BODACIOUS BEATERS (and Road-going Derelicts): "S" IS FOR SURFER!

Phil Coconis
by Phil Coconis
i bodacious beaters and road going derelicts i s is for surfer

After the combined inspiration of what I’ll refer to as “Murilee’s Barrage o’ Volvo”—recently featured in his “Junkyard Finds” columnand my most recent “BODACIOUS BEATERS” entry— featuring a purple Chevy II Wagon—I have no choice but to segue to today’s entry!

Available from something like most of the ‘60’s decade here in the U.S., the Volvo 122S—sold as the “Amazon” in its home market—certainly holds a fond place among my youthful automotive memories. A neighbor across the street used to shuttle a group of us teenagers to High School in a sedan version. I recall the gear shift lever of exaggerated length, the rather organic engine thrash and gearbox whine demonstrated during acceleration, and the leisurely progress of this activity charted by a horizontal left-to-right “red tape” speed indicator. (I was surprised when I later did learn of the “Amazon” designation, as these vehicles never impressed me with anything I could properly call “ferocity”—all genders notwithstanding!)

At any rate, all of that Swedish uniqueness—and let’s not forget to mention the very un-Swedish twin side-draft SU carbs these models were equipped with—undoubtedly was a contributing factor in my choice to make my automotive repair career debut on imported vehicles.

A friend of mine had a 1967 P1800 toward the end of our High School years, which I shortly learned was equipped with many components found on the 122 then extant. We got to do a lot of ambitious “driveway” repairs on his “P-Ship”, most of which were successful! That “Saint-mobile” provided a very unique and memorable driving experience all its own—in spite of its modest 122 mechanicals.

Now, considering all of the water that has circulated through the oceans of automotive time since then, this particular 122S Wagon—circa approximately 1966—certainly appears to fit comfortably into its retro/modern SurfWagon persona.

What appears to be original paint (at least the original color—save for the replacement right front door) is complemented by randomly dispersed surface rust, some less-than-professional “touch-up” attempts, absent trim bits, and the odd dent or two. A couple of window stickers—which seem to indicate a mild state of identity crisis—round out the vibe quite appropriately.

Hope you all enjoy this Swedish blast-from-the-past; and stay tuned for more Vintage Volvo Bodaciousness!

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this TTAC site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

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  • OldandSlow OldandSlow on Jul 01, 2013

    I went through I want a Volvo 122S wagon phase - while in college during the late 70's / early 80's. At the time, I owned a 69 145 wagon at the time and much preferred the old-school look of the 122S. Volvos drove like a truck and were built like one. Hence, the leisurely shift. No power steering - but the fit and finish was head and shoulders above most compacts of the era. I learned to like the dual, SU side draft carburetors, elegant in their simplicity. The electrical items were mainly outsourced from around Europe. One of my biggest triumphs was to modify a Bosch alternator from a Ford Fiesta to replace the original S.E.V. Marchal.

  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Jul 02, 2013

    Remember taking a GF in IIRC 1975 to look at a '68 Dart , which she wound up not buying . The same guy was selling a 1967 122 wagon , which we also test drove . The owner had recently retired and bought a new Monte Carlo and was selling both their cars . Remember being impressed with the perfect interior and it drove alright , and felt really tight . I thought the gear shift was a bit long and truck like , but I remember wishing I'd bought a 122 wagon instead of the VW Squareback I had recently bought and was already suffering buyer's remorse about . Tried to talk the GF into buying the Volvo , but she didn't want a wagon or a manual trans .

    • Snakebit Snakebit on Jul 02, 2013

      A recurring theme with the 122: a manual shift lever long enough to have come from an early F100 pickup or '65 International 3/4 ton pickup, and a vinyl interior so well sewn together and made with such great materials that almost 20 years later, not a pulled stitch or rip. The VW Squareback had its place, but I don't long to have another one as I do for a 122 two-door or wagon. While I remember, when I had my small 122 collection in the East, someone gave me a book all about companies whose main business was recycling. One of the featured companies specialized in rebuilding 122's and BMW 1600/2002's for resale. They were located somewhere in NJ or eastern PA.

  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.
  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van