FAQs about Series 120

  • I am looking at a 1965 122S, what do I look for?

  • I am looking at a 1965 122S, what do I look for?

    Date: Mon, 7 Jun 93 16:18:47 PDT
    From: megatest!bldg2fs1!sfisher@uu2.psi.com (Scott Fisher)
    To: John_E_Werner.Wbst311@xerox.com, wiegman@orion
    Subject: What do I look for?

    Okay, I've located a '65 122S two-door, asking price $1000. Said to run well. Haven't seen it; we're selling the '65 Super Sport this week, it appears, and that will fund the purchase of this fine Swedish automobile.

    What are the problem spots on the 122S? Engine and trans don't bother me, a friend has one of each (the engine disassembled but that's fine, it'll make it easier to have it overbored and put back together in a more Interesting fashion). Mainly I'm interested in:

    - Where do they rust so that you can't see it till they fall apart one day? I'd start looking in front of the trailing arms, up by the top of the shock/spring mounts, and the like. Any other suggestions?

    - What parts can you NOT get short of having them machined from purest Swedish unobtainium? (I understand that the previous owners of our immaculate red '63 4-door had to send to Sweden to get the rubber door seals. I can cope with that, but I can also cope with a whisting car. Still, it's nice to have zero wind noise in Rosilla -- or at least no wind noise you can hear over the rattle of the tappets!)

    - What's the upper limit on the transmission and diff for power output? Based on my previous experiences with mild tuning on pushrod 1800s, I should be able to get 160 bhp out of the B20E motor and keep a smooth idle and pleasant drivability. That's nearly double the output of a B18. What will break (other than the clutch, John)?

    I've already ordered the iPd catalog, so I'll have access to shocks etc. fairly soon. The next thing you can do is tell me about your suspension settings, what works best at the front, what kind of springs you find most effective. My primary interest with this car will be circuit racing rather than rallying, specifically vintage racing. Also, as a '65 it will be legal to drive in California with Webers and a full-race exhaust system (as long as it's not too loud).

    (One motivating factor in this is a friend who has competed in, among other things, the La Carrera Classic, a reproduction of the great Mexican Road Race of the Fifties. It was always well-populated by sedans, from Carroll Shelby's famous Lincoln to the Jaguars that show up there today in vintage trim. I really really want to rip down the twisties in a fast 122S.)

    About that power output... I'm concerned too. The B20E is said to get 135 bhp stock, is that right? That's not turbocharged, is it? That's a pretty hefty specific output for a pushrod four, just over 1 bhp/cu in, or about what my benchmark motor gets after modifications. My benchmark motor is the 110-bhp MGB engine that's waiting to get checked out before I drop it into my MGB; the stock rating for MGs, at their best, is 92 bhp, and the 110-bhp figure comes from the dyno. In fact, I suppose that a lot of what I did to get the B up to that level will already have been done (port shape, compression, lightening of internal components, cam, valve size, valve springs, though frankly I've since learned that I do better work than the people who did that head -- the head on the broken motor in the MG will rev higher than the one I paid for.) But when I multiply 135 times the same ratio I get from stock:mod on the B, I get 160 (actually 161 and a fraction). I am *very* interested in the 2-liter, as a 2300-pound car with 160 bhp sounds quite exciting... works out to 14 lb/bhp, and my last race car only had 17.5 lb/bhp.

    Anyway, you're the two most directly connected with the kind of stuff that interests me on this list. (Although I understand that many people think it's important, I couldn't care much less about what variety of stereo sounds best; when I'm done with my 122S, the only sound you'll be able to hear over the exhaust is the rattle of the lifters and the knocking of the passenger's knees! :-)

    Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1993 05:57:25 PDT
    From: werner.wbst311@xerox.com
    Subject: Re: What do I look for?
    To: megatest!bldg2fs1!sfisher@uu2.psi.com

    - Where do they rust so that you can't see it till they fall apart one day?

    Front Fenders, particularly the top of the head lamps. You may end up replacing both, but NOS parts are still available. Also pull up the floor liners and check for rust on the inside of the floors. This is a problem on many northern cars where salt/snow/slush get tracked in by feet.

    Also check the trunk. Take up the mat, dry out the trunk, and then start removing the rust. The spare tire well is a great spot for this to start. The is often caused by a leaking trunk seal.

    - What parts can you NOT get short of having them machined from purest Swedish unobtainium?

    Those beautiful front nose strips that go on the hood. They are no longer available. Also, the front V O L V O letters are a bit rare. For both, you could consider leaving them off. The hood will look funny without the trim strip, unless it has been re-rounded (say by rolling the car over :-)

    Door and trunk seals were still available for two doors as of about 3 years ago.

    - What's the upper limit on the transmission and diff for power output?

    Good question. I will wait for your experience to supply an answer.:-). Seriously, IPD may be a good place to start.

    BTW: Check your rear trailing arms. The '65 and earlier models have a tendency to break the bolt that secures them to the car. The parts are still available. Also be ready to re-bush the hole car.

    Suspension settings are interesting. The settings I use are guarunteed to make the front stick better then the rear:

    - 1.5 degrees camber

    + 1.5 degrees caster

    stock toe

    The high camber and caster give the front end lots of stick in corners. You may not be able to get quite as much as these, so favor the camber for high speed corners. If you really want to be sure, have friends take photos of your car at speed on a race course or in the corners you are interested in.

    If you are willing to put the money into it, a B20 can be made to put out 200 bhp, acoording to the factory. To do this, you need to bore out to 2.2 liters, modify the head, and run very unstreetable cams. But, it can be done. IPD used to claim that 160 was very easily obtainable.

    BTW: Double valve springs are a must for high reving (>5500rpm) Volvo motors. Otherwise, your valves will start to float.

    BTW2: I have a B18 with 0.030 over bore and a ported/polished/planed B20 head and free flow exhaust in my 122. Even with the extra weight from the fiberglass on the roof and hood, the car does the 0-60 sprints in 12.0 seconds, down from the original 14.5. I forget the quarter times, but they were much faster.

    BTW3: In reference to my 122: Old rally cars never die, they just get heavier. --John

    Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 10:40:27 PDT
    From: megatest!bldg2fs1!sfisher@uu2.psi.com (Scott Fisher)
    To: werner.wbst311@xerox.com
    Subject: Re: Thinking of buying 1967 122S

    John Werner and Juan Moran talk about 122S performance and economy:

    > >I am hesitant:
    > > -- It proabaly will not drive at 80 MPH which my speed limit.
    > > -- It only has 4-speed. No Overdrive.
    > Top speed is about 97 to 98 mph without the O.D. I have had my '65 122S up
    > to about 110 (on the speedo). Fast enough for most conditions. Even without
    > the OD, the car cruises easily at 70mph and gets 25+ mpg.

    Back from the trip yesterday: Kim put over a thousand miles on the red '63 122S. Din't lose any oil or coolant, and the only problem is that the odometer stopped working about 100 miles from home. Average fuel economy for this trip was 30 mpg on the nose, more than a 10% improvement over making the same trip in the GTI that I just got rid of (hooray! hooray! hooray!)

    Also, for Juan's benefit, it's worth noting that iPd has all the go-fast goodies for the 122S, from motor kits (hey, I bet that 165-bhp motor would make the 2300-pound 122S just FLY!) to sway bars, Bilsteins and lowered springs. And from what the catalog says, the Weber DGV isn't an altogether bad carburetor, though it's not as cool as twin40DCOEs.

    --Scott "But then, neither is anything else" Fisher

    From: jjoy@akamai.sps.mot.com (Jennifer Joy)
    Subject: Re: 67 Volvo 122S
    To: edm@hpvcledm.vcd.hp.com (Ed Moore)
    Date: Fri, 9 Jul 93 9:42:52 CDT

    warning: LONG! I'm no expert, and this a good bit of opinion.

    As one of the 3 24-yr-old 122 owners around (maybe we should be called fanatics, owner is a rather mild term), I think that car is an excellent choice.

    For some reason the 2 door appears to be rarer and perhaps a little more sought after.

    My 122 was the last car my dad bought new, and it also a '66, but a 4 door.

    If you have a fairly decent fax machine, I could send you pieces of an article about 122s including tips on buying (from a British magazine).

    Plus, I'd recommend taking the 122 to someone who services them and getting it checked out. Not absolutely necessary, but for $600 this is what I might expect:

    rubber old and worn. Air leaks in the windows. <con: makes car noisy> if the paint is thin, rust may be a worry. The 122s were built like tanks and far less susceptible to rust than most cars. Rust is common in all the light sections, by that I mean the "bowls" for the headlights, turn signals, and housing for rear lights. Front fenders are also a good place for rust, but fiberglass ones are available.

    bushings may be shot -- these are the little rubber donuts that keep your suspension happy.

    ummm, that's all I can guess.

    You might want to buy new seatbelts, if the ones in there are stiff. Stiff is very bad for nylon, indicates UV damage, and who knows what else. (Rock climbers discard slings after they show such damage .. I wouldn't trust my life to old belts).

    The brakes are straightforward, not too expensive to maintain. Work fine.

    The car comfortably accomodates shorter people (I'm 5'4"), although your daughter may be taller than me, I'm sort of thinking off the top of my head. The seats sink in time, and may need to have the underneath webbing replaced/tightened or use a cushion. The seats are comfortable though.

    You can put seatbelts in the back. The mounts are there. Front has good three-point belts (I think).

    A 122 can carry large loads on top, it has a good sized trunk. Another place for rust is in the wheel wells and right on top of the gas tank (middle of the trunk, under the rubber mat if there is one).

    Two door are prone to rust in the rear of the sills.

    A small amount of oil leaking is no cause for alarm. I would (even with a rebuilt engine) check for smoke (colors) upon start up, and test the compression of the engine.

    Replacement parts are avaiable. Mechanical parts don't seem to cost too much, but trim and such is not cheap.

    It's not a luxury car. You have to crank the steering wheel a thousand times to do parking lot maneuvers, and the wheel is large, but seems comfortable. No power anything. The stick shift is long, I usually whack passengers in the knee going to third. But, I think the car shifts well, and if you have overdrive rejoice. (not sure if it was an option in '66). There were also automatics (again, not sure when). A standard four has never bothered me, and you get to appreciate the roar of the engine on the highway. :-) The car has enough speed to be safe (merging and all of that) especially once you learn its temperment.

    If you live anywhere near Seattle that is one great place to find 122s. A less practical choice, but lots of fun is the sports coupe, the p1800. If you are hesitant about this particular car, shop around, another one should pop up.


    Jennifer Joy sys/net admin Motorola/RISC HW Austin,TX
    jjoy@risc.sps.mot.com 512.891.8561 pgr:928.7447 #9561

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