Searching for the most efficient way to transport many cases of delicious salad dressing or spaghetti sauce from the grocery shop to your home? Imagine this Volvo 740 waggon from 1988.

This brick-shaped Volvo, formerly owned by Paul Newman, is equipped with a turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 from a Buick Grand National.

This 740 is one of a series of modified Volvo waggons owned by the famed actor and racer, and it is currently available for purchase.

Paul Newman was essentially Steve McQueen minus the ugly personal baggage, as he was wickedly quick behind the wheel of a race car and effortlessly calm. Newman was more Lime Rock than Hollywood, despite being known for his roles in films such as Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A beloved son of Westport, Connecticut, and a family man whose marriage lasted fifty years (until his death in 2008), he favoured Volvo station waggons. Newman, though, like his Swedish iron to be spicier on the inside, as seen by the 1988 Volvo 740 waggon he put up for auction on Bring a Trailer


According to a copy of the title, Newman purchased this 740 in July 1988, and it is believed to be the first Volvo he changed to his specifications. These modifications included the installation of a turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 from a Buick Grand National coupled to a five-speed manual transmission from a Pontiac Firebird.

In 1988, the Volvo 740 Turbo waggon was equipped with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine producing around 150 horsepower. Newman’s modification more than doubled the available horsepower to about 320 horses (thanks in part to a chipped ECU).

Modest bodywork is matched by mildly lowered Bilstein springs and dampers and anti-roll bars from Volvo guru IPD. Volvo 16-inch wheels with five spokes and BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 A/S tyres from the 1980s. In spite of these clues, any observer would have assumed they were gazing at an average old Volvo until the vehicle smoked its rear tyres and sped off into the distance.

Newman apparently gained his first racing experience while filming the 1969 Indianapolis 500-themed picture Winning. He went on to buy Volvo 960 waggons with V-8 conversions. Jerry Seinfeld would drive one of these vehicles on an episode of Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee, which he shared with his Connecticut neighbour David Letterman.

In addition to movies and racing, Newman’s humanitarian activity is what truly completes his mythology. Since its inception in 1982, the His Newman’s Own brand has provided approximately $600 million to philanthropic causes. In 1988, the year this Volvo was manufactured, he established the Hole in the Wall Gang camp, a place where children with life-threatening illnesses could enjoy the freedom of summer camp.

The vendor of this ex-Newman Volvo will contribute a share of the sale’s revenues to the Hole in the Wall Gang camp in recognition of this generous spirit. If a Grand National–powered sleeper waggon with celebrity provenance wasn’t enough, winning this Volvo will do some good in the world. It is without a doubt what Newman himself would have desired.

Brendan McAleer is a freelance photographer and writer located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was raised on British automobiles, came of age during the golden period of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about autos and people in 2008. His special interest lies in the interplay of mankind and technology, be it Walter Cronkite’s racing career or Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century infatuation with the Citron 2CV. He has taught both of his young girls how to shift a manual transmission and is thankful that they give him with an excuse to purchase Hot Wheels incessantly.