1959 Volvo 122
4-cyl. 1582cc/66hp 1bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Enthusiasts who immediately imagine boxy 1970s designs when they hear the name “Volvo” might be surprised to learn upon first look that the 122 is in fact a Volvo design. The car, otherwise known as the Amazon, has a rather pleasing and rounded look to it not unlike some American cars of the early 1950s. There is even something vaguely Italianate about the car’s front, looking not unlike an Alfa Romeo sedan of the 1950s.
Production on the Amazon commenced in Sweden in 1956 in tandem with the elderly PV544, but the car didn't make it to American shores until late 1959. The 122 was a considerable advance over the 544 with far greater interior room and better outward visibility. The B18 and later B20 engines, while not powerhouse, were bulletproof and able to easily travel hundreds of thousands of miles without a rebuild. A three-speed and a four-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive were available along with an automatic transmission, and the car's base price was $2,795.
Available body-styles consisted of a two-door sedan, a four-door sedan and a wagon. The most interesting variant is the rare 123GT. And while most credit BMW with the invention of the sport sedan, the 123GT of 1967 pre-dated the Bimmer. Unlike most manufacturers of the day, Volvo actually paid some attention to rust-proofing, although cars in the salt-belt hardly proved immune to the tin worm.
Amazons have reasonable parts availability, though mechanical bits are far easier to source than trim, and they are durable and entertaining entry-level classics.