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This Rally Volvo Will be Sold to Benefit the Hospital That Saved Its Owner’s Life

COVID-19 almost killed him. Auctioning off this 1970 Volvo 144 is his way of saying thank you.

It's March in pandemic-stricken London. A man falls desperately ill suddenly, and his condition rapidly deteriorates. Skilled clinicians at University College of London Hospital battle bravely to save his life, resuscitating him at one point. After two weeks in the hospital, the 72-year-old man convalesces at home and thinks about how to say thank you to the doctors that helped him. The solution: Auction off his incredible 1970 Volvo 144—rally prepped, and with several finishes at various events under its belt—and donate all of the proceeds to the UCLH.

A poignant story to go with what appears to be a potent vintage rally car. The 140-series is the direct ancestor of the famous 240-series. Both are rugged, reliable, and no strangers to rally events. This car, known as The Camel, was originally prepared in 2010 by a Volvo specialist called Amazon Cars, which claims to only take on a single customer project at a time—that's the sort of absurd stoicism only a truly special shop can muster. That said, this car has been through three rounds with Amazon, and was reconditioned after nearly every major event it entered.

That includes the 2012 London to Cape Town World Cup Rally, the 2013 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, and the 2016 Peking to Paris. Amazon went over it after the 2016 event, so the seller says it's ready to run in the next rally.

Aesthetics are secondary to raw function in the sorts of events this box competed in, but that philosophy is actually what makes this Volvo so appealing. It's delightfully purposeful, from the mustard paint to the netting on the bull bar. Inside, the digital rally timers and original ribbon gauge cluster prove a wonderful match. Twin fuel cells vie with a spare tire in the trunk. Everywhere you look, this Volvo has the well-loved look of a veteran toolbox: Everything in its place, a bit greasy, and ready to get down to work.

Mechanically it appears robust, as well, with the weapons-grade B20 2.0-liter engine backed up by a four-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip rear differential. A lightened flywheel and aftermarket exhaust system help make the B20 a bit more lively, although it still utilizes twin SU carburetors rather than fuel injection that was available starting in 1971. For inevitable tire issues, there's an onboard compressor as well.

While it's located in the United Kingdom, the old Volvo is left-hand drive and likely legal (or easily made legal) for numerous series. Don't take our word for it—check the rulebooks. It'll benefit a good cause, too. If you're interested, get in contact with Historics Auctioneers in Iver, U.K. The Volvo will be auctioned at no reserve at the Windsorview Lakes event on July 18.