The First Car Tourist in Norway

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Dutchman Peter Scheltema Beduin was a true pioneer. In the years before 1900 he distinguished himself as racer cyclist and won prizes in many parts of Europe. Reporters called him “The Flying Dutchman”.

On Thursday 9 August 1901 Beduin (1870-1928) arrived in Christiania as the first car tourist on Norwegian soil.

Beduin driving through Laerdal in Norway
Beduin driving through Laerdal in Norway

Beduin was an adventurer with a sense of drama and had been on long expeditions by car in the Alps and through St. Gotthardpass. He embarked on this expedition to Scandinavia and Norway along with two others. Scandinavia was then considered as “Europe’s wilderness,” and a car expedition there would be an even greater challenge.

On 3 September his “Panhard & Lavassor” rolled over the county border to Sogn and Fjordane at Filefjell. The car had eight horsepower, four cylinders and four gears.

Peter Scheltema Beduin on bike
Peter Scheltema Beduin on bike

Outside Vindhella youth home in Laerdal you’ll find a stone raised in memory of the first car that drove through the municipality.

At Nes in Buskerud Beduin suffered his greatest defeat on the trip. The whole village had flocked to see the new driving vehicle. Right there, with a large audience, they met the only steep hillside where the car with its motorized horsepower failed to pass. They had to bring horses to pull the car upwards.

Norwegians must undoubtedly have given Beduin a mixed impression as a people: first of all he had to pay a motor vehicle fee of 200 kroner to the Norwegian authorities to be allowed to bring his car into the country.  At that time there were only four cars in the country, so the government was then as now quick to see profits on cars.

First car tourist in Norway, memory stone
First car tourist in Norway, memory stone

The next requirement came from the Technical Committee, who required being a part on a trip in order to judge whether the Panhard was a capable conveyance.

070116_A_view_from_Riksveg_55_at_Sognefjellet
A virw from Riksveg 55 at Sognefjellet

The first car imported to Norway was in 1895.

Borgund Stave Church, Sogn
Borgund Stave Church, Sogn

Beduin died in 1928 and had been general secretary and later treasurer of the RAI, the Dutch organization of importers and manufacturers of motor vehicles.

Feature image on top: Panhard & Lavassor, 1901

The First Car Tourist in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg