Volvo celebrates 60th anniversary of its Amazon car

The Volvo Amazon celebrates its 60th birthday this month. The classically-styled saloon car was built between 1956 and 1970, and got its name from the female warriors in Greek mythology.

The car was introduced in September 1956 at a launch event in the Swedish town of Orebro. The elegant design was a shock, as it looked nothing like what people had come to expect from Volvo.
The designs were drawn from Italian, British and American cars. The long front fenders running into circular, chrome-wrapped headlights run a hint of 50s Americana, mixed with the simpler cabin designs seen in Britain.

The Amazon name was only used in Nordic countries, as German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler launched a moped called Amazone around the same time and claimed the copyright.

Volvo celebrates 60th anniversary of its Amazon car
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Volvo celebrates 60th anniversary of its Amazon car

In other markets the standard model was called 121, while 122 was used for the sport model. The estate was called 221, while estates with the sport engine were referred to as 222.

In 1959, Volvo's patented three-point seatbelt harness became a standard feature on the Amazon, making it the first car to receive a belt as standard equipment. Volvo claims that research suggests more than one million lives have been saved by the three-point belt since its introduction.

The sportiest edition of the Amazon was the 123 GT, which used the engine from the 1800S sports car. It was launched in 1967 with 115bhp and overdrive.

A total of 667,791 Amazons were built between 1956 and 1970, which made it the most manufactured Volvo of the time. Due to its success abroad, it saw the company switch its focus to exporting cars – 60 per cent of sales came from overseas.
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