Cross Country Driver: 1967 Volvo 122 S

This 1967 Volvo 122 S belongs to a friend of the seller, who used the car in the summer of 1978 to go on a cross-country road trip at the ripe age of 17. The story goes that the mother of the driver simply asked that he insure the car in his name if taking it from one coast to the other, and upon returning safely to Connecticut, the Volvo was parked on the property and has been idle ever since. Find it here on eBay with no reserve and bidding at a mere $1,625 and five hours left in the auction.

As I’ve recounted in one way or another in the past, I tend to buy cars for their stories as much as whether I’ll enjoy driving them. I’ve tracked down the history to the original owner of more than one of my project cars, and it’s anecdotal tales like these that make a vintage car’s history even richer. This Volvo 122 S does have a freely-turning engine, solid floorpan, and a completer interior.

It’s not running at the moment, but these were always fairly stout vehicles – I’m sure it will take minimal effort to get it to fire once again. The interior is in surprisingly good shape with some evidence of critters, but I’m most surprised by the bucket seats that look like they should belong in something far racier than a 122. The door panels and map pockets are holding up as well.

The inspection sticker doesn’t lie, and it seems like the seller’s tale holds water. Volvos seemingly have a natural tendency to be road-trip worthy vehicles, and I can only imagine the fun two 17-year-olds had hooning mom’s Volvo down to the Vegas strip or along the Pacific Coast Highway. The no-reserve listing means someone is going to go home with a reliable classic car with a great story for not much cash.


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  1. kiteflier

    Had a ’66 122s just like it, same color, walked out of my high school graduation with diploma in hand, got in my Volvo and drove from Illinois to San Francisco. It was the summer of 1970 and I went looking for the hippies. Well all that free love, drugs, and psychedelic music sounded pretty good to a 17 year old kid. I found far more than I could ever relate, SF was wide open in 1970 anyway cost me $22 in gas and the longest stretch was SLC to SF done in 17 hours. Once I parked the car in SF, I didn’t drive for a month. Couple years later talked a friend with a 142 into towing the 122s (using the front part of a Model T frame and shackles as a tow bar) across country-now that was a trip.

    Like 12
  2. On and On On and On Member

    Sold, $2025 bucks.

    Like 2
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    I recommissioned a running example of one of these last summer, and drove it in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Opening Rallye. Not too sexy.

    Like 4
  4. Wayne

    kiteflier, that run from SLC to SF would not be a big deal today. But in 1970 that was hauling the mail. Nevada did not have speed limit then, but 2 lane roads and the towns would have slowed your progress. In 1978 I made the SLC to Reno run in a little less than 5 hours. ( it was part of an Illinios to San Francisco to Long Beach for the GP and back to Illinois via the southern route) I 80 was still not competed then. The run was courtesy of the Nevada Highway Patrol. ( I was letting him beat the bushes for me from Wendover to Reno) I happened to be driving a Volvo also. (144s with a suspension purchased from IPD) I was also towing a 4′ x 6.5′ tent trailer. With no overdrive the old girl was wound out pretty high. Because of the almost 200,000 miles on the odo. That little stunt cost me 3 quarts of oil! Most of it ended up on the front of the camp trailer. The engine didn’t seem to mind and lived for another year until I parked the car under a semi trailer that was parked across the road. ( another story)

    Like 4
  5. kiteflier

    Wayne, would like to hear the rest of your story.. here’s mine.
    Never towed anything before but we had a week off work to get to Illinois and return to Mountain View, Ca with my 122. This was sometime in 1973 or 74. We left Mountain View at 1:30pm on a Friday and rolled into Illinois at 6:00am Sunday morning where we hooked up my ’66 122s with a homemade tow bar to Howie’s 142 and we hit the road back to Cali. Back then Coors wasn’t distributed in California so that made it all the more desirable and everybody wanted us to bring them back a few cases when we hit Colorado. So we did.
    I mean we had a lot of beer. Not only was Howie’s 142 full but my 122 had cases of beer in the trunk and seats. Howie was sleeping in the back seat on top of cases of Coors but I remember that I looked up at the rear view mirror and saw a car right on my tail. I mean it’s night and we are in the middle of nowhere and some joker is riding my a–. So of course I sped up to put a little distance between be safe and all. That sob kept right on tailgating me. I had no other choice but to speed up some more. Now imagine my surprise as he kept up with me. About that time I started to get worried that some maniac is trying to hassle us and I started taking evasive maneuvers. I fancied myself a pretty good wheelman but no matter how I zigged, he zigged. If I zagged, he zagged. I was speeding up and zig-zagging all over the road trying to shake him when I realized I had finally met my match. D—, he was good.
    Outside of SLC is a 10 mile downhill grade but I must have missed the sign when I was looking at the rear view mirror. He was so close I could barely see the tops of his headlights. Then through the fog of days on the road, the realization hit me as I thought,
    “Wait a minute that looks a lot like my car. It is my car! No wonder I couldn’t shake him, I’m towing him. Ha ha how delirious can I be!”
    Man was I relieved that was all over. Except it wasn’t, as now we were hurtling down this 10 mile hill at 90 miles per hour.
    “No problem”, I thought when I lightly tapped the brakes.
    “Big problem”, my mind replied as my towed car did not have brakes and began to push the tow car slightly starting to jack- knife us. I eased up on the brake pedal to straighten out and we picked up speed.
    Ninety-five and I touched the brake again only I could feel the geometry of the car shift even more towards a jack-knife. Those Volvos had linear speedometers that crept out from left to right in a bright red line and I watched as it became the longest red line I ever saw. 100, 110, 120 and we were still picking up speed. I thought about my options and everything that could slow us down would jack knife us so I just kept watching that red line as it filled up the whole display when all of a sudden I heard this voice screaming,
    I had been so transfixed with the speedometer I hadn’t been aware of how loud the noise was as we were flying downhill. And we were flying because we were bouncing so much we spent half the time in the air and touched down only to bounce again. The only thing that kept us from taking off was that the two cars were bouncing out of sync and as one went up the other pulled it back down. The bouncing woke up Howie and he noticed we weren’t spending too much time on the ground. Thank God we had good tires. Again as luck would have it I just kept in a straight line and gradually got braking ability again. Oh that trip.. we got chased by cowboys in Cheyenne and we almost got killed when Howie took his short cut through the mountains of western Colorado and that’s just what I remember.

    Like 6
  6. Wayne

    kiteflier, The purpose of the trip was to go to the Long Beach GP and see some family and sites along the way. ( at this point in my life I had never been west of the Mississippi River before. The trip started with a Monte Carlo blasting by us in Iowa at about 120 mph. ( I saw the readout on the sign as he passed us) The national 55 was on force at this time as it was 1978.) During our run west we were passed 3 different times by the same car and twice we saw him making contributions to a state coffer via highway patrol. We managed to time it perfectly to use I 80 after Cheyenne as it had been closed for snow removal and road conditions. ( purely by accident) Once on the salt flats everyone was passing us and doing at least 80 mph. I cranked it up to 80 and about every 20 minutes or so someone would still pass us. Once across the Nevada border the next car to come up along side us was the Nevada Highway Patrol. Ne nodded his head and cranked it up to 115 mph. I gave him a little lead and followed him al the way to Reno. We even stopped in the same town along the way for fuel and food. A few days later I encountered the CHP on highway 50 going over the Sierras west of Lake Tahoe. He flat ran away from me. About 10 months later I was driving home from work ( at my normal speed above the limit) when coming around a corner I noticed a truck stuck in the ditch at the left side of the road. His flashers were going and his high beams were right in my eyes. (right rear wheels in ditch left front wheel on the pavement) I slowed down thinking there might be people running around. When clearing the high beams I flicked mine on. There across the road was a flat bed semi trailer loaded with snowmobiles. None of the side markers on either side of the trailer were operational. ( the truck driver got the ticket) I braked and stated to swerve around the trailer, but had nowhere to go as there were trees blocking my path. By this time all I could do was lay down on the seat as the car went under the trailer. Once all the noise had stopped, all I could think about was Roy Sheider in the movie the Seven Ups. Were he was white as a ghost and sat up after his losing conversation with the back of a semi trailer. I started laughing like crazy and the truck driver thought I was drunk. The car was wedged underneath the trailer and the trailer wheels were off the ground. The car went under at an angle and it stopped with the drivers headrest about 3″ from the side of the trailer. Once they used a crow bar to pry the brake pedal from behind the clutch pedal and release the brake. They were able to then drag the car out from under the trailer. At the point the car bounced back up to normal ride height. If not for the broken radiator, I could have pushed out the windshield and driven it home.
    Thankfully, tough cars!
    Sorry for the long ramble. But you asked.

    Like 2
  7. TimM

    Good story of the car and some really good stories by kiteflier and Wayne!! Sounds like a good time!!

  8. chrlsful

    544 & 122S R the ones 4 me…
    One looks like an ol 40s/50 USA car, the other a waggy.
    Lotsa fun, drivin, maintainin.
    Wish for the PV445 or Duette that wuz on here earlier! (or wuz it BaT?).

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