View from the hotel room,
with the Marauder in sight below.
In another slot in the hotel car park
next to a Volvo wagon that is still in daily use.
We quickly freshened up, and after negotiating the suburbs of Gothenburg, arrived at the Swedish Rover Clubs AGM venue. Rolling into the car park we were greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by everyone present, especially Bo. Secretly, I suspect he thought we wouldnt turn up, despite promising to do so! We were the first Rover enthusiasts to visit from the UK, although hopefully more will follow.
The afternoon was spent chatting and answering questions about the car. They are extremely keen on their Rovers and several had driven great distances to be there. Although the assembled motors were all P4s or later, several people were working on P2 projects and expected them to be mobile within the next year or so. After a very pleasant dinner and a talk by Paul Adkin, an ex Rover design employee and now on contract to Volvo Powertrain, Frank and I retreated to our hotel, where he had stored a supply of duty free Scotch. One problem with Sweden is the cost of booze!
Frank shown thinking hard during the treasure hunt.
Next morning after an excellent buffet breakfast, we set off, hood down, to the start of a treasure hunt through the local countryside. As the instructions were in Swedish, we latched on to another car and just followed at a discrete distance. It was a strange experience to see deer roaming free in the middle of housing estates!
Cars assembling for the Gothenburg city centre runAfter lunch, the cars congregated in a square on the edge of the city centre, where at least a hundred vehicles of other British makes had already collected. There appeared to be total chaos, but at the signal from an important-looking dignitary, cars started to move off and soon a huge procession was snaking through the streets. All road junctions were closed to allow us to pass and even the trams were halted. We felt like royalty, waving to the crowds.
Cars gathered in the Gotaplatsen and it seemed that over the next couple of hours, the entire population of Gothenburg came to look at them. Speeches were made and awards given out. We even won one, although I'm not certain what for, which consisted of 2 small Swedish flags mounted on small poles. At about six oclock, the event broke up and we headed back for the hotel, where we had an evening meal on the terrace, watching the ships go by, accompanied by some more of Franks secret alcohol supply. A very enjoyable day.
2 SD1s, a Morgan, a P6 and a Range Rover pause by the Opera house during the Treasure Hunt
The next morning we set off Northwards to explore the countryside. The roads are extremely good and virtually devoid of traffic. In addition, all the numerous small car ferries plying between islands, or taking shortcuts to peninsulas are free. Having spent the early part of the day hugging the coastline, we cut across inland to Trolhatten, the home of SAAB.
Marauder betwixt Elise and Ginetta (?), whilst the big chap in the background searches for water leaks.
Along the way, we crossed some amazing bridges, which climbed very steeply up into the sky, but had very low guard rails on either side. If you don't like heights, avoid these at all costs!
Running back down toward Gothenburg, the first and only problem with the car struck. One of the locating lugs on the drivers sidescreen broke away and whilst not a serious catastrophe, especially whilst the sun continued to shine, I decided to try and find a welder.
Pausing on the quiet motorway, North of Gothenburg.
Passing a small industrial estate, Frank suggested it looked a likely place to try. Pulling in, I accosted a couple of people in a transport shed and tried to explain my problem. Amidst much arm waving, one of them suddenly disappeared into an office at the rear and emerged with a very large, hairy, blonde hells angel. I neednt have worried though, as he spoke very good English and having mounted his motorbike (Harley Davidson, naturally), he insisted on us following him to his home a couple of miles down the road. Here he produced an electric welder and speedily repaired the sidescreen. He refused all offers of payment and wished us well on our journey.
Sven welding up the Marauder sidescreen lug.Each evening during the week, cars gathered in the Gotaplatsen prior to a short run in the local countryside. We joined them on two of the evenings, one of which saw us visiting the most amazing private museum. All the cars were set in individual period backdrops and the majority were roadworthy and regularly used by the owner, a pharmaceutical magnate, who made us coffee and hotdogs at the end of our tour. Lord Montague please take note!
English representative in the private Billdal museum
Sadly, we had to leave before the huge event at Tjoloholm castle the following weekend, where about a thousand classic cars assemble each year and on Thursday morning we arrived bright and early at the ferry terminal. Again, we were amazed to find an array of classic cars awaiting departure. A group of nine Austin A35s from Finland, one of which bore the legend He who dies with the most tots wins and was Rover V8 powered, were heading for the A35 National Rally, being held at the Beamish museum. There were four Jaguar XKs, a Humber Hawk, a Triumph Herald, two PV544 Volvos and two Healy 3000s. Just as we were moving down through the queue to board, a Series 1 Morris 8 trundled through the gate.
Acquaintances will tell you that boats and I dont mix. Many are the tales of catastrophes involving water craft and myself, including the classic Dee estuary Hovercraft sinking (ask me over a pint sometime!) and the Stenaline Irish disaster. It has been rumoured that this family trait has been passed down through the generations, an ancestor being on the Titanic! He was standing on the bar (another family trait), when he decided his drink needed livening. Sliding the glass across the counter, he said Ill have another ice cube in there please. The rest of course is history! Anyway, whereas things had until now gone without a hitch, the jinx was about to strike.
As the weather was again warm and sunny, Frank and I leaned on the siderail and watched the preparations for casting off. Unfortunately the captain started the engines before the hawsers had been entirely reeled in. This would have been OK if one of the dockhands had not let the rope drop in the water. Quick as a flash, it wrapped around the propeller and there was a horrendous noise as the thick section banged violently against the side of the ship for about a minute, followed by an uncanny silence.
Ship side view of the diver going down to untangle the hawser from the propeller.
For a couple of hours, we watched the comings and goings of divers and various bits of strange equipment Did you know there are chainsaws powered by compressed air? The tannoy messages became ever more pessimistic about departure times and after a couple of hours, we drifted away to read a book and polish off the remainder of Franks supply of hooch. The boat finally departed at five oclock, eight hours late!
During the night, the captain, possibly thinking his name was Kirk, must have engaged warp drive, because, during the morning it was announced that arrival in Newcastle would be three p.m. only two hours behind schedule. Also, midday food was with the captains compliments to compensate for the delay. Who says theres no such thing as a free lunch! Bang on the revised time, we arrived in Newcastle and guess what? it was raining!
The whole event had been a great success and I cannot recommend it highly enough. DFDS provided a superb ship, with excellent cuisine and the whole package, including the overnight cabin both ways, car and five nights bed and breakfast in the five star Novotel cost six hundred and eighty pounds for two. Food on the ferry had to be paid for, but it was good quality and not expensive. Alcohol however is pricey in Sweden, with beer about three pounds a pint (yes, pint not litre !) Petrol is cheaper than the UK by about 10%. The welcome was warm and Gothenburg has a lot to offer, including shops, water ferries, museums and trams (we spent an afternoon site-seeing from the tram system) See you next May in Gothenburg perhaps ? You could make Bo Arnholm and his colleagues in the Swedish Rover Club very happy!
Originally Published in Issue 287 of Freewheel, the Journal of the Rover Sports Register.
Reproduced by kind permission of the RSR editor, Ian Elliott, and the author Ian Glass.
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