This is an original 1968 Volvo Amazon 123GT that’s been built to targa rally specifications, it’s now ready for a new owner. It needs little more than a new set of tires before hitting the rally stages and showing why the Volvo Amazon has been such a successful rally racer since the 1960s.
Although Volvo has developed a reputation for staid, safe cars the Swedish automaker has turned out a slew of successful rally and circuit race cars over the years, with the Amazon being one of the most famous examples if not the most famous outright.
The Mighty Volvo Amazon
Volvo first released the Amazon (also known as the 120 Series) in 1956 as a replacement for the Volvo PV444 and PV544, the design of the new model was directly influenced by American cars of the era however it was a thoroughly Swedish car from bumper to bumper.
They named it after the Amazons, fierce female warriors from Greek mythology. The car would develop a reputation for toughness over the years and decades since its release, doing its namesake proud.
Unusually for the 1950s Volvo developed a stamped steel unibody for the Amazon rather than relying on the more common body-on-frame construction method. This resulted in a car that was lighter and more rigid, which many would later discover made them ideal for various forms of motorsport.
Three main versions of the Amazon were the 121, the 122, and the 123. The base model was the 121 with a single carburetor initially producing 66 bhp, the 122S was the more sporting model with twin carburetors and producing 85 bhp, and the 123 model would appear in 1866 as a 1967 model year car producing 115 bhp initially thanks to a higher compression ratio and twin carburetors.
When ordering your Amazon you could choose between a coupe, a four door, or a four door estate (station wagon). The coupe proved the most popular with over 350,000 made, second was the four door with over 230,000 made, and finally there were a little over 73,000 estates built.
Volvo kept the Amazon in production from 1956 until 1970, it would also form the foundation of the Volvo P1800 and the closely related P1800 ES which stayed in production until 1973.
People started racing Amazons shortly after they first appeared in the late 1950s, their simple all-iron four cylinder engines weren’t advanced by any measure, however they did respond well to tuning and they were almost impossible to kill – in fact Irv Gordon would put 3.2 million miles on one.
Amazons could be seen racing on snow, ice, mud, gravel, sand, and asphalt in Sweden, across Europe, and around the world. Today the cars have become a popular choice for those entering vintage motorsport competition for three key reasons – the cars are affordable to buy and maintain, they’re genuinely quick, and they’re hard to break.
The 1968 Volvo Amazon 123GT Shown Here
The car you see here is a 1968 Volvo Amazon 123GT that’s had all the modifications for rally already applied, potentially making it a great entry point into vintage rallies and other motorsport events for a new driver.
This is a desirable 123 GT model which came from the factory with additional fog lamps, trim, and a more powerful engine. This car has been further modified and now sports a 2.4 litre version of the same basic engine built by VOLPRO Performance, with twin side draught OER carburetors, a 123 programable distributor, an oil cooler, and a 2.5 inch rally exhaust system and headers.
The full list of racing modifications can be at the end of the listing which you can find here, it’s currently for sale on Collecting Cars with four days left on the bidding at the time of writing.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.