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Meet the “Georgia Peach” – An Addition to The Old Motor Fleet

The “Georgia Peach” is a forty-eight-year-old 1968 Volvo 122s station wagon that this past week became the future spring, summer, and fall restoration shop vehicle. Made in Sweden and sold in the US between 1962 and ’68 this Volvo model is a strong and reliable workhorse that also doubles as a comfortable passenger car.

After a cousin gave me one that was a very tired old 1963 model in 1976, your editor used it and others (where there is one more soon follow) as a “shop truck” for a dozen years. With the rear seat in the lowered position there is plenty of room for auto parts and supplies. Drop the tailgate and longer cargo can be handled, and the roof rack also comes in handy at times for bulky items.

It’s a long story we will share with you another time, but this creme-colored car with a saddle interior has only had two owners since new. The first owner lived in Florida, and it was sold through Cars International in Atlanta, Georgia in the late-1970s. The second owner, a friend from Massachusetts has taken great care of the car of it since then, and it was in regular use between the spring-to-fall season up until six-years ago.

When time permits we will share with you more of the car’s history and some of the work needed to recommission this creme puff for everyday seasonal use in Vermont. It will be a lot more enjoyable and fun to drive than the shop one-ton pickup truck. Let us know if you have had any experience with the 544 or 122s Volvo models in the past.

Georiga Peach - Volvo 122s Station Wagon

32 responses to “Meet the “Georgia Peach” – An Addition to The Old Motor Fleet

  1. Nice… in my brief time as a used car mechanic at a Volvo dealership, in the early 70s, we were still working on those quite regularly. They were plain, tough and very solid — devoid of whistles and bells and unfailingly reliable. I wish such cars were still made.

  2. My stepsister and her husband bought a new Volvo PV544 in 1959. It had the 4-speed trans and dual side-draft carbs. They drove it hard, regularly engaging in stoplight drag races. The car would run 98 mph in 3rd gear and top out at 101 mph in 4th. When I last saw the car on a visit back to South Carolina in the late sixties the Volvo was approaching 200 K miles and still ran good.

  3. There’s a wonderful spirit floating around the staff & commenters of The Old Motor that comes thru my monitor & often wraps around me. I think it’s rare & wonderful in this day & time that I’m sitting here in my robe drinking my coffee & being excited over a 48 year old car that many would consider then & now as nothing more than pedestrian transportation.

    In 60 years I’ve only ridden in a Volvo one time, but I’ve always admired their quality & I imagine this new acquisition will be plying the highways long after I’m gone. The history of an old car is often as interesting as the car itself & I look forward to learning more about the “Georgia Peach” in coming weeks. If a man doesn’t love his cars, may he never sit close to me! Old Motor……..you complete me!

  4. those Volvos sold well down here in oz
    mainly due to there perfomance at Bathurst which started in 1966 ?
    heres a video link I hope it plays?? and is allowed on this site
    https colon //vimeo dot com/14267234

  5. Old wagons are cool. My ’95 Mercedes-Benz E320 isn’t this old, but it turned 230,000 miles yesterday and is in great shape. Besides being elegant (almost classic by now), it’s darned useful; self-leveling rear suspension lets me carry insane loads with normal handling. Thanks for preserving another great old wagon!

  6. I owned a whole series of these cars over many years—both saloon (122) and Estate—and they were superb. Build quality was extremely high and tough but the weakness (as with all cars from that era) was the vulnerability to rust. Had the body shells and suspension parts been galvanised there would still be a great number around today. As with all Volvos, they were mechanically long-lived and a quarter of a million miles on the clock was not unusual. The split tailgate on the estate version was perfect as a workbench or as an extension to the load-carrying capacity. The addition of a roof-rack made this an unbeatable workhorse. The successor 7 Series came into a similar category but, very sadly, there is no modern equivalent today. Volvo have really missed a trick—large gap in the market in my opinion.

  7. Speaking of Labs, how do your buddies like it? Did you install a power window in the back for them? You know, fresh air and spring flowers! I hope you enjoy many seasons with it.

  8. In the lead image, based on the shadow, is the passenger door not fully closed (“Your door is a jar”)?

    As an avowed station wagon fan, I must admit to never having owned any Volvo wagons, but rode in enough 145’s and 245’s to know they were quite solid and dependable, until a few known 740’s started to eat their turbochargers.

  9. Swedes built great dependable stuff back then, one of the reasons almost all participants in WWII used the Bofors, especially the 40mm. Back to the topic of autos, Chrysler built, under license, 120,000 barrels or about 60,000 twin mounts, but had to do a lot of work on the blue prints because the Swedes hand built each weapon and had notations like “file to fit upon assembly” in their diagrams. The Chrysler built Bofors also served an a few hundred M19’s, twin gun carriages built on an M24 tank chassis built by Cadillac .

  10. I am super jealous right now. Looking to add to my already overlarge fleet this past December, I almost pulled the trigger on a 544 and a 122, but I ended up with a ’74 Firebird. Go figure! 🙂 Great new to you Volvo.

  11. Our Volvo experience was 1 generation newer. When we first married, my wife and I had a 1968 142S. Forty four years and almost as many cars later, we still miss it. Its B18B engine was easy to work on and rugged. “The Fridge” was cheap to operate, and it was a very comfortable car for long road trips. (We called it “the Fridge” because it was a large white box.)

  12. I learned to drive on a clapped-out ’66 122S Estate. Loved that car! To this day I remember the odd “wet rope” smell of the interior, the weird “rubberiness” of the crazy-long stick and the “thunk-click” of the driver’s door.

    That’s what makes old cars so fun: Who can identify a Camry by the sound of the door-slam, or a Kia by exhaust note? Even identifying Chryslers by the starter sound is long gone. Once a month I hear the unmistakable sound of a Rocket-action Olds in the street – I always run outside to watch it drift by.

    • You can still spot Ford trucks and vans with V-8’s by their distinctive starters. I do miss the Chryslers though. I owned more than one, both A block and B blocks. The B blocks were easier to work on and more fun to drive.

  13. My friend and I raced a 444 back in the late ’50,s. In fact we were sponsored by a Dodge dealer. Rac ed it about 5 times and at the end of the season, took it back to the dealer, washed it and cleaned the interior. The car was then put back on the lot and sold. Really “hell for stout”

  14. I had a ’62 122 four door as my second car as a teenager. One evening in 1965 some fool in a Mercury rear ended me into a Dodge at a traffic light. The nose of the Volvo bent down and so did the rear but the cabin stayed intact. My girl friend and I had just minor injuries. That car saved us and I’ve never forgotten it and it’s early safety and body integrity.

  15. My first new car was a red ’61 544 sedan-best car Volvo ever madeB16 engine M40 transmission. Next bought a ’67 122 Wagon, again 4 speed, but B18 engine, The 122 had better seating, and a larger fuel tank (a shortcoming on the 544) B18 also had a five main cast crank and cast cam. B16 had 3 main forged steel crank and cam and was preferred by guys that hillclimbed the cars in this area, My 122 was built in an era when Volvo (along with Ford) was having problems with cam lobes disappearing, and I had one of them–at about 30K miles. Dealer denied that there was a problem, but I had to get on a waiting list for a new cam and tappets–Yeah right–no problem!!

    Later bought a used 444 to drive to work. Was a 58–4 speed An M4 trans which had high mileage syncro problems. By now I was ”collecting 544 junkers, so put a later M40 in –a bullet proof transmission. The ’58 was the last year for that style body to have a split back window, and the first with a one piece windshield, and 544 grill. Drove the bejabbers out of that car–wish I still had it

    Later Volvos were dung in my opinion–had a wagon with a VW 6cyl diesel, and the plastic interior fell apart.

    Wish I had a 544 (or a 445 wagon!) now

    Herb Kephart

  16. We had several used, medium-high mileage models: a ’65 4-door, two ’66 4-doors (one was my wife’s), a ’67 2-door (that I converted from auto to 4 speed), a ’67 wagon that we restored to full beauty; then there were the two clapped-out wagon junkers that were parts-on-the-hoof for the duration of the wagon restoration (I think our neighbors thought the Clampetts were coming when we moved into our current house – two running 122’s, two junkers, and, at the time, a parts hoard that filled half the (!)garage.) Loved the cars for their looks and driving fun, don’t miss the frequent brake work, u-joint replacement, suspension bushing replacement ( particularly the wagon rear axle trailing arm big beauty), timing gear failures, removing the hex-drive bolts holding the gearbox to the bell housing in order to replace the clutch, and the time I had to replace and bleed the clutch slave cylinder in the snow (no garage at that apartment!) Still storing quite a few new and used parts that need a new home . I did finally get pretty good at synching the SU’s by the time we sold the last 122 (went over to BMW, SAAB, Audi, Camaro Z-28(!?) and now Toyota/Lexus.) Here in New England the rust demons finally had their way with most of the 122’s, so It’s great to see an intact survivor – love the wagons in particular.

  17. Still in love with the 1960 PV544 that was my first car. It taught me how to drive quickly though not fast and the joys of doing your own mechanical and body repair work (when too broke to afford a pro). I traded it in on a brand-new 1967 122-S two-door in 1967 that I had visions of turning into a 123-GT clone but marriage paused that dream. Then the Army and subsequent divorce (where the ex took the car) blew it all away.
    I still revere that old “Barrel-back” sedan though, even to the point of obtaining a 1/12th scale diecast of the 544 from Germany that sits like an idol in my library.

  18. My first new car was a 1969 Volvo, model 144. Wrecked it about 4 hours after I bought it. Had 58 miles on the odometer. There were two cars on the road, me in the Volvo and a ’46 or so Dodge parked along the curb. Just as I was about to drive past the Dodge, the Dodge suddenly made a sharp U-turn in front of me and I slid right into the drivers door. The crash took out my front bumper, grill, hood, both fenders, radiator and fan. The driver of the Dodge was 16 years old and had just gotten his drivers license the day before (I was 28). The Volvo was repaired and I drove it for 2 more years at which time I bought a new 1972 Datsun pick up. The repaint on the repaired parts of the Volvo started fading out about a year after the accident. It was always very hard starting in the hot Los Angeles summers (flooded carburetor) and it only got about 14 miles per gallon from the 4-cylinder engine which always angered me. I will say that it was a good solid, smooth riding, nice looking, vehicle.

  19. Apart from a weakness in the camshaft hardening the B18 / B20 Volvo engine is very hard to beat. They are simple and have proved bullet proof. The Volvo Penta AQ copy is just as robust it seems. They will bore out to 2.2 litres and give 140 to 150 hp without any problem at all. You can get better with an alloy Repco head from Australia which has much better porting than the cast iron original so I am told.

  20. 1968 Volvo P220 Estate aka 122S wagon – absolute best automobile made ever.

    George Dill Temple, Texas USA 03.04.2017

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