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We first got a glance at Mikael Borggren’s LS-swapped Volvo wagon at the inaugural Sick Week in 2022, and we instantly fell in love with it. The unassuming, “soccer mom” vibes of the Volvo paired with the performance of a turbocharged LS engine made for a surprising result on the track – 6-second quarter-mile passes at 200+ mph!
At Sick Week last year, Mikael Borggren and his LS Volvo went on to capture second place in the Modified class with a 6.91 average at 206 mph. He also finished third overall behind Stefan Gustafsson and Rick Prospero. This year, Mikael was once again in Florida to battle for drag-and-drive bragging rights in the Modified class. However, he entered Sick Week 2023 with a hurt engine, running on seven cylinders instead of all eight. Nevertheless, his 1987 Volvo and its 388 cubic inch LS engine are an awesome combo, so we spoke to Mikael, who hails from Sweden, during day two of the event at Bradenton Motorsports Park to get the full details of the build.
Borggren’s pass that morning at Bradenton happened to be his fastest of the week – a 6.90 at 200 mph. “We were hoping to get after it this week to run with the faster guys in the class, but since [the engine] is a little bit hurt, we have to try to be smart,” Borggren says. “The real challenge here is to keep the combustion in the chamber because it’s still a wet deck setup. That’s kind of the limitation on this setup.”
Speaking of the LS-swapped 1987 Volvo setup, Mikael has been perfecting it for a number of years since getting the car back in 2017.
“We’ve had it for quite a few years actually,” he says. We bought it in 2017. We made it into a road trip car to go around the United States, and then we decided let’s do Drag Week and let’s put an LS engine in it. That’s where it all started and it snowballed from there.”
According to Mikael, the car began by running 8- and 9-second passes before the ante was upped to run 7-seconds and then get into the mid-to-high 6-second range. Of course, when you look at a Volvo wagon, all sorts of things come to mind, but running quarter-mile passes of any speed usually isn’t one of them. However, to watch this Volvo go down the track is a sight to see!
“The turbocharged LS engine uses a cast Dart steel block and its got Ross pistons, GRP aluminum rods, CID LS7-style cylinder heads, a Shaun’s Custom Alloy LS7 intake, FuelTech injectors, T&D rockers, Manton pushrods, Victory valves, an Auto Verdi dry sump oil pump and billet pan, and a single 110mm Precision Pro Mod turbo,” Borggren says.
Utilizing a single-turbo setup, Mikael told us he typically runs somewhere between 45-55 lbs. of boost, even with a hurt engine!
“We were hoping to really get after it this week, but we had some gremlins before we got here,” he says. “It’s actually hurt right now, so we are kind of limping it a little bit. We’re still running somewhere between 45-55-lbs. of boost. We haven’t been over 55 lbs. That’s been the highest.”
At those boost levels, Mikael’s 388 cid LS engine can produce in the neighborhood of 2,500 horsepower to the wheels, although the engine has not been on a dyno for an official number.
When the LS-powered Volvo is clicking at 100%, mid-6-second passes are possible, and we got to see four straight days of high 6-second passes in 2022. However, in 2023, Mikael only broke into the 6s one time during this year’s Sick Week event, but he still managed a 7.56 average at 180 mph, which earned him a second-place finish in Modified and a Top-10 finish overall.
“We took our expectations down since we hurt the one cylinder,” Borggren admits. “We hurt it on the dyno [just before Sick Week], so we had to put in a new rod and piston and weld the head back up. We’re in a pretty bad spot actually. We have a lot of power out of one cylinder, so we’re basically running on seven and a half cylinders. We also had to take a lot of timing out of it.”
Had the LS engine been at full strength, Mikael says running 6.50s and 6.60s would have been the goal all week long.
“I would’ve wanted to run similar times to the fastest guy in the class,” he says. “I haven’t done it, but I would’ve wanted to and that would’ve put it in the 6.50 or 6.60 area. But, since it’s hurt, we’ve had to back it off a little bit and try to be a little bit smart about it.”
Being smart and not pushing the Volvo and the LS engine to the brink garnered Mikael second in Modified once again, and a Top-10 finish. We hope to see him and the LS-swapped Volvo at future drag-and-drive events very soon!
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].