1970 Volvo 122 With A Hot Rod Twist


A 1970 Volvo 122 Amazon doesnt normally exciteHot Rodders as old school Rodders want to hear Chevy, Fordand Dodge, even Pontiac and Desoto. But times are changingand newideas are taking hold. Volvo, Fiat, VW and the likeare making headway into the Hot Rod fraternity and not amoment too soon in my opinion.

By Stefan de Koker

At the head of the movement is Naeem Cassim and hisamazing Volvo 122s. I first saw this car at a Classic and HotRod show on the West Rand and was immediately struck bythe classiness of thebuild as nothing is overdone or doneto shock. The original lines were beautiful and Naeem didntmess with them, just a nip and a tuck here and there and the122 was brought into the light.

The carwas bought in the 70sby Naeems dad and it was the family car for as long as hecan remember. Naeem became the proud owner of this littleworse-for-wear, a family heirloom. He could at last buildthecar to what he always knew she should be. A standard 122 isa very cool car and was a brisk performer in the 70s but the1782cc engine with its 64kW struggles to keep up in moderntraffic.

A 0100 time of 14.4 sec just wont do if you have abody as graceful as this. Naeem could have bored out themotor, turbocharged and gas flowed the engine but he wentthe complete opposite way andreplaced the whole unit likea real Hot Rodder would. He has always been a Volvo fanso the new engine had to be from the land of the Swedes.

Reliability and performance was first up on the agendabutfuel efficiency was also important so Naeem settled for a1994 Volvo 940 2.3 turbo engine. Not a simple engine by anystretch of the imagination but fitted in the cramped quarters ofthe 122. Imust confess, it looks like it belongs there. I haveseen many conversions that look horrible but work well. However, asa true Rodder, if it doesnt look right, its not right.

The biggestjob was the wiringharness and the computer box that had tobe plumbed into a 40 year old body. Everything looks rightand the drive is like a modern car. Isnt that what we all want?A modern car with the look of aclassic. Clearly, on that front, theVolvo is a winner.

The engine didnt fit the existing gearbox. So, with a bit of fettling, a Ford 5-speed was called in to do all the shifting. Areally good choice as the car handles like a dream. The rest ofthe drivetrain wasleft standard. The 1970 Volvo was perfectas is. We all know Volvos commitment to safety and messingwith that would just be stupid.

The body was straight, but Naeem and his friend Deon September reworked it until it was showroom quality. Then they shot itwith a coat of Volvo grey. The car lines were cleaned up a bitby removing thebumper over-riders and tucking them close to thebody. The front head lights were frenched and given a wiremesh covering to denote the sporty nature of the car. Theonly part of the body that Naeemdid not like and replaced,was the grill.

He designed and manufactured a stainless steelreplacement and fitted it with the original B20 badge. It looksso much better and I think he may be inundatedwith requestsfrom other 122 owners to mass produce it. The Volvo letteringwas shaved from the nose to give it a cleaner look. He imported clear indicator lenses from Sweden to round out one ofthecleanest Amazon front ends out there.

The cabin shows more of the owners taste and manufacturing skills. The original Amazon dash is a little cluttered,but Naeem sorted that out. The dash pad was removed andthe metalunderneath was smoothed out and painted in the samecolour as the car. Therefore, giving it a more classic feel. The cubbyhole,radio and all unnecessary switches, ashtrays and handleswere smoothed over andpainted.

He also hand-made a centre console to house the new radio and temperature gauge.The original seats were reupholstered in very tasteful black leather. This gives you a classy place to sit whileenjoying the ride. Thegem of this cabin is the handmade steering wheel which wasmade by Naeem himself. So, if you cant find what youre lookingfor, make it yourself.

This may not be a Ford or a Chevy, but I dare anyone to saythis is not a true Hot Rod. Its custom, handmade and remade to suit the owner, by the owner himself. Next time youwant to build acustom, dont blindly follow the US. Lookin the classifieds under European classics or English sportscars. Even Japan has a lot of Rodding material if you use youringenuity. Furthermore, a whole running carwill cost less than the frontdoor off a 1955 Chevrolet. Lets keep South African Roddingunique. I know I am. My VW Rod will be on the road in thenext couple of years.


  • OWNER:Naeem Cassim

  • LOCATION:Roodepoort

  • YEAR:1970

  • MAKE:Volvo 122

  • GRILLE/SHELL:Custom aluminium

  • COLOUR:Volvo grey

  • PAINTER:Deon September

  • CHASSIS:stock

  • ENGINE:1994 Volvo 9402.3 turbo

  • TRANNY:Ford 5 SP

  • EXHAUST:Custom

  • INTAKE/CARB:Fuelinjection

  • REAR END:stock

  • WHEELS/SIZE:17 American racing torquethrust

  • TYRE/SIZE:205/50/17

  • SEATS:Original

  • UPHOLSTERY:Leather

  • DASHBOARD:Custom smoothed and painted