Volvo 123GT 1966
The much vaunted 123GT is the second rarest production Volvo behind only the P1900 (only 68 of those were produced, unfair competition really!). While there are no certain production numbers, not even from the Swedish automaker themselves, conservative estimates have placed production at just under 1,500 units. That's Ferrari F40 territory, and when you consider those prancing horses were probably better stored and appreciated for future value than the unassuming Volvo's, we wouldn't be surprised if the 123GT might now just be nicking the rarity factor.
For the uninitiated, the 123GT features the high-compression 4-cylinder engine from another heralded Volvo, the P1800. That powerplant was paired with a slick 4-speed manual with overdrive. Whipped up as a racing homologation model for the FIA, the Amazon in this guise produced a cool 115hp, not bad for its day!
With just a handful of known 123 GT's in the country, especially in pristine condition, you can bet it was a surprise to us when this gem rolled up on a regular weekday afternoon. In a matter of minutes, we had a walk around to take in this spectacular 123GT. They say first impressions are often last impressions, you can be sure that wasn't the case here. Nary a flaw at first glance, we were just itching to pop that hood and turn the key.
After a more thorough and detailed inspection, it became clear that this particular Volvo was unlike any we've seen in many a year. We'll walk you through it.
A few years ago, the previous owner found this particular 123GT all the way in Teluk Intan. Owned by an elderly chap who clearly didn't quite understand just what he had, it was used as a 'Kampung' car. To our overseas readers, that's 'village' in Malay! Naturally, the car exhibited a number of unoriginal parts from regular maintenance and upkeep over the many decades. While not in terrible condition, this was a car that was certainly wanting.
A decent offer and a bunch of paperwork later, the car was on its way to former glory. Over the next year, the owner had it fully recommissioned by an experienced Volvo restorer. Original parts were used where possible and procurable, with all others being high quality replacements. The car underwent full work from the body and mechanicals, to the simple and elegant interior, right down to the details such as the brightwork and original 123GT specific fittings. The owner scoured websites and forums the world over for certain particularly elusive parts, eventually finding them in places such as Australia and even Sweden itself!
Following the restoration, the car had been used on a regular basis around town, with some longer-distance trips thrown into the mix. To aid with this regular use, the car features electric steering, an upgraded 6-blade fan from the original 4-blade for better cooling, as well as an air-conditioning system. Other than these reliability and driveability upgrades, the car has been kept as close to stock condition as possible right down to the body paint colour, the elusive limited production Ivory White.
It was a pleasure to hear the passionate owner go on about his prized possession, something we can relate to all too well. Clear to see was the level of detail and indeed time investment that went into this particular vehicle.
Unique to the 123GT, the car sports a tachometer mounted on the dash, still in perfect working order too! The limited steering wheel, dashboard shelf for co-driver maps and notes, and fog lights (with the matching Volvo covers!) were all 123GT specific, along with numerous other additions.
Other notable points include the working mercury light in the boot along with the original jack and hubcap remover, original Volvo mudflaps and amazingly detailed engine bay.
The car is a one-kick start and exhibits no mechanical faults. A good drive shows absolutely no untoward squeaks or knocks from the suspension, with handling being tight and gear changes being smooth and assured. The engine up front is as the Swedes intended back in the 60's, with good power delivery and buttery execution all around.
Having been a local Malaysian car since brand new, it still sports the original registration number from the 60's! This 123GT is certainly one for the collectors'. A rare piece anywhere that's only elevated by its undeniably great condition.
We had previously sold this very car to its current owner, a car enthusiast himself. Having had it in his possession for just over a year now, he is ready to move it on to its next keeper.