The last feature on the “Georgia Peach” was in early January of this year, so an update on the restoration is in order. The rebuild of the engine transmission, and overdrive began in March the engine, transmission, and overdrive were removed and disassembled for rebuilding, but that is getting a bit ahead of today’s story.
- The “Georgia Peach” ready to go and pick up the Christmas tree just before it was stored for the winter.
The Volvo 120 series was designed and styled in the 1954-1955 period and first sold in the home market and Europe in 1956 with future US sales in mind. The 122s entered the American market in 1959 labeled as a performance car equipped with dual carburetors when exhibited at the New York International Auto Show. The 120’s styling was by Swedish Volvo designer Jan Wilsgaard, who was partially influenced by American automobile coach work of the period.
- An original Volvo 4.5 x 15-inch stamped, rolled and welded steel wheel with oval slots for brake cooling is minus the small center mounted hubcap.
Soft springing was used for a smooth and comfortable fifties type of ride, extra ground clearance was built in by using long coil springs to deal with driving on gravel roads, and snow on the country roads during the long Swedish winters. The very rugged front end features a stout removable cross member with conventional double parallel A-arms, ball joints, coil springs, and an anti-sway bar. The four-wheel drum brakes were followed by Girling disc brakes added to the front in the early-sixties.
The solid rear axle was built by the US based Spicer Manufacturing Co. which also had manufacturing plants in Europe. The model Volvo chose was also used by Jeep and some Studebaker models and is equipped with US-made Lockheed drum brakes; it and the front disc brake hubs share the same American 5 x 4.5-inch bolt pattern as used by Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors products. Volvo chose to use SAE inch-sized fasteners for the car and drivetrain with very few exceptions.
- 1969 Chrysler six-inch wide police car front wheel with early-1970s Volvo stainless center caps and chrome plated lug nuts. The paint that was applied here with a small touch up spray gun is period semi-gloss silver on the rims with gold centers which harmonize with the saddle-colored upholstery. Tires are Michelin 195/65/15 Premiers.
The soft springs, shocks, and a high center of gravity produce a smooth ride with a maximum cornering speeds that are very modest when compared with modern cars. In addition, the undersized Michelin 165/15 radial tires normally used on most of the cars here in the US would roll under at higher cornering speeds and contribute to excessive lean angles. In the interest of the of the extra power the Judson Supercharger will produce, and to be able to safely keep up with modern highway and road speeds a search for wider period-looking steel wheels began.
In the end, the original wheels and tires were stored away, and 1969 Chrysler “Cop Wheels” were selected as used on the 1974 Dodge Monaco police cars outfitted with the squad car package in the hit movie “The Blues Brothers” starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The ex. LAPD 440 c.i. “Magnum” V-8-powered Dodges were capable of a 145 mp.h. and the heavy duty police car wheels have six slots for brake cooling.
- Rear wheels are 15 x 7-inch Chrysler with 205/65/15 Michelin tires. Volvo R Sport decals have been added to the center caps. Both front and rear tires are the same outside 25-inch diameter as the originals. The new wheels and tires have vastly reduced tire roll under and also improved handling and ride quality.
The original sixteen and a half-inch steering wheel was replaced by a fifteen-inch period Italian Nardi aluminum and mahogany wheel shown below; it improves entry and exit and also quickens up the steering.
When we return soon, other improvements added to the “Georgia Peach,” and needed parts found over the last year will be covered. At the same time, original Volvo station wagon design concept photos showing the influence of American styling will also be shown. The first five parts of this continuing feature on The Old Motor Volvo 122s can be found here.