In 1956 Volvo launched one of its most successful model ranges, the Amazon series, which was to remain in production until 1970. Starting with the 121 and 122 models, the Amazon range soon established itself as a comfortable, reliable and superbly made car which also introduced new levels of safety equipment - still very much a novelty in the mid-Fifties!
Austere but well-proportioned, the Amazon was styled by Jan Wilsgaard who was inspired by American cars of the period such as the Chrysler New Yorker and the Chrysler 300C hardtop coupe, both of which it resembles in a restrained Scandinavian way. It was also one of the first cars to feature an ergonomically-designed cabin, with multi-adjustable seats and thoughtfully laid-out controls.
Immensely rugged and well-engineered, it was the car that laid the foundations for Volvo’s great reputation - many Amazons are still in daily use and are also extremely popular on the historic rally scene.
Do you remember that scene in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ where Hugh Grant asks Andie MacDowell how many – er – ‘partners’ she’s had? And she tells him. Well, this Volvo has done 178,000 miles. Yes, it too has been round the block, but it is a Volvo: Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo has clocked up over 3 million miles on one engine so 178k is barely run-in.
DTV 316B was first registered in May 1964 to Parkway Garages, of Poole, Dorset. There are five recorded owners, including a father and son who owned the car from 1974-2014. The car has been serviced regularly with much of the documentation held on file.
The body was restored in 1996 by Bryspray Bodyworks who carried out repairs to the lower four inches of the doors and to the wheel arches. Ten years later, Kustom Kolors carried out work to the doors, the roof, the bonnet and fitted a new nearside front wing at a total cost of £1,650 and the California White paintwork still looks good.
The interior of the car looks much as it did when it left Sweden, complete with the original rubber floor matting, and the seats have withstood the last 52 years remarkably well (genuine Tröllhide, you see). The radio is a bit anachronistic (no bad thing) but the original steel blanking plate is still with the car. Volvo were one of the first manufacturers to make a big thing of safety and this 122S even has seatbelts for the rear passengers – what other 1966 car can make that claim?
The under-bonnet area could stand some attention, but it is all original (bar the stainless steel exhaust system), and still sports the original twin SU carburettors that helped to make the 122S just a little punchier than the base 121 (85bhp compared with 66bhp). With care and attention who knows how far the engine will go? It comes with a V5C, MOT to March, 2018 and no fewer than 42 old MOTs.
The Volvo Amazon has a justifiable reputation for ruggedness and sound engineering. The spares situation is great and there are a number of specialists catering for these cars not only in the UK, but in Sweden and, if you can handle the language barrier, in America too.
Yes, you could rally it if you wanted, but you could also re-enact your own Nordic Noir TV series and drive around looking miserable with a corpse in the boot – all for the price of a four-year-old Ford Fiesta.