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A vintage corporate PR image showing three Volvo Amazon cars being weighed together and lifted by a crane.This corporate PR image for the Volvo Amazon has the caption: “Three models are lifted to check their total weights.” (Photos courtesy of Volvo)



The Volvo Amazon was a midsized car manufactured and marketed by Volvo Cars from 1956 to 1970, according to its page in Wikipedia. It was introduced to the United States in 1959 as the 122S during the New York International Auto Show.

When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’) in tribute to the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name. After negotiations, the two companies agreed that Volvo could only use the name Amazon within Sweden. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series.

Volvo invented the three-point seat belt in 1959

In 1959, Volvo claimed to be the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment.

Ponton Styling 

The Volvo Amazon was sold in body styles of two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and five-door wagon — all noted for their ponton styling.

“The Amazon’s “ponton” (pontoon-like) three-box styling was inspired by U.S. cars of the early 1950s, according to Wikipedia. The ponton styling strongly resembled the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop coupe. Amazon designer Jan Wilsgaard said he was inspired by an American Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg, Sweden, port.

At introduction, the Amazon had a choice of two four-cylinder engines. The base in-line OHV 1.6-liter had 60-horsepower and there was an uplevel 85-hp variant. Power upgrades came in 1961 with a 70- or 90-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder, with a bump to 95-hp in 1965.

A colorful marketing image of a two-tone red and white Amazon surrounded by admiring caballeros

This group of caballeros (ranch hands) might be pondering an Amazon pickup.

The Volvo Amazon had floor-mounted manual transmissions had either three- or four-speeds, with or without overdrive. However, some cars were delivered with a steering-column shifter.

Always a safety innovator, Volvo invented the three-point seat belt. It then began to provide the front seat belts as standard equipment. The belts were added to all Amazon models, including those for export.