The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show that’s held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a place where automakers and components manufacturers gather to showcase cars and parts designed largely for the tuner crowd. You can see countless Mustangs, WRXs sitting a quarter of an inch off the ground, chrome-plated 1960s Impalas and Hummers riding on wheels the size of a smart fortwo. What you typically don’t see are Volvos.
The Gothenburg-based firm raised eyebrows a decade ago when it traveled to the SEMA show to introduce two new concepts called XC70 AT and T6 Roadsters, respectively. While the XC70 AT was essentially a more rugged version of the XC70 wagon, the T6 Roadster was unlike anything Volvo had built before because it took the form of a sleek coupe whose design was openly inspired by hot rods built in the 1930s.
The T6 Roadster boasted a Plymouth Prowler-like, open-wheel design characterized by a rakish grille, headlights that stuck out from the sides of the body, an arch-shaped roof line that peaked right above the driver and thin tail lamps. It was built around a custom-designed tubular steel frame but the rear sub-frame was sourced from a donor S80.
An instrument cluster borrowed from S80 was mounted right in the middle of the dashboard. The leather-upholstered sport seats also came from Volvo’s big sedan, but the steering wheel was sourced from the smaller S60 and upgraded with a thin chrome ring that added a retro-inspired touch to the cockpit.
Power came from a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter straight-six engine that spun the rear wheels via an automatic transmission. Surprisingly, the engine was mounted transversally right behind the passenger compartment. It was tuned to make 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 206 lb-ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm in the stock S80, but Volvo didn’t include the T6 Roadster’s technical specifications in its 2005 press release.
Many of the steering, brake and suspension components came from Volvo parts bin, notably from the S80 and the C70. The T6 was a simple design study built specifically for SEMA and it was outlandish in every sense of the word, but it was fully functional.
It goes without saying that the T6 Roadster was not seriously considered for mass production — what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. However, it generated a tremendously positive response among Volvo fans and show-goers, so the company introduced another hot rod called V8 Speedster at the 2007 edition of the SEMA show.
The pictures that show how the T6 Roadster was built were provided by Volvo’s archives department.