Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 8th December 2017

Volvo have produced some interesting vehicles and a stand out model was the Amazon. Inspired by the fierce warrior women of Greek mythology, the car was created to appeal to the European and American market. Along with having a distinct appearance, the Amazon was the first vehicle to feature front seat belts as standard equipment. We’re looking into the history of the Amazon to see how successful it was.

The spirit of a warrior

Volvo started working on a new car that was built upon the PV544 chassis in 1956. The designers had an American theme in mind that could be driven on European roads. They envisioned a ponton style vehicle that was similar to the Chrysler. This style was becoming increasingly popular and focused on fully articulated car wings. According to Volvo designer Jan Wilsgaard, the main inspiration for the new vehicle came from a Kaiser car.

The company combined American stylishness with European practicality. The Amazon was sturdy and strong, reflecting its namesake. It featured a Volvo B16 engine, three-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive and front seatbelts. The body had pronounced ‘shoulders’ and visible tailfins. It was made of phosphate-treated steel designed to improve paint adhesion.

Export success

In 1959, the Amazon appeared at the New York International Auto Show. Two American versions were produced, which included the single carburetor 66-horsepower and twin-carburetor 85-horsepower editions. The Amazon became known as the 122S in the States.

Originally, the car was manufactured at the Lundby plant in Gothenburg. But production was moved over to the Torslandaverken plant in 1964. 1962 was a good year for Volvo because the Amazon received a makeover in the form of a station wagon version.  The Amazon station wagon featured a larger body and 1.8-litre engine.

In 1966, a cheaper version called the Amazon Favorit was brought out. This model came without exterior chrome trim and featured a three-speed transmission. The car had a black paint job and red interior.

The final Amazon was manufactured in 1970 and a total of 667,791 vehicles had been produced. 60% of them had been exported, which demonstrated Volvo’s skill in creating a memorable car.

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