Roll over Volvo, classic Americana rolls into Sweden

Fri Jul 3, 2015 1:04pm EDT
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By Alistair Scrutton

VASTERAS, Sweden (Reuters) - Thousands of classic American cars from Mustangs to Corvettes and Cadillacs have rolled into a lakeside town in Sweden for three days of bumper-to-bumper cruising, rockabilly nostalgia and some serious beer drinking.

Touted as the world's biggest American vintage car show – some 20,000 cars are expected over three days – it highlights Sweden's unusual love affair with post-War American cars, rock and roll and cultural rebellion – known here as “Raggare”.

As if fresh off a Detroit factory line, gleaming 1950s Cadillacs with tail fins and 1960s Chevrolet Impalas with rear lights shaped as rockets paraded through the historic, Viking-era town of Vasteras on a hot summer day.

They lined up row by row in an old airfield where many proud, sunburnt owners sat in deckchairs, beer in one hand and iPhone in the other, to ogle each other's rigs. Most were Swedes, but some came as far afield as the United States.

"The Swedes here are just crazy for these cars. When you put so much work in a car, it's in your soul," said Al Young, a former World Champion drag racer from Seattle who had driven 7,000 miles through Europe with his 1973 Plymouth Road Runner before arriving in Sweden.

Sweden's annual Power Big Meet show, founded in 1978 with 80 cars, symbolizes a national obsession with classic American cars and culture - a far cry from the image of Swedes as prudent, safety-first drivers of solid and sensible Volvos or Saabs.

In one of the world's most socially liberal countries, U.S. Confederate flags – widely viewed as a symbol of slavery - flew opposite Swedish banners, and 1950s rock and roll blared from loudspeakers hoisted on a crane.

Each owner had his own little love affair.   Continued...

Al Young, a former World Champion drag racer from Seattle, poses with his 1973 Plymouth Road Runner after arriving in Sweden for the Power Big Meet show in Vasteras, Sweden, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Philip O'Connor