David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/18/20 10:33 a.m.

Road & Track’s first review of the Volvo 122S began with the highest of compliments. “Of all of the cars that are brought to our shores, one of the best-suited to American needs and driving habits is the Volvo 122-S,” the review opened. “Not because the Volvo is a copy of any American design, but simply because it is sufficiently roomy and has the performance required to cope with our brisk traffic conditions.”

And, from there, that 1961 article only got better, with the magazine’s editors also praising the Volvo’s excellent controls, luxurious appointments and high build quality. Their biggest complaints? The cheap vinyl floor mats and the intake note of the twin SU carburetors. Today we can accept those sacrifices.

Production of this Swedish workhorse began during the summer of 1956, with cars finally heading to the U.S. for the 1961 model year. In its home market, the car was known as the Amazon; here it received a less glamorous designation–it was simply called the 122S–and the lineup eventually included a two-door coupe, four-door sedan and a station wagon.

Volvo unveiled their boxy, contemporary 140-series for 1967, but that didn’t mean the end of the 122 as the two lines overlapped. The 122S was available stateside through 1968, while production continued until July of 1970. By that time Volvo had built nearly 668,000 units.

The model line featured a performance version, too, with Volvo unleashing the rally-ready 123GT for 1967 and 1968. Its high-compression engine came from the P1800–both cars shared underpinnings–while the 123GT also received a tachometer, auxiliary lamps, nicer seats, Pirelli tires and upmarket trim. Hagerty says that only about 1500 copies of the 123GT were built, with the best in the world now worth about $40,000. Budget half of that–or even less–for a top 122S.

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Darwinz
Darwinz
6/19/20 2:05 a.m.

This is truly a remarkable ride in the 60's. My uncle used to have one back in the days, I'll ask if he also heard about that Canadian Shell 4000.

roverguy
roverguy New Reader
2/22/21 1:18 p.m.

Back before they were called "Swedish Bricks"  Only because they had rounded corners; never the less built like a Swedish brick S#*t house!

On our 8th Volvo, but nothing older than an '85 245.

Love the brand, worried about the sole being stolen by Geeley Int'l ;-(

OldBumpy
OldBumpy New Reader
2/22/21 4:40 p.m.

I had a '66 with the B/W slush box trans back in the day.  Sure do wish I had had the good sense to have kept it!  TR

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
2/23/21 10:37 a.m.

The 123 GT ws the one Swedish car I almost bought but never quite got there.  I really like them - rugged, decent handling, tunable engine.  Everything except knock-me-dead styling, but you can't have everything.

Actually that isn't quite true - I did have a momentary urge to buy a Saab Sonett III once but thankfully came to my senses before writing that cheque.  Still rather like that compact little Taunus V4 they used though

 

 

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