The Volvo Amazon was a mid-size car introduced in 1956 by Volvo Cars to complement their Volvo PV model, offered since 1947. The Amazon was manufactured at Volvo's Torslandaverken and when production ended on July 3 1970, 667,323 had been produced.
Compared to its predecessor the PV, the Amazon was a more modern car available in a wider range of body-styles — though the Amazon shared both the wheelbase from the PV as well as it's tall posture and high H-point seating. Notably, the Amazon was the first car to feature three-point seat belts, and the first to have any kind of seat belt as standard equipment.
When originally introduced, the car was called the Amason (with an 's')
Notably, the Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced "shoulders", and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo's design direction with the V70 — after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs.
The Station WagonEdit
The Station wagon (estate) version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a bi-parting tailgate, a lower section folding down to provide a load surface and an upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle's rear license plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold "up" such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the license plate was still visible. An similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja.
Notably, the Amazon car was used as the basis for the P1800 and P1800ES.
The first Amazon was manufactured in July 1956 and carried the internal designation 120 series. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburetor engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburetor engine, and the later 130 (two door sedan), 120 (four door sedan) and 220 (4-door estate wagon) models.
In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a simpler version of the Amazon. In 1967 came the 123GT that was a 130 with high compression B18B engine (from the P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20.
While the car was sold as the Volvo Amazon in Sweden, it was marketed using the model number in most other countries, commonly, the Volvo 122; the name "Amazon" was already a registered trademark in various markets by German moped manufacturer Kreidler.
Notably, the 1976 film All the President's Men (film) (about Watergate), featured a grey Amazon driven by the investigative reporters (Woodward and Bernstein).
Original specifications for the Amazon included Volvo Cars's new B16 engine, a 3-speed manual Gearbox (H6) and rear wheel drive. In 1958 the sport model, Amazon Sport, was released and later the same year the Amazon became the first series produced car with a two-point Safety belt in the front seats as standard. In 1962, Volvo introduced a two door version, a five door wagon, and the new B18 engine, deleting two-tone paint and upholstery. In 1965 the Amazon color-coordinated embossed vinyl upholstery and door panels became available. The new Gearbox selections were the three speed M30 (briefly offered with an automatic electric clutch), the four speed M40 and the M41 with four speed and overdrive. The M31 gearbox was also introduced in 1961 but was only available that year (a three speed fully synchronized gearbox with overdrive on both second and third direct gears). Gearbox options on the 121 were the M30, M31 and M40 while gearbox options on the 122S were the M40 and M41 gearboxes. In 1964 the Borg-Warner BW35 three speed automatic transmission also became available on the four-door and two-door. From 1967 to 1968 the BW35 was also available on the five-door wagon.