I recently took two trips to Sweden: One earlier this month to attend the global unveiling of the Volvo S90, and another in September to simply relax and do some sight-seeing. On my first trip, my wife-to-be and I landed in Gothenburg, drove a rental car all the way up to Abisko, over to Narvik in Norway, east to Luleå, down to Stockholm and back to Gothenburg. All told, we logged nearly 4,500 kilometers (about 2,800 miles) in two weeks — I’m sorry, Hertz, I take the term “unlimited mileage” seriously.
All this to say I got a better-than-average look at the car culture in Sweden and I came away absolutely amazed. Old cars are a way of life in Sweden, especially in the more rural areas. Classic Swedish cars (especially Volvos) are a relatively common sight, and there’s certainly no shortage of vintage German machines. Classic French cars are few and far between and largely limited to the more iconic ones like the DS and the Renault 4; I don’t remember seeing the slightest classic Italian car.. insert your best rust/reliability-related joke here.
The most surprising aspect of driving through Sweden is seeing how many American cars are on the roads. I spotted an endless stream of American models ranging from a perfectly restored 1950s Chevrolet Bel Air to a diesel-burning Ford Excursion hauling a family and a boat around, and from a Ford Thunderbird to a first-gen Dodge Ram used as a work truck by an electrician. Some American cars were nice and seemingly expensive, while others were unloved models rotting away on the side of a house — an image of a pair of burgundy-colored Chevrolet S10 trucks parked under a tree on the outskirts of Mora immediately comes to mind. I talked to quite a few Swedes who couldn’t really explain why there are so many American cars. Most were surprised by the question and simply replied with something along the lines of “we like ’em so we import ’em.” Apparently, it’s as simple as that.
I was also fascinated by the A-tractors that are putting around rural towns, but I’m saving those for a separate article that will be published in the next week or so. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a gallery of pictures I took during my first trip to Sweden. Enjoy!