Is there a classic more practical than this Volvo Amazon?

Bring a Trailer

The Volvo 122 had a long, complicated gestation before it ever hit the road. But even today, seven decades after its 1956 home-market unveiling, it’s clear the many not-quite-right iterations that finally landed 26-year-old designer Jans Wilsgaard his first masterpiece for the marque did not come in vain. The 122 has aged perfectly.

For some time now, enthusiasts have sung the praises of the objectively gorgeous 1800 coupe and later 1800ES two-door wagon of the 1960s and early ’70s, and today they are priced accordingly, with the nicest coupes now regularly fetching north of $75,000. Ten years ago, they were a third of that.

But even as collector interest spiked for the 1800, its 122 stablemate mostly flew under the radar. Mostly, but more on that in a minute. . . .

1966 volvo 122s bring a trailer sale of the week
Bring a Trailer

This two-door 1966 122S is a prime example of a good car flying low, and on October 24, it sold on Bring A Trailer for just $7777 ($8166 with buyer’s premium).

The car is not perfect—far from it—and we’d rate it as a #4- (“Fair”) on the scale of overall condition. It is a driver with visible flaws. But other flawed driver-condition Volvo Amazons (so named for the female warriors of Greek mythology) have brought more. So, at this purchase price, what is the buyer getting, and what comes next?

This car came to Oregon via Arizona in 2014, though it’s unclear how long the Volvo lived in the desert. What is clear is that the amount of rust, which is effectively zero and limited primarily to underbody surfaces, is commensurate with a long stay in a dry place. The seller then recovered the front seats, fitted PerTronix electronic ignition, and replaced the valve-cover gasket and a few other minor bits. In 2020, he treated the car to a respray in its original white—a scuff and shoot, if you will, as the door jambs, interior, trunk, and engine bay were left original. So was the weatherstripping, all of which is cracked or otherwise rotten. It lets down the whole car. Additionally, the washer fluid reservoir is wrapped in duct tape, and the suspension retaining straps on the rear axle are both broken.

On the bright side, literally, all chrome and brightwork is present and shiny with just a few dings here and there, and none of the glass is cracked. The five-digit odometer shows 52,000 miles, which could just as easily be 252,000 or 952,000, but in the last nine years, the seller reportedly added only about 200 miles to the total.

Regardless of the mileage, in the start-up and idling videos accompanying the gallery, the 1.8-liter B18 four-cylinder, breathing through twin SU carbs, sounds delightful and just a bit throaty, with zero hiccups or unnerving noises. This Amazon is, as they say, an “honest” car.

1966 volvo 122s bring a trailer sale of the week
Bring a Trailer

It is exactly the kind of car you’d want to own and drive and restore as you go. As one commenter noted, all of this car’s needs appear to be “driveway-doable.” Roughly $600 in rubber bits and retaining straps from IPD plus a $40 eBay washer reservoir will address just about all of the car’s most pressing issues, and the buyer will still come out below the $12,000 at which we currently value similar 122S two-doors.

It’s a #3 car then, and a weatherproof one at that. That’s a lot of added “driver” function for not much moolah. Even better, this is not a car the buyer will need to be delicate with. Amazons are stout, overengineered, under-stressed 95-hp machines, and with minimal care not much will go awry. It is as ideal for vintage rallies as it is for weekends puttering about, this car.

For many years, the Amazon market was represented by a long flat-ish line, but then it climbed, quickly, from $4700 in early 2021 to its present twelve grand. That’s a warm, warm market. These cars trailed 1800s for a long time, but they have their own head of steam now. They still trail many contemporary European counterparts, though. For how long is anyone’s guess, but we’d say this buyer got into a pretty, good car at a pretty good time and should be thrilled for what comes next.




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    My neighbor has an 81 Diesel Rabbit… I don’t think you can get much more practical than that… but this is close

    LOVE these classic Volvos.

    To answer the article’s Headline Question: it’s YES — the Volkswagen Beetle.

    Doesn’t anyone actually think these things through?

    I expect the next article about this model will be the “rapidly cooling prices from the pandemic-market induced high”.

    This is a nice enough car, and a fine buy at the price in the article.

    Practical is a point-of-view question of how you use a vehicle, what work you do yourself, club support, and how challenging parts are to source. Citing an uncommon vehicle as a halo of practical –I’m not sure about that.

    Volvo maybe does alright in the above, but in North America most generations of Mustang excel at the above (assuming your practical isn’t carrying lots of cargo and you fit comfortably in one) and just about any Mustang model persists in quantity. Ditto for most eras of pickup-truck post mid-60s.

    An Amazon is the perfect choice for someone seeking a classic that’s a bit less common than your typical American collectible. Their practicality is better than you might expect due to a fairly broad supply and owner support network. They’re simple to work on, fun to drive and sure to bring interest wherever you take it, and the wagon will haul nearly anything you might wish to schlepp.

    I had a 1967 122s and of the more than 100 cars I have owned, including Porsche 911, Volvo P 1800, Alfa Spider, Jaguar Vanden Plas, Mercedes, etc it is my favorite
    Reliable safe comfortable and a lot of fun to drive

    I like this, and for a good reason: I have been a Volvo man for over 50 years and have owned tons of them. I have had my ’65 544 for 53 years. But I also have had probably 20+ 122’s or Amazons. They are stout. And the key element on this particular vehicle from BAT is that it is rust-free and the trim is complete. Everything else goes out the window. All the other pieces and parts can be renewed. The B18 motor is bulletproof and that 95 HP can go to 115 extremely reliable ponies with stuff off the vintage Volvo parts shelf. You can’t hurt the 4-spd transmissions and the Dana 30 rear axle will be around forever. So for the 12k Hagerty valuation mentioned, you will have a stylish classic that can be driven every day, will run every day and with a level of comfort you don’t often find. And it will run at 70 MPH all day long. The VW Beetle mentioned is underpowered and in northern climes there is not enough heater. And the Mustangs? Extremely uncomfortable, and far more expensive than this package. Just my take.

    I’ve owned dozens of these cars, and still own several. To me, they are very close to a perfect classic. However, much like another classic I like, the Corvair, there were enormous numbers of these cars made- in the case of the Amazon, about half a million, and in the case of the Corvair, well over a million- so the odds of them ever become rip-roaringly valuable are fairly low. That said, you can buy pretty much any part for these cars to keep them running, and with plenty of parts cars still out there, it’s the perfect car to drive and enjoy and not worry too much about.

    I bought a ’68 122S on EBay in 2020. I paid $5500 US. I finally got it back to Canada after the Covid delay. It’s a very solid car that needs paint and interior finishing. It was built as a 1/8 mi drag car and has a fresh, running and driving, 355 Chevy and TH350 in it. It scoots! Looking forward to getting it back on the street. Cheers from the Right coast of Canada!

    Was this one called the VolVet? If so a friend of mine helped build it. Had a stright front axle. Not much on the street but hell at the 1/4.

    I have a 67 122 titled as a 66 ( 67 had a rear suspension upgrade ) Easy to work on and tons of available parts. I was able to buy some of the side chrome and bumper overriders from a Volvo dealership. IPD had everything I needed to drop it 2″ the right way and I had the wheels widened to 6″ to put more rubber down. After punching out a B20 to 2.2 it got dropped in with M41 w/ OD (P1800 trans ) Bilstein shocks and IPD anti sway bars. Now boasting about 160hp and unbelievable handling I dare anyone to say it is not fun to drive. Totally disassembled to paint, rust free and new interior it also a head turner.

    This is the car that MADE Volvo, in America. It is the car that made the company confident that they could come to the US (beyond the 544- also a good car). It was a car that was intended to be as thick as a Buick. The twin carburetors have a learning curve for most owners. The hydraulics are not to be neglected. The suspension, tweaked, is capable of making it worthy of modern driving, shocking any kid in the Khia behind you taking the same exit ramp at 50 mph. But otherwise the motor is indestructible. Parts are sometimes adaptable from other makes. And yes, it is pretty easy to work on, or make some parts- and I am not really mechanic.

    I am the 2nd owner of my car. It spent it’s first two years in Europe, attended the Paris Strikes of 1968, and got some wounds that I have the receipts for… The Amazon (122s) must be the most overlooked and under appreciated car, ever.

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