Who would have thought – a classic car show with American and European cars in the middle of Bergen, Norway on a weeknight?
It might have been only a few dozen cars, but boy, did they gather a crowd on a weekday evening in Bergen, Norway. Several dozen cars from the local antique auto club were displayed on the cobblestone square opposite the wharf in the picturesque town which is gateway to the fjords on the country’s western coast.
The country might be home to the Vikings, but this group of people from the Bergen VeteranVogn-Klubb was planning a distinctly road-going adventure, as opposed to taking to the seas in one of those longboats: driving 500 kilometers from Bergen to Lillehammer over two days to be there in time for the opening of a new classic car museum in the former Olympic city.
Naturally I gravitated to the Mustangs and their brothers. One was a 1986 Thunderbird. Owned by an old man who died. Then another. Then a third, still living. Now a fourth fellow, who was proud to show me that it is all original. Is it ever clean! Not a speck of dust anywhere and hardly any wear. Why? 10,200 kms on the clock–somewhere around 6500 miles. And the guy is going to put another 600 on this weekend! He also owns a classic T-Bird, by the way. Sounds like a few collectors I know.
In the past, these machines would have been Euro-butchered to satisfy the government’s demands for “safety” upgrades (amber tail lenses and changed bumpers and so on). No more. Anything thirty years or newer is now exempt. From smog-type regs, too, though in a country proud of its green cred, who knows how long that will stay.
They can buy 98-octane gas in this country, too, by the way, so the old engines can purr. But the downside is the cost. Talking with another owner, we calculated the price at about eight bucks a US gallon. Ouch. Does that translate? Doesn’t matter. Most people here speak fluent English (not any a single sign is ever translated. Anywhere. Ever. I still don’t know half of what I’ve been eating). But back to the cars.
I grabbed a fellow named Per, who owned a 1965 Mustang. Interesting story and lovely car. Everything’s exact, down to the hose clamps on the radiator. He bought it from a guy who bought it from a guy. It’s been painted, but that goes back to 1994, and it’s still lovely. Everything under the hood is tight, too, with a 289 and four barrel. It’s a C-code. You Mustang people should be wondering about that. Why not an A-code if it’s a four-pot?
The car was originally sold in Sweden, and they make demands, or did back then, that things be a certain way. It was required to have power disk brakes, Per says, and a four-barrel carb.
Now, I know that you can get disk brakes on a non-GT 1966. I have one. And I have the sales material, factory window sticker, and other documentation to prove it’s as originally equipped, so this is not so strange. The fact that the rules demanded these upgrades is what’s interesting and what proves the car’s provenance in the absence of paperwork.
Per plans to run the miles to Lillehammer too, but it’s no big deal to him. He drives at least a couple of thousand KMs a year–1200 miles or so. Most classic collectors don’t do that. Why does he? He wants to, and he doesn’t believe in preserving the car and not enjoying it. He changes the fluids regularly, and he uses the best replacements. He even had a genuine FOMOCO oil filter screwed on.
In case you’re wondering, the car has a cassette player (one assumes added during restoration in the early 1990s), and he loves to play Credence on it when he’s cruising. Not that he needs to–the engine, when he started it up, sounded plenty right to me. The odo showed 72,000 miles. Only they were kilometers, so around 43,000. He think it’s been around once. But the rebuild, whatever the nature of that ways (he’s not sure) was excellent. It sounds perfect, and it doesn’t leak. The only oil you see is from a rust-proofing product that Per had sprayed on. Essential to keep the winter at bay, even if the car is not driven in the salt.
Partly accounting for the interest in these cars in Norway is their cheaper cost nowadays than in the past. Classic tags allow for much cheaper insurance and taxation than with regular cars in this land of the $10 basic hamburger. These guys don’t really care, though. They’re willing to brave the cost, and the high likelihood of rain, to get their cars out and give them a whirl through the mountains over a four-day (two to go and two to return) adventure that does, maybe just a little bit, remind of their Viking forefathers.
Anyone for a little boat trip to Iceland this weekend? No–you’re going to stick with the cars?