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Volvo 120/130 Amazon (1955 - 1970)

Last updated 11 December 2018


Buying Guide


  • Check for rust around the windscreen – rot here can destroy the bulkhead.
  • Walls of the footwell are also at risk so remove the cardboard trim and check.
  • Rear wheelarchs are often the first to go, but front wings and doors can also corrode as can the sills.
  • The spare wheel well drain can block, causing the metal to rust.
  • If you’re looking at an estate, check the split tailgate as this can badly rot.
  • Check for rust in the front chassis legs, just underneath the bottom of the radiator.
  • The front wings can rot around the headlamps.

Engine, Gearbox & Suspension

  • Amazon engines are extremely long-lived – as long as they’re regularly serviced.
  • Correct Volvo oil filters must be used as they include a non-return valve to prevent the bearings being oil starved.
  • Transmissions are durable – overdrive makes crusing less stressful, and less noisy.
  • Suspension bushes can wear.
  • Excessive oil use is probably down to failing piston rings.
  • Check for oil leaks from the front and rear crank oil seals (which are made of felt).
  • Differential oil seals are also made of felt and can wear.
  • Rock the water pump to check for leaks – also make sure the top and bottom radiator hoses aren’t cracked.

 Electrics, heating and trim

  • Front and rear bumpers are chrome plated and repairs here are expensive.
  • Dash tops often wear and split in the sun.
  • Seats split and the webbing beneath the base cushion can sag.
  • New carpets are available, but some interior trim is hard to find.
  • Check the floor-mounted dip switch for the headlights is functioning correctly.
  • Heater box drainage hole can block, causing the heater core to rot.
  • If overdrive fails to engage, inspect the solenoid.
  • If the dynamo is failing to charge the battery, check the voltage regulator. Non-Bosch items can quickly wear.

 Can I run it on unleaded?

  • Retard the ignition by 8.5 degrees and the engine will run happily – although valve seat recession will occur eventually.



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