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Volvo Amazon

Volvo Amazon Published: 4th May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
Volvo Amazon
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

Simon Templar may have drove a P1800 as his bachelor lifestyle would dictate but we’d like to think that if he ever settled down with a family on tow, then he would have owned a 120 ‘Amazon’ instead, because essentially they are one of the same. Thanks to its MGB-like simplicity and good specialist support in the UK and Europe, keeping a classic such as P1800 or Amazon (120 Series) running is probably easier than the 300, 700 and 900 Series models, according to the Volvo Owners’ Club with a top source for parts being http://www.classicvolvoparts.co.uk.

1. Engine output

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Lower tuned than the P1800, so use that as a starting base before adding better filters followed by a sports exhaust, topped by a bigger valved gas-flowed head, around £700 from Amazon (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). Volvo cams ranged from A to D spec and interchangeable; Amazon markets what it calls a ‘K’ camshaft that is ideal for fast road and also mild competition work – say 140bhp. Twin DCOE jugs liberates at least 160bhp but costs over £1200; a single twin-choke Weber is also available and good enough.

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It’s a beefy MGB-like engine that’s equally orthodox and easy to work on. The twin SU set up on 122s can handle a fair bit more power reliably by way of suitable rejetting; ditto the single Stromberg carburettor (some switch to single or twin SUs instead and claim better results). Ignition timing ideally needs to be done by strobe light or, better still, a rolling road as some tuned engines seem surprisingly sensitive to the optimum and individual setting (fit electronic ignition or a distributor) for best effect.

Bottom end

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There are a variety of B spec engines that served this car as well as the P1800 and the 140 series that replaced the Amazon. The later 2-litre unit is best all rounder, plus can be taken out to 2.1-litres with up to 50 thou rebore possible for added torque. We see no reason why a later (240 Series) 2.1 2.3-litre can’t be substituted either, as they are pretty similar in design (speak to specialist). Lightened flywheels, for better response are available in the States.

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Units good for 200,000 miles although 1.6 uses a three bearing crankshaft so it’s not so sturdy. A Volvo oil filter with non-return valve is essential (cheaper ones may lack this) ensures bearings won’t be starved upon cold start up. If at cruising speed there’s a thump that sounds like big end bearings, it’s much more likely worn timing gears that’s a £150 fix using a fibre type. As long as there’s 40psi on the gauge at a warm idle, the engine should be in fine fettle but OE pistons are becoming rare.

Steering

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Old style steering set up is naturally heavy and sloppy but a modern rack and pinion conversion has been devised, mainly for the P1800. There’s also an EZ power steering conversion, utilising an electric set up from the Vauxhall Corsa, but this costs some £1500 fitted. Contact Mike Waters on 01626 770400/mickywaters@aol. com. Another similar exponent is Litesteer but you may be able to fit the normal PAS from the 140/160 cars, too – speak to Amazon Cars for best advice.

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The Volvo’s steering can hardly be regarded as finger light but undue stiffness is mostly down to an over-tightened steering box to take up any slop which may have led to it wearing prematurely. Slackening it off and resetting with the steering wheel dead ahead might be an easy cure. Well, it better be… or owners’ clubs as replacement boxes are available only on a used basis. Pre-1966 ones featured grease nipples on the system to prolong life.

Brakes

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Good for their time with discs up front and rear drums for moderate road use, it’s still a capable set up, so Amazon Cars only really recommends light uprating by using performance Mintex pads plus braided brake pipes for a better feel; look for EBC hardware as well. Possibly later 240/260/760 brake components may do the trick after speaking to an expert. After 1971 P1800 came with rear discs too and this is a good OE spec-type mod if you can find the hardware although not really necessary for most owners.

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Repairs are quite easy, as long as you’ve got access to the special hub puller that’s required for pre-1968 models. Handbrake is adjusted via adjustment hole in hub, cable disconnected; use screwdriver to turn adjuster and finish off at self adjusting block. Servos can pose certain problems; dual-circuits with ATE servo especially. Replacements aren’t readily available and can’t be rebuilt. If the brakes feel below par it could be that the callipers are sticking, due to infrequent use or being too gentle with them. Just a good workout may cure all this in one fell swoop.

Transmission

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Overdrive for most still works efficiently enough to not bother changing. However, a five-speed kit utilising the evergreen Ford Sierra gearbox is around but later 240-type ’boxes with conventional overdrive can be fitted a lot more easily. There’s a cluster of axle ratios from other saloons and estates to play with or without overdrive for either better pull or lazier touring. A ‘postitraction’ LSD is available as well and standard fare on the very desirable 123GT.

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Gearboxes last forever, as long as they’re kept topped up with decent oil – if not the intermediates become noisy due to lack of lube. Overdrive was optional to most UK-market cars and poor earths, trapped wires and failed relays are the only known problems as the unit itself is very durable. There are two types of rear axles, Dana or Hardy Spicer, the sturdier latter unit is the most desired. Poor gear changes point to clutch hydraulic rather than a gearbox fault.

Suspension

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It’s a 1950’s design, so it’s hardly high tech although, Amazon Cars does not recommend deviating too much here, apart from the usual uprated springs and dampers; the company advocates Bilstein shocks (£126 ea), with its own uprated and lowered (by 20mm) springs costing just £125 a pair. Amazon has developed its own geometry tweaks too, adding just a touch of negative camber; its website has all the details on this and a bit more.

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The suspension is very strong as you’d expect, apart from the four top wishbone bushes. They can wear out readily but replacing them is easy and cheap. Poly bushing during replacement is a good idea as they last so much longer, plus it adds a touch of tautness, but the refinement suffers. Keep a watch on the rear trailing arms because they can crack or rot out – worse on models registered before 1966, so we believe.

Electrics

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Electric cooling fan and electronic ignition are both worthy upgrades, mainly latter as it helps keep the sensitive ignition settings spot on. If you are going to use the car regularly and have fitted several electrical goodies, then alternator on pre-66 Amazons is a good move along with heavy duty battery but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of altering the wiring then an uprated generator (try Dynalite) can be purchased instead.

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All external electrical parts are Lucas while everything underneath is Bosch. The fusebox can be a pain as it’s located on the nearside inner wing. Certain switchgear and interior lights can no longer be sourced and panel light switch is known to play up. Normally, we’d suggest replacing an old wiring loom, but Amazon Cars advises against this as it’s good quality and far superior to many aftermarket patten types.

Tyres

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Understandably you’ll probably want to go bigger over the standard 165x15 section rubber, if for no other reason than cost because they are hardly off the shelf. Just a straight upgrade to 185 of either 70 or 65 profile are easy to obtain and suffice for most road driving (with quality tyres, obviously). Amazon says that it once drove a P1800 on fat 205s tyres and it ruined the car’s feel, plus made the steering even heavier.

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Not much to say here apart from the fact that if you don’t want to fit aftermarket rims as opposed to the standard 4J/4.5J items, then you keep it OE with wider P1800 or 140 rims. Be careful here as post-1970 P1800 wheels can fall apart because they featured an alloy hub with a steel rim, which can separate! Most have been replaced and sorted by now but check well if you buy from an autojumble, etc.

Body and trim

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Parts supply is generally good and you can save a lot of money by using fibreglass front wings (£150 against almost £600) from Amazon Cars, but the company warns owners that they don’t fit true like the OE ones. Amazon also markets part and full interior retrim kits – think four figures but at least reproductions they’re available for most versions. Some owners fit later 140 or 164 seats which are comfier.

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Body can rust pretty badly, especially front end, sills, wings, critical chassis rails and floor, all need watching, ditto floors succumbing to failed screen seals. At the rear keep an eye on ‘rib panel and wheel arches. Sills cost from around £50 but that big around front panel costs the thick end of £700; chrome is equally dear but at least there’s certain part replacement panels. Only real deterioration area inside the car is the top of the dash.

And another thing…

Period Volvo or Ruddspeed tuning parts are around and add to the car’s value; the volvo1800pictures. com site includes a very comprehensive in period tuning guide which may be of assistance. Don’t forget leading Volvo parts supplier Brookhouse and Skandix, the latter for tuning parts. Other links areco.uk volvotuning.net classicswede.com, volvoenthusiastsclub.co.uk the main owners’ club;volvoclub.org.uk and, of course, leading Volvo specialist Amazon Cars who is based in Suffolk (amazon cars.co.uk).



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