By on August 5, 2014

13 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Volvo 122S aka Amazon is not a very common sighting in American self-serve junkyards these days. In this series so far, we’ve seen just this ’62 sedan, and I’ve also written about this flood-damaged ’69 coupe and this ’66 wagon elsewhere. On a recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, I spotted this well-worn but still relatively complete ’66 coupe.
17 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s some rust, where it always happens in California cars whose weatherstripping gets powderized by smog and sun: in the corners where rainwater flowing past the windows tends to accumulate during those long, wet winters.
06 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old pushrod B engine (this car came from the factory with a B18, but I see “B20” cast into the block in this photo, indicating an engine swap). This engine looks non-grimy enough to have been a recent-ish swap.
08 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot that B20s are in any great junkyard demand these days (having been installed in fairly common 140s and very common 240s, you can always find one in California wrecking yards), but these good-enough-to-run-but-not-great compression readings scrawled on the underside of the hood might cause some internal debate in the minds of prospective purchasers: Are those numbers from the engine in the car now? Are they from 25 years ago? Are they actually the weights, in grams, of bags of weed offered for sale by the previous owner?
19 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is grimy but most of it is still present.
09 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI couldn’t resist buying this aftermarket “Tri-Bar” Yankee Metal Products mirror. It will look good on my van. What the heck, $12.99 well spent.
14 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDisc brakes were still pretty exotic stuff in the 1966 US-market car world.
21 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ll bet this locking Waso gas cap was installed during the 1973 Oil Crisis. Cars with easily accessible, low-mounted fuel fillers were common siphoning targets during that era.
20 - 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToo bad about the smashed rear window.

Odds are that Swedish women wouldn’t have tolerated this “Ha ha, the weaker sex cain’t drive!” ad, even in 1966.

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27 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1966 Volvo Amazon Coupe...”

  • avatar

    Was that the car from The world according to Garp, or was that a wagon in the movie ?

    • 0 avatar

      No, it was a Volvo PV544.

      My first car was a used 1960 544, and they weren’t that common, so you notice right away when one appears in a movie or TV show!

  • avatar

    Was there any reason in particular this was called Amazon? It’s not a great name.

    • 0 avatar

      Amazon is the name ‘we’ gave these models, even if they weren’t called Amazon officially, much in the same way we refer to a VW 1303 as a Beetle.

      Volvo has only ever used the Amazon name in Sweden, as the name was claimed by Kreidler for its Amazone light motorcycle. The export markets only used the model designations: 120 series for the four-door saloons, 130 series for the two-doors and 220 series for the wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Wikipedia is your friend.

      The car was named after a female warrior tribe from Greek mythology. Although you ‘Muricans probably think it was named after the online bookstore.

      • 0 avatar

        I was babysitting my grandson at their apartment while my son was busy snaking out the backed up drain in my basement. When I had to use the facilities, I noticed that the two books on the top of the toilet tank in that “Murican” bathroom were The Iliad and Principles of Mathematics.

        As for naming the car after Greek myths, since it’s not unusual for cars to be named after places (Malibu, LeMans, Cortina etc.) it’s possible that the Amazon River and Volvo’s legendary toughness had something to do with it.

        If I were you, I wouldn’t place a lot of faith in what I read on Wikipedia. Not everything there is on Aaron Severson’s level of scholarship. While I use Wikipedia for preliminary research when I’m writing on a topic, I take nothing there at face value until I’ve seen it verified by a reliable source. Perhaps not ironically, I’ve found important sources by trying to track down what turned out to be false information at Wikipedia.

        • 0 avatar


          While scrutinizing the reference lists on Wikipedia pages can alleviate many doubts as to the validity of the information, the freedom they give anyone to modify pages with little or no moderation should be enough to stir everybody’s cynicism.

  • avatar

    Is it true, as I once read, that the Volvo Amazon was based on tooling bought from the Aero Willys ownership, whomever that might have been.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably not. The tooling for the Willys Aero was reused by Willys’ own Brazilian venture in the 1960s.

      The Amazon was designed and conceived by Volvo. Much of the design was influenced by other cars of the era: Raymond Loewy’s Studebakers, the Willys Aero, but most notably the Alfa Romeo 1900.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I am absolutely in love with the styling of these cars. It has that sedate, understated good look that you first saw in the late 40 early 50 Fords and Hudsons. It was only about 8 years ago I was looking around at decently sorted cars like these and Alfa GTVs in the lower half of $10,000.
    The prices of these are just getting going and I fear I missed my opportunity at a presently drivable GTV for that money.
    A nicely done Datsun 510 for $9k wasn’t difficult to find either.
    If only I had the money, time, space, and know-how back then.

    • 0 avatar

      As for a good 122 these days, in the last six months IIRC an eBay auction listed a ’66 122 four door with manual from the Seattle area. I think the successful bid was around $11,000. Datsun 510s occasionally show up, as well, but the post-1969 models go for a range of $7K to $9K, and good luck finding a 510 that hasn’t been modified for street or track competition.

      • 0 avatar

        Seattle is the repository of most of the world’s surviving Volvo Amazons. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see one on the streets, and that doesn’t include the three that are parked within a 3-block radius of my home. I think they were popular with the local Scandinavian community who took good care of them.

  • avatar

    My first car was a 1961 Amazon 122S four door. It had some groundbreaking safety features: three point safety belts (a first, I think in a production car), a canted engine block that would submarine in a front end collision underneath the passenger compartment, and an ingenious and yet simple cold weather start assist. A British toilet type bead chain was notched with a carousel steel ring attached to the lower dash in front of the gearshift. The chain ran in front of the radiator behind the grille. On a nippy morn, one pulled the chain down which raised a black shade in front of the radiator blocking cold air. Since it was right in front of the driver, upon warm up, the driver would then pull the blind chain back and lower the shade. The little four banger and transmission absorbed much first driver errors and lasted in our family for 16 years before failing NJ inspection for excessive rust. Pavement could be seen through the driver floorboard with the right lighting. I miss the car almost as much as my first girlfriend.

  • avatar

    Great seeing the Volvo accessory locking gas cap, I owned at least five 122S’s during the early 1980’s, and still have a locking cap, Volvo/Bendix AM radio,a couple of radio blank-off plates, and many sales folders from my 122 days

    The last one I owned I found in a Portland, OR junkyard; a’67 wagon with just a crushed LH fender and flat tires. Great paint, missing nothing, don’t understand why the PO sent it to the yard, but my gain. Compared to other Murilee junkyard finds, this one still has a hood on it as well as the valve cover, so slightly better odds that it might run.

    According to the 1982 book The Durability Factor, there was a company in New Jersey, Automotive Import Recycling, which reconditioned Volvo 122s, 140s, and BMW 2002s for resale.

  • avatar

    Here’s a link to a video of a doctor who owns three cars set up to resemble vintage rally cars: an MGB roadster, a Sunbeam Tiger 1A, and a Volvo 123GT(a sportier version of the junkyard 122S two door).

  • avatar

    This is fitting as I drove my 240 to work today. The Seafoam seems to be helping with the starting issues I’ve been having.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove an ’83 245 for 15 years and one thing I could count on (when the fuel pump relay wasn’t on the fritz) was it would start second try, every try.
      Leave it parked at the landing for two weeks while I’m off fishing. Jump in and bump the starter once to prime the pump. Bump it again and it’s running. Guaranteed!
      The leprosy ridden engine wiring harness finally gave up and shorted, causing the starter to kick in while I was going down the road, fortunately going slow so it didn’t explode anything.
      The harness was unobtanium by that point so I rewired it from connector to connector. Screwed up something along the way. It still started second try, every try… but wouldn’t pass smog.

      • 0 avatar

        It once took me three but that was before I replaced the 20yo factory starter in Feb, since then it has been twice at max. Since I Seafoam’d it it has been once every time but I’ve only driven it a few times since then.

  • avatar

    The B20 was not common in the 240 in the US, it was only used here in the very first model year, 1975. The overhead cam B21 replaced it in ’76. I presume the b20 probably soldiered on in other markets for a while.

  • avatar

    My mom learned to drive in Sweden in the late 1930s. I remember her telling me about the test which included engine and other systems theory and practical demonstrations of how to deal with various mechanical issues, so comments about Swedish women not being able to drive were silly even in the 1960s.

    My dad had two Amazon wagons, both company cars issued for the New York World Fair (my parents ran the Swedish Pavilion Restaurant). One night coming home from a company party, my dad rolled the ’64, totalling it. My mom, dad and the two Swedish company guys in the car all walked away. Or should I say staggered away, because it was a different time and my dad was almost certainly well over the limit. It was quickly replaced with an identical ’65 model. I love the long gearshift lever and the wonderful styling of these cars with the couple being a true work of art. Sad to see this one in the bone yard…

  • avatar

    I think I saw that particular car at the Pick-n-Pull a few weeks back. It surprised me that someone threw away a perfectly restorable car like that. Just for fun I looked at parts prices as the thought of taking a few chrome parts and flipping them crossed my mind. That’s when I realized why it was thrown away – parts were so cheap it wasn’t worth taking anything off. Too bad though, these are getting rarer. Maybe in another 10 years those parts would be worth a lot more.

  • avatar

    I had one of those locking gas caps on my 1966 4-speed 122-S coupe because it was parked in the open on the South Side of Chicago. It lasted me 8 years before the rust got too bad, during which it served well in the Midwest and the heat of Houston (aftermarket A/C added right before moving there). That Mark-IV cooler had the world’s noisiest engine fan as part of the package, but it got the job done. The car was ordered with wider (15×4-½” – wow!) rims meant for the 122 wagon and Pirelli radials that made it a decent amateur rally car for the TSD type of event. No kamikaze speed stages. The car was durable, with comfy seats and capacious trunk. Volvo has come a long way since then in terms of creature comforts, performance, and technology, but for 1966 it was way ahead of anything from Umurrikuh or Japan. It is a sobering thought that my current 325-hp XC60 gets better highway mileage at a higher cruising speeds, yet weighs almost twice as much.

  • avatar

    The world needs another Barney Pollard.

  • avatar

    I recall these old Volvo’s were considered ‘old’ in the 70’s.

  • avatar

    GREAT cars ! .

    I remember in the 1980’s & 1990’s you could find a tired but rust free Amazon Coupe for $600 with a burned valve or bad brakes etc. but otherwise decent .

    I suppose this one is restorable but that rust made me think it’s a parts car ~ if I had an Inde Volvo Shop I’da kept this one handy for the mryad small daily driver parts it contains , I’d easily make well over $4K out of it and scrapped only a bare shell .


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