Volvo 120-Se­ries

The Ama­zon may have forged Volvo’s ro­bust rep­u­ta­tion, but care is still needed when buy­ing one

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

As far as most of the world is con­cerned, Volvo starts here. The Ama­zon – orig­i­nally known as the Ama­son un­til Ger­man scooter man­u­fac­turer Kriedler claimed that as a trade­mark, then of­fi­cially ti­tled the 120-se­ries – was the first Volvo to be widely ex­ported beyond Scan­di­na­vian borders. Its des­ti­na­tions in­cluded the UK, where we first re­ceived the sturdy Swede in 1957. En­gi­neered with a so­lid­ity that few other man­u­fac­tur­ers could match, it set the blue­print for Volvo build qual­ity and de­pend­abil­ity. As a re­sult, Bri­tain – or at least a large part of its mid­dle classes – fell in love with the mar­que and re­mained through­out sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions.

Ama­zons pos­sess a sur­pris­ing nim­ble­ness de­spite their air of dura­bil­ity. Orig­i­nally with 1583cc en­gines, they were up­graded to 1778cc in 1961, when front disc brakes were stan­dard­ised on the twin­carb vari­ants, then again to 1986cc (for two-door ver­sions) in 1968. The 115bhp 123GT was the most ex­cit­ing per­former and de­signed to cap­i­talise on Volvo’s rally suc­cesses. Pro­duc­tion ended in 1970, by which time the new 140 was on the scene.

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WHY YOU WANT ONE The Volvo Ama­zon man­ages to com­bine ku­dos and cred­i­bil­ity with en­gi­neer­ing in­tegrity and rugged­ness. These cars are among the most well-built of their era yet still re­tain a sporty char­ac­ter thanks to their rally ad­ven­tures – some­thing you can’t re­ally say that about the box­ier but equally bul­let­proof Volvos that fol­lowed.

With many Euro­pean saloons and es­tates of the 1950s and 1960s, you need to con­stantly keep on top of is­sues such as rust and me­chan­ics. That’s much less the case with the Ama­zon; you can use one ev­ery day, in all weath­ers, and it won’t protest too much. The cars also have typ­i­cal Volvo prac­ti­cal­ity, seat­ing five peo­ple in com­fort with enough room for all their para­pher­na­lia in the ca­pa­cious boot. The es­tates are even bet­ter at load lug­ging. Ama­zons are fun but tough.

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