1968 Volvo 121 Amazon Estate

Highlights


 • Presents in good, ready-to-enjoy order throughout.
 • Low mileage / low ownership.
 • Replete with customised picnic basket.
  • 4 speed gearbox with Overdrive.


The Background


In 1956, Volvo released a prototype of a new passenger car it had developed. When put into series production, the car was named the ‘Amason’, deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons.
However, German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically, modifying the spelling to ‘Amazon’. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series.

The Volvo Amazon was produced between 1956 and 1970 and took the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV444/544. It was available in two- and four-door sedan body styles, along with a five-door station wagon. In 1959, Volvo became the world's first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment by providing them on all domestic and export Amazon models and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment.

The Volvo Amazon was originally manufactured at Volvo's Lundby plant near Gothenburg and subsequently at the company's Torslandaverken plant from 1964). During the 14-year production run, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models (1961>) and 73,220 station wagons (1962>) had been produced, around 60 per cent of which were exported to global markets.

The station wagon or ‘estate’ version as offered here featured a two-piece tailgate with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead, which was innovative at the time.
The vehicle's rear registration plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could 'fold up' such that, when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle was in use, the number plate was still visible. Volvo also deployed the Amazon platform as the basis for the streamlined P1800 and 1800ES, driven by Sir Roger Moore in the hit television series ‘The Saint’.

The History


This fine, truly original example rolled off the Torslandaverken production lines in early April, 1968 and was exported to the UK, where it received its first registration on the first day of May that year to a Mr William Billett of Bath, Somerset.

Its current, highly presentable condition some 54 years later suggests that each of the car’s nine former keepers loved it more than the previous. The current owner – a resident of the Isle of Wight –  acquired the car in June 2021 for a successful 1500 mile summer tour of France completed in September. He has decided that it now deserves more use than he is able to devote to it

It is interesting to note that the car has been driven just over 21,000 miles since its MoT of 2006 - its first online registered MoT record. For the past several years, the car has been dry-stored when not in use and driven under dry conditions whenever taken out.

Should the new keeper wish, the vendor has offered to deliver the car from the Isle of Wight to Southampton for collection. 

The Paperwork


Accompanying the sale will be the V5C registered in the current keeper’s name, the owner’s handbook, a Haynes repair manual and a file of past and recent paperwork details spares and work undertaken.

The Interior


This Volvo’s original interior reflects its ‘lovingly used’ condition and promises to be a delightful place to spend some immersive road time.

Its condition is commensurate more with the car’s age than mileage and the door cards and furniture appear in very good order and overall, the interior presents to a high, original standard. The writer is pleased to report no recordable issues regarding this car’s interior.

The Exterior


Along with the smart and tidy interior, the car’s exterior presents in good order. The original white paintwork is in remarkably good condition (and glowed a little too brightly for the camera in drenching sunlight) and the front and rear lights are clear of the usual age-related fog and all electrics are said to be in working order.

A cursory glance down each flank of the car shows no evidence of damage and the front number plate, bumper and valance, for all their vulnerability, remain in very good condition.

The front and rear sills of the car are blemish-free, as are each of the door under-sills. The period steel hub-capped wheels are shod with good rubber all-round. The fifth matching spare contained in the recessed compartment under the boot is also in good condition.

With most yings come some yangs, but there are just three noticeable issues to the exterior of this car. There is bubbling to the chromed surface of the upper rear tailgate handle and the two rear tail light cappings show pitting to their respective chromed surfaces.

Images of these three issues are shown at the end of the accompanying gallery. However, to be fair, any professional body shop worthy of the name would make short shrift of these issues.

The Mechanics


At the photoshoot near the Ventnor Botanical Gardens, the car was frequently repositioned to obtain the best of the available light at this time of year. The car started first and every time and settled into an appreciative four-pot burble. The manual gearbox connected smoothly and the clutch engaged with no drama, requiring a just the gentlest of revs to get underway.

The custodian reports the car to be very good mechanical condition with steering, brakes, engine, drivetrain and running gear performing as well as their respective engineers intended over fifty years ago. The manual gearbox offers overdrive in 4th gear. On an amusing note, the car is equipped with ‘Town & Country’ horns…the regular horn for town and a mooing cow for country. Such fun!

The engine bay is very tidy and clean and, like the immediately visible parts of this Amazon Estate, the underside of the car presents in good order with a degree of natural oxidation that may reasonably be expected on a car of this age.

As pictured, the car comes with a steering box bush kit, extra bushings and the original gear knob to replace the current, generic wooden one.

The Appeal


More Swedish than IKEA’s meatballs (what? I HAD to!), the Volvo Amazon Estate was a trailblazing car in its day. As an introduction to the late 20th century classic car lifestyle, the Amazon Estate – and this one in particular – is a solid choice, providing a spacious, comfortable and stylish car with well-documented good handling, a comfortable ride and on-road civility.

In FGL 450F, we have a healthy and well-presented 1968 example of one of Volvo’s finest heritage creations as the Amazon matured towards the closing years of its production life.

In addition, membership of the UK Volvo Owner’s Club is open to everyone with historic, current and future interest in the marque and its members are as knowledgeable and enthusiastic as they come.


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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1968
  • Make Volvo
  • Model 121 Amazon Estate
  • Colour White
  • Odometer 76,582 Miles
  • Engine size 1800
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Isle of Wight
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
20 bids
  • Lukeedm•••• £9,000 17/03/22
  • Lukeedm•••• £8,500 17/03/22
  • Ortelli•••• £8,100 17/03/22
  • atlanti•••• £8,000 17/03/22
  • rgd £7,750 17/03/22
  • atlanti•••• £7,500 17/03/22
  • car car £7,100 17/03/22
  • consequ•••• £7,000 17/03/22
  • olivia-•••• £6,850 16/03/22
  • consequ•••• £6,750 14/03/22

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