A design that was inspired by 1950-style American cars such as the Chrysler New Yorker saloon and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe, the Volvo 122 is a Swedish-built vehicle introduced in October, 1956.
An alternative to the Volvo PV, it was known as a remarkably reliable car. So reliable in fact that nearly 15,000 of the 35,000 models sold are still in use today.
Thousands of people in Britain use these vehicles as everyday cars. Nearly half of the Amazons produced in Sweden are still estimated to be on the road today. The vehicle was marketed as the Volvo Amazon in Sweden, though it was sold in most other countries as the Volvo 122.
Unfortunately Volvo had to drop the name 'Amazon' as it was already a registered trademark given to Kreidler, a German motor-cycle factory. The word Amazon is defined as a tall, aggressive and strong-willed woman from a nation of women warriors reputed to have lived in Scythia. Female warriors with brawn and beauty, intimidating in their strength, courage and dominating nature, prehistoric Amazons were both respected and feared. The Volvo Amazon is aptly described by this name, as it inspires both the beauty, restrained elegance and tough strength at the very core of the vehicle.
Among the most rugged mass-produced vehicles ever made, the Volvo Amazons of 1956 to 1970 still remain strong today. The vehicle was built to withstand the rugged Swedish winters, and was designed with a style and individuality. The number system adopted by Volvo for the 120 series was considered to be quite complex to some. Two door saloons were designated as P130's, four-door were P120's, and estates as P220.
In September of 1956, the 121 four-door saloon was first introduced. This vehicle was fitted with a 60bhp B16A engine and carried a two-tone color scheme. The 121 was not available in the USA and was fitted with a single carburetor engine types B16A, B18A or B20A. The body types utilized were P130, P120 and P220. Originally, the vehicle came with a 3-speed manual gearbox, rear wheel drive and with Volvo Cars new B16 engine.
In March of 1958 the 122's were introduced and came with a B18B engine with twin SU carburetors, four-speed gearbox and 85bEp. The first 122's were imported to the UK in November.
The 122S was introduced in 1959 as the performance model and was fully equipped with a dual carburetor 85 bhp engine. Called the Amazon Sport this 1959 sport model was the first car with a three-point safety belt. The 122S model was only fitted with a twin carburetor in America. 122S model had a twin carburetor with engine types B16B, Bb18B, B18D or B20B and was utilized on body types P130, P120 and P220.
In August, 1961, the Volvo 122 was fitted with a new engine fitted B18. The vehicle also received an up-rated front suspension and the 122s with the more powerful engine was fitted with front disc brakes. Two months later in October the two-door saloon was introduced. A four door combi (wagon) was introduced in 1962 along with a two door version. The new B18 engine was also introduced at the same time that the two tone paint job no longer became available. The three-speed M30, the four speed M40 and the M41 with available four speed and overdrive was available in the new gearbox selections. In February of 1963 the 100,000th Volvo 122 was built.
The Amazon Favorit was introduced in 1966 and production of the Volvo PV was ended. On year later, the Amazon 123 GT was introduced and proven to be much more of a sports car than the Amazon Sport with its B18 engine. In 1969 the new engine with increased displacement was renamed the B20. A total of 234,207 four saloons, 359,918 two-door saloons and 73,197 estates were produced of the Volvo 122 before production ended in 1970.
In 1970 production of the Volvo 122 ended after a total of 667,791 units were produced. The Volvo 122 was replaced by the Volvo 140. The Volvo 122 gained a well-earned reputation for endurance and longevity. The 122 is credited with really marketing Volvo's name in world markets.By Jessica Donaldson