Hot Rod Wagon: 1995 Volvo 850 T5-R

When it comes to hot wagons, the Volvo 850 T5-R basically broke the mold wide open back in 1995. Up until that point, the world hasn’t spent much time thinking about the prospects of a hot-rod wagon, especially here in the U.S. BMW had been stuffing the M5 powerplant into longroof 5-Series for a few years, but those didn’t come stateside. Since Volvo had been the lone entrant for years with its iconic Turbo Wagon from the middle 80s, it was fitting that they introduced perhaps their hottest model ever made on a racetrack. This 1995 Volvo T5-R wagon is a Japanese import wearing the best colors offered, and it’s listed here on eBay with a $28,600 Buy-It-Now.

When the T5-R was introduced, it was a total gamechanger. The performance wasn’t merely good; it was significantly improved over the standard model. The 240 b.h.p. turbocharged five-cylinder engine could rip to 60 in under seven seconds all while hauling a few bags of mulch and some shovels for your next gardening project. Firmer, lower suspension, titanium five-spoke wheels, rear spoiler, and front air dam all combined to give the wagon a much more aggressive appearance all while being completely functional improvements. The end result was a wagon that went as good as it looked and could handle itself when it left the interstate for some backroads.

Credit the road-holding with fat swaybars and firm shocks, along with some seriously sticky rubber when it was new. The good news is, even if the current tires are less exotic than the Pirellis it left the factory with, you can remedy this issue with a quick visit to the Tire Rack. As far as the color goes, well – I’m pretty confident most Volvo enthusiasts would tell you this is the best shade they ever offered. As a Japanese market model, I’m honestly not sure what’s different. In the old days, gray market cars often had less restrictive emissions equipment and other features U.S. cars didn’t get, but aside from right-hand drive steering and perhaps more powerful headlamps, it’s anyone’s guess what’s different from local T5-Rs.

Image courtesy of Corvette Forum

This picture has been plastered all over the internet as a reminder of how seriously Volvo took the performance enhancements it made to its bread-and-butter wagon. It wasn’t afraid to showcase it on one of the most competitive international racing stages, the British Touring Car Championship (spend some time on YouTube watching these guys go wheel to wheel – you’ll be there for hours. You’re welcome.) The T5-R seen here isn’t perhaps as raw as this one, but it’s not far off – and while the current asking price is high, it’s also likely not all that unrealistic given Volvo only made 1,000 in four-door and wagon form. If you had to own a performance wagon, which one would you buy?


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Don’t forget British cops used these as pursuit vehicles

    Like 12
  2. Superdessucke

    Had a 1996 850R wagon. Lost my shirt on it. Bought it for 5k and ended up selling it for 4k after doing a lot of maintenance and upgrades cuz I didn’t understand the Volvo market. That’s a long story but suffice it to say this asking price is ridiculous.

    Like 9
  3. Jcs

    Contemporary testing shows that the RMW was just as quick in the quarter mile, with a higher top speed.

    Additionally, its LT1 didn’t require left foot braking to build boost to get there, just punch it and go.

    Like 3
    • Jcs

      Trap speed, not top. My apologies. Real world fuel economy was comparable as well.

      Like 1
    • Me


      Like 2
      • Jcs

        Just sayin, Me, that it sure would be embarrassing to watch the taillights disappear on a Buick Roadmaster Wagon, as the author seems to believe that this Volvo was the only wagon that would run at the time. Half the price to boot.

        Like 2
  4. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    If there’s no record of timing belt & tensioner replaced recently then you don’t start it & needs to be Volvo parts. Crappy pictures…all brakes need replaced. Factory radio replaced. Not that nice, buy a V60 Polestar & that’s the current version of T-5R. Also HP was under stated from new.

    Like 1
  5. Sam61

    Cool meatball and herring hauler! Doug Demuro has an interesting video about his Audi wagon/Porsche collaberation of a similar vintage.

  6. Joey_2

    I presently own a 99 v70R and a 98 v70glt (low pressure turbo). Almost everyone overlooks the brick with wheels until it goes around you and goes away…..

    Like 1
  7. JimmyJ

    I’m looking for one with a stick and at least 20k less!
    My kids turboed 5spd 240 wagon will give it a run for it’s money!

    Like 3
  8. alphasud Member

    I took a driving school back when the 850 was out. I was really impressed with the chassis balance for a front wheel drive. Had a lot of fun and gained respect for what was otherwise known as a stodgy safe car. As others have mentioned these are valve benders if the timing belt brakes. I have done work on some of them. I would say it wasn’t my most fun car to work on but like anything else with repetitive labor ops you learn to work more efficiently.

    Like 3
  9. JCA Member

    $30k and I have to deal with right hand drive?

    Like 5
  10. Frank Brauer

    I find it insulting when back seat photos are displayed but none of the front?!?! Trying to pull a fast one over us?Obviously isn’t a honest seller. Also no engine compartment photos too? For this price the seller should be bending over backwards to display all up front.

    Like 6
  11. Charles Sawka

    Really ? C’mon man.

  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Problem I see is that it’s a Volvo wagon, and at least in my area, no matter how much of a Hi-Po car it may be, the owner will still drive it 5 to 10 MPH below the speed limit!

    Like 1
  13. K. R. V.

    Ok these are very nice fast wagons, but calling it a “hot rod wagon “, is a bit of hyperbole! I post this because I had an actual Hot Rod Wagon, a 1969 Pontiac LeMans Sport Wagon, that with the help of a couple good friends, and my wreaked car, we turned into a 1969 GTO Sport Wagon! The entire drivetrain, a 455/4 brl, TH400, with the 3:23 posi rear, bucket seats an console, hood/tach along With all the factory gauges! Complete with chrome roof rack. In met silver with red interior was very sharp an fast!

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