Volvo 122 Review from UK and Ireland

1968 Volvo 122 S B18B

Year of manufacture1968
First year of ownership1990
Most recent year of ownership1996
Engine and transmission B18B Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired130000 miles
Most recent distance180000 miles
Previous carTriumph Dolomite

Summary:

An old car with modern reliability and performance

Faults:

Clutch failed (just plain worn out)

Distributor clamp broke.

Camshaft drive gear broke up.

General Comments:

Despite its age this was probably the best car I have ever owned. The few faults it developed were mainly due to simple age and wear and it is so easy to work on! I did some fairly minor engine tuning, mainly by adding the camshaft from the fuel injected model to this carburetted car and the performance was outstanding for a saloon car of this era.

People forget that in the 60's Volvos sold on performance. This car was a 1968 full five seater that could do over 115 mph with safety and reliability. It's only competition at the time was a Jaguar. The trouble was with the Jag you got plush carpets, leather seats and a wood dash. With the Volvo you got rubber mats, plastic seats and a painted metal dash, and for slightly more money than the Jag! What people missed was that with the Volvo you got build quality and rust resistance. Not a major selling point at the time.

If you want a slightly different classic that is perfectly usable today then consider one of these.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd May, 2002

4th Jun 2007, 11:19

Volvo Amazons are truly wonderful, practical classic cars. I drive a 1968 122S estate almost daily and have owned and worked on these cars for 28 years. But to compare them to Jaguars of the sixties is just not right. I also drive a 1963 3.8 Mark 2 Jag regularly, but it is a very different sort of beast. The Jaguar will simply blow the doors off any Amazon, it handles better, it's quiet, smooth, and cossetting, and of course the interior is not in the same league as the Volvo. The Jag will do 125 mph, but the Volvo might manage 100 or so if you're lucky (and foolish: Amazons are pretty scary at speed). But the Jag has a 3.8 litre dual overhead cam engine and the Volvo has a 1.8 (or 2.0 in later versions) cast iron ohv unit. The Volvo is perhaps more reliable, although my Mark 2 is actually quite dependable. I drove it on three 500-mile-plus trips last summer and it did not skip a beat, nor did it even use oil, even though Jag motors are supposed to be oil guzzlers. But the Volvo is definitely cheap and easy to fix, and if somebody opens his door into the side on my Amazon, it causes me far less trauma than if they did it into the Jaguar! The two cars are both wonderful, and neither of mine is for sale, at any price. Of course, you can buy four Amazons for the price of a good 3.8 Mark 2. But it is just not fair to compare them. Each has its charms and merits, and each its drawbacks. It is clearly best to have one of each.

Geoff Rogers

Shutesbury, Massachusetts, USA.

7th Jan 2010, 06:39

Yes, old Volvos are very reliable. I have had a 1968 122S from almost new, and have not even removed the cylinder head.

Clutch plate changed once.

Water pump changed.

Clutch master cylinder replaced.

Servo recently replaced with a Lockheed type.

Front wheel bearings replaced.

Brake calipers overhauled.

Cam gears recently replaced, although they didn't seem too bad.

Otherwise just the usual brake linings, steering joints etc.

9th Sep 2010, 21:43

I was planning on restoring a Volvo 122, and I'm pretty certain I'll have to replace the clutch. If anyone could help me with that, I would appreciate it greatly. Actually, any information would be very much appreciated

npullano@gmail.com

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 1 review