We Found a Classic American Car Show in a Remote Swedish Mining Town

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Update time : 2020-03-24 15:09:07

From lorry and Driver

The driving era at Sweden is 18, and during that magical amount approached, Nicklas Holmgren accepted that his first lorry used to exist a Volvo, during naturally it used to be. besides he pined although something great and bad and born at Detroit, preferably ago he was. so at 1990, at 19, during directly during he'd saved enough money, he drove 210 miles from his family at Kiruna ought the nearest great city, Luleå, and bought a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Now 47, Holmgren says his attraction ought the lorry thrash him "like a bolt of lightning above a clean day."

Holmgren's obsession with American cars can no exist normal, besides neither is it uncommon. above a summer afternoon at the middle of most any working-class city at Sweden, parades of Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles and Plymouths lecture along the streets, driven by men sporting fur jackets and slicked hair. The civilization has a name-raggare, typically translated during "greaser" besides derived from a verb implication "to elect up girls"-and it's turned Sweden into an unlikely museum of American cruising culture.

Holmgren's offer ride, a metallic-blue 1967 Cadillac De­Ville, is parked exterior the headquarters of the Midnight Sun Cruisers (MSC), the raggare club he co-founded at 1989. The clubhouse is a two-story brick building along the way from Kiruna's ski hill. The creative scene was ought dine a lay where Holmgren and his friends could rebuild engines, drink beer, and complain almost work. Within a year, there were 20 members. Today, there are 90.

Most of the members, then and now, profession at Kiirunavaara, a mount at Kiruna that contains the largest underground iron-ore mine above earth. during its founding at 1898, the mine has produced more than 900 million tons of high-quality magnetite. "No mine, no Kiruna," Holmgren says.

Which is why the city is at the middle of one of the most audacious and mind-boggling polite transformations at history. uphold at 2004, LKAB-the government-owned corporation that runs the mine-announced that it used to dine ought dig deeper, rendering much of Kiruna unstable owing ought subsidence. if the mine were ought survive, then a giant separate of the community used to dine ought exist relocated almost two miles away. Ever since, engineers and bureaucrats dine been figuring out how ought tear down and rebuild some 5000 homes and most of the town's key buildings.


This has kept Holmgren busy. He's worked above a crew that razed some of the town's oldest homes, driving an excavator and picking the houses apart carefully ought reserve what can exist recycled. Now he's working above relocating the E10 highway, the headmaster way ought Norway. The new road, unfortunately, points direct toward the MSC clubhouse and will directly pass within a little dozen feet of where Holmgren has parked his boast and joy.

"We're a lorry club; we don't brood almost noise and dust," says Johnny Karlsson, one of Holmgren's closest friends. He owns a paint shop, drives a pristine pink 1960 Coupe DeVille, and drums at a rockabilly masses called the Stylemasters.

Over the years, MSC has added more garage universe too during a 1950s-themed obstruct with vinyl booths, a wall mural of the devil smoking a cigar, and the club's logo embedded at floor tile, laid by a member with a wooden leg who during robust built the habit chrome lights. A little years back, Australia's Wheels review had a compete ought identify the coolest clubhouse at Sweden. MSC won, and the prize, a jukebox preloaded with 1950s stone 'n' roll, sits at a room off the obstruct where the Stylemasters and other rockabilly bands always play.

As the afternoon slides into evening, members filter at and gather. The sun, however, lingers. Summer days are extraordinarily expectation at Kiruna, which sits 90 miles above the Arctic Circle. although weeks above during robust aspect of the solstice, the sun doesn't set, which is how the club got its name. The winter, though, is brutal. It's frigid, of course, and dark. The sun doesn't bring up although weeks.

Adrian Rönnbäck, a 27-year-old with a shaved head and a thick beard, didn't obtain his 1966 Sedan DeVille out until April 4 final year-and flat then, there was quiet a blaze layer of snow above the roads. His "piss yellow" Caddy is from Texas, with six owners during being imported at 2014. It needs paint and has torn carpet and cracked upholstery. Beer cans and bottles rubbish the floor below the uphold seats, besides Rönnbäck says he has plans. He wants ought paint it matte dark with a candy-red roof.

Rönnbäck factory at Kiirunavaara, 4475 feet below the surface. He shows a video shot along the Caddy's windshield of his 15-minute motivate from the mine's entrance into the earth, saying, "This is my commute."


There are some 300 miles of paved roads winding below Kiruna, deep enough that the median temperature down there is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The mine's dining room-which LKAB advertises during the deepest cafe above the planet-is frequently 85. so Rönnbäck masses enter the mine when it's -15 degrees exterior and switch above the stand conditioner by the time he parks.

Achi Nurmilampi, a 50-year-old mine inspector who drives a Ford hot rod, tells us, "In the 1970s, Kiruna had the most American cars per capita." right or not, most everyone we satisfy believes it. The amount of classic cars at city has varied above the years, frequently following the mine's booms and busts. besides flat at the worst times, he says, the locals never abandoned their emotion of American iron. Popularity of concrete models waxes and wanes, besides Kiruna is a GM town. when editors from Bilsport, a Swedish lorry magazine, came ought city awhile back, they said they had never seen so many Cadillacs at one city, Holmgren recalls. besides the most mutual classic lorry at Kiruna, Karlsson adds, is the 1965 Chevy Impala. "It's during general during a Volvo," says Holmgren.

Every greaser at Kiruna tells a slightly different romance almost how they got hooked above the cars. Roger Lindehag was your natural youth at 1979, with expectation hair and a deep emotion of deep Purple. Then he went ought bark on American Graffiti. The next day, he gave total his records ought his brother, chop his hair, and coated it at grease. He's been riding with the raggare ever since. "That film changed my life," he says. "It changed a destiny of lives."

When raggare was born at the 1950s, it "caused a giant moral panic," explains Thomas O'Dell, a professor of ethnology at Sweden's Lund University. News­papers warned of the dangers of these gangs of youthful men, and the city of Stock­holm commissioned a interpret looking into what could exist done. during a originate of this 1962 report, Sweden passed "raggare laws," giving the police reasons ought shatter American cars. The total point of raggare, O'Dell explains, was "to exist seen at the biggest, flashiest cars."

It quiet is. during our watch ought Kiruna this past summer, MSC was at the middle of the 2018 edition of its Classic lorry Rundan, an annual custom held above a Saturday at mid-August. at some point, the club's elders realized that lorry shows are nice, besides given the choice, most masses used to fairly bark on the cars moving. so MSC began a rolling trivia quiz. among 10:00 a.m. and noon, participants trip almost Kiruna, stopping at 10 locations ought reply questions such during "In what year did Henry Ford first schedule the reproduction T?" and "Which years was the Chevy 262 V-8 built?"

We unite the festivities at Nurmilampi's Ford, which has a furry brown tail hanging from its rearview mirror. It looks comparable authentic fur, besides it's during robust expectation ought exist rabbit.

"I study it's cat," he says, naturally kidding.

He's not. "It's no my cat!" he says.

We shatter ought elect up a instance of beer at Systembolaget, the national safe of liquor stores and the only retail outlets at Sweden where you can buy beverages with more than 3.5 percent alcohol. although the prohibit above drunk driving is rigorously enforced here, each classic lorry seems ought dine a instance of beer above the floor at back, if no during robust liquor bottles rolling almost below the seats. besides there is frequently a designated driver, and almost everyone has a personal breathalyzer at the glovebox. It's perfectly legal ought drink at the car, so expectation during you aren't driving.

A dark 1956 Plymouth Belvedere with a green peak passes us, looking during if it had been pulled out of a barn after having served although decades during a raccoon hostel. Nurmilampi explains that this is a subgenre of raggare that Swedes bark raggarbil. during at the U.S., it's a signal of honor among a certain sect of greasers ought dine a lorry so thrash up that it invites the police ought shatter you. Which then allows these owners, who nurse ought bring masters of Swedish inspection standards, ought flout the authority of the cops, who are forced ought receive upon closer scrutiny that the lorry passes muster. The one we've spotted displays a carefully curated collection of stickers, including the ever-popular "MILF Hunter."

We capture up with its owner, Micke Drugge, at the next stop. He is a welder at the mine, and above this appointment off, he is wearing overalls with a mesh tank peak and a painter's cap with the verge flipped up. He has a voluminous fisherman's beard, sleeve tattoos above both arms, and a big horseshoe ring at his nose. "Everything," he says, "is ought piss masses off."

Raggarbil cars are frequently lowriders and convertibles, during the point is ought party, and taking the peak off method you can adapt more guests inside. It is no unusual ought bark on eight or more youthful Swedes piled into a only lorry during the severe driver does slow circles almost town. at least until the police talk them ought knock it off, at which point they trip ought another town, which is an impressive commitment ought polite besides social disobedience.

The exemplar at Kiruna is Anton Stålnacke's heavily modified 1954 Cadillac sequence 62, which has many dents, a rusty roof, and an stand suspension. Another nickname although cars comparable this, Stålnacke explains, is råttsoffa, which is exactly what it sounds like. You've got the aesthetic accurate when your lorry looks during if the squeaks at the uphold seat bring from rodents, no springs.

Stålnacke, 25, is a mechanic at the mine's machine shop. Five days a week, he rebuilds heavy device 5000 feet below the surface from 5:00 a.m. ought 12:20 p.m., with a 29-minute lunch, because, he explains, "If you accept 30, you don't obtain paid."

He makes good money, and in spite of his car's exterior appearance, both his front and uphold seats dine new upholstery. He spent $10,000 above a robust system that fills most of the trunk. The first time he cranked the volume, each window at the lorry cracked. He left them total at place. He's during robust bolted a uncommon Biarritz chrome wheel-one of a lay that price a friend of his $8000-to his trunk. "I dine destroyed it so it can exist there," he says.

It is no occasional ought hear Stålnacke coming blocks ago you bark on him, with up ought 15 friends aboard, blasting 1950s stone or sometimes death metal. The police, he says, desire him ought further home. He frequently will, fairly than accede ought the man and grow down the volume. "I say, 'I'm having a party. I can't grow it down.'"

The MSC lorry emerge lay an all-time record although entries this year. The lorry civilization at Kiruna is clearly thriving, which raises the mystery that nobody seems able ought answer. The 27-year-old Rönn­bäck asks it, apropos of nothing, late into the Saturday-night rockabilly feast that caps off the appointment uphold at the clubhouse.

"Why conduct you study we total emotion these cars?"

Mostly masses just state that's how it has frequently been, during they were kids. It's how they desire it'll frequently be, friendly of comparable the mine.

He looks toward the ball floor, into the blur of whirling leather, and considers this. perhaps he thinks almost the beer and the parties and the girls and the rebellion. perhaps not.

"I study it is during these are the most exhibition cars ever made," he says. "There's nothing else at the world comparable them."

From the February 2019 issue

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