business partner Micheal Brockman. This will become important to the story later.

Paul Newman Volvo V8 Wheels

Having covered cars on the Internet for more than a decade, I had what I thought was a complete idea of Paul Newman’s Volvo wagons. So much so that I initially discounted the car I saw on Friday because it lacked the Borbet five-spoke wheels I knew the Newman Volvos were supposed to have.

Here’s the conventional wisdom of what encompasses the Newman Volvo wagons:

  • 1988 Volvo 740 GLE – Swapped with a Turbo V6 from a Buick GNX
  • 1995 Volvo 960 (grey) – Ford V8 w/ Kenne Bell Supercharger owned by Newman
  • 1995 Volvo 960 (blue) – Ford V8 w/ Kenne Bell Supercharger owned by a friend, Ian Warburg
  • 1995 Volvo 960 (red) – Ford V8 w/ Kenne Bell Supercharger owned by David Letterman
  • 1998 Volvo V90 – Corvette LS2 V8 built in 2008 for Paul Newman

As I was to learn, there’s a 6th wagon out there somewhere, but more on that in a bit.

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The first wagon is the Volvo 740, which everyone on the Internet has seen because it’s been sold numerous times (for a while it was auctioned every year for Newman’s Hole In The Wall Gang charity). Most recently it was auction on Bring A Trailer in 2023 for $80,740.

Gnx Volvo

The car was sold with a document that shows Paul Newman as a previous owner, though it’s a request for a duplicate certificate of title and dated 1998. This car is real, even if some of the documentation is only partially complete. What’s known is that the car was built by Lee Hurley of Hurley Engine Service Company of Birmingham, Alabama.

Car Talk has a write-up that implies this car, powered by a turbo V6 from a Buick GNX tweaked to 400 horsepower, was a bit crude for Newman’s taste so he moved onto the idea of a V8.

Before Paul Newman died he drove his Corvette GT1 race car one last time and there’s an obit in Jalopnik from 2008 that implies that a Buick-powered wagon was also there, though the story says it’s a Buick V8 (the author is Mike Spinelli and Spinelli can’t remember where he heard it from, but thinks he just goofed and wrote V8 instead of V6).

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The last car, a V90, is also famous. Whether or not it’s truly a Newman car is an exercise in semantics as the V90, powered by an LS2 V8 from a Corvette C6, was built as a gift for the aging actor shortly before his death. This is well known and explained nicely by RM Auctions, who sold the vehicle for $57,200:

Newman’s third and final hot-rodded Volvo is offered here. Unlike the other two, it was not his idea to build it, but rather was conceived and constructed by his race team as a surprise gift in 2007. Shoehorned under the hood is a Chevrolet LS2 V-8 crate engine—the same 6.0-liter found in a C6 Corvette—mated to a General Motors four-speed automatic transmission.

[…]

The exterior was kept unchanged, as Newman was known to prefer a stock look with his Swedish station wagons. Unfortunately, he passed not long after the car was completed and so was not able to fully enjoy its fearsome performance.

I appreciate the auction-speak at the end there, which implies Newman could have driven the car without ever explicitly saying he drove the car. In my reporting, it seems as though Newman did get hot laps of the “Volvette” at Lime Rock Park but probably never got behind the wheel.

This leaves three known outstanding Volvo wagons. Newman was reticent to talk about himself as a driver or car collector to the media, telling the New York Times reporter Jerry Garrett that “he was a hobbyist as a racer, and he felt professionals more appropriately deserved to be in the limelight in this theater.”

We probably wouldn’t know much about these cars except for the fact that one of the three V8 Volvos was ordered by David Letterman, a Paul Newman friend and a co-owner of his racing team, who was happy to talk about it.

God Bless David Letterman

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David Letterman was the last guest of the Jon Stewart Show, the short-lived MTV experiment hosted by pre-The Daily Show star Jon Stewart. In the episode, Stewart asks Letterman about being famous and in show business and Letterman says:

“I thought about this and I thought about this and I’ve currently distilled it now down to the persona of Paul Newman. I have been lucky enough to meet Paul Newman and I just want to tell you this guy is the real deal. He is solid gold. He’s a great actor, he’s a wonderful guy, and just an interesting fellow.”

Letterman V8 Volvo
The Letterman Volvo. Screenshot: Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Letterman goes on to explain how they met at a race in Phoenix, and the usually unflappable Letterman could barely contain his excitement. Eventually, they become friends and that leads to the famous phone call in which Newman pitches Letterman on the concept of the V8 Volvo. Here’s a transcript, according to Letterman:

“Dave, I’m thinking about getting me a Volvo station wagon and I’m gonna stuff a Ford 302 V8 engine into it. This engine is about the size of a small piano, so we’re going to have to push back the firewall. Do you want one?”

(So, I’m thinking… Volvo station wagon. It looks like something that you’d make in metal shop. If you want something really sporty get a bakery truck. And every time you see a Volvo station wagon there’s three kids in the back getting sick on a golden retriever. And I’m thinking, these cars are so safe because in traffic other motorists slow down to check out how ugly they are. So, intellectually, I do not want a Volvo station. But, internally, it’s Paul Newman so…)

“Yes, I’d like… Paul… let me have that Volvo Station Wagon”

(I’m aware of the fact talking to Paul that he’s far more excited about this than I am. And he calls up from time to time, and he goes…)

“Have you picked out the interior yet?”

“No, I haven’t”

“Well, you better hurry because the dollar is falling!”

It’s worth watching the whole video because his Paul Newman impression is hilarious. But the best part is this:

So he calls two weeks ago.

“Dave, the cars are ready, we’ve got two. One for me, one for you. Everything is ready to go, I gotta ask you a question: Do you want a puffer on yours?”

And I’m thinking: is that like a special inflatable seat, or, I don’t know, sails on this Volvo?

“Well, Paul, are you getting a puffer on yours?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m getting a puffer on mine.”

Letterman then goes on to explain how fast Newman says it’ll go and that the 400 horsepower wagon will “chew anybody’s ass” from 20-100.

Shortly after that interview, in February of 1996, Letterman went on Al Roker’s CNBC show and explained that he’d just taken delivery of the wagon, but said “I can’t tell you where it came from, or how it came into my life, because the guy gets a little cranky about this stuff.”

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Paul Newman passed away in September of 2008 and, I suppose, the embargo on information about the car lifted with it. Letterman’s car showed up again on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” where he does a burnout in a Stew Leonard’s parking lot of all things. In this version of the story, Letterman says he got off the phone and after talking to Newman asks “Does anyone know what a puffer is?” after agreeing to order one.

Given the stories he told to Roker and Stewart, I’m guessing the original version is probably more accurate, but the way he told it to Seinfeld is funnier so I’m going to accept that as the historical version.

Also in this interview, Letterman shares that the car catches on fire on Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway at one point (this is also going to be important later). Letterman, initially, said there were just the two cars, but there was actually a third.

The Ian Warburg (Navy) Car

Warbug Volvo Maybe
Possibly the Warburg car in 2020, via Craigslist.

The story I’m told early on is that there were three cars, but the third car, ordered in navy blue for businessman Ian Warburg, was destroyed on the Merritt Parkway. A tragic ending for a rare and historic car, albeit an understandable one due to the car’s power and that specific road’s siren-like attraction for these Volvos.

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There’s no confirmation of any of this on the Internet, so I reached out to Warburg.

“The power was insane, especially for that day and age,” Warburg told me. “The V8 torque in those cars… it was kind of breathtaking. And there’s a wonderful thing about hot laps on the Merritt Parkway. I just remember driving with Paul off an exit ramp, and it was just like he defied the laws of physics, it was incredible, he was just such a talented driver.”

Warburg Paul Newman Ferrari
A young Warburg driving one of Newman’s toy Ferraris in the actor’s driveway. Photo: Ian Warburg.

How did Warburg end up in this famous trio of car owners? Geography [maybe also say he was not a total prick, since they became friends. it wasn’t TOTALLY geography, right?]. Warburg’s parents lived in Westport, Connecticut, and Paul and his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, moved in next door. The families quickly became the kind of friends with “refrigerator rights” at each others’ houses.

Warburg was friends with both Newman and Brockman and so, as he remembers it, one day he heard Brockton chatting about cars and heard that they wanted to build a replacement for the 740 wagon, which was a car he’d long admired.

The work was done, as is well known, by Ross Converse of Converse Engineering in Maine. The company got its start in older Volvo 240 conversions and, so far as I can tell, is no longer in business. I reached out to an email account supposedly used by Mr. Converse but have not heard back as of yet.

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“Ross is an interesting cat, he started building these cars because he didn’t have the money to buy cool cars for himself so he built them,” remembers Warburg. “When we’d met him we’d seen some of the kind of the stuff he’d been doing with V8 versions [of older Volvos].”

According to Warburg, they ordered the three cars via Brockman and Newman’s dealership in Connecticut before stripping the drivetrains and selling them. The cars were then sent to Maine for the conversion. All-in, Warburg estimates the cars cost in the neighborhood of $60-70k to build, including the donor car.

Warburg was able to provide a spec sheet that covers all that was done to the cars:

Preview Of Spec Sheet
The original spec sheet. Click to enlarge. Courtesy of Ian Warburg.

The car was a riot, although Warburg did have the Newman Volvo’s modified suspension swapped back for stock as he was mostly driving the car into New York City for work (the cars were modified with a transverse fiberglass and steel rear leaf spring to lower the cars). One of the fondest non-Newman memories of the car Warburg has was driving it down to Washington, D.C. for a business trip and then getting stopped at a Maryland tollbooth.

“I kind of lumber up with the car sounding viscous and the toll taker goes ‘c’mon what’s under the hood?’ And I said ‘There’s a little something.'” Warburg then proceeded to spend five minutes showing the toll booth collector around the car as traffic built up behind them. Which, c’mon, you have to do it!

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Warburg had the car for a few years and then sold it. There was an article on the blue wagon done for Swedespeed that was wiped from the site for unknown reasons. Thankfully, it was republished on Jalopnik. The photos were removed from the republished piece but one was grabbed by the site Daddytypes in 2008.

After a few years of ownership, Warburg sold the car to a friend. He didn’t want to divulge the name but I was able to determine the next owner was Lucio “Lou” Noto, the former Mobil Oil executive. After enjoying the car for a while Noto seems to have sold it to a cycling enthusiast in New Jersey.

Warburg Volvo Interior
Possibly the redone interior of the Warburg Volvo.

I have yet to be able to track down the car after that. A similar, but not quite matching vehicle, was sold in Mamaroneck, New York a few years ago. Website The Daily Turismo was the only one who noticed the Craigslist ad and published a short blog pondering that it could be the third car.

According to Warburg, it probably was his car. The wheels are different and the interior has been swapped, but if you look at the ad closely you’ll see the carpeting on the floor doesn’t match the rest of the interior. Plus, the VIN lines up with the other cars, which is probably the best proof there is short of seeing the V60 in person.

Curiously, the ad makes no mention of Paul Newman and I get the sense that the person who sold it wasn’t aware of the history.

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What’s happened to this car since is anyone’s guess and I’d love for anyone who knows to please email me at matt@theautopian.com. A quick check of the VIN shows that the car hasn’t been reported or totaled, though perhaps it, too, was claimed by the Merritt Parkway.

So what of Newman’s Volvo? Where is the car that started this all?

This Is Paul Newman’s Car

Paul Newman Volvo V8 Fulll

Paul Newman always got his wagons in gray, because that was the stealthiest color. It worked, because of all the cars he built it was his own personal car that was the hardest to find.

Unless you happened to live near Paul Newman or watched a television segment that briefly aired in the 2010s, you’ve probably never seen this car. Almost no one had seen the car until last Friday when, mostly by accident, I bumped into it. I guess accident is maybe overstating it a bit.

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The car’s new owner, TV show host/collector/great guy Wayne Carini, definitely wanted people to see it. That’s why, after hiding it for more than a decade, he brought it out to the event on Friday.

This year, at Greenwich, [the Concours] said ‘what kind of class you wanna do?’ and I said “I love hotrod station wagon’ and I’ve got an RS6 wagon, so I said ‘let’s do a hot rod wagon class,” Carini told me. “That was the impetus of getting the car running again.”

You might assume that, living in Connecticut, Carini got the car in Connecticut from Newman, but that’s not quite how it happened.

According to Carini, Newman was having the car serviced in late 2007 or 2008 when an unknown person came into Connecticut’s Own Volvo hoping to buy a Volvo 960 Wagon. Upon being told the 960 wasn’t being made anymore, the gentleman pointed to Newman’s 960 wagon and said “What about that one?” It wasn’t for sale but, after inquiring with Newman and Brockman, the car was sold.

Newmans Own Clothes

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It even had some of Newman’s personal effects, including the tennis clothes he left in the wagon and a CD copy of Japanese concert pianist Mitsuko Uchida playing a couple of Schubert sonatas. Most curiously, there seems to be an itemized invoice for six performances that Newman did.

That’s a wild story and, at this point, one that’s difficult to prove without talking to the person who purchased the vehicle. However, there’s some information to show it might be true.

The car ended up in Maryland, with the person who sold it to Carini. The prior owner had the car appraised by an appraiser named Randy Williams. In his report, Williams notes:

The high performance Volvo Wagon was purchased from Paul Newman directly with the assistance of Michael Brockman prior to Paul Newman passing away in September 2008.

That matches up with Carini’s story, although it’s short on details. I reached out to Williams, who still appraises cars, and he remembers the car distinctly.

Appriaser Report
Images from the Appraiser’s report.

 

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“The extra items were a nice piece, and the owner felt like they were a part of the car,” Williams told me. “I think he was a little miffed with me because I didn’t give a lot of weight to the personal items in the value of the car.”

Even more than ten years after the report, Williams says the personal items never quite made sense to him.

“Why were those things left in the car? It was a weird collection, in my head I could never get over the fact that it seemed a little too bizarre to me, and I included it, but I’ll be honest I didn’t give a lot of weight to it.”

The car being sold off by chance, so close to Newman’s death, perhaps explains why no one thought to clean out the car.

The prior owner seems to have taken the data from the appraiser and tried to list the car online via an obscure website called Cars-On-Line.com and most people didn’t seem to notice except, again, The Daily Turismo, who posted about it on their Kinja page. Thankfully, that Kinja post was archived by Archive.org and provides some more details.

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Unfortunately the thrift store knows exactly what they have and this Excalibur is priced as if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. We’re certain we are not the only ones scratching our heads that we found this car on an obscure site like cars-on-line.com instead of something mainstream like Hemmings, craigslist or ebay. The contact info is a simple telephone number and says the car is located in Forest Lake, CA.

I don’t think the car was ever in Forest Lake, California. According to Carini, the owner attempted to sell the car via RM Auctions, but for unknown reasons the auction house passed. They did, however, think to tell Letterman.

It turns out that, in addition to all his other jobs, Carini was often responsible for taking care of David Letterman’s cars. One day, according to Carini, Letterman’s partner got into a collision on the damn Merritt Parkway in Letterman’s Volvo and needed some work done on the car. Carini had no idea about the car’s provenance but quickly realized it was special.

“The flatbed dropped it off one day and I called David [and asked] “What the hell is this?” and he called me up and told me about the puffer.”

Paul Newman Volvo V8 Interior

Carini wanted the car, but Letterman refused to sell. However, being a good guy, when Letterman found out the original car was for sale he passed on the intel to Carini who eventually got the car. As he was hosting Chasing Classic Cars at the time, he even included a short segment in an episode in the show’s sixth season titled “Getting Hot.”

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So far as I can tell, that episode is no longer able to be viewed online through any regular source (it’s not purchasable and it’s not on Discovery+) so, unless you were watching the show then or caught a rerun, this briefly posted ad or this short segment were the only ways to ever see the Newman car because Carini put it on a lift and socked it away for more than a decade.

It’s Already Broken Once, But Everyone Wants It

When I saw the car I was confused about the wheels, which didn’t match the F16-style Borbets. There’s an easy explanation for that, which is that one of the caps was missing and Carini couldn’t easily find a set of matching 16-inch wheels so he just bought a set of wheels he thought looked right for the car.

Also, the bumper was replaced because “Paul hit someone on the Merritt Parkway.” It’s always the Merritt Parkway!

That also matches up with history. Warburg told me: “Paul did have an accident in that car, I remember his daughter was on the phone with Joanne when they got in the collision, no one was hurt, but the car needed to be repaired.”

Part of the appeal of a fast Volvo is that, hell, it’s a safe car. So far as I can tell, no one has been seriously hurt in the many accidents these cars have been involved in. The most recent incident occurred on Friday, which was the vehicle’s first outing in more than ten years.

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It turns out that the car uses a Volvo clutch cable and the plastic adjustment nut is right next to the exhaust header and, while it’s wrapped in heat-resistant tape, it nevertheless melted. Carini seems almost pleased about this.

Paul Newman Volvo V8 Engine

“Sometimes it’s not a bad thing when cars break down on the side of the road,” he giddily recalls. “We met so many nice people, the chief of police came out, we took pictures, the building inspector came out, and then we went to a pizza place that had been open for a week and ten of us piled in and [the shop’s owner] thought he hit the jackpot.”

That’s part of old car ownership.

“When we sell cars to people they often ask: ‘Will it break down?’ and I tell them ‘Count on it, but you’re going to have more fun when the car breaks down than you’ll ever have anywhere else because you’ll meet new people.”

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Carini had the car towed back to the Concours grounds and is looking forward to doing more with it, though he says he’ll eventually sell it and, as part of the tradition, will donate some of the money to Paul Newman’s Hole In the Wall Gang charity.

Allegedly, Adam Corolla, who owns a bunch of Newman cars, is already trying to buy it.

The Unknown And Missing Sixth Paul Newman Volvo

Warburg Ian Volvo V70r Small
Warburg’s matching V70R. Courtesy of Ian Warburg.

In all this reporting, the thing that was most surprising wasn’t the continued existence of the Paul Newman-owned car. It wasn’t even the fact that the third car was sold a few years ago by someone who didn’t seem to know they had a Newman car.

It’s the fact that Newman, in fact, had one last Volvo wagon that, in my research, hasn’t been reported on.

“[Newman] ended up in the same car I’m driving today,” says Warburg, who is the proud owner of a 2007 Volvo V70R purchased from Connecticut’s Own Volvo, recommended to him by Newman, who had just purchased a similar car.

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“It was box stock. He said I had to buy the car,” Warburg explains. “Until the end, he was driving the dark gray V70R with the Nordikap interior.”

It was an automatic because, as Newman explained to Warburg, it was pretty much as good as the manual. With 300 horsepower from its turbo 2.5-liter inline-five, the Volvo V70R wasn’t quite as raucous as the V8-powered car, but it was fast and fun from the factory.

V70r Newman
The car would look similar to this one listed on Cars & Bids, but with a darker interior.

Warburg’s car, pictured at the top of this section, is not quite stock these days. The motor was replaced at around 210,000 miles and now features a K26 hybrid turbo, polished and ported head, 18-inch Pegasus wheels, and some other modifications. While an enthusiast will note it as something special, it’s also fairly stealthy, just like Paul would have liked.

“I’m a big fan of sleepers,” Warbur says. “And I admired his penchant for building the ultimate sleepers.”

What happened to that final Newman wagon is unclear. Warburg thinks it was sold off “quietly” as just another used car in late 2008 or early 2009. It’s possible the person who purchased it didn’t even know it was Newman’s last fast Volvo.

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It’s somewhere out there, and some day I hope to find it.

So, if you know of (or have) a Volvo V70R in Titanium Gray Metallic with Nordikap interior there’s a chance it’s the Newman car. Email me at matt@theautopian.com and I can potentially help verify the car with some details.

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Thomas Ogle
Thomas Ogle
1 month ago

I recall Mr Newman showing up at Stafford Springs and running some laps in a Modified one Friday night, then walking around the pits just like any other gearhead.

John Klier
John Klier
1 month ago

I put a Chevy 327 in a ’78 Volvo 264GL about 25 years ago. I used a manual made by JTR conversions. JTR stands for Jags that Run. They started doing manuals for jag swaps then did one for Volvo’s, S10 pickups and Datzun 280z’s. The manual was fantastic! They are still around. JTR Stealth Conversions V8 Swaps (jagsthatrun.com)

Last edited 1 month ago by John Klier
Von Baldy
Von Baldy
1 month ago
Reply to  John Klier

Those, the jags and s10s theyve covered nicely

Would love a v8 240

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

I saw this one at Greenwich and was so happy. Fewer cars than in past years, but they were good quality – although I genuinely miss the Radwood section.

Mark M
Mark M
1 month ago

This is a great article. I owned both a 95′ 960, and a 04′ V70R (it wasnt Paul Newman, but the TWR/BTCC that spiked my interest in Volvo wagons). Funny enough, the damn clutch cable snapped/slipped on the same plastic nut described in the video above on both cars (of course mine had the stock i4/5 turbo with 5 and 6 speed manuals respectively). Unfortunately on the V70R it also damaged the clutch/bearing and flywheel and was the beginning of the end of my last Volvo wagon ownership experience. Maybe one day down the road ill pick up a late model V90 for the last hurrah…

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago

Matt, thank you, great article.

In spring 2001, I was in the back of a police car on my way to the police station in South Salem, NY when we pulled over a Peugeot being driven by David Letterman.

David, if you are reading this, I’d love to shake your hand someday. I also grew up about a mile from you on Silver Spring Road.

Limerockian
Limerockian
1 month ago

I was lucky to grow up in Connecticut, and having a family that loved cars and racing.
It was sort of normal to see Paul with his wife and kids, and grand kids, enjoy a day of racing from the hillsides at Limerock.
I’ll never forget the look on my wife’s face when I pointed out Paul by his car in the paddock. I still see Wayne at car events here in CT.

Tinibone
Tinibone
1 month ago

This is a great blog Matt, thankyou for writing it up!

Now I need to convince my wife that a V8 swapped Volvo is a good family car…

Clive Wilson
Clive Wilson
1 month ago

I seem to recall a magazine article (C/D?) which involved the writer driving one of these wagons and trying to deliver it to Mr Newman, only to find no-one answered the doorbell.

Anyone else remember this?

SurvivedAPintoCrash
SurvivedAPintoCrash
1 month ago
Reply to  Clive Wilson

they did a Nissan Maxima.

Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
1 month ago

I was doing Marketing and PR for what was at the time the World’s Largest Racing and Driving School, which was based near Lime Rock Park in the mid to late 2000s, and PLN was just one of the regulars who you’d see around every once in a while. It was common knowledge in those circles that he was really sick, and when they brought his GT1 Corvette to the track for him to take it for one last spin, we started getting phone calls from various media outlets, and we decided to run interference, denying anything was going on so the man could do what he wanted to do one last time in peace.

IIRC the Corvette had some mechanical issue and he ended up not being able to drive it, but then again I was at the office taking calls and not down at the track.

Bracq P
Bracq P
1 month ago

Thank you Matt for a thorough article about a subject that has made waves since the 90s.
Dave and Paul,s souped up Volvos were the urban legend for a while. Now we understand maybe better, it was not just a 5.0 (as I picked up on the first time the lore reached me back then), but with what is somehow related to as a “puffer” 😉
Incredible especially if put in relation to what was available on the roads then.

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I’d like to think that if I had the fame and money of Paul Newman, I’d have been similar with both the philanthropy and extremely potent sleeper cars. I can’t say I’d be able to afford a true Newman Volvo, but a tribute version might be plausible.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 month ago

Newman, Letterman, Carini, hot rod Volvos. My day is made. Thanks for a wonderful story! For the love of good television, somebody bring back Chasing Classic Cars.

Ben Siegel
Ben Siegel
1 month ago

While an excellent article and well researched the lack of info on Reg Dunlap and his GTO is a miss. 🙂

Don Harbidge
Don Harbidge
1 month ago

You missed an obvious link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4PjWgiH-LQ

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Harbidge

And one of many live performances
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK0ywnGfVww

Jj
Jj
1 month ago

Were you sarcastically calling Paul Newman a ‘hobby racer?’

He was an SCCA champion and came in 2nd overall at LeMans. I saw him race (and win) in a GT1 Corvette at Limerock when he was 83 years old. He wasn’t just a rich guy using the track day paddock to make connections.

T Mill
T Mill
1 month ago

Anyone who’s raised the hood on an ’84-’98 Volvo 740->960 knows that there is, in fact, a whole lot of room for a small block V8.
With the original 4 cyl red block, you can see lots of pavement below from either side of the car. When Volvo decided to offer a new inline 2.9l inline 6 in the 960 in ’92, they, infact, had to push back the firewall to do so.
Letterman’s story that refers to the 302 Ford being the size of a piano might make for a good tale, but if small block Fords could be fit to Cobras and Sunbeams in the 60’s, a similar engine would easily fit in that mid-90’s 960 Volvo chassis.

Isis
Isis
1 month ago

LS2 V8 from a Corvette Z06″

Z06 didn’t have the LS2. C5 Z06 had a LS6. The LS2 was the engine in the base C6 Corvette.

They had nearly identical power in the CTS-V which came with both. 04-05 had LS6 and 06-07 has LS2.

Robert Sienko
Robert Sienko
1 month ago
Reply to  Isis

one thing to add was that the same era z06 motor to the ls2 is the ls7. C5: ls1 for base, ls6 for z06. C6 LS2 or LS3 for base, LS7 for Z06, LS9 for zr1.

Isis
Isis
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Sienko

Yep. The blurb quoted right after Matt’s typo mentions the motor and C6 Corvette correctly, so I think Matt just plopped Z06 instead of C6 by mistake.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 month ago

Related side story: When Volvo was redesigning the 140/164 cars to become the 240/260, one of the big changes was changing the double A-arm front suspension to MacPherson struts. This would effectively widen the engine bay. You see, the OHV I-6 in the 164 was at a dead end, and Volvo wanted to be able to fit a V-8 under the hood.

The V-8 in question was in the design phase, in cooperation with Peugeot and Renault. Then the first Oil Crisis hit, and all involved parties decided to lop 2 cylinders from the V-8, creating the engine now known as the PRV V-6. Since the design was already underway, the PRV engine (known in Volvo-speak as the B27 or B28) would wind up being a 90-degree V-6.

And now you know why the 200/700/900 series Volvos had enough engine bay space to swap in an American V-8 easily. It was designed from Day 1 to accept a V-8.

Last edited 1 month ago by Eggsalad
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Well now you do. We can all learn from each other.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago

Great reporting! Long roofs rule.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 month ago

I love stories like this. Tracing the history of a specific automobile is fascinating. There’s a book called Auto Biography by Earl Swift about one 57 Chevy. A great read.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a supercharger referred to as a puffer. I’ve heard them called a huffer, but not a puffer.

GumpertApolloGuy
GumpertApolloGuy
1 month ago

I work in Milford, pretty neat to see a Milford license plate frame.

OttosPhotos
OttosPhotos
1 month ago

Good to see Wayne Carini is still around. Was just thinking about him as I haven’t seen an episode of Chasing Classic Cars in years.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
1 month ago
Reply to  OttosPhotos

Allegedly thing were not good between Carini and the network so the show was ended on bad terms. Maybe that’s why it’s been memory holed.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago

cool write up, thanks!

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago

I bought a V90 with a dead six in it and was wanting to do an LS swap ended up with an AWD 850R and sold it to somebody who was going to do the same- I don’t think it ever happened, the later cars were more refined but heavier

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