The cars we loved.
When I was younger, I saw the 1991 Wim Wenders film “Untill the End of the World”. It features a character named Claire who drove what I thought then was a Amazon. The car was tricked out with a futuristic computer system and used some kind of alternative fuel, while maintaing a factory original class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”original “>apperaence. It later turned out that the car was a 1966 Rover 3, but that did not stop my longtime infatuation with the Amazon. The Amazon was a relatively small (by American 50′; and 60’s standards) mid-sized car that was available in sedan, coupe and station wagon. It’s design was said to have been inspired by Chrysler’s 300C sports sedan (like others, notably the 1966 Rover 3). The compact size, light weight combined with rear wheel drive made the little Amazon a fun car to drive.
It was also a safe vehicle, helping to establish Volvo’s safety reputation with the distinction of being the first production car with three point seatbelts. More importantly the Amazon, internally called the 120 series, was a performance car with it’s 85 hp, twin carburetted overhead valve 4 cylinder engine. Single carburetor versions producing 66 hp were also available. Engine sizes ranged from 1.8 to 2 liters of the life of the car. Transmissions ranged from a three speed automatic to eventually a 4- speed manual.
In 1961 Volvo switched its naming system to a three numbers, now calling the Amazon the 120 Series. It was still called Amazon in its native Sweden. Due to its sporting nature, a modified version of the Amazons chassis became the basis for the new P1800 sports coupe introduced in 1961.
The Amazons classic lines combine sporting elegance and practically in a way that few European cars of the era could. It still maintains a strong cult following and is often seen customized with Panasport wheels and updated mechanicals. The Amazons design has inspired some of Volvos more current offerings like the V70.