Daily Driver Amazon: 1966 Volvo 122S

The Volvo 122S, the successor to the PV444/544, was called the Amazon in its homeland. It was quite popular worldwide and Volvo sold nearly 700,000 of them in 15 years. This 1966 edition has survived the past 54 years pretty well and more recently served as a daily driver, but it needs some attention going forward. The car currently calls Colorado Springs, Colorado home, and is available here on craigslist for $5,500 or a reasonable offer. Our thanks to Barn Finds reader Chuck F 55chevy for bringing this car to our attention!

Volvo manufactured and distributed the Amazon from 1956-70, but the car didn’t make it to the U.S. until 1959 and under a different name, the 122S. It shared some of the characteristics that defined the PV444/544, such as a high roof and seating position. In ’59, the company became the world’s first auto builder to have front seat belts as standard equipment. The car was available in three body styles, four-door sedans, station wagons, and two-door sedans, like the seller’s, which comprised more than half the automobile’s entire production. Their styling was influenced by Chrysler products of the mid-1950s, like the New Yorker and 300C.

The seller of this 1966 Volvo 122S is one of the most forthcoming we’ve seen lately – and is one of the best photographers, too, although he did forget to pop some shots under the hood or trunk. His family is looking to buy a house, so the car needs to go in order to generate some cash. It’s a daily driver, but like most Swedish cars, it’s one that needs regular attention. It recently made an 800-mile trip, so its quite capable just the way it is.

We’re told that rust isn’t a big issue with this car, although there are a couple of small spots in the doors. The floors are rust-free, perhaps due to some sort of coating or rust-proofing added way-back-when. The paint is original with patina for those into that, but somewhere in the past, some poor touch-up work was done. When you open the doors, it’s not a perfect environment, reflective of the near 80,000 miles the car has covered. While the dash pad is new, the seats are from a Volvo 142 and need some help. Also, the rear seat has a tear and the headliner is rough. The seller says the speedometer reads 10% high, but that was common on many cars I’ve owned.

Mechanically, the stock 1788cc inline-four is under the hood and said to be in good order. This 122S has been treated to new timing gears, PCV valve, axle seals, shocks, alternator (Chevrolet conversion), and has almost new tires. The four-speed manual transmission works fine, but the seller says it’s a tad noisy. The next owner may want to change the pinion seal and the right front shock mount and check out why the alternator belt needs adjusting every few weeks. A large front sway bar has been installed, but a rear has not and it comes along with the ride.

There was no pricing on Hagerty to check, but NADA says these can be worth $7-24,000 depending on condition. That’s a pretty wide swing. Given this car’s current condition, the lower end of this range is more likely, which means that the seller is offering this car at a pretty reasonable price. When was the last time you saw one of these at a show?

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  1. ken tilly UK

    I understand that Volvo didn’t patent their “Invention” of seat belts in order that any person, or company, could manufacture and install them in the interests of personal safety.

    • Evan

      Sort of. They did patent the 3-point seat belt, but freely give rights to produce it, no licensing fees.

      Like 5
  2. Bob C.

    Never gave it any thought before, but yes, I do see some mid 50s Chrysler cues in this car. These had a rep durability in their day. I remember one slogan was “Drive it like you hate it.”

    Like 3
  3. Larry S

    I also remember another Volvo tag line-I think from the ‘60s or possibly the ‘70’s. “Volvo- the well built Swede”

    Like 5
  4. Matt C

    My dad had a 66 wagon that he let my brother use as a commuter to school and he racked up the mileage to 176,000 and my dad freaked thinking it would fall apart any second. He sold it to a guy in Maine that stopped by after 10 years and still had it with 375,000 on it. Clearly they were built to last in a time when anything over 100k was a miracle.

    Like 4

    These old Volvo’s were absolutely “bullet proof” cars.

  6. Geoff

    The old Volvo 122 cars have wonderful styling, are fun to drive with standard transmission. Replacements parts can be had reasonably, and the cars get great gas mileage.

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