This car started out as 121 automatic in England in 1966, in 1970 it was placed in a garage to be retrieved by the previous owner in 2002.
It had done 55,000 miles and in many ways is just like a 6 year old car, the underside is untouched, all the trim fits perfectly and the instruments all work perfectly. The rubber mats inside are great and have what is purported to be factory Volvo carpets. While in England the car was overhauled, the motor fitted with a D cam and twin
SUís, a stainless steel exhaust system , a brake booster, the auto was replaced by a D type M41. It was also fitted with widened steel wheels.
After arrival in New Zealand the car acquired alloy wheels and lowered progressive springs and did a further 8000 miles.
I always think the most interesting part of owning an old car like this, apart from the enjoyment of driving it, is what modifications to do. I like cars that have been customised however I donít want to spoil what is and extremely original car. Also Amazons bodies are very hard to modify and look good, I think the original styling was exactly right. So the plan is to do the little upgrades using Volvo parts that fit from other models which will make the old girl just that more usable.
I had hoped this would be an old car I could just buy and drive but it turns out that every 37 year old car is a restoration project even one in as good condition as this one.
Just like a 37 year old
home would need a
advisor to look at it and determine the extent of repairs
needed, we couldn't just drive the car off the lot without
assessing the condition of the car.
It made for a great
vehicle. Minimal repairs were needed for the car. Of course just
like hiring a
plumber or electrician from
Home advisor is a good idea, it might be a good
idea to visit a trained Volvo tech before doing any major
modifications or repairs.
Home advisor can assist you in finding the right
contractor for the job.
The B18 pulled well at higher revs but had no midrange power, the brake servo had been plumbed in with copper pipes which broke 2 days after I got the car, the exhaust was leaking and far too small, the shock absorbers were 1966 originals, the car jumps out of 4th gear, there was a smelly petrol leak and the seats were saggy.
So far ( in the first few weeks ) I have had the seat straps replaced and some new foam put in , they look and feel as new now. Iíve done a temporary repair on the brakes, but will be replacing the copper with steel soon. Iíve fitted a 50mm exhaust system with a single
muffler, some new gas shocks, replaced some petrol hoses and had the wheel alignment reset with a little negative camber. I replaced the RL needles in the SUís with SMís but have some KD needles on order, the car is running a lot better now but still needs some more midrange power.
Update 10 March 2005
Iíve been driving the car for a while now, I deleted the brake servo and put in a steel brake pipe, this works OK but requires a lot of pressure on the brake pedal, it seems there are two types of pedal, one for use with servo and a longer one with more leverage for non servo usage. I have now made a new bracket for the servo and this works fine.
While the B18 is great on the open road its not ideal around town, I suppose I could put in a C cam, however some time ago I started building a 2150cc motor for my PV, this is now going in the Amazon with an A cam and a single SU, if the M41 with J type overdrive fits (there may be a length problem) that will go in too, this is the gearbox I was planning to put in the PV, it was built from 1969 and 1975 pieces and has the low first gear, not ideal for a sporting car but should suit the general use Amazon. The B18 (with further tuning) and D type M41 will go into the PV.
The B22 has been built using 92mm Holden pistons, these are a bit lighter than Volvo pistons, Iím using a 1975 8 bolt block ( the strongest ) with 71 crankshaft and conrods, these are lighter and stronger than the conrods in 8 bolt motors. The engine has been fully balanced hopefully the motor will give good power at low revs and be smooth and quiet. I have 2 more sets of these pistons if anyone is interested in doing the conversion, lots of Volvo race cars in Australia are running these pistons with about 160hp but they are not really race pistons, 5500-6000rpm maximum, great for everyday use.
I recently acquired a very nice Nardi steering wheel, its suitably period and would make the Amazon much nicer to drive, however do I destroy the originality of the car by fitting it?
2005 - Carburation
Change in plans Ė its seems a pity to build a new balanced
motor and then build it to A spec with power flattening out at
4500rpm. On the other hand I really donít want to muck around
with twin SUís for a daily driver.
So I have ordered a C cam and Iím going to put a downdraft
twin throat Weber on it. If this works the engine should have
reasonable power, a lot more than a B20A, rev smoothly to
6000rpm, idle properly, use less petrol and not need constant
Kits to do this conversion are common in the USA where they have
been available for over 20 years, I have never seen one in NZ,
the kits use a special manifold and a Weber 32/36 DGAV, DGAS or
DGV (depending on starting choke arrangement) these carbs are
plentiful and cheap in NZ having been fitted to many Fords and
In the US enthusiasts are moving away from these conversions and
putting twin SUís back on as the sidedraft arrangement is
better on in line motors for maximum power. Since Iím not
interested in maximum power in this car this does not concern
me, what does concern me is that the car runs well.
I bought a manifold second hand through Ebay in the US, this was
a little cheaper than getting a new one and it came with some
Looking through the archives on the Brickboard it turns out that
the DGV series Weber are not ideal for Volvo motors, these units
were built down to a price, the DCD series work a lot better and
is better made, this is an older carb from the 1960ís,it
avoids some problems that the DGV carbs have (too complicated
for my understanding), its more tuneable, has a completely
separate starting choke arrangement and removable chokes, (Weber
carbs have a throttle body of a certain size, say 36 mm and then
a choke inside this which gives the actual opening say 28mm,
these sizes can be changed for tuning purposes)
From a modification perspective using a 60ís Weber also makes
the car that much more period. A setup similar to this was
available from Volvo at the time.
The recommendation was to use the 36/36 DCD, however these are
quite rare in NZ and generally come off Fiat 1100ís which
would be jetted completely wrong for a Volvo B20+.
The 28/36 DCD is quite common in NZ having been fitted to Ford
1500GTís; as this carb was also fitted to 2.5litre zephyrs
itís probably big enough.
I bought one of these on a locally made tuning manifold for a
Ford 1500 with an air cleaner etc, they are popular as a tuning
mod for Toyota Starlets so there is a bit of competition for
good ones, the choke sizes are 25/27, the later (secondary)
choke obviously could be changed for something bigger if needed,
the primary choke is probably already at its maximum size. The
choke operates progressively, i.e. the smaller one does most of
the work while the bigger only opens near full throttle, this is
adjustable on these carbs.
Is this carb big enough? A 20A has one 1.75inch SU, thatís
44mm, a B20B has two 44mm SUís, obviously at full throttle the
Weber with 25mm and 27mm throats is never going to suck in as
much air, for daily use I suspect this is not important. I have
always felt that modestly tuned Volvo motors are somewhat over
carbed. Carburation is a very complicated matter when you get
into it, what works for part throttle doesnít always work at
full throttle, when you look at the size of the carb on an old
3litre Holden ( small ) its no wonder these engines in standard
form have modest top end power, however for 80% of daily driving
they work fine. On the other hand I had a Volvo PV in US spec
with 2 beautiful 1.75 inch SUís on a B18 with a small exhaust
and I think an A camshaft, this did not work at all well.
Of course in the case of the Weber itís a case of getting all
the jetting right, i.e. emulsion tubes, main jets, air corrector
jets, aux jets, and a couple of others, it sounds complex and it
is, a lot more complex than getting the right needle for the SU,
but once its set thatís it until the motor wears out.
Of course I will have to make custom linkages and as this carb
feels rather heavier than the SUís the manifold will require
some sort of support.