Performance wagons aren’t anything new. In fact, Paul Newman owned one in the 1980s.
Now that 1988 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon that the legendary actor bought brand-new is currently up for auction on a Bring a Trailer. The boxy four-door may seem like a weird choice for the racing-obsessed star of Cool Hand Luke, until you realize it’s the recipient of a number of high-performance upgrades, including the engine from a Buick Grand National.
Newman may be best known for his exploits on the silver screen, but he was also a dedicated family man. When he and his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, weren’t on set—and Newman wasn’t at the race track—they were back home in Connecticut raising their family. That might explain the actor’s penchant for Volvo wagons, vehicles that no one has ever mistaken as cool. Of course, Newman’s love of the rather sensible 740 might be because his wasn’t factory-spec.
Newman’s wagon may look unassuming, but it’s not, according to Car and Driver. The 740 rolled off the line with a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four that could produce 150 hp. That’s more than enough for driving the kids to soccer practice, but it wasn’t enough for the actor. That’s why he had the engine swapped out for the ferocious turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6 from a Grand National, one of the faster American cars of the era. The mill, which is mated to a Pontiac Firebird–sourced five-speed manual gearbox, more than doubled output to a hair-raising 320 hp. This is a wagon that Newman could—and we assume did—use to burn some serious rubber.
The power train wasn’t the only aspect of the 740 that Newman had modified. It also wears a mild aero kit and has been lowered just a tad. The wagon is finished in metallic gray, has a black leather interior and rides on a set of 16-inch Gemini five-spoke wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 all-season tires. In terms of Volvo wagons from the decade, this is as good as it gets.
In the market for a performance wagon owned by one of Hollywood’s most legendary actors? Newman’s 740 Turbo is up for auction through Friday, March 17. As of press time, bidding had only reached $25,000, which means you might be able to get yourself a true bargain on one of the more unexpected celebrity cars of 2023.
Click here for more photos of Paul Newman’s 1988 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon.