Even though demand for their PV series was continuing at a high level, by the early Fifties Volvo was already planning their replacement, that would take the company into the Sixties.

Production started in Gothenburg but later moved to Torlanda, an island just to the northwest of Volvo's home city.

Possibly launched ahead of its time, the Amazon was ready for to make its first public appearance in 1956, almost two years before the release of the PV544 which it was supposed to replace.

As soon as the Amazon series was introduced, it hit a problem. Not technical, not design functionality but in its title, which had already been solely granted to a West German motorcycle manufacturer, meaning that in Europe, the 121asonn had to be marketed by model number alone.

Despite this minor setback, Volvo soon realised that they had developed a car that the car buying public in the mid-Fifties were looking for, light and more pleasing to look at than its predecessors but continuing Volvo's reputation for reliability and durability.


The early Volvo Amazon 121s were powered by a single carburettor 1,582 cc overhead valve engine that produced 60 bhp in the standard version, although the " S" version could generate up to 76 bhp in the "S" model.

According to Volvo the Amazon 121 was the first car in the world to be fitted with standard lap-strap front seat belts, a feature added in 1959. It also became the first car to feature three-point seat belts when Volvo later upgraded its safety provision.

The 121 was notable for other safety features, regarded as innovative at the time, including a padded upper dashboard and a laminated windshield.

During its production run, further models and more powerful engines were introduced with a selection of two- and four-door saloons as well as estate versions included in the range.

The 120 was the first model produced by Volvo with a pontoon body, more streamlined in appearance by its dual oval air intakes.

The overall appearance of the Volvo 120 was characterised by its rear wings which had a minor “fin” nuance, in keeping with the prevailing design trend of the mid-Fifties.

The 120 series were a bestseller for Volvo for more than a decade, and nearly half the models sold in Sweden are still on the road today. Their astoundingly good condition attests to Volvo's quality production.

Folowing the Volvo tradition, the 120 was not a range that featured built-in obsolescence. Instead the model gradually evolved, although the later models were not that different from the earliest versions.

At this stage, the Amazon was being produced in large numbers, and it looked as though the car would remain in production despite the car's supposed successor (the Volvo 140) going on sale in 1966.