Life Changing Volvo


This pink Volvo Amazon Custom Convertible by Andy Saunders changed my life in 1983, let me tell you how.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n early 1983 we, my mother, father, two year older sister and me went on a day trip to the east of the Netherlands. I forgot what the trip was about, but one of the stops would be a car show that my father wanted to check out. It was an typical Dutch indoor car show with some roughly restored Europeana and American cars, plus a swap meet section up against the walls, where my father wanted to look for some books. I was already into cars, so I decided to go along on the trip, and brought my old Minolta camera with me… you never know. When we arrived in Enschede, I saw posters announcing the old-timer Car Show and part of the poster also announced an Custom Car show… Now I got really excited!

We went inside and I spotted where this Custom Car show was held, in the back was a small corner of the building reserved for some “Custom Cars” and “Hot Rods”. Absolutely not the typical US cars I had seen in the magazine, but my blood was still pumping fast. You have to realize that back then there was nearly nothing organized with Custom Cars and Hot Rods in the Netherlands. So when you stumble on to something like this is HUGE for a young kid like myself back then.

CCC-volvo-amazon-photo-01Typical Dutch car show held in a Sports Arena, no fancy displays but with a heavy metal fence around the car. But boy did I love this pink Volvo Amazon in 1983.
One car jumped out to me.. a bright pink with scallops Volvo Amazon turned into a convertible leadsled. I was in awe… I had never in my life seen a car that was so beautiful. I never liked pink, but it looked stunning on this car with its bright pearl white and lavender scallops. And it was a Volvo… so it was something I could have too… if I would turn 18 (in the Netherlands you had to be 18 years old to get your drivers license). I could see a lot of posibilities for me in the future. Get met one of those Volvo Amazon’s now and learn how to work on it and have it built into a beautiful Leadsled, just like this Pink one, well perhaps not pink. Thinking back I must have leaned against the metal fence, surrounding the cars, for a long time, day dreaming about all this. I absorbed every little detail on this perfect automobile. When we later left the car show to do other things I was quietly sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car… dreaming of driving in my own white upholstered Volvo Custom.

Back in the early 1980’s when I started my passion for Custom Cars I only had very few magazines that showed some Custom Cars. Mostly US based, and as a kid I could dream about those, but realistic as I was back then I figured by the time I would be old enough to own one of those they would cost way to much money for me to get to the Netherlands. This Volvo Custom drastically changed my thoughts about this. A Volvo could be bought in the Netherlands, A Volvo was a realistic possibility for me to own and drive a Custom Car. Of course my dreams did not come true… I never bought this Volvo to customize, but the day dreams about it where fantastic.

I only took a few photos at this show that day. I was young, did have a camera, but no money to buy film or have it developed, so taking pictures was cut back to the bare minimum. Since I did not have a try-pod or flashlight I did not want the chance of making to many photos that would end up blurry or to dark etc. Of all the photos I took, only this one of the Volvo came out decent. The rest of them were to dark to see anything.
So this photo of this Pink Leadsled is special to me, very special.

A year and a half later in late 1984, I bought a book named Street Machines by Andrew Morland. The main reason I bought the book was because if had four pages devoted to Andy Saunders UK built ’68 Volvo Amazon convertible. This was the first time I could find out a bit more about the car. I knew it was from the UK, but at the show I was unable to find the owner to ask about the car. It turned out that Andy was only 21 when he built this car. Based on a two door sedan, converted into a convertible with custom grille created from a ’57 Vauxhall bumper in custom opening with rounded hood corners and all. And the paint was done in pearl pink with white pearl and lavender pearl scallops. It had a stock but detailed with paint and chrome engine, and according the book it had a white Carson-style top. Later I found out that the car did not have a carson top, but rather an not to well fitting soft top. But you can imagine what all this information did to a kid back then.

CCC-volvo-amazon-spread-02 CCC-volvo-amazon-spread-01

I still love Volvo Amazon’s till this very day… and most likely, they always will have a special place in my heart.


More info and resources

  • Street Machines, book published by Motorbooks International written by Andrew Morland, ISBN 0-85045-546-4








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Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

3 thoughts on “Life Changing Volvo

  • July 10, 2014 at 10:19

    A Volvo station wagon which is my daily driver …ok enough laughing….is “mood changing” for me. Everyone the transmission gives me drama I curse and swear. Those bloody Swedes. No wonder they all want old Yankee iron.

  • July 10, 2014 at 20:13

    I know all about your excitement in seeing a car like this at an indoor car show as a young person. Years ago my parents brought me to the Seattle Rod and Custom Show and I was captivated by the cool looking cars under the lights! I still remember that great experience and the Northwest rods and customs!

  • July 11, 2014 at 08:30

    Perhaps it was buried way back in my subconscious, but after rereading this post it occurred to me that a similar significant event when I was 13 or 14 may also be behind my interest in old American cars.
    My brother and I had made slingshots and we’re running around the bush behind our house when some other kids came on the scene and a verbal stouch over territory was followed by a slingshot battle. We were the good guys but these tough kids started firing at us. After a couple of near misses I stood my ground and told one to back off or I would fire back.
    He cursed and swore I was gutless so I pulled back my sling shot and I aimed low at the ground in front of him and fired one back. We’ll it skimmed off the dirt and bounced up and hit this kid on the forehead. . . And instantly blood poured from the cut. His mates all suddenly said they were calling the Police and they all ran away. My brother and I ran as fast as we could go home. Terrified of the consequences. We arrived at home running scared and Dad just arrived home and said “there is a car show down at the football club, who wants to come?”. We’ll of course it was a perfect escape.
    But the whole time I was at the car show I was thinking that when we got home the cops would be waiting to take me away.
    Subsequently the car show became my last vestiges of freedom before incarceration and so I savoured every nuance of the chrome and paint and exoticness of “old cars”.

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