Homebuilt Dream Cars, Specials and Other Oddities
In the early 1950s Swedish born industrial designer Ralph Lysell built the prototype for a bubble-topped sports car at Norwegian Aircraft Industries LTD at Fornebu, the main airport of Norway, located just outside of Oslo. The car was designed by Ralph, and it was meant to be the first Norwegian produced sports car of the 1950s. During the period of 1950 - 1951 at least three, but maybe as many as five cars were built at Norwegian Aircraft Industries LTD in Oslo. In addition to Ralph's dream car, at least two more cars were started as prototypes for production cars.
Some homemade cars were also built and registered in Norway in the 1950s. One of these were Almar Nordhaug's Dream Car. Almar built his dream car while working at a barrel company in Tórshavn on the Faroe Island. He moved back to Norway in 1957, and brought the car with him.
The First Generation of Norwegian Hot Rodders
It took about 10 years from the first Hot Rod Magazine first hit the newsstands, to the hot rod movement of Southern California reached the coast of Norway. In the 1950s and 1960s american small size hot rod and custom magazines were sold at various newsstands in the biggest cities of Norway. These were the main source of inspiration for Norwegian teenagers wanting to build and drive hot rods. There were plenty of cars to base a build on, but getting the right parts, tools and equipment were almost impossible. In March of 1957 the Norwegian magazine Motor Avisen wrote a story about hot rods, the latest trend from USA. At the time Norwegian gearheads living Oslo used to hang out at Kontraskjæret, playing music, showing off for the girls, cruising cars and dreaming about owning a modified car such as a hot rod or a custom. In 1958, a year after Motor Avisen had written about the hot rod trend in the United States, Speed-Nytt 3/1958 followed up with a featured story on Per Røed's 1932 Ford Cabriolet of Oslo, Norway. Per's cabriolet was powered by a 1939 Ford V-8 engine that had been hopped up by shaving the heads. Speed-Nytt named Per's Ford "The First Hot Rod of Norway". Tore Tømmerås read the story on Per's Ford the same day as the magazine hit the stands. He immediately called the editors of Speed-Nytt to tell them about a club he and two friends had just started. Speed-Nytt paid the teenagers of Frogner in Oslo a visit, and in the next issue of Speed-Nytt gear headed teenagers of Norway could read all about The Wildcat Motorclub, "Norway's First Hot Rod Club". Oslo was the hotbed for the continuously growing hot rod and custom movement of Norway, and it didn't take long time before another hot rod club was established in Oslo. Oslo Hot Rod Klubb, located further downtown was founded later on in 1958. According to an article by Amcar Magazine on Drag-Racing in Norway, Per Ivar Kolgrov and "Endre" were members of Oslo Hot Rod Klubb.
September 2, 1958 board members from Oslo Hot Rod Klubb and The Wildcat Motorclub joined forces and held a meeting discussing a possible cooperation and forming of different Drag-Racing classes. Together they decided that the different classes should be formed based on:
a. The weight of the cars, minus the weight of the ballast, gas and driver.
b. The height from the ground to the highest point of the car, minus antennas, flag-poles and other accessories.
c. The number of cylinders: 4,6 or 8. Straight or V-shaped engines should compete in the same classes. An additional class was also formed for engines with more than 8 cylinders.
The dragstrip was also specified during the meeting, and the members of both clubs agreed about having a relatively short dragstrip compared to the shutdown area. By having a long shutdown area, the racers could have as fast as speed as possible when they crossed the finish-line. Good acceleration was therefore important if you wanted to win. The long shutdown area was necessary due to the high speed. A short shutdown area could result in damaged parts on the old cars due to hard braking. Two cars could race head on. The length of the dragstrip was set to be about 405 meters. Unfortunately the Drag-Racing dreams never came through for the young boys. Eager for speed, ice and dirt-track racing became their only alternative.
Both The Wildcat Motorclub and Oslo Hot Rod Klubb were short-lived club attempts. As the members grew an interest in girls, it became hard to maintain the weekly club nights, and both clubs faded slowly out. The boys kept their cars and used them regularly, but by the early 1960s both clubs were history.
The Second Generation of Norwegian Hot Rodders
Oslo Hot Rod Klubb and The Wildcat Motorclub were both short-lived club attempts, but they left impressions on other teenagers in Oslo such as Per Arne Knudsen and Roar Arnegård. In 1964 Per Arne and Roar decided to form a new club called Viking Custom. In order to find out if there were other hot rod interested teenagers in Norway interested in forming a club, Per Arne and Roar ran a classified in the Swedish magazine Start & Speed. 14 years old Gunnar Berg-Kristoffersen answered the ad and attended the first club meeting. He was told to take the tram to the church of Gamlebyen in Oslo, as the meeting was held at Per Arne's home at Alnafet street, close to the church. Present at the first meeting was Per Arne, Roar and other teens that dreamed about owning a hot rod. Being a serious club, Viking Custom had their own logo and newsletter. When it came to cars, Per Arne owned several cars, but his under progress hot rod project was a 1934 Ford cabriolet that he had traded for a stock 1923 Ford Model-T. Roar owned a 1933 Ford roadster with 4 or 5 friends. The roadster had been imported from the United States, and both set of to turn these stockers into real hot rods as they had seen in Hot Rod Magazine. Roar's car was rumored to be an old Police car, and the police stars were still visible on the doors.
One of the first known custom cars of Norway was Per Ivar Kolgrov's 1948 Mercury. According to Roar Arnegård, it was quite a sensation when Per Ivar got his heavily modified Mercury through the licensing department in the mid 1960s. Oslo was still the hotbed when it came to Norwegian hot rods and kustoms in the 1960s, but things were also happening in other cities, such as Trondheim, were Einar Valsjø was busy customizing his 1952 Mercury, another early Norwegian custom car.
In 1967 Per Arne Knudsen and Roar Arnegård went seperate ways, and Viking Custom went into the history books. Per Arne went on to found a more organized club called Nor-Way Custom. The newly founded club wanted to grow nationally, and they advertised for members all over Norway by running informal ads telling people about the existence of the club. As Viking Custom, Nor-Way Custom also had their own logo and newsletter. The newsletter was called "Rod & Custom News". After a while, Nor-Way Custom counted over 100 members. Per Arne Knudsen was the President of the newly established club, while Lasse Anundsen acted as Vice-President. The main focus of Nor-Way Custom was to locate decent project cars, restyle them, and to work with the authorities to have such cars legalized for use on the streets. As the repuatation of Nor-Way Custom grew, a Norwegian household magazine came to make a story on the club. The publicity didn't do the club good, and people started to steal tools from the garage. At the same time the vehicle licensing department began signalizing that the cars in the club never would pass their inspections. In 1969 the vehicle licensing department refused to approve the club's first hot rod, Per Arne Knudsen's 1934 Ford cabriolet. Kalle Brøderud, another Nor-Way Custom member, remembers the infamous Mr. Neslein of the vehicle licensing department climbing down into Per Arne's 34, taking the car for a spin down Mosseveien in Oslo. As Neslein meant it would be a big provocation against the authorities to show up at the vehicle licensing department with such a radical altered car, he suggested he should come down to Knudsen's garage to take a look at the car instead. When Neslein returned with the '34, he told Per Arne that he would never get Norwegian license plates on the '34. The club held several meetings discussing the case, and some of the members wanted to hire an attorney and take the vehicle licensing department to court. That never happened, and Per Arne ended up trading the '34 to Ludvig Bjørnstad for a rather stock 1956 Chevrolet two-door hardtop in 1970. At the time, organized drag racing gained traction in Sweden, and as the Swedish magazine Start & Speed started to pop up in newsstands all over Norway, Norwegian teenagers began to travel across the border to get a glimpse of the growing sport. As members of Nor-Way Custom realized that they would have a hard time getting their hot rods approved by the infamous Neslein, many of them they decided to turn their under-progress hot rods into dragsters instead. This was the beginning of the end for Nor-Way Custom. Glorified dreams about owning a street driven hot rod, and the previous energy for common club operations were slowly fading away. The drag racing oriented part of the club evetually left Nor-Way Custom, and established a new club called American Cars of Southern Norway. From day one, ACSN's mission was to bring drag racing to Norway. A goal they worked hard to achieve
From Rods & Customs to Drag Racing
During the Summer of 1971, Ludvig Bjørnstad was ready to test run his 1934 Ford cabriolet at the old airstrip at Gardermoen. The car went great, but he lost one of the rear brake drums. In May of 1972 Ludvig made his debut run with the '34 at the dragstrip in Mantorp, Sweden. Fred Larsen was also present at the same event, racing his Funny Car Hot Lemon, and the two friends became the first Norwegians ever to compete with cars in an organized drag race. Ludvig raced in the Street Altered class, and he ended up as runner up in his class.
The Revival of Traditional Hot Rods and Custom Cars in Norway
In the 1990s, Norwegian enthusiasts such as Levi Lundring began to build traditionally styled hot rods and customs in Norway. The inspiration came from a growing revival trend in the United States lead by clubs such as the Shifters of So. Cal, and not the Norwegian hot rod and custom movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1990s a club dedicated to traditional hot rods and customs called Satelloids was established in the Tønsberg area. In 2000, another club, called the Coupe Devils car club of Norway was established by Sondre Kvipt, Kjetil Kvipt and Ole Kristian Espeland in Bø i Telemark. The club consisted of members from Fyresdal, Seljord and Sandeford, and the club was limited to traditionally restyled hot rods and customs american made cars prior to 1962.
Hot Rods of Norway
Gunnar Berg-Kristoffersen's 1924 Ford Model T Bucket
Kjetil Kvipt's 1926 Chevrolet Roadster Pickup
Terje Rusthaug's 1928 Ford Model A Tudor
Hans Ola Christensen's 1929 Ford Model A Coupe
Kasper Kaarbø's 1929 Ford Model A Leatherback Coupe
Ole Kristian Espeland's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor
Ole Jørgen Jørgensen's 1932 Ford
Per Røed's 1932 Ford Cabriolet
Jan Erik Kværnes' 1933 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Roar Arnegaard's 1933 Ford Cabriolet
Jens Birkedal's 1934 Ford Cabriolet
Leif "Basse" Hveem's 1934 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Per Arne Knudsen's 1934 Ford Cabriolet
Sondre Kvipt's 1934 Ford Pickup
Tore Tømmerås' 1935 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Sondre Kvipt's 1937 Willys Overland
Custom Cars of Norway
Ole Kristian Espeland's 1935 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Hans Ola Christensen's 1939 Ford 4-Door Sedan
Ken Norrena's 1939 Ford Tudor
Lawrence Garrison's 1940 Mercury Convertible
Jon Hegnastykket's 1946 Buick
Ken Norrena's 1946 Ford
Hans Ola Christensen's 1947 Buick Sedanette
Per Ivar Kolgrov's 1948 Mercury Convertible
Tom Carroll's 1949 Chevrolet
Kasper Kårbø's 1949 Ford Tudor - Pandoras Box
Ole Kristian Espeland's 1950 Plymouth DeLuxe
Kjetil Kvipt's 1951 Pontiac
Einar Valsjø's 1952 Mercury
Tom Røine's 1953 Chevrolet
Kjetil Kvipt's 1953 Ford Customline
Jarle Pedersen's 1953 Mercury
Ken Norrena's 1953 Oldsmobile
Kjetil Kvipt's 1955 Pontiac
Ken Norrena's 1956 Buick
Hans Ola Christensen's 1956 Ford F-100
Ole Kristian Espeland's 1956 Ford
Jon Hegnastykket's 1956 Mercury Monterey
Kjetil Kvipt's 1957 Ford Town Victoria
Hans Ola Christensen's 1959 Buick
Harald Sannum's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Morten Hovland's 1961 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Olav Kvipt's 1967 Volvo Amazon
Gassers of Norway
Kjetil Kvipt's 1951 Chevrolet Panel Gasser
Dream Cars of Norway
Other Notable Cars
Hot Rod and Custom Car Clubs of Norway
Norwegian Hot Rod and Kustom Car Shows
Citizens of Norway
Hans Ola Christensen
Jack Roar Rollve
Lars Gunnar Nordås
Ole Kristian Espeland
Per Ivar Kolgrov
Pål Heine Torp
Willy Will Gundersen
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