1-of-31: 1967 Volvo 123GT

Volvo’s original intention as a manufacturer was to produce around 5,000 examples of its 1967 123GT. In fact, final build numbers fell well short of this mark, with a figure of 1,500 units being most commonly quoted. There is a Worldwide Volvo 123GT Register, and it tells an even more interesting story. At the time of writing, it indicates that there are only around 31 cars out of the entire worldwide production that are known to exist in the USA today. This would appear to be one of those cars, and after many years in a private collection, it is on the hunt for a new home. The Volvo is located in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently sitting at $9,863, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

In preparing this story, one of the first items that I wanted to address was the owner’s claim about build totals. This became frustrating until I chanced upon some information out of an Australian Volvo Owner’s Club. Amongst their resources was a reply from Volvo’s Head Office in Sweden to an inquiry by the club about production totals. Volvo acknowledged that the 123GT was built in Sweden, Belgium, and Canada, but they actually have no idea of final production totals! However, they do believe that the figure of 1,500 is probably fairly representative, although they also admit that the true figure might be even lower. One thing that is certain according to documentation from Volvo, was that the 123GT was only initially to be offered in three paint colors. One of those is the Dark Green that you see on this car. The paint isn’t original, with the Volvo having undergone a partial restoration and a repaint some years ago. Rust isn’t an issue, as while there is none visible externally, previous rust issues in the floors have been addressed by full floor replacement. The external trim and chrome appear to be in good condition, while the fender-mounted exterior mirrors, which were one of the unique features of the 123GT, are both present and in good condition. The owner states that the mounts for the spotlight are correct, but he questions whether the lights themselves are the right ones. I did some checking and have determined that the lights aren’t correct, and sourcing them would be next to impossible.

It would appear that the interior of the Volvo might have received a bit of TLC at about the same time as the exterior refurbishment was completed, because it does present very nicely. The door trims and sporty Recaro bucket seats appear to be wearing the correct Tan vinyl upholstery. The unique 123GT sports steering wheel is present, and looks to be in nice condition. Also unique to the 123GT is the dash-mounted tachometer and the dash pad with integral shelf. Finding all of these items present and in good condition is a real bonus, because locating replacement parts is now proving to be extremely difficult. The headliner is starting to look a little baggy, but I think that it could be stretched back into shape okay.

It was what was happening under the hood that set the GT apart from the run-of-the-mill sedan offerings from Volvo. The decision to pursue some sporting credentials saw the company choose to slot the B18B engine from the P1800 into the engine bay. What this meant was that whereas a 122 would deliver 100hp to its lucky owner, the 123GT pumped out 115hp, which was sent to the rear wheels via the M41 4-speed manual transmission with electric overdrive. The 123GT also received additional benefits from upgrades in shock absorbers, along with the fitment of power-assisted front disc brakes. The owner states that the Volvo has been sitting in a private collection for quite some time and that although components such as the brakes and clutch were overhauled when the rest of the restoration work was completed, the car has had no use since. He says that the motor starts and runs okay, but it does appear as though it would benefit from a tune-up. In fact, if the car has been sitting for an extended period, I would be inclined to have it thoroughly checked before I considered hitting the road for the first time. At the bottom of this article, you will find a walk-around video of the Volvo with the engine running. It gives you a real sense of how nicely the car presents, and how strong the engine sounds.

The Volvo 123GT is in no way a muscle car, but it is a car that gives us a glimpse into the company’s future. It was a future that saw Volvo produce cars that could successfully combine safety with performance. This car is a tidy example that appears to be in good condition, and their relative rarity in the US tends to see them easily sell for sums well in excess of $20,000. For the person seeking a rare and unusual classic, then this is a car that would be well worth a look.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    By 1967, the 1800 would have been called the 1800S, and not the “P” 1800.

    The B-18 engine was already being used in the 122, and not borrowed from the 1800. It may be that the 123 had dual carbs, but nothing else “borrowed” from the 1800 that I can think of. The 122, 123, and 1800 are essentially the same car, with the same drivetrain and body platform. It looks like the 123GT is just some window dressing with dual carbs, steering wheel and tach.

    They are good cars, well engineered, easy to work on, and solid drivers.

    6
    • kiteflier

      I had a 62 pv544 with a B18 as my first car and my first mechanical lesson, “If it sounds like something fell off the car, then something probably fell off the d__n car!

      9
  2. Beyfon

    “Sporty Recaro bucket seats”? Uhhh, the seats in a 123GT are standard Volvo seats but with a special folding mechanism made by Recaro. Unless you intend to sleep in your old Volvo it really makes no difference to the seats.

    5
  3. Robert Law

    I had a new 67 124, Bought in Torrance CA. It had dual SU Carbs, Front disc brakes, same Girling brake system as Triumph TR-6, but no Overdrive.
    this article is a little flakey on saying what was so special on 123 GT.
    Typical problems, the vinyl dash cracked from Cal. sun, and the seat seams opened up from use.
    It came with 2 ply tires, I hope the GT had better ones.

    1
  4. steve

    Tony had one he used for ice racing, he was the King at the Edgewater race in Pointe-Claire in the early 70’s. I also remember a woman in a Lime Green Datsun 240Z keeping up pace with him. No more ice racing in Québec due to Global Warming!

  5. ken tilly UK

    This is one very nice Volvo IMO. They were just about indestructible mechanically wise. I have never owned a Volvo but would be proud to own this one.

    3
  6. angliagt

    I found one of these in the local (Eureka,CA) wrecking yard.
    Same color,with a perfect body.They wouldn’t sell the whole car,
    & I tried to get someone to get parts off of it.Unforunately,this was
    pre-internet days,so it ended up being crushed.Sad.

    • PatrickM

      sometimes, ya just cannot teach stupid. The “salvage” yard folks, not you. If they wanted to make some money, they should have sold the entire car to you. “Oh, no! We’re gonna hold onto it to sell parts. That’s what we do.” Yeah? Well, the labor is gonna kill the profit. Mmmm, mmm, mmm. I wish you could have had it, too.

      1
  7. Howard A Member

    Very nice car, just pray you don’t have to service the back brakes, hey Jesse? When I 1st began visiting BF’s, I remember Jesse was having a dilly of a pickle getting the rear drums off a 122. I wonder if he ever got them off?

    • kiteflier

      My 2nd car and 2nd mechanical lesson. Old guy told me to heat the drum and bang it with a hammer. Torched the drum and wore my 16 yo self out banging away until I put everything I had left into a final blow- then the thing popped free. I always wondered if it was just my car or were they all that hard.

      2
    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      Getting the rear drums off Volvos with the Dana 27 rear is EASY… with the right tool …

      Without it, there is no way to remove the tapered hub/drum without damaging something…

      We generally have one for rent .. or you can buy one for a bit under $200. dave@race-cardrivers.com

      1
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Yeah, they are easy unless the last guy used the wrong tool and cracked the end of the axle. That was a serious pain!

        1
  8. Rex Kahrs Member

    kiteflier, your experience matches mine exactly. I swore I was going to break something, either on the car on on me!

  9. DRV

    There are way too many fakes around. If the ad doesn’t show serial and body numbers then it probably is not real.

  10. TimM

    Seems like a cool little driver!!!

  11. JohnS

    My understanding in Australia anyway, the 123GT was powered with a B20 two litre/liter engine, with the electric overdrive from the P1800.

    What I can see of this one matches my mates 123GT in which we did a few trips. I owned a 122S and the B18 engine was nowhere near as gutsy as the 123’s.

    The spots are correctly located, there were bolt holes on the front bar, so it is unlikely they would be re-sited, but I cannot for the minute recall the brand. I should know because I bought some to put on a 144S that I later owner. That dash looks the goods, a nice unit.
    Only the 123’s here came standard with a locking fuel cap. The rest of us had to buy one.

    1
  12. Ken Cwrney

    Real or not, it still looks great! We don’t
    see these here in Winter Haven much at
    all. In fact, the last Volvo I saw here was
    a 240 4 door sedan that was owned by a
    friend wanting to unload it when her mechanic told her that he couldn’t get the
    needed parts to tune the engine. What a
    waste! That car was in prime shape other
    than that needed tune up. But that’s the
    way it was back then. If it didn’t say Ford,
    GM, or Chrysler on the hood, no mechanic
    around here would touch it. I actually liked the 122 better than the bricks that
    replaced them. They had more character
    and still lasted forever. Great find!

  13. PatrickM

    I really like the looks of this car. Unfortunately, even if it is relatively close, I am going to have to pass. Bidding now sitting at $10,085.75. Too much for this boy’s wallet.

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