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Production of Volvo Amazon

In a letter to the press dated April 7th, 1956 Volvo's CEO Assar Gabrielsson informs that one unit of Volvo's new and larger passenger car now is ready and placed at the disposal of the technicians for test driving. The unit mentioned is the prototype X1. Gabrielsson is clear about the fact that no data about the new car will be published before the construction and the design has tested and finalized and the Volvo will not be able to deliver the new car during that year. Picture material is included with the letter (RK 6112 korr).

So it is with a modest production start that the first series produced Volvo Amazon rolls off the Lundby factory assembly line on Monday, August 27th 1956. It has chassis number 1 and is followed by chassis number 2 on August 30th and by number 3 on September 1st. These are noted as delivered on October 24th, November 8th and December 7th the same year. For chassis number 3 it says "12/7" in the delivery books but this is probably a typo as the three cars were reported finished in August/September. December 7th is noted as 7/12 in Sweden while July 12th is noted as 12/7. Since the two prototypes X1 and X2 were registered for traffic on April 10th and June 11th respectively, it is easy to believe that they were followed by chassis number 3 on July 7th while in reality the prototypes had their own chassis number series. Short but own.

The first cars are officially intended as show room cars. Not more than 34 cars are produced during the fall of 1956, on top of the two prototypes, ans it isn't until more than half a year later that the first car is delivered to a paying customer in late February, early March 1957. By the end of 1957 not more than 3,100 units have been produced. Limited production capacity together with initial quality problems plus a significantly higher (35%) price than the popular PV 444 lead to a cool interest from the public. In addition, Amazon buyers had to put up a down payment of SEK 4,000 which was almost a third of the total price, let it be to a 6% interest. But the Amazon eventually became a success - also abroad, including the so important North American market. Seen from a historic perspective, the car is one of the biggest successes to Volvo, who's continued expansion would not have been possible without the Amazon.

Sections: Production figures The Lundby factory The Torslanda plant Foreign assembly




Production Figures

Volvo Amazon is during the first years only available with the four door body (P 120). In October 1961 the by many percieved as the sportier two door version (P 130) is introduced, and at the Stockholm Motor Show in February 1962 also the Estate (P 220). The different bodies have their own series of chassis numbers, which is illustrated by the table below. This includes the two prototypes X1 and X2. From the same table it is obvious when first the PV 544 is discontinued in 1965 and later when parts of the production assets are relocated to the 140-series in 1966. The last Amazon rolls off the production line at the Torslanda plant in Gothenburg on Friday July 3rd, 1970 and has chassis number 359726 (a dark blue P 130). It was saved and can be seen at the Volvo Museum in Arendal. The remaining 192 units are shipped as CKDs (completely knocked down units) to the assembly plant in Durban, South Africa where the very last Amazon leaves the assembly line on December 18th, 1970 with chassis number 359918.

Volvo does not have production data broken down per edition. In other words, it is difficult to answer questions like how many 123 GTs were produced, how many 122 S were exported as CKDs to Canada, how many red Amazon Sport were sold in Sweden in 1959, etc. Generally, the split between 121 and 122 S was 80/20. That is, approximately 20% of the customers chose to pay extra for a Volvo 122 S over a Volvo 121 *. Regarding 123 GT the production figures 1,980 cars of model year 1967 and 197 cars of model year 1968 been mentioned **, plus "a handful cars of model year 1969 and 1970". It is probably more.

Series production is preceded by two prototypes. Read more about them in the section on history. The first prototype, called X1, had chassis number 1 and was registered for traffic in Sweden on April 10th, 1956 ***. It was scrapped by Volvo already on December 1st the same year. The second prototype, called X2, had chassis number 2 and was registered for traffic in Sweden on June 11th, 1956, was eventually sold to a private person and not scrapped until November 13th, 1967.


Assembly of Volvo Amazon in Ghent, Belgium

* "Volvo - The Passenger Cars - from 1920s to 1980s" by Björn-Eric Lindh. Förlagshuset Norden AB. 1984. ISBN 9186442066. Page 158.
** "Hottest Volvo in Town - 123 GT" article by Peo Kjellström in the magazine Klassiska Bilar number 5, 2011. Page 73.
*** A copy of the registration document is reprinted on page 60 in the Swedish Volvo Amazon Club's 2012 roster.

Period Model year P 120 P 130 P 220 Totals


Ch.-no.
Number
Ch.-no.
Number
Ch.-no.
Number
Number
Accumulated
April 1956 and June 1956 1956* X1, X2
August 1956 - spring 1958 1957 1 - 5272 5,184 5,184 5,184
February 1958 - November** 1958 1958 4436 - 15000 9,816 9,816 15,000
November** 1958 - October** 1959 1959 15001 - 32999 17,999 17,999 32,999
October** 1959 - July 1960 1960 33000 - 54399 21,400 21,400 54,399
August 1960 - July 1961 1961 54400 - 84299 29,900 29,900 84,299
August 1961 - July 1962 1962 84300 - 112799 28,500 1 - 10499 10499 1 - 1399 1,399 40,398 124,697
August 1962 - July 1963 1963 112800 - 139999 27,200 10500 - 39999 29,500 1400 - 8274 6,875 63,575 188,272
August 1963 - July 1964 1964 140000 - 166399 26,400 40000 - 84599 44,600 8275 - 17949 9,675 80,675 268,947
August 1964 - July 1965 1965 166400 - 193799 27,400 84600 - 144399 59,800 17950 - 29399 11,450 98,650 367,597
August 1965 - July 1966 1966 193800 - 225049 31,250 144400 - 216949 72,550 29400 - 44599 15,200 119,000 486,597
August 1966 - July 1967 1967 225050 - 234653*** 9,604*** 216950 - 279899 62,950 44600 - 61799 17,200 89,754 576,351
August 1967 - July 1968 1968 279900 - 312499 32,600 61800 - 70299 8,500 41,100 617,451
August 1968 - July 1969 1969 312500 - 339999 27,500 70300 - 73220*** 2,921*** 30,421 647,872
August 1969 - July 1970 1970 340000 - 359918 19,919 19,919 667,791

Total

 

 

234,653

 

359,918

 

73,220

667,791

 

* Concerns the two prototypes X1 and X2 which had chassis numbers 1 and 2 respectively in their own chassis number series. Both were registered for traffic in Sweden and therefore included here.
** Calculated point in time based on available chassis number data and the assumption of an even distribution of produced cars during the period.
*** By Volvo also stated as 234209/9,160 for P 120 and 73196/2,897 for P 220, which gives a total produced number of 667,323 cars, but the figures in the table above are from Volvo's delivery books. The last manufactured P 220 was saved and is on exhibition in the Volvo Museum in Arendal and has ch.-no. 73220.

Click here for a printer friendly version of the table above. It is clear that the whole concept with model years does not begin to establish itself within Volvo until after the summer of 1960, and then most likely driven by the introduction of Volvo Amazon and PV 544 on the US market during 1959. Most changes are introduced at certain chassisnumbers rather than in between two model years. On July 4th, 1958 chassis number 10000 rolls off the assembly line at the Lundby plant. In March 1958 Volvo issue a service bulletin regarding the introduction of the new gearbox M4, and eventually also stated what chassis numbers belongs to what model year based on the gearbox (H6 means 1957 and M4 means 1958). Something clearly made up afterwards. The normal procedure for model years is in fact the point in time for production and this would give a quite different picture would it be applied here.

Production is paused for a while after 248 produced units as several initial defects are being addressed. Several new Amazon owners have complained about problems with serious water leakage, that the brakes are not working properly, that the side windows have the habit of falling down by themselves and that the gear shift lever rattles when driving. Among other things.

Model year
Chassis number
Type designation
Comment
1957 1 - 248 P 1200 H6
1957 249 - 4435 P 1200 V/H H6
1957 4447 - 4636 P 1200 V/H H6
1957 4639 - 5193 P 1200 V/H H6
1957 5214 - 5215 P 1200 V/H H6
1957 5271 - 5272 P 1200 V/H H6
1958 4436 - 4446 P 1200 VB/HB M4
1958 4637 - 4638 P 1200 VB/HB M4
1958 5194 - 5213 P 1200 VB/HB M4
1958 5216 - 5270 P 1200 VB/HB M4
1958 5273 - 12082 P 1200 VB/HB M4
1958 12083 - 15000 P 12204 VB/HB
1958 12170 - 15000 P 12206 VB/HB
1958 12379 - 15000 P 12104 VB/HB
1959 15001 - 32999 P 12104 UVB/UHB
1959 15001 - 32999 P 12204 UVB/UHB Export
1959 15001 - 32999 P 12206 UVB/UHB
1959 21000 - 32999 P 12208 UVB USA
1960 33000 - 54399 P 12104 UVB/UHB
1960 33000 - 54399 P 12106 UVB/UHB
1960 33000 - 54399 P 12204 UVB/UHB Export
1960 33000 - 54399 P 12206 UVB/UHB
1960 33000 - 54399 P 12208 UVB USA, M4
1961 54400 - 84299 P 12132 VD/HD M30
1961 54410 - 80258 * P 12133 VD/HD M31
1961 54400 - 84299 P 12134 VD/HD M40
1961 54400 - 84299 P 12234 VD/HD M40
1961 80683 - 82239 ** P 12235 VD/HD M41
1961 54400 - 84299 P 12238 VD/HD M40
1961 54400 - 84299 P 12244 VD USA, M40

* In total 1,120 units of Volvo 121 with M31 produced.
** In total 199 units of Volvo 122 S with M41 produced of model year 1961.

In total 5,184 produced 1957s, 9,816 1958s, 17,999 1959s, 21,400 1960s and 29,900 1961s.

Thanks to Bengt Andersson's restoration of the Amazon Ruth (ch.-no. 66723) and consultation of Volvo's delivery books in the fall of 2003 with specific interest in the gearboxes M31 and M41 it is possible to list the following two tables. It is clearly shown how these cars were manufactures in series between certain chassis numbers, a pattern that can be distinguished also in the yet incomplete data gathered on the 123 GT (see the 123 GT register).

Type designation
Chassis number
Color
Number
Type designation
Chassis number
Color
Number
P 12133 VD/HD 54410 51 1 P 12235 VD/HD 80683 - 80685 50 2
54700 - 54722 19 23 80693 - 80722 42 30
54966 - 54995 67 30 80746 - 80768 67 23
55431 - 55464 19 34 80776 - 80788 51 13
55533 - 55573 67 41 81280 - 81306 51 27
55821 - 55960 67 140 81307 - 81313 50 7
55983 - 56017 19 35 81314 - 81358 42 45
56417 19 1 81359 - 81385 67 27
57235 - 57249 19 15 82215 - 82227 42 13
57297 - 57311 67 15 82228 - 82229 50 2
58038 - 58052 19 15 82230 - 82233 67 4
58053 - 58067 67 15 82234 - 82239 51 6
58219 19 1
Total



199
58222 67 1
58420 - 58449 67 30
58820 - 58822 67 3
58827 - 58828 19 2
58879 - 58908 67 30
59426 19 1
59429 - 59430 67 2
59441 - 59460 67 20
59706 - 59712 19 7
60147 - 60175 67 29
60743 - 60768 67 26
60889 - 60898 19 10
61138 - 61140 67 3
61145 - 61177 67 33
62063 - 62086 67 24
62175 50 1
62283 - 62290 19 8
62382 - 62391 19 10
62648 - 62667 67 20
63183 - 63190 19 8
63290 - 63314 67 25
63875 - 63894 67 20
64544 - 64568 67 25
64846 - 64858 19 13
65389 - 65400 19 12
65942 19 1
65987 - 66000 67 14
66151 - 66175 67 25
66277 - 66291 19 15
66598 - 66617 19 20
66712 - 66743 67 32
67238 19 1
67440 - 67466 19 27
67607 - 67656 67 50
67950 - 67983 67 34
68123 - 68147 19 25
69734 - 69736 50 3
69737 67 1
70763 67 1
72769 54 1
73664 - 73666 67 3
75136 - 75151 19 16
75152 - 75155 50 4
75275 - 75304 67 30
75700 - 75703 19 4
75919 - 75937 67 19
76525 67 1
77149 - 77150 19 2
77350 - 77361 67 12
77801 - 77805 19 5
78122 - 78123 67 2
79014 67 1
79539 - 79551 19 13
79619 - 79638 67 20
79943 67 1
80149 - 80150 19 2
80253 - 80258 67 6

Total



1 120

For type designation 12133xD (M31), a total of 784 cars with color code 67 were manufactured. 326 with color code 19, 8 with color code 50 and one each of color codes 51 and 54. For type designation 12235xD (M41), a total of 88 cars with color code 42 were manufactured. 11 with color code 50, 46 with color code 51 and 54 with color code 67.

For the model years 1962 - 1970 Volvo has listed what chassis number introduced which model year:

The table below presents the last planned chassis number per calendar year. The figures are listed in this document and have for the model years1961 to 1967 been verified with VADIS (Volvo Aftersales Diagnostic and Information System). According to Volvo, these are the only data available on the Volvo Amazon in VADIS. During 1966 or 1967, Volvo starts using computers to keep track of production and the figures are from then on kept per model year instead of, as before, per calendar year which is why figures on last planned chassis numbers are missing for model years 1968 to 1970.

Model year Production run P 120 P 130 P 220


Ch.-no.
Number
Ch.-no.
Number
Ch.-no.
Number
1957 August 1956 - December 1956 1 - 34 * 34
January 1957 - December 1957 35 - 3100 3,066
January 1958 - spring 1958 3101 - 5272 2,084
1958 February 1958 - November** 1958 4436 - 15000 9,816
1959 November** 1958 - December 1958 15001 - 16857 1,857
January 1959 - October** 1959 16858 - 32999 16,142
1960 October** 1959 - December 1959 33000 - 38408 5,409
January 1960 - July 1960 38409 - 54399 15,991
1961 August 1960 - December 1960 54400 - 66064 11,665
January 1961 - July 1961 66065 - 84299 18,235
1962 August 1961 - December 1961 84300 - 96301 12,002 1 - 1852 1,852
January 1962 - July 1962 96302 - 112799 16,498 1853 - 10499 8,647 1 - 1399 1,399
1963 August 1962 - December 1962 112800 - 124544 11,745 10500 - 20615 10,116 1400 - 4039 2,640
January 1963 - July 1963 124545 - 139999 15,455 20616 - 39999 19,384 4040 - 8274 4,235
1964 August 1963 - December 1963 140000 - 150170 10,171 40000 - 57366 17,367 8275 - 11593 3,319
January 1964 - July 1964 150171 - 166399 16,229 57367 - 84599 27,233 11594 - 17949 6,356
1965 August 1964 - December 1964 166400 - 176552 10,153 84600 - 106768 22,169 17950 - 22209 4,260
January 1965 - July 1965 176553 - 193799 17,247 106769 - 144399 37,631 22210 - 29399 7,190
1966 August 1965 - December 1965 193800 - 206184 12,385 144400 - 172294 27,895 29400 - 35146 5,747
January 1966 - July 1966 206185 - 225049 18,865 172295 - 216949 44,655 35147 - 44599 9,453
1967 August 1966 - December 1966 225050 - 233747 8,698 216950 - ? ? 44600 - ? ?
January 1967 - July 1967 233748 - 234653 906 ? - 279899 ? ? - 61799 ?

* Ch.-no. 1-34 are in the delivery books listed as type 672, which probably is an internal denomination within Volvo with an for us unclear meaning.
** Calculated point in time based on available chassis number data and the assumption of an even distribution of produced cars during the period.

The Lundby Factory

In the beginning (1956 - 1963), all production takes place at the Lundby factory on Hisingen outside Gothenburg. The pictures below are taken outside the Lundby factory, where finished cars are lined up waiting for delivery (many are to be transported to Gothenburg's Skandia port for export). With time, the Lundby factory is outgrown and already in 1959 plans are made for a new and more modern production site at Torslanda further out on Hisingen (which at the time is little more than farm land). Production of cars continued in the Lundby plant with Volvo PV 544 and P 1800 also after the Amazon production was relocated to Torslanda and ended with 1800 ES in 1973. Today, the Lundby factory is owned by Volvo AB and hosts Volvo Trucks, Volvo 3P and Volvo Penta.

Lundby factory
Amazons ready for delivery at the Lundby plant's yard

Lundby factory
Amazons ready for delivery at the Lundby plant's yard

Lundby factory
Early Amazon production

Skandia port
100,000nd exported Volvo car

The last picture above is of the 100,000 exported Volvo car, a midnight blue Amazon with grey beige roof. The picture is taken in the Skandia port with the car placed in front of the Swedish Orient Line's freight liner M/S Timmerland. It is February 1958 and the man in the middle, with the hat on edge, is Volvo's CEO Gunnar Engellau. The text painted on the car reveals that the receiving country is Greece.

The Torslanda Plant

The sales success with Volvo Amazon during the years 1957 to 1963 enables Volvo to invest in, among other things, a new and for the purpose built production plant. This is located to Torslanda in the Sörred valley on Hisingen outside Gothenburg, some 4 miles west of the Lundby plant, where Volvo purchase 1,000 acres of land in November 1959 and starts preparing access roads. Construction proceeds according to plan and on August 28th 1961 the body factory (called TA) can deliver the first Amazon bodies to the Lundby factory for paint and assembly.

First body is delivered from Torslanda
August 28th, 1961 - First body is delivered from Torslanda to Lundby

The paint shop (TB)
The paint shop (called TB) is ready in the spring of 1963

The Torslanda plant is inaugurated by King Gustav VI Adolf on Friday, April 24th, 1964. The King is driven around the new site in an ÖV 4 that Volvo rented from a private owner (Volvo didn't have any of their own), and is hosted by co-founder Gustaf Larson and CEO Gunnar Engellau. Assar Gabrielsson had passed away two years earlier. Volvo starts producing the first passenger car to be built in the Torslanda plant already on Monday, April 6th and it is ready a few days later after a few initial startup problems on Thursday, April 9th. The same car, a black Volvo Amazon with type designation 12134VD and chassis number 157931, was presented to King Gustav VI Adolf on the inauguration day which can be seen on one of the pictures below.

Inauguration of Torslandaverken
Gunnar Engellau presents the first car from the Torslanda plant to H R H King Gustav VI Adolf

Inauguration of Torslandaverken
Gustaf Larson in front, Gunnar Engellau and the King in the back

Inauguration of Torslandaverken
April 24th, 1964 - H R H King Gustav VI Adolf driven around in a borrowed ÖV 4

Volvo's investments in the Torslanda plant amounted to 240 million SEK (about 2.7 billion SEK today). The plant is already from the start dimensioned for a two-shift schedule and has a capacity of 200,000 cars per year. The first produced car at Torslanda is a Volvo Amazon, which is presented to King Gustav VI Adolf upon inauguration. The Torslanda plant is today one of northern Europe's biggest work sites.

For the 50th anniversary of the Torslanda plant in April 2014, Volvo produced the below film together with Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld:

The picture gallery below contains promotional pictures from the brand new Torslanda plant taken during manufacturing of cars of model year 1964.

Foreign Assembly

Already in the 1930s, Volvo focus the foreign sales on countries without domestic car production and the export to more or less exotic countries becomes more and more significant with time. But it isn't until the Volvo Amazon and the PV 544 in the early 1960s that the volumes become really big, and by this time Volvo is already established as a premium brand on several big and important markets. The step from exporting finished cars to having the production locally is therefore not as big as it otherwise would have been. Totally, more than half of all Amazons ever produced are exported. Of these, a large amount were assembled abroad.

There were several reasons for Volvo to consider foreign assembly. Towards the end of the 1950s Volvo had an urgent need of more production capacity as the Lundby factory simply was outgrown (a result of the huge success with the PV 444). There were also tax driven reasons as there substantial amounts of money to be saved on finalizing the vehicles locally rather than importing them complete. By imposing lower import duties on unassembled cars the governments of different countries could create jobs locally. For manufacturers, like Volvo, who's import to such countries would reach a certain annual volume it would be more profitable to assemble the cars locally. It was also significantly more expensive to transport complete cars compared with transporting them as parts.

The first foreign assembly plants producing Volvo cars are located in South Africa and in Chile. Their existance is the result of initiatives from the local importer and not from Volvo. The plants in South Africa and in Chile are without any ownership from Volvo and both plants also assemble cars of other brands. Later in the 1960s, fully Volvo owned assembly plants are opened in Canada and in Belgium.

In 1964, 8,040 Volvo cars (other models included) left Torslanda as CKDs (completely knocked down) units for foreign assembly. With 118,464 produced vehicles this year, this corresponds to 7% of the production. The term CKD is generally used and the idea is that a finished car body is shipped together with a bag of material which at the assembly site are combined into a complete car. But the cars that Volvo shipped from Gothenburg for foreign assembly were not particularly knocked down. The obvious parts such windscreens, tires, batteries, etc. were not shipped but instead purchased from local suppliers by the assembly plant. The extent of this varied between the different assembly plants. From various reseller brochures we know that the tires were of a different make in Canada than those in Sweden and from the type designation plates (that were practically empty) on the cars to South Africa we can assume that the cars were delivered there unpainted and without upholstery. Pictures of cars assembled in Chile reveal that the dash pads as well as other parts of the interior were procured locally. Amazons assembled by foreign plants that were fully owned by Volvo tend to be more similar to the cars produced in Sweden than those assembled outside of Volvo's ownership, for instance are the colors and the upholsteries the same as the Swedish made cars (even if the combinations of these differ). Regardless of this, the cars' body (painted or only primed), engine and power train were always included in the kit shipped from Sweden.

Volvo Amazon CKD units bound for assembly in Ghent, Belgium
Volvo Amazon CKD units bound for assembly in Ghent, Belgium

In 1967 Volvo produce 145,447 passenger cars, 11,041 trucks and 863 buses. Of a total of 157,351 vehicles 110,341 or 70% are exported. From this we conclude that most Amazons were exported but also that most Amazons were produced in Sweden.

The Nine

Later in the production, probably with the start in Canada (June 1963), the digit nine (9) is added to the type designation for cars assembled abroad. This is not found on cars assembled earlier, even though the type designation format allows for it from the change introduced with model year 1961. The digit only indicates that the car was assembled abroad. It does not indicate at what plant, even if this often can be concluded from the other information in the type designation such as the fact that only RHD cars were assembled in South Africa (and the opposite in Canada), some models were not produced at all plants (such as the Favorit and the 123 GT), etc. Read more on this in the section on type designations. The first known reference to the nine is in a service bulletin from March 1963.

It is not completely clear when the nine was first added to the type designations, and there are some condradictory information on this. In for instance this specification of the Volvo Canadian the cars are listed with the same type designations as for the USA (i.e. a 4 instead of a 9). There are also LHD cars with A engines (single carburetor) with the nine, which indicates that they were assembled in Belgium, of model year 1963 but assembly of Volvo Amazon in Belgium did not start until February 1st, 1964. The first cars delivered to Jacques Coune's famous body shop in Brussels, Belgium were of model year 1963 (for instance P13294VB14320) and had the digit nine in the type designation. So there is information on this that we do not yet have.

Below is a list of countries in which it is known and verfied that assembly of Volvo Amazon took place. The information on production and even on these sites is often very scarce.

Durban, South Africa

After an agreement in 1960 the Volvo Amazon is assembled at an assembly plant in Wentworth outside Durban in South Africa between 1961 and 1970, as is the PV 544, parts of the 140-series (only 144) and the 164. Assembly of the Volvo 122 S starts according to unconfirmed information in March of 1961 and concerns cars of model year 1961 (i.e. B16 cars with two tone finish). The plant was built already in 1947 and was owned by two leading South African motor organizations: McCarthy Roadway Ltd and Atkinson Oats. The company behind the plant was called Motor Assemblies Limited and the Volvo Amazon cars that were assembled here have a plate riveted on the torpedo wall in the engine compartment (above the type designation plate) on which it says "Built by Motor Assemblies LTD, Durban South Africa". As the new Volvo 140-series takes over more and more of the production capacity in Torslanda, Volvo more or less dumps all remaining four door Amazon bodies on their foreign assembly plants. Durban and Ghent are listed as receivers of 426 CKD units P 120, ch.-no. 233748-234173, and the very last 480 units of P 120, ch.-no. 234174-234653, are shipped on five fully loaded ships to Durban in January 1967. This is how easy Volvo could get rid of almost a thousand cars from Torslanda. The very last four door Amazon is a 122 S with B18 B engine, type 123942M and ch.-no. 234653. South Africa is also where the very last 192 Volvo Amazons are shipped for assembly and sales during the fall of 1970, of which the last were completed in the December 1970. The 192 units were registered in South Africa as model year 1971 but in Volvo's delivery books they are all noted as being model year "T" which means 1970. In the photo below, John Sully, CEO of Motor Assemblies in Durban, hands over the keys to the last produced Volvo Amazon in South Africa (and the last Volvo Amazon produced ever) to the buyer Dion Lardner-Burke, marketing director of the local Volvo importer Lawson Motor Group, on December 18th, 1970. The car was a beige right-hand drive 122 S with engine B20 B and gearbox M40 (i.e. type designation 133942T) and with ch.-no. 359918. It was initially used by Lardner-Burke as a company car at Lawson but has despite attempts by Volvo Owners Club of South Africa not been possible to locate. As far as Volvo is concerned, the assembly in Durban is relocated to Uitenhage during 1973 and came to a complete stop in 1976 due to political reasons and Toyota takes control over Motor Assemblies Ltd. Volvo had no involvement in the company, which from its foundation in 1947 up to 1976 assembled cars from 34 different brands, mainly American and British. The plant was later relocated to Prospecton.

Only right hand steered 122 S are assembled in Durban.


Type designation plate on Amazon assembled in Durban

Body
Edition
P 120
P 130
P 220
Volvo 122 S 1961 - 1967 1967 - 1970 1964 - 1968


Plate in engine room on all Volvos assembled in South Africa

Motor Assemblies 1961
Volvo Amazons of model year 1961 at Motor Assemblies Ltd, Durban

The last Amazon
The last Amazon was assembled in South Africa on December 18th, 1970

In total, Motor Assemblies assembled 7,382 four door Amazon (P 120) between March 1961 and June 1967, 1,008 Amazon Estate (P 220) between May 1964 and October 1967, and 5,568 two door Amazon (P 130) between May 1967 and December 1970. The two door (P 130) takes over after the four door (P 120) during the first half of 1967. The CKD bodies were shipped primed but not painted from Gothenburg with 96 cars per ship load and a large - compared with the other assembly plants the largest - amount of details are procured locally by Motor Assemblies, likely from their existing contractors for their other car brands. The type designation plates on the bodies to Durban are empty except for the type designations.

Arica, Chile

In 1959 Eduardo Averill founds the company Distribuidora Volvo S.A., or DiVolvo, in Chile and initiated - with some support from Volvo - the construction of an assembly plant in the coastal town of Arica located in the northern parts of the country. The plant is ready by the summer of 1962 and during the years 1962 - 1966 2,956 Volvo 122 S (all four door bodies) are shipped to Arica. All of these are left hand steered 122 S with B18 D engines, bench type front seat and steering column gear level M40RV. In other words they all have the type designation 12298Vx. The Chilean police buy several of these Volvo Amazons. The PV 544 and the P 1800 were also assembled in Arica. The bodies are painted by a subcontractor to the assembly plant in their facilities (the assembly plant did not include a paint shop) and supposedly the same colors as found on the Swedish cars were used. The type designation plates on the CKD's to Arica therefore have the color field empty.


Type designation plate of 122 S assembled in Chile

Volvo 122 S were sold in Chile also prior to 1962 and after 1966, but then imported from Sweden. The 123 GT was also sold in Chile. The very last four door Amazon exported to Chile was a red (46) 122 S of model year 1967 with type designation 122341M and ch.-no. 233730 that was reported ready on November 23rd, 1966. In addition to operating an assembly plant, DiVolvo also supplied reseller and maintenance services and functioned as a training facility for Volvo in South America. From 1975 the business was focused on trucks and buses only.

Only left hand steered four door 122 S are assembled in Arica.

Body
Edition
P 120
Volvo 122 S 1963 - 1966

Interior photo of Volvo Amazon assembled in Arica, Chile
Interior photo of a 1965 Volvo Amazon assembled in Arica, Chile

Dartmouth and Halifax, Canada

During 1960 Volvo starts planning an assembly plant in Canada, where attractive customs regulations allows for the possibility to bring in parts duty free and assemble the cars locally. A saving of 7.2 % compared with, as in for instance the US, import finished cars from Sweden. The establishment of an assembly plant in Dartmouth is planned together with the Canadian government and the province of Nova Scotia who grants Volvo special customs tariffs during a start-up period of five years to facilitate the establishment. Volvo initially invest two to three million SEK in this Canadian venture that is expected to employ 300 people in a part of Canada that struggle with high unemployment rates. According to the agreement Volvo is allowed to, during the first five years or up until an annual production of 10,000 units has been reached, duty free from the Swedish mother company import assembled and painted bodies and a number of engines. After this initial period the duty exempt will gradually be reduced until they reach normal levels. The assembly plant is to be staffed by Canadians who will receive training in production and assembly in Gothenburg at Volvo's Lundby plant. At the same time, Volvo's Canadian sales organization is to be expanded. The plans are made official on February 21, 1963 and become real on June 11th, 1963 when H R H Prince Bertil, who is flown in over the day, inaugurates Volvo's assembly plant in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Volvo's CEO Gunnar Engellau is also present. Prince Bertil tightens the last screw with a for the occassion gold plated screw driver on the first series produced European car in North America, a black four door Volvo 122 S with red upholstery. Later, other European car manufacturers enjoy similar tax benefits in other Canadian provinces, including French Peugeut and Renault in Quebec.


June 11th, 1963 - Prince Bertil inaugurates the Dartmouth plant

June 11th, 1963 - Gunnar Engellau inaugurates the Dartmouth plant

This first unit of the Volvo Canadian was given to the Nova Scotia Trade and Industry minister Robert L Stanfield who used it as his company car up until 1967 when it was donated to Nova Scotia Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.

It was restored to mint condition in 1991 by technicians from the Volvo Halifax plant and is since then on permanent display at the museum.

This is Volvo's first fully owned foreign assembly plant for cars and the only plant Volvo has ever had in North America. Volvo becomes the first European car manufacturer with production in North America. The cars assembled here are intended for the domestic Canadian market where they are marketed as Volvo Canadian. In addition to the Volvo Canadian (which is a two or four door Volvo 122 S), also the Volvo Canadian Station Wagon (P 220 in 122 S edition) and (later) the Volvo Canadian GT (Volvo 123 GT) are assembled here. Volvo rents the plant in direct connection to the port and the plan is already from the beginning to relocate to more permanent facilities in nearby Halifax within three years. The plant is housed in an old converted sugar refinery in which Volvo also assembles the PV 544. In 1966, capacity has reached 3,700 cars annually or about 15 per day. A total of 12,468 Amazons are assembled here. The last four door Amazon to be assembled in Dartmouth was invoiced from Gothenburg on December 7th, 1966 and was a dark blue (96) 122941M with ch.-no. 232366. In 1967, the plant is relocated a few miles to larger facilities in Halifax, still in Nova Scotia, and is re-inaugurated by Robert L Stanfield who now is prime minister for the province of Nova Scotia on Friday, April 14th 1967. Volvo invests roughly one million dollars in the plant which is equiped with the same modern tools as are used in Torslanda. Total size is just short of 200,000 square feet and the plant will fully developed and running two shifts be able of assembling 10,000 cars annually. The new 140-series is also assembled here, now that the four door version of Amazon has been discontinued.

The first cars delivered for assembly in Canada had very limited elements of CKD, in the right meaning of the term. As has been made clear from both documents from Volvo and of the first pictures below, these cars were already assembled and initially the work in the new Dartmouth plant consisted of placing the engine in the cars, which were shipped separately. This was ofcourse changed over time, especially since the plant's employees finished their training, and the extension of the parts shipped from Gothenburg to Canada is bigger than for the two earlier assembly plants in South Africa and Chile. The bodies, for instance, arrive painted (and the colors are therefore the same as on the cars produced in Sweden) and the cars have the same interior and upholstery as the cars on the US market have. Volvo Canadian also has most, if not all, of the special details that the Amazon in export edition to the US has such as the front fender bar. There are some local deviations though, such as 123 GT in the colors light green (91) and light blue (95). Because Volvo in the agreement has agreed to source a certain share of the cars' components from local Canadian suppliers they are also granted inclusion in the free trade agreement settled between Canada and the American car manufacturers. The type designation plates have all fields filled out:


Type designation plate of 123 GT assembled in Canada

Only left hand steered 122 S and 123 GT are assembled in Canada.

Body
Edition
P 120
P 130
P 220
Volvo Canadian (122 S) 1963 - 1967 1964 - 1968 1964 - 1968
Volvo Canadian GT (123 GT) 1967


Badge in engine room on all Canadian made Volvos


1964 Volvo Canadian sales brochure


Early unloading at the Dartmouth plant, more or less finished cars


Later unloading at the Dartmouth plant, more CKD-ish


Volvo Canadian ad in the Ottawa Citizen on September 17th, 1963


Inside the Dartmouth plant


Amazon assembly in Nova Scotia


10 000 Volvo Canadian assembled (model year 1967)


Volvo's assembly plant in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (picture from 1971)


1964 Volvo Canadian television ad. Volvo Cars of Canada Corp.

Due to the constraints in the facility itself the assembly of the Amazon differs somewhat in Dartmouth compared to Torslanda in that the whole car is assembled at one and the same station. When the plant is relocated to Halifax in 1967 the same type of line production used in Torslanda and Ghent is introduced. In 1969 one of the cargo ships carrying CKDs from Gothenburg to Halifax took in water during a storm and 22* of the cars incurred severe damage. They were dumped - with permission - in the Bedford Basin where they can be found at a depth of 200 ft. Rumor has it they are still well preserved... The last Amazons to be assembled in Canada are of model year 1968 or possibly 1969. Part of the plans were also to export Canadian built Volvos to countries south of North America (but not to the USA), but whether these plans became real remains to be revealed. The plant was closed in 1998 when the import laws that justified its operation were changed. Despite being run by local employees Volvo ensured through its ownership to have own staff on site to ensure the right quality of the assembled cars. First man on site from Volvo was Alois Rösner, followed by Gustaf Östergren, Ove Lindblad and Gunnar Jennergren. Kaj Nielsen assumed the post in 1990 and was also responsible of closing the plant in 1998. In total, the plant produced some 350,000 cars for the Canadian market between 1963 and 1998.

Canadia resellers continue to sell the in Canada very popular Amazon also after the Halifax plant has discontinued assembly of the Amazon with model year 1968, and both model year 1969 and 1970 Amazons are found in Canada. These cars have type designations 133441S (for instance ch.-nr. 335783) and 133441T (for instance ch.-nr. 344316) respectively and are shipped complete from Gothenburg. In other words they do not have the digit nine in the type designation and were not labeled nor badged as Volvo Canadian.

* The figures 20, 22, 25 and 32 circulate but 22 is the only one that occurs more than once. Also, it's not verified what kind of Volvos.

Alsemberg and Ghent, Belgium

On November 3rd, 1965 Volvo inaugurates its fourth assembly plant outside Sweden in Ghent, Belgium but the first Amazons were assembled here already on June 28th the same year when the plant was ready (for instance ch.-no. 190164 and 190165). The subsidiary to Volvo that owns the plant is called Volvo Europa N.V. and the plant is therefore called VENV internally (and in some litterature). "The Motor Prince" H R H Prince Bertil inaugurates also this assembly plant together with Volvo CEO Gunnar Engellau and Belgium's deputy Prime Minister Antoon Spinoy. The location provides Volvo with production inside the then European Economic Community (now the European Union), once again improving the company's import strategy (Sweden did not join the European Union until 1995).


November 3rd, 1965 - Inauguration of Volvo Europa N.V. in Ghent


Lars Malmros, Prince Bertil, Antoon Spinoy and Gunnar Engellau

But assembly of Volvo had taken place in Belgium already before the plant in Ghent was ready, although in smaller scale, through the premises of the independent importer Société Belge de Materiel Automobile (SBMA) seated in Forest outside Brussels. SBMA had the concession on all Volvo vehicles and products in Belgium and in Luxemburg, but the import was now taken over by Volvo Europa N.V. In an old converted textile factory in Alsemberg in which SBMA used to run their import business, assembly of Volvo Amazon and Volvo trucks starts on February 1st, 1964. The production rate was about ten cars and three trucks per day. During 1964 2,650 Volvo cars were assembled in Alsemberg. The production of cars was moved to Ghent in June 1965 when the new plant was ready and in total during that year 5,551 cars were assembled in Ghent and in Alsemberg. Assembly of Volvo trucks in Alsemberg continued until 1990.


Final assembly of Volvo Amazon in Alsemberg, Belgien


Plate below type designation plate on cars imported by SBMA

The Ghent plant is initally dimensioned for an anual production of 14,000 cars and employs approximately 600 people. Until 1972, VENV is a pure assembly plant and full scale production of Volvo Amazon has never taken place here. In 1972, a welding factory and a paint shop are added to the final assembly line allowing full scale car production. The first car to be assembled in Ghent is a Volvo Amazon, and a total of 26,310 Amazons leave the plant during 1965 - 1969. The Ghent factory is today Volvo's second largest production site for cars.

Just as with the assembly plant in Canada, Volvo ships most parts from Gothenburg to the plant in Ghent. Colors, upholstery, etc. are therefore the same as on cars produced in Sweden. There are some local deviations here too though, late in the production, such as the color combination california white (42) with black upholstery, cherry red (46) with leather brown upholstery, light green (91) with black upholstery and medium blue (99) with black upholstery. The type designation plates have all fields filled out:


Type designation plate on Amazon assembled in Ghent

All models of Volvo Amazon are assembled in Ghent: 121, 122 S, 123 GT and Favorit.

Body
Edition
P 120
P 130
P 220
Volvo 121 1965 - 1967 1965 - 1969 1965 - 1968
Volvo 122 S 1965 - 1967 1965 - 1969 1965 - 1968
Volvo 123 GT 1967
Volvo 121 Favorit 1966 - 1968


Badge in engine room on all Volvos made in Ghent

Amazon - First car assembled at VENV
June 28th, 1965 - Volvo VENV CEO Lars Malmros welcomes the first car out of the plant

Amazon - First car assembled at VENV
Volvo Amazon is the first car to be assembled at VENV

Final assembly of Volvo Amazon in Ghent
Brigitte Everaert working on the final assembly of Volvo Amazon in Ghent

Final inspection of Volvo Amazon in Ghent
Final inspection of Volvo Amazon in Ghent

Volvo Europa N.V., Ghent, Belgium
Volvo Europa N.V., Ghent, Belgium

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The first Volvo Amazon is imported to Malaysia in the early 1960s and Volvo centrally soon become impressed with the sales success of the Amazon in this remotely located country. In a 50/50 joint venture with local Federal Auto the company Swedish Motor Assemblies is incorporated on September 7th, 1966 and the work with setting up Malaysia's first vehicle assembly plant is started in Batu Tiga, Kuala Lumpur. The plant is ready in November 1967 and assembly of Volvo 144 is started. The first car produced in Malaysia is a Volvo 144. Another ten 144s are completed during the two remaining months of 1967 and the plant is officially inaugurated on February 17th, 1968. Given that this is timewise very late in the life cycle of the Volvo Amazon, it is unclear whether Volvo actually assembled the Amazon in Malaysia or chose to focus on the 140-series. Much speaks for the latter. The initial capacity of some 1,300 cars annually is soon increased to 2,500 cars per year. Swedish Motor Assemblies is fully owned by Volvo since 1999 and assembly of cars shipped from Sweden still takes place there. The plant employs some 200 people.




Swedish Motor Assemblies inauguration, February 17th 1968

Swedish Motor Assemblies inauguration, February 17th 1968
Swedish Motor Assemblies plant in Malaysia inaugurated by Dr Lim Swee Aun on February 17th, 1968



Volvo Amazon
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