When you think of old Volvos, most people think of a station wagon. Angular, enormously spacious and almost indestructible, 240 or 740 have many fans. Rather a case for connoisseurs is one of the ancestors of those cult loading masters. Such as the P220 Amazon, which made its debut exactly 60 years ago.
On February 17, 1962, the P220 made its debut at the Stockholm Auto Show. With this elegant five-door body variant of the successful Volvo P120 Amazon limousine, the station wagon lost its image as a pure commercial vehicle for trade and craft. Up to the B-pillar, the Volvo P220 Amazon corresponded to the sedan. The Volvo P220 Amazon also wrote station wagon history with its stylish, large-area glazed luggage compartment with split tailgate.
It was the Volvo PV445 Duett that got the Swedish family station wagons rolling in 1953. The Swedish brand then showed the future for the variable five-door model in 1962 with the P220 Amazon. Drawn by the designer Jan Wilsgaard, who had already designed the Volvo P120 Amazon limousine, the station wagon variant presented itself in the external dimensions of the limousine despite the generously dimensioned luggage compartment.
A station wagon lettering on the rear of the Volvo P220 Amazon was therefore deliberately avoided. A practical station wagon with lounge-like comfort like in a limousine was something that families, recreational athletes and commercial customers had to get used to at first. In early advertisements, for example, a comparison was made with the exclusive “Herrgårdsvagn” (Herrenhof-Wagen), while the first German press release spoke of the “Stationwagen”.
In fact, the new Volvo P220 Amazon was different from classic station wagons. It clearly differentiated itself from the Volvo Duett offered at the same time, which offered the qualities of a transporter with a robust chassis. In contrast, the Volvo P220 corresponded to the four-door sedan in terms of comfort, driving dynamics and safety, supplemented by a modified rear wheel suspension in favor of a deep and flat luggage compartment floor.
The load compartment of the Volvo P220 Amazon, which is only 4.49 meters long, has a capacity of up to 1,850 liters for suitcases and leisure equipment. The variable rear of this versatile Volvo model was even suitable for spontaneous overnight stays, as it offered 2.25 square meters of sleeping space.
That’s not all of the clever features of the Volvo P220 Amazon, designed for a payload of 490 kilograms: the lower part of the separate tailgate could be opened horizontally and thus used as a practical picnic table when traveling – or useful for transporting overly long objects that could not be completely placed in the luggage compartment fit. A large roof rack was also available as an option.
No Volvo without pioneering safety concepts. The Volvo P220 Amazon was the world’s first automobile in the station wagon segment to have life-saving three-point seat belts as standard. In addition, anchorage points for rear seat belts are part of the standard equipment. The protective child seat was also offered for the first time in the Volvo P220 Amazon.
Added to this were the steering column that split in the event of a frontal collision, accident-proof doors thanks to special door lock columns, an innovative dual-circuit brake system (from 1964 including front disc brakes) with a warning light in the event of a malfunction, and a padded dashboard. Thought out down to the last detail, the Volvo even had rear-view mirrors on the front fenders for an unrestricted view to the rear when the luggage compartment is loaded to the roof.
As a pioneer of the idea of the sustainable long-term car, the Volvo P220 Amazon received a revolutionary and effective rust protection by galvanizing all vulnerable components in a hot bath. A measure that prevented body parts from collapsing prematurely in the event of an accident. However: After 60 years, even Swedish steel rusts …
The engine range consisted of 1.8- and 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol engines (types B18 and B20). These units scored well in terms of fuel consumption and the first exhaust gas cleaning for the US market, but also in terms of unique mileage. There was a Volvo 1800 S with the legendary B18 drive that ran 4.8 million kilometers.
The timeless vehicle design and the variability kept the Volvo P220 Amazon young even after the launch of the successor station wagon Volvo 145 presented in 1967. When the 73,220th and final Volvo P220 Amazon finally rolled off the assembly line on October 15, 1969 and was immediately given a place of honor in the Volvo Museum, the series had already achieved a cult status that continues to this day.