Vallåkraträffen: Wet & Wild in Sweden
After living in Sweden for nearly 3 years and never attending the legendary Vallækratråffen, it took living in Germany to finally have the opportunity. The show, which takes place at Enoch Thulin’s Airport just to the southeast of Helsingborg, is truly of epic proportions. However, it hasn’t always been that way.
The show first started in 1982 where 225 Volvos competed for best in show across six different classes. 7,500 enthusiasts visited to see the cars and already there were hints that this show would become something special. By 1984, other makes were represented at the show including VW, Opel, and SAAB. The crowd had grown to 15,000 visitors by 1987 and more car classes were added. Just over 20 years running in 2003, and nearly 1600 vehicles participated in the judged show with over 17,000 guests visiting the show field.
In 2005, the organizers added a new title: Sweden’s Hottest Volvo. Over its 30+ year history, the show has grown into the largest in Scandinavia for styled and originally rebuilt European and Japanese cars. It has also grown to include a massive historic truck section and this year, Sweden’s military even made an appearance with some of their heavy equipment. It's quite an auditory experience watching two tanks have a drag race down a runway.
The meet takes place over an entire weekend. I arrived just as the show started on Saturday, August 16th and already there was a line of cars stretching from the entrance nearly to the highway. The weather was threatening but had held up so far.
One of the main highlights of the first day is the "Pårlrally" which is a parade of historic trucks down the runway. It was spectacular to see so many vintage vehicles running well and in many cases restored to their original beauty.
In addition to the Pårlrally, visitors could buy tickets to test drive a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and a classic racecar on a trip down the runway. There was also a stand set up with a 4-wheel dyno to test your car's power. This was a popular place to be. In addition, there were vendors set up all around the show field selling parts at discounted prices, raising awareness for their brands and networking with enthusiasts.
The core of any car show is meeting people with a similar interest and sharing ideas about how to fix, restore and modify cars. It's a great illustration of the 'water-cooler' effect in terms of knowledge sharing. These shows are also often great places to find parts that you've been searching for because inevitably, someone there has a lead on hard-to-find items. Not surprisingly, most people attending the show came from around Scandinavia but one person traveled from as far away as Russia!
Winner: Longest distance outside Sweden: Vladomir Vdovin, Ryssland ~ 3.000 km
One of the major differences between Vallækratråffen and many of the shows I have attended along the East Coast of the U.S. is in the focus on spectacular car audio and custom work. Perhaps some of the West Coast shows in the States have a similar emphasis, but it was amazing to see some of the creations both from particpants in the show as well as car audio vendors. In fact, it wasn't uncommon to hear a car alarm going off in the visitor parking area half a kilometer from the audio vendors near the show field!
Although the show has grown to include cars from most manufacturers, the emphasis is undoubtedly on the Volvo brand. In many ways, this show is the show of the year for Volvo enthusiasts. The things that the Swedes do with their home market brand range from beautiful, conservative restorations to completely custom, wild creations.
Day two was the heart of the car show as this is the day the judges are inspecting the cars on the show field. Unfortunately, the weather did not completely cooperate as is so often the case in Northern Europe and it began pouring early in the morning during the swap meet. As I mentioned above, if you are ever in need of rare car parts, these meets are a great place to search.
The dyno was up and running and one of the first cars to be tested was a particularly desireable car among Volvo enthusiasts - a yellow 1995 850 T-5R. From the factory, the car came with 240 bhp. The example on the dyno put down 606 hp to the wheels. That's impressive.
By the end of the day, the winners had been chosen.
Best in show went to Henrik Andersson with his Audi A4 Pickup.
Photo from http://www.vallakratraffen.com/
The 2014 title of Sweden's Hottest Volvo went to Mikael Byberg with his Volvo C70.
Photo from http://www.vallakratraffen.com/
Normally, Automotive IQ features articles and commentary about particular technical developments in the industry. Nevertheless, one of the great things about the car industry is in the pride that can be taken from the finished product. Over the years I've been fortunate to meet a number of engineers who focus on production vehicles as their day job but on the weekends, they too are car enthusiasts and enjoy improving upon, and personalizing some of the very vehicles that they've helped to build.
Here are a few more photos from the weekend. Enjoy!
Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ