Today we display the Swedish flag on half mast.
Jan Wilsgaard, the designer that gave us the Volvo 122 Amazon, the 140, 164, 1800ES, 240, 262C, 740, 760 and the 850 left us August 6th, 2016.
How to properly spot and identify a Volvo 123GT.
Picture yourself living in Sweden in 1966 and you just bought a 122S. You sit down with your favorite motor magazine and there is Volvo’s press release: They have just released a new model: A Volvo 122 body with the Volvo 1800S sports car drivetrain!
Your 1966 122S is putting out a whopping 75 hp. This new GT car is offering 115 hp ! That’s over a 50% increase in power. I guess you would trade in the 122S in a hurry. This in a country with wide open roads and no speed limit. Well, at the time.
Some folks say that there were only about 1,500 GT cars built, some thinks there were more, some less.This conversation will continue until the world ends or the internet stops.
Some feel the 1967 GT is the only GT to own as it was so different from the standard 122. In 1968 the 122S had a very similar engine as the 123GT of the same year. (I would venture to say that it is only 1967 GT owners that thinks this way) Also, Volvo made even less 123GT cars for the 1968-70 model years.
There is quite often a conversation among classic Volvo enthusiasts as to what equipment the Volvo Amazon 123GT came with, and what is “correct”. Your editor has attempted to list and visualize the unique equipment starting with the1967 GT. If you know of anything that is missing or is incorrect, please let me know.
A Swedish built / assembled 1967 Volvo Amazon 123GT for the Swedish market would have the following equipment:
115hp C-cam engine with M41 OD trans, and a 4:56 rear axle ratio. The Swedish built for Swedish market GT did not come with limited slip differential unless it was a special order or dealer installed.
The Canadian assembled GT did however come with LSD. More on this car later.
“KD” code on carburetor needles
The triangular washers on the carburetors should read AUD 230
Extra bank on passenger side for relays for the fog light, spot light and horn Also, fuse box for and alternator regulator.
The fuse box contained:
1 16 amp fuse for the horn
2ea 8amp fuse for fog and spot
1ea 5 amp fuse for trunk and hood lights
123GT specific wiring harness.
Loud Horns. Both mounted on the passenger side.
Alternator warning sticker under the hood in English and Swedish.
Transistorized Alternator Regulator
133351M (Left hand drive) 133352M (Right Hand Drive) in the Type code and beginning of the vin number is GT only. The “M” stands for 1967 year model. Note: This string of numbers plus the serial number will also be stamped in the metal above the heater box in the engine compartment. (picture coming)
If this is different, someone has transferred the GT plate only to a regular 122.
The second “3” stands for the engine and the “5” stand for the overdrive. Also, the s-code 5314 confirms GT status. I have seen GT cars with and without the s-code but the 13335 will always be present on a GT car.
Polished aluminum wheel covers and Pirelli Cinturato P3 radial tires in 165SR/15 on 4 inch rims. Never on 4 1/2 inch rims that some folks think. However, the wagon and the P1800 of the same year came with 4 1/2 inch rims.
Springs and shocks from the P-1800 sport model
Note: This has nothing to do with the wiper motor speed, it has to do with the shape of the arm and stronger springs to work better during high speed.
The Amazon wagon was the other car that came with factory installed mirrors. There is some discussion if the wagon had taller mirrors. I think so but I am working to confirm this. The photo above shows that there are obviously several styles. The one to the left is definitely GT and the one to the right maybe Volvo Duett. (P-210)
This is from a 1968 brochure for the US market. This mirror looks taller to me but I need to do more research. Sharp eyes will notice the 121 emblem on the fender. Volvo did not sell 121 cars on the US, only Sport models or 122S but they used what they had when the took the photos.
Hella 7 inch fog and spot lights. Bumper mounted on special bracket. Some folks tells me they were chrome steel, some tell me they were raw stainless. The ones I have seen were steel.
The spot light was on the drivers side and the fog light on the passenger side. Also, white “shower cap” covers with Volvo logo in blue.
Some other markets got two of the same lights to comply with local laws.
“L” shaped support bracket for the Hella light brackets under the bumper for stability and a longer bolts to accommodate the brackets. The forward bumper bracket was also drilled to attach the “L” bracket.
Dash mounted tachometer made by Smith. 1967 had a shiny smooth tach housing and back cover. The front bezel in chrome plastic. VOLVO text on fascia in white. 7000 rpm tach with 6000 red line. Designed for 4 cyl only. Rectangular foot and a steel tube in the dash to prevent collapsing when tightened.
In 1968-up the housing was textured and flat and the front bezel was brushed finish. Part of the new safety rules to avoid reflections from the dash.
Reclining front seats with hardware made by Recaro.
According to a Volvo press release in 1966 the 1967 GT cars came in three colors:
79 Pearl White
94 Dark Green
Also, Volvo released a few cars with some test colors:
Steel Blue Metallic (Stålblå) color code 53-102
Blue Green Metallic (Blågrön) color code 53-91
53 stands for test color. There are approximately ten cars left of the steel blue color and probably less of the blue green.
What?? This is the end?
I actually got all 1967 Volvo 123GT equipment listed?
I hope so. If you can think of any little thing (or big) let me know as I want this list to as complete as possible.
Swedish built GT cars for other markets had a variation of this equipment. For example, the fender mirrors may not have been installed as they were more exposed during shipping etc…Some markets got one mirror and some even got the Talbot style mirror.
Several markets got two fog lights with just one switch on the left side dash board operating both lights. The two holes are still there. This also changed the fuse box arrangement one the passenger side and one of the two 8 amp fuses were then listed as a spare.
Canadian built 123GT
Type code: 133951M for 1967 models. I think this is the only year GT cars were assembled in Canada.
s-code: 5324 (not always present)
123GT cars were assembled in Halifax, Canada. The Canadian assembled GT cars did not come with the Hella lights, loud horns or the fender mirrors but they came with limited slip differential and a 4 way flasher. They also had some different colors.
Canadian built cars also got some mid year changes like collapsible steering but that probably affected the whole P-120 series. Collapsible steering did not show up until 1968 in Sweden.
Also, some cars were assembled in Belgium.
4 way flasher, mounted on the left kick panel above the hood release. 1967
5324 is GT, 5145 seems to present on all Canadian GT cars. We think it stands for the limited slip and 4 way flasher.
Did the Swedish Volvo factory actually build GT cars specifically for US export?
We do know that several US customers ordered a 123GT thru the EDP (European Delivery Program) What I have seen so far is they received a 123GT with miles per hour speedometer and English text on the dash knobs. Was that still an actual US export version built by the factory or did they just grab a car in stock with the most fitting equipment? This may explain why some EDP cars arrived with two fog lights as that were the specs for some European markets.
My thinking is: If the factory actually built a GT for US export it should have several US only features and deletions:
One being the obvious: English text on switches and heater.
High beam flasher on the blinker stalk disabled. I guess DOT wanted Americans to HONK instead !
The rectangle relay on the driver side would be missing and the wires taped to the harness below. This is the high beam flasher relay for most markets but not for US.
The 4th digit in the chassis number should have been a “4”. This stands for export to USA.
License plate holder to fit US plates, front and rear.
The top bracket is for US export cars, the bottom is for domestic Swedish market as they only used two bolts located in the middle of the plate.
The tire in this picture was factory installed on a US spec 1967 Volvo 122S wagon that was picked up by the owner in Sweden on the EDP program.
Having said all this, I personally don’t think the factory specifically made a GT for US market.
I would love to hear from any owner of a dealer sold or European Delivery GT owner.
There is another way a dealer at the time ended up with a 123GT. They did a EDP import themselves. If I were a Volvo dealer at the time I would love to have this Swedish racer on the showroom floor.
We did this when I worked for a Volvo dealer in the eighties. We could never get enough 245 DL wagons. Volvo kept shipping us lovely V6 powered green metallic 760GLE and they moved as fast as a turtle with broken legs.
I would go over to Sweden and see my parents and pick up a silver metallic DL wagon and I put less than 1000 miles on it. The car was usually sold before I came home.
That’s all I have to say about that!
The Volvo P1800 was created in 1957 as Volvo wanted to offer something sporty for the export market. Volvo turned to Frua in Italy to design the car as they wanted…you guessed it…a car with Italian design.
Turns out…A Swedish designer, Pelle Petterson was working for Frua at the time and he was asked by the Frua management to come up with a design. They submitted several ideas anonomysly to the current Volvo president Gunnar Engellau in December 1957. Once he saw the P1800 he said: I want that! He did not know at the time that a Swede actually penned the car and was rather mad once he found out. He wanted “Italian design”. After Mr. Engellau cooled off a bit he gave the go ahead and aren’t we lucky he did!
Volvo did not have the capacity to build the car so they turned to Karmann in Germany and they were indeed interested. However, VW got wind of this and said they would pull their production from Karmann if they made a Volvo. So…Volvo looked around in Europe for other companies and finally made a deal with Pressed Steel in the UK to build the bodies and then have Jensen in West Bromwich to assemble the car. Jensen was for example building the Austin Healey. The contract was to build 10,000 cars.
Some of the design element were scrapped in order to streamline the production. For example, the drawings had the tail pipes coming out of the rear valance and the rear license plate recessed. Also, the rear quarter windows were fixed as opposed to the original design where they could open.
Volvo also wanted a new engine for this sports car so they developed the B-18. It was a quite an engine for it’s time:
It developed 100 hp SAE at 5 500 rpm while sucking Swedish air through a pair of 1 ¾ tums SU HS6 carburators.
Borg&Beck supplied the clutch and they opted for Volvo’s bullet proof M40 four speed transmission. You could also order a Laycock-de-Normanville electric overdrive that would give you a total ratio of 0,76:1. With the overdrive the rear axle ratio was 4,56:1 and without the rear had 4,10:1 ratio.
Volvo was not happy with the quality of work from the Jensen factory and decided to bring the P1800 manufacturing back to Sweden. The good news in all of this was that Volvo’s new car factory on Hisingen, Göteborg in Sweden was finished in 1963 and that meant that the older Lundby factory could be used for the P1800 manufacturing. After 6,000 cars made by Jensen the Volvo 1800 was now made in Sweden. This is why the designation P1800 changed to 1800S and the “S” stood for Sweden, not Sport as I have believed for all my life.
Volvo continue to improve the 1800S through out the years for safety, convenience and power until it’s demise in 1972 for the coupe and 1973 for the ES model (wagon). Volvo produced a total of 47,485 of which 8,078 were the ES model.
Photos: Volvo Herritage Press Kit
(To the best of my knowledge. Some equipment varied depending on market and assembly plant. If you have info or pictures to correct, add or just general bitching, feel free to ping your Humble Editor )
The Volvo Amazon was designed by the then rather young Jan Wilsgaard. Jan’s parents fled to Sweden from Norway during the war.
Those were hard times and not the greatest circumstances but o’boy are we grateful that he ended up in Sweden. Really, imagine a world without Amazons!!
Vintage Volvo Amazon Commercial on Youtube
(Mostly in Swedish, deal with it)
Jan Wilsgaard also designed the 140, 164, 700 and the 850 body.
The new Amazon was shown in September of 1956. Deliveries was started in spring of 1957.
4 speed was now standard. The Amazon Sport was introduced with twin SU carburetors rated 85 hp.
The vertical stripes on the interior was changed to horizontal. Front seat belts were now standard.
New color were offered as in black, blue and red. The trunk got the beautiful “air plane” style handle.
Last year for two tone paint.
The handsome two door model was introduced. The Sport model now came with disc brakes. 1.8 liter engine (B-18) was new as well as 12 volt system. The base model was rated 75 hp and the Sport 90 hp. New grille. First year for the Combi (Combi Volvo speak for station wagon/estate.) Orange blinkers in front and the wagon got orange blinkers in rear as well. (euro market)
the sedans also get orange rear blinkers. (euro market)
New and simpler trunk handle introduced.
New all vinyl seats with perforated inserts and ergonomic design with lumbar support.
New steel rims with vent holes.
The model designation was now displayed on a aluminum shield instead of the cursive gold lettering on the front fenders.
New grille with a small built in center bar. Black mats replaced the previous gray ones.
the Sport model is now rated 95 hp.
The Volvo letters on the hood are now silver replacing the previous gold version. New grille with a square looking center bar. The Sport model is now rated 100hp. The 123GT was introduced with the B-18B rated 115hp. Last year for four door cars.
The rear torque arms were much improved. Thank You Volvo!!
The aluminum fender badge was moved up and back on the front fender.
Closed cooling system and power brakes.
New grille design.
Collapsible steering column, dual circuit brakes and emergency brake warning light was part of the new safety equipment. Interior trim are flat black as opposed to the earlier shiny black. This goes for the tachometer housing on the 123GT as well. Some late 1967 saw this equipment as well, especially export models.
A butterfly style steering wheel replaced the beautiful Bakelite and chrome steering wheel. Also, the dash knobs in Bakelite was replaced with padded knobs.
The B-20 engine was introduced. At this point, the Volvo 140 series had been out for two years and it was obvious that Volvo was directing it’s attention in a different direction. This was evident by the “simplified” Amazon.
The hood spear and the shiny trim on the gutters was deleted. The rear windows on the two door were now fixed. The door panels lost the map pockets. Rear seat belts added. Last year for the wagon.
The third of July was a sad day as it was the last day of Amazon production. A dark blue car two door that was added to Volvo’s collection. A total of 667,488 Volvo Amazons were built. Some very late Amazon got heated rear window. I am not sure what year it was introduced.
Photos courtesy Volvo Sweden