Saturday, February 27, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1965 Volvo 122S Station Wagon

Another interesting case of a foreign manufacturer copying a successful design is Volvo with its Amazon line of cars. Their split grille, single headlights and slight tail fins were inspired by 1950s Chryslers, albeit scaled down quite a bit. The design is also said to have been inspired by a Kaiser that somehow made it to Sweden (but I haven't seen very many Kaisers that looked anything like a Volvo Amazon).

The Amazon was introduced in 1956 and built through 1970. It was intended to replace the PV series (a car that bore a passing resemblance to a 1942 Ford), but ended up being sold alongside it until 1965. Both cars shared the same wheelbase and powertrain. Power came from the B16 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine, and later the B18 and B20 fours. Transmission choices were a 3- or 4-speed manual, or a 3-speed automatic. The automatic was only available after 1964 (and only in 1967-68 on wagons).
Amazons came to the United States as the 122. A performance model with dual carburetors, called the 122S, was introduced in 1958. It was available as a two- or four-door sedan, and starting in 1962, as a station wagon. The 122S produced 85 horsepower.
This car is a 1965 or 1966 Volvo 122S Station Wagon. Since so few design changes were made during the 1962-69 production run, it's difficult to spot year-to-year differences. This car also has a modern license plate, so I can't estimate its age based on plate number. It has no side markers, dating it before 1968. It has the older grille, making it pre-1967. It also has the small "122S" fender badging that was used starting in 1965. The final clue, which for me is a guess, if the driver side door mirror. I've seen pictures of 1965 122 wagons with this elongated mirror, and all 1966 wagons I've seen seem to have a round mirror. And yes, I did shoot it around Christmas time.
It's a fine example, one of the cleanest I've seen in the area. Only about 73,000 wagons were made, accounting for roughly 11% of total Amazon sales. So it's a pretty rare find in this condition. These old Volvos are fairly common in San Francisco, usually well worn and beaten and typically the sedan body style. Cars with straight, rust-free bodies like this are rare, making me wonder if and when this one was restored. I like the paint scheme. Curiously, it's missing a small chrome hood spear that most other 122s have. It needs the chrome replated on both bumpers and a little bit of black touch-up on the grille badge before it can be called perfect.


  1. The word on the licence plate is not an appropriate word in Swedish (not suitable for children). Funny . . . maybe . . .

  2. ahahhaa.. Im curious as to what the word means..

  3. In English it would be fat *d*i*c*k*.

  4. i have a '65 122S wagon here in New Mexico. i am the second is in good shape but needs the tlc i have not been able to give her.
    i need to sell her to someone who will adore her and restore her to her magnificent if anyone has interest or would like to talk about the car, contact me at