9:00 PM | January 24 2022
Model Retrospective: 1962 Volvo P220 Amazon Estate
Volvo’s long-running reputation for versatile and comfortable wagons started in the early 1960s with the P220 “five-door sedan”.
It’s almost 60 years since a model debuted at the 1962 Stockholm Motor Show as the blueprint for the legendary Volvo wagon.
The P220 Amazon was an estate car based on the 121/122S sedan, extending the model range of the ‘Amazon’ series that had launched in 1956 with the 120.
While the 1954 Duett is famous as the first practicality-focused Volvo, it was more of a car-van hybrid with only two doors and an eye on the commercial-vehicle market.
The P220 was the model that established Volvo as a leading producer of versatile, spacious and comfortable wagons for families – the “first major step towards a five-door saloon”.
It had the full complement of four doors, plus a horizontally split tailgate where the lower half folded down and the upper half lifted up. It was a tailgate design inspired by station wagons from the USA.
And where the Duett featured a ladder-frame chassis and rear leaf-spring suspension to better serve commercial needs, the Amazon Estate shared its more modern, car-like unitary construction with the Amazon sedans.
The Amazon wagon shared its front end – complete with round headlights and distinctive split grille – as well as its four doors with the sedan. It was identical up to the door pillars before introducing a redesigned rear end that created a very large load area.
The rear section of the body was supported by a box-section subframe, and the rear suspension was modified and lowered to make the luggage compartment floor as low as possible.
The wagon’s roof was also reinforced to maintain rigidity.
Production of the 4.5-metre-long P220 took place alongside that of the P210 Duett, but the P220 became more popular outside Scandinavian markets.
The P220 wagon was powered for most of its life by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with varying outputs. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via either a four-speed manual gearbox (with or without overdrive) or a three-speed automatic with a gear lever on the steering column.
There were various updates during the wagon’s lifetime.
In 1964, disc brakes were added to the front wheels, replacing hydraulic drums. A brake servo was also added to the wagon.
For 1968, a collapsible steering column was introduced, and the first exhaust emission control system was introduced on US-market versions.
The Amazon Estate had one last notable update in 1969, when its engine capacity was increased to 2.0 litres to create the ‘B20’ engine, which brought extra power.
The model was phased out later the same year, along with the Duett, with more than 73,000 units of the P220 series wagon produced over seven years.
Famous P220 owners included the late Colin Powell, the United States’ former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who had owned several classic Volvos.
The P220’s successor was the 145 Estate, stepping forward again in the levels of comfort and safety offered.
Volvo’s renowned wagon lineage continues today with the V60 Cross Country.