Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today

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Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today

Roughly 5,000 classic American cars are imported into Sweden every year. While it may seem strange that so many classic American vehicles can be found in a Scandinavian country, Sweden’s classic car scene is one filled with passion for classic cars and rooted in the raggare culture that began back in the 1950s. Learn more about Sweden’s love for classic cars: A rich history that lives on today.

From the history behind it all to how the country’s love for classic cars is kept alive today (and how anyone can experience it first hand) Sweden’s classic car scene is certainly one worth traveling for.

Raggare’s beginnings

According to Your Living City, Sweden’s raggare culture was inspired by America’s greaser subculture, which came to fruition following World War Ⅱ. The ‘greaser’ style itself is characterized by a defined style — which includes slicked back hair, leather jackets, and of course, flashy vintage cars. With that in mind, Your Living City explains that raggare began in Sweden as an “aesthetic rebellion against Sweden’s small, understated cars and prim and proper culture,” however, it’s noted that the law treating the movement as a ‘violent rebellion.’ As a result, a panic spread over the country in the 1950s. “Newspapers warned of the dangers of these gangs of young men, and the city of Stockholm commissioned a report looking into what could be done,” a Car and Driver post explained. The 1962 report led to the passing of Sweden’s “raggare laws,” which gave police reason to stop American cars.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
Two genuine raggare at Power Big Meet 2005. Photo: Wikipedia

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The Guardian delves deeper into the early days of raggare, noting that the first raggare would travel in convoy from one town to the next “to beat lumps out of each other and ogle the women.” While it’s noted that there are still organized raggare brawls, the movement today has become much more mainstream, with classic American cars still being driven and vintage clothing accompanying the aesthetic. Car and Driver highlights Thomas O’Dell, a professor of ethnology at Lund University, who notes that the whole point of raggare was “to be seen in the biggest, flashiest cars.” That sentiment still rings true today, with the classic car scene alive and well.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
Sweden’s raggare culture was inspired by America’s greaser subculture, which came to fruition following World War Ⅱ.

The legendary Power Big Meet

When it comes to showcasing Sweden’s classic car scene, the Power Big Meet serves as one great example. Known as one of the biggest car events in the world, Power Big Meet is held for three days each summer in Lidkӧpin. One 2017 Wired article highlights the typical scene that takes place at the Power Big Meet, noting that the three-day party “looks like something out of American Graffiti,” complete with hanging out, drinking, and spending “an almost absurd amount of time cruising the main drag in big cars.” Many of the cars are classic American vehicles, though Swedish and German cars are occasionally present as well. “It’s super-inspired by Americana and American motor culture, but it’s really become its own culture,” said Axel Ӧberg, a photographer. Wired goes on to highlight the fact that the Power Big Meet began in 1978, when 400 greasers and 80 cars gathered for the first time — nearly four decades later, those numbers grew exponentially to 150,000 people and an impressive 24,000 cars, effectively underlining the sheer power of the event itself.

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Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today, article continues below image.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
The whole point of raggare was “to be seen in the biggest, flashiest cars.” Photo: Svidd Gummi

Experiencing the classic car scene for yourself

While the culture may seem exclusive to Sweden and Sweden alone, it’s imperative to note that the country’s classic car scene is for everyone. In 2024, the 45th annual Power Big Meet is set to take place July 4th-6th at the Hovby Airfield outside of Lidkӧpin, highlighting a wonderful travel opportunity for classic car enthusiasts from around the world. According to the event’s website, the 2023 event brought in visitors from over 40 countries from around the world, with over 13,000 cars. Power Big Meet may generate plenty of buzz, but it’s far from being the only classic car event in Sweden. Vӓsterås Summer Meet and Classic Car Week are additional events that shouldn’t be overlooked. Attending one of Sweden’s classic car events is a fantastic way to immerse oneself into the country’s love for classic vehicles while connecting with like minded enthusiasts from around the world, though taking things a step further by bringing in your own car for show or competition is another option worth considering.

 

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today, article continues below image.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
Sweden’s classic car scene is one of passion, bringing to light a rich history that all began in the 1950s. Photo: Mekonomen

Shipping your classic car to an international auto show can sound like a stressful feat, though it can be easily achieved with careful planning and preparation. Enlisting the help of an auto shipping company can make things easier, especially when considering the fact that such companies have specialized knowledge and expertise in ensuring that cars reach their intended destination in prime condition. When planning to successfully ship your vehicle internationally, choosing the right shipping company is imperative — this involves ensuring that the company has plenty of experience, though additional factors are also necessary to consider. In addition to investing in insurance, it’s essential to consider the type of shipping you’ll need for your car. This is especially important for classic vehicles, as long distance travel can lead to damage (sun and salt can lead to corrosion and fading, etc.). With that in mind, it’s generally recommended to consider enclosed car shipping, which will help keep your classic car pristine while on the long journey to Sweden.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
Unknown model and a raggare at ØPower Big Meet 2005. Photo: Wikipedia.

Sweden’s classic car scene is one of passion, bringing to light a rich history that all began in the 1950s. With classic car events and enthusiasts from around the world keeping the culture alive and well even today, experiencing the culture first-hand can be done as a spectator or even as a participant.

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today
Karolone Gore

Sweden’s Love for Classic Cars: A Rich History That Lives On Today, written dedicatedly for Daily Scandinavian by Karoline Gore. Karoline is a freelance writer from Stoke on Trent in the UK who left the corporate grind when she started a family and has never looked back. She enjoys contributing to a range of online publications on the topics that are important to her.

Feature image (on top): ©  Ryan De Hamer / Unsplash

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