Here’s What Made The Volvo Redblock Engine So Special


The B230FT (and all iterations of the Volvo Redblock engine) would succeed the aging B20 powerplants from the late 1960s. It has a crossflow aluminum cylinder head, a cast iron block, and a belt-driven single overhead camshaft with sodium-filled valves. Meanwhile, it has shorter, forged dish pistons to deliver a lower compression ratio. At the same time, Volvo engineers also installed longer connecting rods, more miniature main bearings, and more counterweights on the forged crankshaft for smoother rotations.

Producing about 165 horsepower in various Volvo 200, 700, and 900 Series models, the B230FT was not about high-revving histrionics or mountains of torque from a standstill. Instead, Volvo engineers went the extra mile to design a compact turbo engine that’s easy to fix and work on. As a result, the B230FT Redblock could handle more power with basic tuning mods and run like a clock without the usual hiccups, making it a favorite in the Volvo tuning community.

The finest iteration of the B230FT Redblock has to be the Penta. It has an updated valvetrain with 16 valves (four valves per cylinder) and a forged crankshaft. Although the Redblock gave way to the Volvo Modular engine family with four, five, or six cylinders by the early 90s, the former has retained its fabled status in the Nordic enthusiast scene for its simplicity and tuning potential.

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