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Volvo 122s “Georgia Peach” Station Wagon Rebuild – Part V

The New Year has arrived which makes for the perfect time to clean off the desk so to speak and bring you up to speed with what has been accomplished on the “Georgia Peach” Volvo 122s project over the last six months. Due to the 1914 Simplex project taking much longer than expected, not as much work was accomplished on the car as was originally hoped for. But, on the plus side, while driving the station wagon 2500-miles during last year’s April to December old car driving season a number of smaller problems that turned up were corrected and some of them are covered here.


  • The lead image and the rear view above show the 122s in mid-December on the day it brought home the Christmas and was also taken off the road for the winter. The image above was taken at the Green River, Vermont covered bridge (1870) which was recently restored and painted in its original red hue.

Volvo 122s Abarth Exhaust System-1

  • The free-flowing Italian Abarth exhaust system found in the Netherlands has been installed.

The new-old-stock Italian Abarth performance exhaust system with two mufflers and a resonator as seen above were installed after Part IV of the series, and replaced the worn out original components. The resulting loss in back pressure allows for a few more horsepower and the classic sound of an 1800cc four-cylinder sports car engine built in the 1950 to 1970 period comes through without being loud or harsh.


  • The reliable B18 1800cc 115 h.p. four-cylinder o.h.v. engine with valves actuated by rocker arms and its compartment are in dirty but good condition after the passage of 49-years and 190,000 miles. One of these legendary engines has traveled over three million miles in a Volvo P1800s setting a Guinness Book Record.

Under the hood, a cracked upper radiator neck that was leaking coolant was reinforced and soldered with a high-strength solder consisting of tin and a percentage of silver. The reason for the crack was due to the engine running rough for years because of an incorrect jet was installed in one of the two British SU side draft carburetors. The motor and transmission mounts in these cars are made of soft rubber that allows the engine to float on them and not transfer vibrations into the body structure – when rough running is encountered the engine will shake back and forth on these mounts.

The gas tank was close to full with old deteriorated gas after siting for six years in storage which was drained out before running it. All of the rubber fuel lines under the hood, and the fuel filter were changed to be on the safe side while using today’s fuel containing 10% alcohol.

The Volvo of America supplied air conditioning system was installed before delivery when new and has not been used for decades. It will be restored in the future and in the meantime the Borg Warner compressor, dryer, and hoses and the under dash unit have been removed to provide improved access for other repairs and maintenance.


  • Cracked upper radiator neck after being soldered. The solder joint will be dressed down when the unit is cleaned out and painted this winter.

The engine was running a bit warm when caught in traffic this past summer and the air conditioning condenser which is mounted only one-half of an inch in front of the radiator was removed to provide a better airflow. The space between the two was found to be completely packed with old leaves, dust, dirt and dead bugs which was contributing to the problem. A quarter of the condenser fins on the back side of the unit were found to be bent over due to rough handling during repair work in the past that also reduced airflow. After removal the engine ran cooler and did not overheat during the very hot summer weather last year.

If the condenser passes a pressure test when the air-conditioning unit is restored, the fins will be straightened out with a radiator fin comb. If the bent fins are still tightly connected to the tubes after straightening is will be re-used, if not a replacement unit will be found.


  • Damaged fins on the back side of the air-conditioning condenser blocked air flow though the radiator.

After getting the car registered, inspected and on the road more issues that needed to be addressed were uncovered, and a new set of KYB Gas-a-Adjust shock absorbers were installed to replace the worn out Gabriel rear shocks. During removal it was found that only the right-hand one was actually working, the other was not and was just along for the ride – the change reduced an excessive leaning condition during left-hand cornering and improved the ride immensely.

During braking there was a strong pull to the right front caused by one of the largest of three left-front Girling disc brake caliper pistons being stuck in it bore due to lack of use and a deteriorated rubber dust and water shield. After being repaired the vaccum-boosted system returned to it’s normally exceptional braking power and the pull was gone. An inspection of the complete hydraulic system did not turn up any leaks, and it did not use any brake fluid during the season, so its restoration will be preformed on the system in the future.

If you are a new reader check back on the first four parts of the “Georgia Peach” series to learn more about the car and the period Judson supercharger at is being rebuilt for future use on it. We will return with Part VI of this series soon.

22 responses to “Volvo 122s “Georgia Peach” Station Wagon Rebuild – Part V

  1. For what ever it might be worth, a friend claimed that Volvos of this age, and his car, suffered from soft camshaft lobes.

    • David, Yes they did, but I do not remember what year it was.

      The good cams will also wear out, but only after very high mileage.

      This issue never seemed to show up in US built cars because most of them were no longer used after about 10 years.

      Many of the early Volvos were driven to 200K – 400K miles before they wore out.

      • Not quite unknown on US cars, Mr. G.: Chevy V8s around 1980 were bad for this.–went bad before you finished your payments. I heard the ones assembled at the Tonawanda NY plant were especially prone to this.

  2. That is such a nice looking car, thank you for the update. May I suggest a set of period Minilite wheels? They always looked great on a car.

    • I have been looking for both vintage Halibrand “kidney bean” and Minilite magnesium wheels, but have not found anything so far.

      In the next episode you will learn about the vintage style wheels and tires that were put on it this past summer.

  3. David, I didn’t see that you mentioned putting an overdrive transmission (M41) in it. The 122S wagons cry out for one with their 4.56 rear. Going out on the Interstate will drive this idea home. It is a bolt in operation using an OD box from an 1800 or 123GT. I believe that the automatic driveshaft will be the correct length for this. Joe Lazenby of Susquehanna Spares will know off the top of his head.
    The transmission tunnel on all of the 122s can handle the extra length of the overdrive transmission, unlike that of the 544s.
    I’m also not sure if the larger J type overdrive units from 140 series and 1800Es will fit in the 122. It could be that the D type one is what you would need.
    I look forward to the story behind those wide wheels. They certainly give the car a more aggressive look and are probably easier to find tires for.

    • Charlie, Thanks for you input regarding the overdrives.

      I have not gotten to that yet, but this car had a J Type overdrive and extended shifter installed in it during the late-1970s that came out of an early 240 series cars with the OD switch in the shift knob.

      When the engine transmission and OD get rebuilt this winter, the shifter is going to be changed to a more period correct P1800s unit.

      The wheels are going to be covered in the next installment.

      • David, As I recall, the correct 122S overdrive switch stalk would have an end on it to match that on the turn signal stalk on the other side. The steering column housing has a boss on the inside to correctly locate where the overdrive switch goes. Check 123GT pictures or in person to see what all of that looks like. That will also show where the red indicator light goes on the dash. On the ’65 wagon that I had, I found the correct stalk and indicator and positioned them correctly, even though the car wasn’t in very good shape. Using an 1800S stalk would be a good start to match the correct one, somehow using a spare turn signal switch for the correct end.

        • Charlie, I have done this before and this is exactly what I am planning to do again. I may use a P1800s turn indicator lever and switch with and matching OD unit with because they are a bit shorter, are more attractive in my mind, and the car has been has been fitted with a smaller Nardi steering wheel.

  4. I think the camshaft problem came later… with the early 140s. I was working at a Volvo dealership at the time . That said, if they were going to go, they went fast… all the cars getting new cams were nearly new. I don’t remember a problem with the 120s, but they were current before my time there.

  5. I’m a car collector that suffers from mad car disease(obsessive disorder). One of my cars is a 1915 White 4-45. It has
    a 361 ci 4cyl, on a 133.5 inch wheelbase (one of the longest to be equipped with a 4cyl.) and weighs 4,785 lbs. with a
    sheet aluminum body. I believe it is the earliest full dual cowl body placed on a production USA car. White started building cars in 1901. When they saw the end to steam cars, they sent the head engineer to France to purchase the
    best engine they could buy. 1,000 engines showed up in Cleveland bought from Delahaye. WW1 made White fat
    due to France purchasing so many trucks with French design engines. White quit building cars in 1918 and continued
    with trucks until Volvo bought them out along with GMC. I was mad at Volvo for killing White in 1998, a few years
    before its 100th anniversary. About 7 years later I saw a Volvo S60R 6 speed at a car lot and took it for a ride. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. Many years later I bought a 2004 Volvo V70 R 300 horse Station Wagon on
    Ebay, flew 1,500 miles to Chicago to pick it up. Now, the owners of Swedish Auto Service in Reno are the ones who can’t wipe the smile off their faces. I love your Volvo and interesting offerings. Never a dull article.

  6. David–My 122, ’67 wagon lunched the cam circa 6K miles, When I asked the guy in charge of the parts dept if they had a cam problem and he very vehemently said NO. so I said that I wanted to buy a new cam he told me that they were on back order with a waiting list.

    No problem–yeah right!

    Had both a 122 and a 544 new. In many ways I felt that the earlier car was better (I guess that the cam partly influenced that –544 cams and crank were forged steel (by Bofurs) 122 cast iron

    The 122 had better seats, and a slightly larger fuel tank. Both cars ate exhaust systems with relish. Now, I would rather have a 444 or a 544 (or better yet a 445) and would put a stainless exhaust , and a 4:11 rear (easy– Spicer rears) on it–but they are silly money for one that isn’t rotted out

    • The original equipment Volvo and aftermarket exhaust systems are both short-lived which is one of the reasons why I take them off and use something else. The jelly like OEM motor and transmission also shake the systems to pieces – replacing them with the stiffer 6-cylinder B30 mounts solves that problem w/out a big increase in vibrations felt in the car.

      Yes, all of these cars have been under valued for years, but have risen dramatically in valve recently.

  7. Love old Volvos. I once had a beautifully, completely stock 1966 P1800S that was only 2 chassis numbers from Irv Gordons 3 million miler. I stupidly sold it.

  8. Beautiful car. Back in the mid-Sixties my British History professor at San Francisco State asked me to look after his four-door 122 (same colour) one summer when he went to the UK. I had free use of it – “Just don’t take it to frat parties!” was the only injunction. It was a treat to drive, but in fact I only used it sparingly – my ’56 V8 Bel Air hardtop coupe was much more fun.

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