We Germans sometimes have an ambivalent relationship to the official inspection of our cars. The older they get the more we celebrate getting a new “pass” sticker. Those who don’t look after their car regularly could be handed an unexpected and expensive list of repairs by the tester. In Sweden they also have these official inspections. But like in some other countries, the rules for classic cars are different there and are constantly changing. For example, vehicles that were built before 1950 need to be taken for their technical inspection only once after the new owner bought them – and then no more. If they’re technically sound and roadworthy that is. That leaves a few weird and wonderful contraptions on the roads.
The country in the Far North with a passion for cars, which is full of red wooden houses and blond women (if you want to believe the clichés), has always had a penchant for American road cruisers. You see one at every other bend, but Micke Edholm’s Cadillac Sedan DeVille catches your attention for different reasons. It looks like is has just been dragged out of the woods. Completely rusty, battered, riveted and patched up with gaffer tape. In Germany there’d be horrified calls from concerned citizens to the police, but Swedes aren’t fazed. The fella behind the wheel knows what he’s doing. He bought the cruiser six years ago at the port of New York when trees were growing through the roof. The chassis and floor pans were welded, the engine and gearbox were replaced, the electrical system was reinstalled and the brakes were fully renewed. The core of this car is sound, you just can’t see it.
Micke took advantage of a small disagreement in the Swedish authorities, because the Cadillac was built after 1950. The plan is to change the law in the near future to actually say that all cars that are older than 50 years are exempt from regular inspections. Some authorities are already working with this age limit. Added to this is the fact that for cars older than 30 years no more tax needs to be paid, so there’s no cheaper way to get from A to B. Even after “final” approval the vehicles still need to be technically sound. The brakes need to brake (check), the lighting needs to work (check) and you need to be able to open the doors (um, well …). That was the only defect when the police stopped us the day before yesterday. They had to break open one of the riveted doors and fix it to the frame with gaffer tape. Then it opened. A few sharp edges had to be filed down there and then, and the right rear light was revived. Everything OK; have a safe journey, fellas.
The Cadillac doesn’t look it, but it goes over 200 km/h. “It always teases somebody” says Micke with a chuckle, who is immediately pigeonholed as white trash by other drivers, the ones who polish every inch of chrome on their cars. He doesn’t care. He starts the engine with the big blower on top (about 500 horsepower, never mind), switches on the lights (yup, they work a treat) and cruises up and down the road with eight or nine friends crammed in. Swedish lifestyle … it’s just a little bit different and has a healthy dose of don’t-care attitude. And Swedish country music is blasting from the open windows. Life is beautiful, even without chrome.