Saying Goodbye to the Amazon

Volvo

It was two years ago that we watched our 1967 Volvo 122S arrive on a car hauler from Madison, WI. And now we’re going to watch it leave.

Owning the Amazon has been a delightful and enlightening experience. It was a good car when it arrived (unlike so many of the cars that I acquire), and we spent two years making it even better.

We took it on tours, to cars and coffees, to Volvo club meetings and more. Wherever we went, it evoked smiles, waves and high-fives. It seems that everyone has a memory of an Amazon. Of all of my cars, for non-car-lovers, it was the least threatening and most inviting.

So why did we sell it?

Simply put, it had taught us everything it could, and it was time to move on.

For me, the heart of owning a car is in its driving experience. Every car has its own personality, derived partly from the intent of its manufacturer (sports car, family sedan, SUV, pickup truck and so on) and how it has evolved over time. The Amazon was a slightly sporty, practical car that has become a cult classic.

Obviously I’ve had an affinity for Volvos; in the past six years alone I’ve owned two 122Ss, a 544, an 1800ES and an 1800S. I’ve voted with my wallet here.

But it’s no secret that the cars closest to my driving soul are Alfa Romeos — compact machines with jewel-like twin-cam engines. Even today, after nearly 50 years of owning them, I learn something when I take one out for a spirited drive. They continue to reward my deftly managed shifts and punish my ham-fisted ones.

For me, the Amazon just didn’t have the same level of mechanical sophistication or offer the same driving reward. After I finished the last round of upgrades, including having a harder rear motor mount fabricated to quiet down drive-line shudder, as well as a sportier exhaust and a brake booster installed, I realized I had reached the end of the “Volvo-improvement” road.

There was nothing left on my list of “make it drive better” modifications. I drove it a few miles and was satisfied in every way with its performance. And then I went to our warehouse and took our 1967 Alfa GTV out of storage.

The Alfa, being born as a sports car, simply offers a completely different driving experience. Since for me the heart of ownership is the feeling you have when you are behind the wheel, I realized that given a choice, when an event came up I would always take the GTV and rarely — if ever — the Volvo. So it was okay for the Amazon to leave.

I contacted good friend and Volvo enthusiast Bob Waldman at Cascadia Classic (www.cascadiaclassic.com), and commissioned him to list the car on eBay for me. One week later, with a high bid of $18,450, the car was gone. When we totaled up all that we had spent on the improvements, we actually lost less than we usually do on our cars.

The new owner, a long-time Volvo enthusiast, plans to fly in from the east coast, drive the Volvo to Southern California and then perhaps back to his home in the Carolinas. The Amazon, with its overdrive, functioning a/c and tuned suspension, will be perfect for the trip.

And while the Volvo going has opened up a slot in the garage, it will soon be filled by the return of the same Lotus Elise we sold three years ago.  Like the Alfas, it’s a car born with sporting bones, with much to teach me about the art of driving. One car leaves, another arrives.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin, Shifting Gears

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  1. Why is your web-presence always so difficult to deal with? Every time I try to do something straightforward, in this case simply clicking the “Already a subscriber? Click here to log in” button, it doesn’t work. Just takes me to the same page. I’m using Chrome by the way.

  2. I must say i agree with Joel. I got here in the first place by clicking to read more in the newsletter that comes to me as a subscriber–I am already identified when I get here. Then the link is dead, arghh!

  3. I too want to Read More, as I came so close to owning this 122 S Coupe not long before Keith bought it. I’m happy though with the almost untouched ’64 122 S Coupe in Black over Red that I recently acquired. Still I’d like to read ‘the rest of the story”.