Saturday, November 25, 2017

Volvo Amazon (1956–70)

The Volvo Amazon was a mid-size car manufactured and marketed by Volvo Cars from 1956 to 1970 under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The shapes included features drawn from Italian, British and American design. The man responsible for the design was 26-year-old Jan Wilsgaard, who went on to become Volvo’s head of design for many years, designing the 140, 240 and 700 series, as well as parts of the 800 series. The Amazon was offered in 4-door sedan, 2-door sedan, and 5-door wagon body styles. The bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment.

The Amazon had been named Amason — spelled with an ‘s’. The name came from Greek mythology, in which the Amazons were female warriors. The spelling was changed to the more internationally viable Amazon prior to the launch of production in 1957. However, German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. A deal was reached to allow the Volvo model to be known as Amazon in the Nordic markets. In the rest of the world, the standard model was known as 121, while 122 was used for the sport model. The Amazon was  introduced in the USA as the 122S at the New York International Auto Show in April 1959. The estate model with a standard engine was called 221, while 222 was used for estates with the sport engine. The car is now known as Amazon around the world.

The base model with a single carburetor 66 bhp (49 kW) engine, the 122S introduced as a performance model equipped with a dual carburetor 85 bhp (63 kW) engine. 

By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported, for a total of 667,791 vehicles. 

Volvo Amazon 4-door Sedan (1956-67)

In 1956, the Amazon's 4-door model was revealed in Sewden. Original specifications for the Amazon included the new Volvo B16 engine, a 3-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. The 1958 Amazon Sport was developed for customers who wanted more power. With twin SU carburetors and a sharper camshaft, the engine could generate 85 hp SAE. Later the same year, the Amazon became the first series produced car with a three-point safety belt in the front seats as standard.

Between 1957 and 1959, all cars were two-coloured. The combinations on offer were black, midnight blue or ruby red bodies with a light grey roof, or a light grey body with a black roof. From 1959, it became possible to buy an Amazon in just one colour, and 1961 was the final year of production of the two-colored cars. The last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967. ( & wikipedia)

Volvo Amazon 2-door Sedan (1962-70)

In 1962, Volvo introduced a 2-door version, a 5-door wagon, and the new B18 engine. 

The sportiest edition of the Amazon was the 1967 123 GT (see photos below), which borrowed its engine from the Volvo 1800S sports car, offering 115 hp and overdrive.

In 1969, the Amazon and the new Volvo 140 series received the new B20 engine. The larger volume provided better torque and a slight increase in power. ( & wikipedia)

A 1964 Volvo Amazon 122S 2-Door Rally Saloon 

1967 Volvo 123 GT

The sportiest edition of the Amazon was the 1967 123 GT, which borrowed its engine from the Volvo 1800S sports car, offering 115 hp and overdrive. Bringing with it a four-speed manual transmission with overdrive that would allow for speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. On some units, the wing mirrors were attached to the front fenders, extra lights came as standard and a tachometer was mounted above the dashboard. The Volvo 123GT represented the brand’s initial attempt to deliver a factory hot rod to American audiences.

Volvo Amazon 5-door Wagon (1962-70)

The Amazon estate (wagon/ kombi) featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle's rear license plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold "up" such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the license plate was still visible.

(Photos from,,,,,,,, &

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