Nostalgic Driving in Sweden

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If you’re planning a trip to Gothenburg by car and have some spare time, you should not do like most people and stick to the motorway. Make a detour into the nostalgic Retro Road, and fancy seeing a different side to Sweden. Take a nostalgia-soaked trip along the Retro Road east of Gothenburg.

Macken, Mobacka. Photo: Lars Inge Knutsson
Macken, Mobacka. Photo: Lars Inge Knutsson

Dense birch forests and rickety red barns edge the winding roads. In Sollebrunn, a small town in the south-west, Sven Liljekvist ran a Shell petrol station for nearly 60 years, occasionally taking time out from his pumps to drive newly-weds through town in his gleaming vintage cars. Even the Swedish king, who is known for his love of speed, has joined him for a spin. The petrol station is still there, and so is a museum, Macken, full of Liljekvist’s classic vehicles.

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Main part of the Retro Road was officially opened in spring 2014, but today the road has been expanded and stretches 190 kilometers all the way from Gothenburg to Toreboda.

Enjoy a Buick burger at Mandy's Diner
Enjoy a Buick burger at Mandy’s Diner

A trip along the retro road will give you a feel for some quirky Swedish culture, and let you see some impressive collections of retro stuff. If you should be a foreign visitor, you’ll get a warm welcome, but it’s worth bearing in mind that a couple of places are run by older Swedes, speaking little English.

Kortedala museum, Gothenburg
Kortedala museum, Gothenburg

A two days’ drive makes it possible to travel between retro museums, old shops and apartments that seem unchanged since the 1960s. The route is easy to navigate and you pass beautiful mirror-smooth lakes.

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At Brobacka guest house, situated beautifully by Årnas stream in Bjørnsby, Jomala, they offer hairstyling â la 1950s, should you be interested.

Old grocery shop, Stora Melby
Old grocery shop, Stora Melby

Along the way you’ll also find Stora Melby Västegaard, which still practices good old fashioned farming traditions. In the remote village of Stora Mellby, Kurt Olofsson has spent years to build an old mill into a museum. Several years ago he bought the mill and set about turning it into an old-fashioned general store, stocked with productys from times gone by. The former shopkeeper has amassed an astonishing collection of neatly packaged Swedish household products, now on display on wooden shelves inside the mill.

From Melby mechanical museum
From Melby mechanical museum

The Retro Road is actually a memory lane filled with cafes, restaurants and small stores that remind you of the good old days. These places have two things in common – the word retro and the period of the 1950s, 1960s and a970s.

Scooter museum, Kallby
Scooter museum, Kallby

We don’t suggest you cover the entire route in one go. Pick a few places of interest and plan tour trip accordingly. Gothenburg to Nossebro is comfortably done in one day, provided you don’t stop at every place. There are many charming places along the way to stay overnight.

Maria Albinsson
Maria Albinsson

If you want a guided tour along the Retro Way, you are invited to contact Maria Albinsson, who works as a consultant at besøksweden.se (maria@besoksweden.se)

Old Swedish match box
Old Swedish match box

A few years ago the little, sleepy village of Nossbro showed signs of stagnation, with streets and places that had hardly changed during the past 100 years. Some enthusiasts thought maybe the village could be changed to an attraction rather than being a forgotten spot on the map. So far they seem to have succeeded.

Last Wednesday every month there is a vintage market in Nossbro, which often attracts 10,000 people. It has been arranged since 1903 and is the oldest market in Sweden. The village is also home of the legendary Power Meet Car Show, first Saturday in June, when 1,500 classic American cars descend on the town.

Please bear in mind that most of the museums, shops and attractions along the Retro Road are privately owned and run as hobby projects. Therefore they may be open just one or two days a week. But there are a variety of stops approximately every 15 minutes along the way, so you should have plenty of opportunities to enter into one or another retro attraction.

The route is not very well signposted, so check the official Retro Vägen maps. Most of the places along the route are free to visit, but some accept donations.

Recommended pit stops along the route:

Macken, Mobacka (in Swedish only)
This retro petrol station is one of the prettiest stops on the entire road (see above).

Kortedala Museum, Gothenburg
This museum is actually a one-bed apartment which has been kept exactly as it would have looked in the 1950s. Visitors are free to wander around the rooms, whose selves and cupboards are full of objects for the era. It’s only open a few hours each week.

Lanthandelmuseum, Stora Mellby (in Swedish only)
Kurt Olofsson has spent years to build an old mill into a museum (see above)

Mandy’s Diner, Toreboda (in Swedish only)
This was once a Swedish petrol station, but today you may order a burger and a root beer at this American-style diner.

Scooter Museum, Källby (in Swedish only)
On the top floor of a former sheep barn you find Sweden’s only scooter museum, home to 40 odd rare scooters from Italy, Russia and beyond.

Mackmuseum, Sollebrunn (in Swedish only)
Old vehicles displayed at the old garage (see above)

Nostalgic Driving in Sweden, compiled by Tor Kjolberg