The Night Time Is The Right Time
Let’s take it to the street

Stood inside the halls at the Elmia Bilsport Performance & Custom Motor Show, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no outdoors, or even any need to head out… there. After all, everything automotive is under one roof here, but when the sun goes down we heard things can get wild. With rumours of street racing, a heavy police presence and crazy Swedes who just want to party, we decided to take to the streets and see what everybody else was up to.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-18

And the thousands of people, hundreds of acres of cars and sheer variety we found did not disappoint. You want a good time? You’ve come to the right place…

Elmia Show Bilsport Sweden Speedhunters 2014 Rod Chong-4615

As a team we very rarely spend time together. It’s partly because we call so many different parts of the world home. But even at an event, although we might drink some coffee together and swap notes, we scatter at every opportunity. Because when you’ve traveled half way around the world you don’t want to miss a thing. So on Saturday night I left Rod and Taryn at the drift competition which was being judged by the Norwegian Hammer, Mr Fredric Aasbø. I’d heard there was plenty going on around the town, and that needed checking out.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (1 of 58)

Pulling up outside our hotel I was instantly greeted by a chain of cruisers passing by. As soon as they saw a camera the smiles grew wider and arms waved; music and laughter accompanied by the rumble of a V8. This is what I was looking for.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (19 of 58)

So I started to walk the streets with my camera in hand. The evening air was light and clean and after being inside for two days it finally felt good to have some space.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (4 of 58)

To begin with the majority of cars I came across were American. Since my first visit to Sweden I’ve always thought there’s quite a similar feel to the American Midwest here. Even the TV channels broadcast loads of popular US shows and often with no subtitles, which has no doubt helped with the fact that nearly everybody speaks great English.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (5 of 58)

Wandering over to the ’55 Chevy and ’59 Cadillac, I found a bunch of guys just hanging out. But they weren’t the mid-50 year olds I was expecting. I guess I felt guilty at first thinking they would be, but they were in their 20s and having a pretty good time judging by the way they greeted me. Whilst chatting to them, what I think is a ’68 Pontiac wagon rolled by. Loaded with people, it felt like we were really were in small town America.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (16 of 58)

It wasn’t all American metal though. This early Mk1 Golf sat really well and the two girls inside waved every time they passed by. Just out and about, happy and digging the scene…

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (2 of 58)

The distinctive sound of an RB motor made me turn around and just catch this R33 Skyline as it rolled by. I have no idea how much fuel is being burnt around here tonight, but it’s a lot. Often I’ll see cars reappear around every 10 to 15 minutes, so whatever circuit they’re using is pretty long.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (28 of 58)

Of course, it wasn’t just out on the roads that you’d see cool vehicles. Given the number of show goers in town who were also settling in for the evening, the hotel car parks were filling up nicely. This Vossen wheel-equipped VW sat so well. I only recently discovered that the US didn’t get the T5, which seems such a shame as they’re ridiculously-practical vehicles that can be made to look really good. By now the light was starting to fade and the streets were getting quieter. It was time to figure out where everyone was going…

Into the darkness
Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (18 of 58)

So far the action was pretty laid back, but interesting cars were never out of sight. The mix of car styles and people was so wide – young and old, all just enjoying the slowly setting sun.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (27 of 58)

Seeing this full-sized Cadillac Sedan De Ville made me smile as it was in the same model that I drove across America in 1996 with my best friend, and what directly led to me to be standing in this spot. Although our ’79 model was full of rust and wasn’t running on wires and hydraulic suspension. Remembering that I’d been tipped off there was more of a party atmosphere at a nearby shopping centre,  I figured it would be worthwhile heading through there on the way to meet back up with Rod and the rest of the team once the drifting had finished.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (23 of 58)

Although, it was pretty hard to not get distracted every 10 seconds when something else rumbled past.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (13 of 58)

Or hummed like this Jeep did. Lifted and running maybe 31 or 33-inch tyres, it dwarfed what came next.

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (14 of 58)

This East German throwback, a Trabant 601. These little cars are like the region’s version of the Model T Ford – a machine for everybody. Nowadays they have a cult following. Although I’ve seen them with VAG turbo diesel engine conversions and a whole load of different modifications, this one appeared to be pretty much standard aside from a few stickers. Well, you’ve always got to have stickers right?

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (21 of 58)

Seconds after I took this shot the black cloud of diesel smoke filled the air around me and the music rattling out of this Volvo limousine was all I could hear above the turbo whine. A sign of things to come? Best I head back to the hotel and grab some wheels…

Night cruising street life Elmia Bilsport (31 of 58)

It seemed like other people had the same idea as me and the Bimmers of Sweden club were heading up to the shopping park too. The disruption pattern camo really works for me, and is quite in keeping with the design language.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-1

After a short drive I looked between a few buildings and spotted activity, so pulled over in to the car park. There were some cars here, maybe 20 or 30 of them, but surely this wasn’t it? It was right then that I became aware of a massive queue of traffic over the other side of the parking area, so I wandered over, camera in hand. Crossing a small bridge with a line of traffic behind me, I noticed the police had closed off the exit slip road below me. Nothing could prepare me for the scale of what I was about to see though…

Well that escalated quickly
Night time cruising Elmia 2014-8

I’ve been to my fair share of cruises in a lot of different countries, but this one was unlike anything I had ever seen before. For a start, the variety of vehicles I’d seen out on the road were all here, and then some.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-2

I couldn’t make out how far away the other side of the parking area was, but I’ll make a conservative estimate that there were a couple of thousand cars parked up or queued up around me. In the first row I came too were these two. I literally stood there like a freeze-framed video tape; rocking back and forth not knowing which way to go first.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-3

The McLaren replica was put together by three brothers from what I could understand. It was also road legal and packing a mid-mounted Chevrolet V8. But as this was day three in Elmia, I wasn’t surprised such a thing would be parked up. Just amazed.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-4

As I was checking out the Volvo 240 touring car replica, these guys rolled by. I’m not sure what the significance of a hay bale on the roof is, but it seemed to be a quite common modification. Again, the atmosphere was like a good house party. People might frown on this sort of activity, but to me it was just cool wandering the lines checking out random cars.

Elmia Show Bilsport Sweden Speedhunters 2014 Rod Chong-4651

Everywhere you walked there was music. But what made me smile was that it wasn’t coming from large installs surrounded by serious looking people assessing sound quality. No, generally it was rattling out of an old stereo, whilst the occupants of whatever vehicle the speakers were being waved from were all joined in singing.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-5

Talking to a few people at Elmia during the day, they’d said how years ago the nightlife around the show used to be about street racing and that there were far too many ratty Volvos with stuff on the roof nowadays. With a massive police presence I’m not surprised the street racing moved on, but surely this is just a new generation doing their thing?

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-6

I’m not entirely sure how the driver of this truck could see out with the bright ultra violet light inside the cab, but it didn’t seem to be stopping them having a good time.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-9

In amongst the slammed Volvo estates (you’ll notice there are three in the background here) there were some real gems. This low Ford Crown Victoria screamed cop car to me. Imagine it without the push bar though… Doesn’t work as well, does it?

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-10

Look there’s a Volvo! And a Beetle… There were lots of groups who’d obviously been here for a while and I spotted quite a few discarded BBQs where they’d come prepared for the long haul. Looking at the traffic situation I was glad I hadn’t tried to get any closer. I was beginning to notice a theme within the group though – aside from the Volvos that is…

Under the cover of dark
Night time cruising Elmia 2014-13

I really enjoy Finland, Sweden and Norway. I’ve been to some of the finest automotive events on the planet in these countries and their culture always seems to be pretty laid back, yet industrious and forward thinking. The people in this part of the world also know how to party. I don’t know, maybe it’s the long dark winters? But whenever there’s an opportunity to have a good time, they take it.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-16

I’ve mentioned the whole fascination with American culture before and part of that has always been about the cars. There was a decent amount of ’50s, ’60s and onwards US iron imported new here, but now there seems to be a whole sub-genre built around taking beaten up four door saloons (which I can only assume are not worth as much) and beating on them some more. This is the windscreen of the Impala from the opening shot. The roof has been danced on by the looks of it and the whole thing just screams rebellion. Against what? Anything you want!

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-22

You might think it’s a tragedy that something most of us would covet and restore is treated like this. But not me. Everybody has their place and if these old saloons are sitting and rotting away in garages and yards, why not pick one up and just thrash on it? Just because you might not be able to restore something doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-23

Just look at that character. You might think this is rat look, but it’s more than that. It reflects a social feeling. Am I reading too much in to it? Probably, but I like this. I can remember chopping up split-screen VW vans because they weren’t worth anything, and crashing Mk1 Ford Escorts with my mates back in the day. Now? Well, maybe we care too much about the value of things to have a good time. Shouldn’t we be investing in memories?

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-19

Not only are these big old American barges all about personality, there’s the added bonus of being able to get six friends in to help pay for fuel.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-21

If you can’t find something American, then there’s always a Volvo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stretched 7-series in one place. It seems like there’s a pecking order too. You start with a saloon, work up to an estate and then find an out-of-service limo for extra points. Which, like the American metal, means you can get more people in to party with. So although it might look like a mess and a waste of metal from the outside, it’s really not.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-20

This is simply about having a good time and I just had to include this picture for that reason. A blond, a Volvo and IKEA. Could it get any more Swedish?

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-24

Maybe the wildlife scares you or the cars don’t appeal. But the freedom is something we can all relate to. Yes, the police were everywhere, but not once in the middle of thousands of people did I feel uneasy or unwelcome.

Night time cruising Elmia 2014-25

As the night wound up I was glad I didn’t just head back to the hotel and prop up a bar. And no, I’m not about to go out and buy an abused ’60s Chevy saloon – that’s not my thing. But I’m glad it’s somebody else’s. Diversity is what car culture is all about and that’s exactly what I saw in Elmia. People enjoying cars in so many different ways and not being bothered if the guy next to them was in to something totally different. Everybody into everything…

That was a good night.

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: speedhunters_Bryn



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Very nice


Great story, good to see people enjoying cars and having fun!


If I saw that Mclaren replica on the street I think my brain would need a reboot. How can THAT be street-legal, for the love of Zlatan?!

Honeydew Cottage

Your excellent header image and that beaten matt black four door encapsulate the local culture in my eyes... have fun until it throws a rod, maybe rattle can safety orange and drag it out of the barn again running a turbo Cummins with hand cut bonnet stack, 20" Alcoa's and mirrored disco ball. So... Rule book torn. Check. Pistols cassette. Check. Ferry ticket. Check. See you there!


Nice place!


It should be like this in every country!


This event looks bloody outrageously fun! The fun they seem to be getting out of these old cars is enlightening to see (for me at least!)


Honeydew Cottage Sounds like a plan to me :)


ToyotaSupraMan  I'm not joking when I say I stood there rocking back and forth like a zombie on pause!


jonas maurstad  Yes it is!


jdmRob  Yes it should, lots of other countries have great culture but the open feeling here was really something special.


Lachys114  Agreed :)


Did these people only just get their cars out of storage for the first time since winter, and forget that they had hay bales being stored on their roofs? I am so baffled by this new trend! Such an epic meet, and SO many Volvos in one place. Sweden is so crazy!


I can't stand that people give attention, much less coverage to the garbage posted on the last page.  It's no different than those daily driving "missile" cars, or mounting a myriad of senseless things to the roof rack of a VW.  You don't have the money and budget to build a cool car that stands out, so instead you destroy a clean or restore-able car and mount dumb s**t to it so people will see just how eccentric and crazy you think you are.


It seems to of captured your attention entirely.


Carlson  You're right, however when I am reading about event coverage I don't expect to read about cars broke kids intentionally smash for shock value though.  I would expect to read about, oh I don't know, cars people BUILT.


@GrumpyOldMan Carlson  Read about a different event then you boring sod


I ******* hate stickers but I would rock that "support your local pole workers" sticker any day. I'm gunna have to find one next time I'm in sweden


I hate car hipster more by each day.


George Bale Carlson most of these cars are found in that condition in barns or in the forrest rotting away unwanted and the guys give them new life as beater cars


This is the kind of articles I come to SH for. Car culture at LARGE!!


robzor  Always.


Great story, nice to see the car culture in another place.


Kinda make me wish our culture was this laid back.  It kills me that people gripe over different build styles and lifestyles.  I don't get all the nay sayers.  I dig it that these guys are building what they want to and enjoy it.  That they do it without fear.  That they don't treat them like trophies.  Plenty of those sitting on trailers and in garages waisting away.  Plus how many red two door cars do you need to see in your life time any how?  Dream it, build it and drive it.  If nobody likes it then so be it.  You did it for you and not the guy in the big bucks car and office pants....


Although I admit I don't get the smashed windshield........


The only thing a four door impala is good for is being a parts car for a coupe or vert. Let em have there fun.


Now I just need to get the girlfriend to condone a petrol-head trip to Sweden...


those big yank tank beaters remind me of the tremor brother 66 Pontiac on smokin aces. i think there trying to give off the same vibe as them as well. but that is defiantly a great atmosphere now i wanna head up to Sweden


Interesting to see how the more "regulated" societies or countries often come up with the craziest events! Love the Crown Vic, stretched Volvos how cool is that.


Man this is embarrassing ... Not a proud moment to be a swede seeing this. Wish I could say this is not representative of Swedish car culture, but it kinda is. Ratty Volvos are the plague here, hated by everyone but the ones running them. There are some quality out there but it's scarce.


That ELK BRO SWEDISH ELK CREW, Elk is a swedish beer that you just buy to get drunk

Seeking Perfection

@randomswede It seems that you are not a real car enthusiast. If SH promotes the fact that cars in junkyard condition are the 'true spirit' of any car culture, then this is the thing we shall believe in because the editors know better than us. Everyone will press the LIKE button on positive opinions because that's the norm.
If you ask me, those ratty old cars are nothing less than pathetic. I am not Swedish like you, but I also know that the premium quality Swedish builds exhibit attention to detail unmatched to any other car scene.
Koenigsegg, the 1JZ Caddy and Pentell's Lancia is the representation of the Swedish car culture I chose to admire.


@randomswede  Why are you embarrassed? This is just some guys having a good time, we all know this isn't the pinnacle of Swedish car modification. In fact some people would even be jealous of a scene like this where they live. I sort of prefer this over the stuck-up, straight faced side of car modification world


I guess it works the way the FIA always hope their rules will be taken "this is what you can't do, go find out what you CAN do inside these stipulations"
Tldr: strict rules breed better engineers.


You can say that again. Here in Cali, uncreative people are the first to whine about "strict" smog and engine swap laws.

Honeydew Cottage

So damn far off the mark that even your vastly superior gps won't get you anywhere near home again... enjoy your University Challenge box set.

Seeking Perfection

Honeydew Cottage That is so true, honey... It is so difficult to read opinions that are different from yours. Tell me more about the colonic. Was it effective on you? With all this cottage cheese, you must be shitting bricks.


JoeWhaler Ok, I'll try to explain the best I can. I have nothing against grassroots or people having a good time sharing their passion for cars, don't get me wrong. It's not about it not being the pinnacle of Swedish car culture, it's about the general attitude among the "scene" pictured here. There is kind of a "greaser" culture here, ratty Volvos or old banged up American rust buckets are among the most popular choices.

Basically this crowd doesn't have much respect for other people, if any. Running a ratty Volvo diesel with straight through exhaust spewing out intoxicating black smoke clouds is seen as something very cool among this crowd. It's even better if you have a misspelled tacky slogan about not giving a fuck about the environment all over your back window. They often drive in packs running circles in small town centers in the evenings, often with blaring music through not-so-good speakers.
We have these "cruises" in our town a couple of times a year. After every one the town looks like a dump the day after. Empty beer cans and McDonald's packaging everywhere, among other things. The police is called in from nearby towns and has to deal with highly intoxicated people, arguments and whatnot. Let me tell you, it's about as far from classy as it gets. This is why it's embarrassing.


Just went to a couple of car events Saturday in SoCal -- Talk about old man weenie roasts -- So I'm truely glad to see events where the car culture has a youthful feel and input to them, no matter what direction they choose (as long as they don't go smashing my windshield LOL) --


if you liked that you should come to power big meet in västerås sweden

Honeydew Cottage

A warm April evening in '86. He was warm to touch but cold of heart. A brief but emotional encounter alas never to be repeated. However, he taught me to care, intimately, for those of lesser patience for, or acceptance of, the joyous nature of a multi faceted love of automobiles. Oh, and the handbrake's shagged so I use the bricks to stop it rolling off the drive...


Am I reading too much in too it?


incloudsx  Probably ;)

The power of online editing, it's like it was never there... Thank you :)


RobinHrupa  Yes, we've looked at that. Does sound great!


HAHAHAHA. Good show ole chap! Good show!


@randomswede  I think there's a lot of quality out there! This is nothing to be ashamed of, every culture has it's 'outcasts'. I'm sure some day a lot of these guys will move on to building the show cars of tomorrow. As a percentage of our coverage from Elmia, this is a very small part I'm sure nobody would take it as an indication of the majority.


I respect your opinion, but I thought that I would say that spewing out noxious gases, blarring music out of speakers whether good or bad, and leaving a mess is akin to most parties in the US. The last two (blarring music and leaving trash) are akin to most car events/club meets and parties, parades, etc. in most of the world. The last one--trash that people leave behind--is why there is always a eanup crew after every event. Organizers expect people to leave lots of trash.


Speedhunters_Bryn incloudsxcheers :)


Taryn Croucher  I'm still trying to figure out the relevance of the haybails myself. I can't see that being a good edition to the Mitsubishi.
I'm sure if the same event was done in small town USA or Canada, it would involve Chevy Cavaliers and Sunfires. The upgraded units would be Chrysler New Yorkers and Ford Taurus (or is the plural Tauri?)


@Seeking Perfection Perhaps you missed the point of this story. We’re not forcing this style upon you, nor telling you that you should go out there and dance on top of your Volvo or write obscene slogans on your windscreen. We were simply there to discover a new car culture, and we had a great time while doing so :)


Wildcardfox Maybe I sound like some old grumpy elderly here (despite I'm in my 20's), but I firmly believe that meets/events can be kept classy and with respect for other people around you. There are often several kinds of crowds in these "cruises". One that has genuine car passion, often running beautifully restored American classics. For them it's all about the cars, atmosphere and the culture. The other one doesn't really care about the cars. They drive the "destruction derby" category. For them it's an excuse for getting ridiculously wasted and generally behave like cavemen.
As for the Volvo crowd, I get it. The rebellious attitude and all that. Wanting to stand out. But again, I firmly believe this can be done with class, as most other scenes do. Let me tell you, nobody is impressed by the noxious gas clouds (driving behind one of those cars you often realize too late and by closing the air vents you keep the stench in rather than keep it out, sigh), straight through exhausts or one wheel burnouts on the shopping street but themselves.
I'll stop complaining now. Just wanted to explain my view on the matter :) I love car culture. I realize, of course, that it takes many different expressions and I have no problem with that, not at all. I can appreciate the passion no matter what it looks like or if it appeals to my personal aesthetics or not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whatever floats your boat and all that. I just think that, no matter what, people should have respect each other and their surroundings, that's all.


This was a very a inspiring post. I feel like buying a black VW Passat Variant. Fit it with some gloss black wheels and wander about the city at night time. Oh, how I wish I could do that. Thank you Mr. Musselwhite, for having attended this swedish night scene.


Kirk_B Taryn Croucher  is it a hang-on (the bales I mean) to the whole A-trakor ...odness? or to put it another way...

is it a "you can only drive if collecting bales of hate for the farm" type thing?


Different is good. Well, here it is.


Speedhunters_Bryn  I have mixed feelings about this. The cars look cool, freedom youth and rebellion are cool, but pollution definitely is NOT COOL (be it air pollution, noise pollution, or littering). Also any kind of culture or subculture that celebrates ignorance is… ignorant.

Seems to me like if they could do their car-beating and partying without being arseholes, that really WOULD be cool. It wouldn't be that hard to achieve and wouldn't actually take away much from the joy of it.


You're on the wrong site, buddy. Go buy a bicycle or something.


apex_DNA  I have a car AND a bicycle, buddy. Being into cars & partying doesn't mean you HAVE to be an arsehole… just like caring about life/the world beyond cars doesn't mean you HAVE to be a hippy. It just means clearing up your own shit after yourself. I've been doing that since i was three years old, so i don't see why it's so hard for somebody like you to understand.

Oh gosh darn it, i've started a debate with King Troll. Jimmy out. 


I didn't mean to troll you, sir. I was genuinely frustrated and felt as if one of the last frontiers of men was being threatened.