As luck would have it, I just so happened to be searching Craigslist ads, and spotted my next car. It was being advertised in St. Louis, which was not too far from me. I in no way needed another car, but this one looked way too good. At this point I had: 2017 Subaru Outback, 2008 Toyota 4Runner, 1974 Volvo 142, 1962 Volvo P1800, and a 1954 Volvo 444. I kept the Subaru and the 4Runner at my apartment while I was in college, and the 444, and 142 at my parents’ house. My dad sacrificed his spot in the garage for the 444, while the 142 sat under cover in the driveway.
I called the seller of this 122, and he told me that he bought it a few months back in hopes that he would fix it up. He had a rare MG that was sitting in the garage needing some rust work (imagine that), and he wanted the cash to do that work instead of focusing on the Volvo. The 122 was an all original car for the most part. The paint and interior were original, and so was the motor. The only thing that I knew that was not was the carb, which was converted to a Weber instead of the twin SU carbs. The seller told me he had also converted it to a 12 volt system, which was a plus in my eyes. He also disclosed that the car needed a driver side floor pan, as the other one was rusted out. The cool thing about these Volvos is you can get body pieces like that for pretty cheap, ready to weld on.
I don’t exactly remember how much he was asking, but I remember it being steep for the car. The interior needed a little stitching on the passenger side seat. The paint was all original, and presented nicely. I honestly liked the patina that it gave off. It was actually a green color, but in most of the pictures it came off as an off white. I do not know what Volvo called this color, but it probably faded over time. I negotiated with the seller for several weeks, but finally got to an agreeable price. I loaded up my 4Runner, and left for St. Louis.
When I got there, the car was pretty much as described. I was a little surprised how rough it was around the edges, and small details. I sometimes find myself worried over the smallest things on cars, but I quickly get over them. When I got the car home, I did not really have to do much to the car, I drove it around a little bit, and found myself ordering a new floor pan.
The 122 was Volvo’s answer to a family entry level 4 door. Its distinct bubble shape gives it away, and makes them easily spotted. These cars have a big fan bases, and over the years increased a ton in price. The 4 door versions are even selling for a nice chunk of money. They made the 122 in a 2-door, a 4-door, and a wagon. The wagons are the ones people drool over. I always liked the look of them, and liked how simple they are to fix and work on, much like my 444.
These cars came with a B20 engine with dual SU carbs. Many people swapped the SU’s out because of how finicky they can be to sync. The previous owner of mine felt that way, and threw on a Weber, which was common. The Weber actually gave it slightly more pickup, and was not a bad thing, just not original for the purist. The transmission was a 4 speed with no overdrive. You could get these with a not so fun automatic, but I have not seen a ton of them. The car cruised down the street nicely, and kept up with traffic.
I actually did not keep this car that long, maybe around 3-4 months. I would have liked to have kept it, and done the proper work like the floor pan, but I had way too many cars at the time. It was also at my parents’ house, and my dad was not fond of it looking like a used Volvo lot. I threw the car up on Ebay with a full disclosure, and pictures of the rust. I found a buyer very quickly for it in Canada. He was a Volvo nut as well, and wanted to do the full restoration. He offered me about what I had in the car, maybe a little more. I gave him the floor pan so that he was already ahead of the work. He did contact me later on asking where he could get one other pressed steel item. I guess he found a little more rust once he got into it.
The buyer paid to have the car shipped all the way to Canada, all I had to do was hand the shipper the keys. I UPS’ed the title to him, and off the car went. I liked the 122, but there was no remorse to see it go. It was a nice honest car, but did not spark any fires for me like some cars. I was glad to see it go to someone that was willing to do the work. Maybe someday I will see it fully restored on the auction block again, who knows.