Skip to main content

The Volvo Amazon (known as the 122 in North America) is a hidden gem for classic cars from the 1960s. In its original form, the Volvo had less than 100 horsepower from a small cast-iron four-cylinder engine. It has modest looks but many enthusiasts find its styling attractive.

Today the Volvo Amazon has a cult following and is a popular platform for rally car builds in Europe. There are likely more than a few rally car builds of the Amazon in America as well, but according to a new video from the Hoonigans, one of the most popular things to do with a Volvo Amazon is swap out the motor for something a bit more potent.

Shant’s 1962 Volvo Amazon

1962 Volvo Amazon with a V8 swap under the hood.
1962 Volvo Amazon with V8 swap | Hoonigan YouTube channel

In 2017 a gearhead named Shant was looking for something unique for his next project. He did not know what he wanted until he found it. Shant came across a 1962 Volvo Amazon in an ad on craigslist. Shant didn’t even know what an Amazon was until the day that he found it. All he knew was that he had to have it for his next project, so he bought it.

To Shant’s surprise, the Volvo Amazon he purchased was in exceptional condition for a car built in 1962. After doing some research, Shant learned that Volvo Amazon’s are “rust buckets,” but the body on this particular car was in excellent shape. The previous owner bought the car in 2003, intending to make some significant modifications such as a V8 engine swap from a Buick. The hood vents were actually already done to the Volvo Amazon back in 1987. One day, the Amazon started to run rough, so the previous owner had it parked in a warehouse until 2017. That is when Shant came across the car and purchased it.

A monster V8 is dropped in the Volvo’s engine bay

A Chevrolet V8 engine under the hood of a 1962 Volvo Amazon
Shant’s Volvo Amazon engine bay | Hoonigan YouTube channel

Once Shant got his hands on the car, his original intention was to rebuild the rough-running Buick V8 that the Volvo came with. For reasons he didn’t detail, that plan did not work out. All Shant said is that it was a “horror story.” Some of us here at MotorBiscuit have experiences with classic car projects, so we can relate.

When the Buick V8 finally gave out, Shant decided to swap in an LS series V8 engine from Chevrolet. Despite being bigger and four times more powerful, the LS engine is lighter than the stock four-cylinder engine that the Volvo Amazon came with when it was new. The weight savings is due to the fact that the LS engine features an aluminum engine block while the original Volvo engine was made from heavy cast iron.

To put the power down to the road, Shant employed a Chevrolet T10 4-speed transmission and a 10-bolt rear end also sourced from Chevrolet.

The suspension pick-up points are in the same location, so the original geometry remains the same, but the springs and shocks have been upgraded to keep the Volvo Amazon planted around corners.

Watch Shant’s Volvo Amazon rip the smokiest of burnouts

After chatting with the Hoonigan crew about his Volvo, the natural next step was to see if Shant could rip the Amazon around the Hoonigan “burn yard.” He certainly obliges the team and proceeds to lay down copious amounts of tire rubber and fill the Compton air with clouds of tire smoke.

Who would have thought that a 59-year-old Swedish sedan could still rip so hard?


Three Of The Most Beautiful Classic Race Cars