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T-5R and 850R

This article is about the history of the Volvo 850 T-5R and 850R. Enjoy reading!

Volvo 850 T-5R

When the 850 T-5 was launched it had a warm welcome. But to increase the sporty image a little bit more (which also was done by entering the BTCC with a 850 racer) Volvo decided to develop a very fast car based on the 850 T-5. The original idea was to call the car the Volvo 850 T5+ (the “plus” would refer to the increased horsepower and extras) and was also planned to be a Limited Edition. But in the Volvo Press kit (presented on April 11 1994) the car was called “Volvo 850 plus 5” (which is better than 850 T5+). Fortunately the ridicilous name “850 plus 5” was changed to “850 T-5R” (not T5R or T5-R, the badge really says “T-5R”) a few months later. Some say the R refers to the 850 Racing (which was used in the BTCC) but others think the R refers to R-Sport (which was used in the Group A touring cars and rallysport).

Volvo 850 Plus 5
The original name of the 850 T-5R: Volvo 850 plus 5

Many people believe the T-5R is a homologation car for Volvo to enter the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) but it’s not: Volvo was already racing with the 850 Estate in the BTCC before the T-5R was presented. The homologation rules of the BTCC doesn’t say to build a Limited Edition car, but the mandatory was to have 2.500 cars with the same bodystyle being produced. Of course that wasn’t a problem because the 850 was in production for more than 2 years before the BTCC-season started. Also other brands like Ford (Mondeo), Toyota (Carina E) and Vauxhall (Cavalier, which was the Opel Vectra) didn’t have to produce a special car.  Volvo submitted the Volvo 850 SE and GLT with 2-litre engine as homologation car. For 1995 (with new regulations in the BTCC) Volvo submitted the standard Volvo 850 T-5 saloon for homologation and it was approved by the FIA and Super Touring Class II (which also covers the “2 litre Touring Car Formula” of the BTCC).

Here is the official FIA homologation list (used for all raceclasses, including BTCC and STCC) with approved Volvo cars:- Volvo 850 SE/GLT 2.0 1984cc, approved on July 1 1993
– Volvo 850 SE/GLT 2.0 1984cc, approved on April 1 1994
– Volvo 850 T-5 Sedan 2319 x 1.7 = 3942.3cc, approved on February 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 Estate 2319 x 1.7 = 3942.3cc, approved on February 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 Sedan 2319 x 1.7 = 3942.3cc, approved on February 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 Estate 2319 x 1.7 = 3942.3cc, approved on February 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 B5234FT1, approved on March 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 Estate, approved on April 1 1995
– Volvo 850 T-5 Sedan, approved on April 1 1995

The T-5R was developed with some help of Porsche. The upholstery-design of the seats refers to the help of Porsche: many people were wondering why the sides of the seats were in graphite/grey Amaretta (suede, feels like alcantara but slightly thinner) and the middle part in leather (in most cases it’s the opposite), but Porsche also used this on their cars in the 911 Turbo. That’s why the T-5R also has this design. The interior is always black in the T-5R and was finished with a wooden trim (called Burlet Black Walnut) around the instrument panel, floor console panels and on the gear shift selector.

Volvo 850 T-5R interior trim upholstery leather alcantara suede seats
The interior trim of my Volvo 850 T-5R, but all the interiors of the T-5R are the same. Notice the Volvo Jubilee-badge on the glove compartment: a previous owner added it on the dashboard but I don’t know why (there is no hole behind it), but it’s pretty funny

But the interior wasn’t the only thing Porsche changed to the car: some changes were made to the design of the B5234T5 engine and gearbox. Another upgrade was the new electronci control unit of Bosch, the Bosch 628 ecu. The new ecu added 1,3 psi (0,1 bar) extra pressure to the turbocharger, which give the car 240bhp (18 horsepower more than the normal 850 T-5) and 300nm (221lb-ft) torque. But this increased power was only available for 7 seconds. The 850 T-5R was available with 4-speed automatic transmission and 5-speed manual gearbox (engine power is with both transmissions the same). The topspeed was limited to 249km/h (155mph) due European regulations. The 0-100kmh (0-62mph) sprint took 6,9 seconds for the saloon and 7,0 seconds for the 850 T-5R Estate. For some markets (like Italy, where tax regulations made cars with a larger engine very expensive) the 2.0-litre engine was used.

Volvo 850 T-5R T5R engine B5234T5 turbo intercooler
The B5234T5-engine of my previous T-5R

At the exterior a new front bumper including front spoiler (lip) was added, and the saloon standard has a rear spoiler (the rear spoiler for the T-5R Estate was an option, but was purchased a lot). The car also has side skirts and polished aluminum door sills. The 7x 17-inch 5-spoke Titan alloy wheels are dark grey (Titanium Gray, inspired on the TWR Volvo 850 Racing car in the BTCC) and were originally fitted with Pirelli P-Zero tires (205/45 ZR 17) which provided a grip of 0,88g.

Volvo 850 T-5R T5R T5-R Estate Black Stone automatic transmission
My 850 T-5R Blackstone with fully painted bumpers (done by a previous owner). The car was purchased in The Netherlands in December 1994

The T-5R has the following standard equipment:

  • Antilock-Braking System (ABS)
  • Traction Control Systems (TRACS)
  • sport suspension with larger stabilizer bars and heavy duty hydraulic shock absorbers
  • Estate-cars: self-leveling rear shock absorbers (Nivomat, instead of the hydraulic version)
  • cruise control
  • board computer
  • electric powered windows and mirrors (also heated)
  • Volvo Guard alarm with remote control
  • front fog lights
  • electronic climate control (ECC)
  • black with dark grey leather with leather & Amaretta (suede) upholstery and steering wheel
  • heated seats
  • adjustable power seats with memory for 3 settings
  • Volvo SC-800 or SC-811 double-din radio with tape
  • Burled Black Walnut trim on dashboard, floor console and gearknob
  • electrical sunroof
  • child booster seat
  • 4 airbags (driver, passenger and SIPS sidebags)
  • 17-inch Titan wheels
  • front lip, side skirts and rear spoiler (optional for estate)
  • roof rails and luggage net for the estate

Only two options were available: an Alpine 6-CD changer and 16-inch alloy wheels with Michelin tires (in most cases with Michelin 205/55 ZR 16 MXM allweather-tires. The 16-inch wheels (instead of 17-inch) were available at no cost.

The 850 T-5R was available in three colors: Cream Yellow, Black Stone and Dark Olive Pearl. At some markets Dark Olive Pearl wasn’t available.

The T-5R was only available in modelyear (MY) 1995. Production of the T5R started in August 1994 and ended in July 1995. For some markets the car was available in 1994 but some markets had to wait until March 1995.

Volvo 850 T-5R T5R T5-R dash dashboard interior instrument panel
The dashboard of the Volvo 850 T-5R

To recognise a T-5R by the VIN-code: look for the VIN-plate under the hood. The chassisnumber should contain “58” (manual transmission) or “59” (automatic transmission) after the letters “LS” or “LW”.

The original production planned 2.500 cars but the car was a big success so 5.500 T-5Rs (saloons and stationwagons) were produced: 1.975 of them were Cream Yellow,  500 were Dark Olive Pearl (green) and 3.025 T-5Rs were painted in Black Stone.

Volvo 850 T-5R T5R T5-R CY saloon sedan Cream Yellow Volvo 850 T-5R Estate Cream Yellow
The Volvo 850 T-5R saloon and Estate in Cream Yellow (CY)

Volvo 850R

Because the T-5R was a Limited Edition there should be no successor for the car. But because the T-5R was very successful in its sales and image Volvo decided to develop a new fast Volvo 850 which should replace the 850 T-5R. The new car should be based on the T-5R but with some improvements. The new car was called: Volvo 850R.

The colors Cream Yellow was discontinued on the 850R, but some new colors were added: Turquoise, White, Brilliant Red and Gun Metal Grey. The car was also available in black. For some markets the Volvo 850R was also available in Dark Olive Pearl (green). The 850R also has new wheels, which are much stronger than the Titans. The new Volan wheels are also 7x 17-inch and have 7 spokes. The saloon has a new designed rear spoiler.

Volvo 850R Estate red
The Volvo 850R Estate in Brilliant Red

The interior is also changed: the new designed seats are now equipped with alcantara and leather on the sides (instead of the opposite, like the T-5R had) and the car was now also available with other interior colors: black and gray (with Dark Walnut wooden trim) or light brown (with Light Birch wooden trim).

Volvo 850R 850 R interior trim upholstery beige light brown
The light brown (beige) interior of the Volvo 850R

But that’s not all: the 2.3-litre 5-cylinder engine has been equipped with a larger turbo (except the cars with automatic gearbox), new manifold, new intercooler and a more sophisticated fuel pressure sensor (to obtain an even more precise air/fuel mixture), to increase power by 10bhp to 250bhp at 5400rpm. Torque increased from 300nm to 350nm (258lb ft).  The name of the engine with these changes was renamed to B5234T4. The new M59 gearbox was now fitted into the manual transmission (MT) equipped cars for most markets (other markets kept the M56H gearbox and didn’t have the larger turbo). The 850Rs with an automatic transmission (AT) didn’t have the bigger turbocharger and still had 240bhp. The 850R MT acceleration from 0-100kmh (0-62mph) takes now 6.7 seconds (the AT needs 7.5 seconds for that, 7.6 seconds in case of an Estate). The topspeed is (again) limited to 249km/h (155mph) due European regulations. Just like the T-5R some markets got the 850R with a 2.0-litre engine.

Volvo 850R red saloon spoiler rear wing
The 850R saloon has a new rear spoiler

Other improvements were made at the suspension: thinner anti-rollbars (but some T-5R enthousiasts says the handling is much better on the T-5R) and that modification allowed to have stiffer damper settings. The MT 850R also has a viscous coupling and a Torsen differential (in case of the M59 gearbox).

The equipment of the 850R is the same as the 850 T-5R but with some changes:

  • a 6-CD changer is now standard
  • Volan-wheels instead of Titan
  • passenger airbag is now an option (standard for some markets)
  • 16-inch wheel option not longer available
  • rear spoiler also standard on the Estate
  • leather gear knob (instead of wooden trim)

Production of the Volvo 850R ended in 1997 when the Volvo S70 and V70 were introduced.

© Volvotips 2011


If you like this article, you might also enjoy reading the history of the Volvo 850 and the story of the Volvo 850 Racing in the BTCC.

One Response to “T-5R and 850R”

  1. Pookie says:

    An extremely interesting article. Thank you.

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