Happy Birthday, Tom! We thought this one was up your alley.
Gävle has a semi-annual tradition for car buffs. “Cruising” is like a car show or A&W Thursdays oldies night, but all the cars drive around a circuit around town like a parade, and lots of people come out and line the streets to see them.
There is a real variety, cars from the 40’s through to modern Garage seven style souped-up pimped-out triple-spoiler street racers. We saw one awesome LA-style mid-80s Cadillac with hydraulics jumping along. Older American cars are hard to come by here, but have a real cachet of cool. Spare parts can be hard to source, so it is a long labour of love to get the husk of and old car and restore it. Then the cars live in a garage for most of the year, waiting for the snow to melt and the sun to come out so the rag top can come off and they can go cruising.
One of the neat things is not all the cars are fully restored, so you can see the cars with the primer but not chrome or final coat of paint. If you go to cruising several years in a row, you might recognize the same cars of your neighbours and see how they progress… (“oh, Jonas finally found a bumper for that Ford!”) With all the work and time put into them, I think these cars will be heirlooms forever! I saw one or two lucky young guys who clearly bargained with their parents to take out the classic car for cruising.
Most of the cars are filled with people (usually with a beer can each, except for the driver) who seem to have a lot of fun looking at the folks looking at them. This was mostly a good natured crowd, if a little rowdy. There were lots of police also, some standing and directing the parade group and some making sure that drunk people didn’t go bumper surfing.
Saturday night cruising had a real golden era in the 50-60-70s and into the 80s as ‘Raggera’, which is cruising around with the radio on to pick up chicks. Guys would polish up their cars and then head out for a ‘raggaerunda’, a circuit around the main streets in town and convince some girls to go with them to some bar or a forest party (live band and beer in the woods). It is 2010 but the ‘raggaerunda’ tradition is still very much alive in Gävle, we have one giant black boat of a car blasting music and making the rounds past our apartment every weekend.
My favourites weren’t the American cars, but the Swedish ones. Even after being here for a while, they still seem more special to me because old Volvos are not common back home.
The next official big-scale cruising will be September to say good bye to the summer. However, I think every Saturday evening in the summer is an opportunity for some of these cars to make a few loops around town, so I’m sure we will see the oldies again before September. Here is a slideshow of last year’s event that some one put together with a camera better than ours. Enjoy!