October 30, 2014 @ 04:51 PM

Legends and Legacies: Volvo Amazon 120 Series

The year is 1956 and out rolled the Volvo Amazon set to conquer the world. By Jerrica Leong

The year is 1956 and out rolled the Volvo Amazon set to conquer the world. By Jerrica Leong
Pop quiz: Which car was the first to offer front seat belts as standard? Answer: the Volvo Amazon, the sport version. This car may look familiar to you, and why not since this car can still be seen on Malaysian roads. 

This car dates back to 1956, the majority agrees that the Amazon is the car that established Volvo its reputation as a manufacturer of safe, solid and attractive mid-range cars. Drive around PJ and you will most probably see one or two of these parking in the shed or cruising on the road. It really is reliable if so many of them are still driveable!

And really this car has that reputation of reliability and durability even when it couldn’t be marketed under its name. The name “Amason” being a registered name under a German motorcycle company so outside the Baltic countries this car was known as its series number, 120, and still do well in the market.

It seems Volvo’s confusing numbering started way back in the 50s. 120 series especially was notoriously confusing. The basic model, for example, was known as the 121 while the two door saloons as 130s and the station wagons numbered 220s. Add an “S” behind the number and you a get a sport version of the car. The engine is another story entirely, there were three; the B16, B18, B20 engines.

The 121 model has a three-speed manual and is rear-wheel drive and fitted with a single Stromberg carburettor 1.6-litre engine with a displacement of 1580cc. In 1958, Volvo produced the sport version of the Amazon known as the 122S with the engine upgraded to a four speed, twin carburettor. Models that came after that had more powerful engines and a variety of two-doors or four-doors as well as station wagon versions to choose from.

Even back in the days Volvo has always been big on safety. The Amazon has a record top speed of 174kph so Volvo offered fitted front-seat safety belts as standard in the Amazon sport version, even for the cars that were exported. This showed the world Volvo’s commitment to the drivers’ and passengers’ safety.

Starting from 1956, the 120 series was a bestseller for Volvo for more than a decade. Rumour has it that half of the Amazons sold are still on the road today, it wouldn’t be so surprising since you still see it in Malaysia.

(all image source: Volvoamazonpictures.se)

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