Scandinavia’s summer automotive season officially begins with two big shows on Easter weekend. Every year I’m torn between the American Car Show in Finland and the Elmia Show in Sweden, but this year I chose Helsinki.
The name American Car Show is a little bit misleading. While the event does indeed bring some of the region’s finest American muscle together – as it has since 1978 – there’s a whole lot more to it, including tuning car, custom, motorsport and motorcycle aspects.
What is guaranteed is a great selection of builds, so I decided to take a closer look at five cars that really interested me. Let’s get started…Built For Blacklist
Mikko Puha picked up this Volkswagen Golf Variant in 2010 with a broken engine and in pretty bad condition all round. Since then it’s been completely overhauled, and now visually looks the part with Golf R32 style bumpers and side skirts, and crisp Ibis White paint.
Mikko experimented with few diesel motors back in the day, and with nitrous oxide in the mix achieved 469hp with one of his setups. After finding the limits there, he swapped in a 1.8T from a Seat Leon FR and that engine remains in the Variant today. However, it’s now stroked to 2.0L and runs a BorgWarner S369SX-E turbocharger on a KKD Motorsport exhaust manifold. The transmission is a sequentially-shifted SQS 4-speed dog box with drag racing ratios, but in true Scandinavian fashion the VW is still used as a weekend cruiser.
Last year there was a smaller S366SX-E turbo and stock-port head fitted, but output figures were still impressive at 829hp and 773Nm on 3.0bar (44psi) of boost. The best quarter-mile performance with that setup was a 10.19-second ET and a best trap speed of 231km/h (143mph). Mikko’s VW hasn’t been on the dyno since the latest round of engine upgrades, but it’s safe to say this is now a 900+hp car.
This beefed up 4WD Golf currently holds the 5th place ranking in a Finnish outlaw street series called Blacklist for street legal cars, with most of its races run on asphalt.A Gift For His Wife
There’s a saying that couples that play together stay together, and that of course can apply to the car hobby. Marko Vuolle bought this 1965 Vauxhall Viva Deluxe as a gift for his wife, and together they’ve built it up into something extremely cool.
Of course, it was fully restored along the way, but given that it isn’t a particularly rare model, the pair pulled out many stops to make it unique. The air suspension was home-made using air springs from a Scania truck, and the Viva’s frame beams and support arms were modified to get the car as low to the ground as possible over its 16-inch wheels.
The laced paintwork is a standout feature, but there are plenty of little touches, too. A sunroof wasn’t on Vauxhall’s options list for this car, so a hole was cut out in the roof and a soft cover from a Renault Twingo fitted.
While most of the modifications have centered around the way the car looks, Marko and his wife didn’t overlook performance entirely. The engine is standard, but there’s some added forced induction courtesy of an Opel Meriva turbocharger.Drift-Spirited Stance
This candy-coated 1989 Nissan 200SX with scissor doors is a bit of a time machine, mixing old school and modern tuning trends.
Work Meister S1 wheels set with a crazy amount of camber, and a Rocket Bunny kit coated in glitter paint are the headline attractions, but it’s functional too with a Toyota 1JZ-GTE engine providing more than enough power for some sideways action.King Of The ’80s
If it was a Chevy Impala there’s a chance I would would have walked right past it, but a 1978 Trans Am on hydraulics is something special. This unique car was originally purchased stock by Kenneth Frisk in Filipstad, Sweden back in 1981, and at the time only 12,500 miles were on the clock. Since then it’s only really been driven between exhibitions, so today the total mileage remains under 15,000.
Kenneth first started with pearl white lacquer paintwork inside and out, and the now famous airbrush artist Terje Aspmo worked on the car multiple times until the 1985 season.
At the end of the ’80s, the Pontiac was put in a garage for 30 years until it was bought by current owner Mikael Andersson. The objective now is to preserve the Trans Am and the 180-odd awards it’s received in its show car lifetime.An S15 With A NASCAR Heart
I’ve saved Niko Määttäla’s Nissan Silvia to round out the 44nd annual American Car Show. Because it’s not everyday you see an S15 drift chassis with an 832hp Dodge R5P7 NASCAR engine – and in Finland no less.Bonus Gallery