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Homepage. This page: A tale of Volvo 120 ownership, beginning over 35 years ago and continuing to this day.

Durable Volvos - the 120 saloon & estate.

John, or 'oldtimer' as he is on the OCC forum, sent over his recollections of buying two examples of the Volvo 120 Amazon range, when they were still a fairly commonplace vehicle, and how he still comes to own his second example, an estate, some 35+ years after buying it.

John encounters his first 120 Amazon in the 1960s.

Volvo 120 Amazon brochure
"My first Volvo was a 120 saloon, AES 772 B. I have lived in England since 1965, first in London and later much nearer "home" in Northumberland. We had returned to Dundee on leave and were staying with my wife's parents and were enjoying regular trips around the area. It was during a stop in Blairgowrie that the car and I found each other, while "The Girls" were sampling tea and scones, no doubt.

It wasn't as if the car had been displayed on some forecourt or with a For Sale on it. The car was in a garage, rather towards the rear, in the company of other vehicles but devoid of any signs or declaration of intent to sell. I don't think I had been seriously considering buying a car at the time.To any casual observer (normal person) the vehicles were either awaiting work or collection. Yet, for some reason, I passed back and forth in front of the place. Was it normal to ask to look at a car which wasn't for sale?

I went in regardless. The worst that could happen would be getting dragged off to the jail or the Funny Farm. I found an office and asked the gent there if the Volvo was a customer's car. He confirmed that it was but they had been asked to sell it on his behalf. I was invited to inspect it. There stood "my" slate blue car with the distinctive hubcaps with red centres, and all the signs of fair use and sensible care. An honest, straightforward car. No frills, no gimmicks. I browsed through the documents - supplied by Cameron of Scone on 16/3/64 to Mr. John Douglas, Balgray Balbeggie. It appeared that the owner at present lived in Burrelton, and that brought childhood memories flooding back. I used to be taken to visit a relative there and nearby Coupar Angus too, since my grandmother's brother farmed the Mains of Keithock on the outskirts (probably in the middle now!). We were evacuated to the farm, albeit it briefly, since my mother's rapport with "all creatures great and small" was never going to blossom, and any misgivings she may have had about Mr. Hitler's performance paled into insignificance when compared to the trauma of a baleful look from some cow!

The deal was struck for the car and I collected the Volvo a couple of weeks later, and never had a moment of regret over the many miles that followed. However the time came when a replacement was needed and at that time I often saw a tidy 120 estate - a 220. It belonged to a chap in the R.A.F. who almost fell about laughing when I asked if it might be for sale.

I searched the local and national press until I began to think if I spent much more I wouldn't have the funds if/when I found a car! At last I found a car advertised. The usual minor problems of course. Like what? Like me being in Northumberland and the car being in London; trying to make a character assessment of the seller over the phone etc. I am sure you are all well aware of all the form as laid down by People Who Know About Buying Used Cars. I phoned, sure I would recognise an Arfur Daley type. A lady answered (eliminating Arfur right away). She said the car had been bought to transport her daughter and her gear to and from university. A definite plus in terms of carrying capacity when one considers how much gear my daughter needed to go anywhere! The lady then told me that someone was coming to see the car that evening. Weeeell, we all know about this ploy dont we? Time to hang up, naturally, so I right away said that I would buy it !!!!!!

Can't you just imagine the generations of Wise Men shaking their heads in disbelief? I took the overnight bus to London and arrived at the end of the street I had been told to look for. As I progressed there were cars parked nose to tail but I thought I could see a Volvo 120 estate among them. As I drew nearer my heart plummetted. It was a Volvo estate, or had been at some time. What a wreck! What an idiot! However I could see the plate now. It should be F REG and it wasn't! The gods were letting me off the hook, if not exactly smiling on me.

Just then I found the house with honest people and an equally honest car ready to fill the gap left by the demise of AES 772 B. It was a delight to be driving a 120 again as I headed North. The same Volvo is still with us after 35 years. After my retirement, she was a fairly lengthy project which helped me to dodge gardening as well as keeping me out of the pub (sometimes)."

Volvo 220 series estate car press picture from 1964

Thanks for sending your Volvo story over John!! As a former Amazon owner myself, its always good to receive in-period stories about these old Volvos. My most recent Amazon was this green 122S, sadly now sold. Other 120 information on this site includes a buyer's guide, and also the classic Volvo spares pages, within the parts ad section.

If you'd like to read more first-hand accounts of motoring from several decades ago, have a look at the main motoring memories section here at oldclassiccar.

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