2014 A-Bombers Road-trip Part 3

A-BOMBERS ROAD-TRIP 3

In 2007 my wife organized my best birthday gift ever… a trip to the A-Bombers show in Sweden. In 2014 my good friends Palle Johansen and Tim Kirkegaard thought they would try and top this gift. They invited me to join them on their trip to the A-Bombers show in their 1939 and 1947 Custom Cars with matching tear-drop trailers! This is Part 3¬†of the A-Bombers Road-trip story.

 
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ts Friday night, we made it back to the camp-site from the best ever road trip, with six fantastic Custom Car. The image of these beauties floating the curvy Swedish West Coast roads, is still on my mind… and I know these will never fade in my memories. But we are back now, and the camp-site has been filled up completely by now. Hot Rods, semi stocks and Custom Cars from Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands have gathered… and the party is on. The bands have started to play music in the large tent, and wonderful smells rise¬†from the burger¬†–¬†wrap¬†–¬†noodle -stand¬†next to it. Period dressed-up people are walking the site, just to enjoy the cars, the people, or to parade and enjoyed to be looked at and photographed. People are drinking, eating, and gather around with old friends, creating new friends, and just having a good time.
 
CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-24Darren Chapman originally from Australia, now from Norway brought his in progress ’49 Buick Chopped Sedanette. Darren explained that the car will have restyled front and rear fenders as well as some other changes for the next season. It was already great to be able to walk around it and see the flow of the chopped top.
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I met up with some old friends, Per Webb, Janne Kutja, Klaus Gardan, Christer Ehrling, and had great time talking with them and a lot of other people. We ate some grilled Swedish sausages on toasted bread with loads of Swedish mustard and ketchup and discussed with Wolf which cars he would pick for the Custom Car Line up this year.  It is the second year Wolf is organizing the Custom Car Line-Up with the CCC, at the A-Bombers Show. Wolf is trying to get a series of period perfect Customs at a photo-shoot. The cars can only be chosen by Wolf, and to be a candidate they have to have a period look, preferably with fender skirts, chopped top and Appleton Spotlights. But there are exceptions to these rules as long as the overall look is period, and Wolf likes it enough. We will do a separate CCC-Article on the Line-Up soon, stay tuned.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-30The 2014 Custom Car Line-Up flyer Wolf was handing out to the owners of the Customs he thought might look good on the Lin-Up. Only period looking Customs make a change of being chosen by Wolf.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-23Wolf also invited Tomas and his white primered in progress 1939 Mercury. Sadly Tomas could no be found early the next morning at the agreed meeting time when we headed out to the Line-Up Location.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-25Wolf (center) asked¬†Miikka Salminen (right) if he and his ’36 Dodge Coupe would like to be part of this years Custom Car Line-Up… Miikka was thrilled to be part of it.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-26People having a good time, enjoying some food, drinks, the cars and their friends.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-01When it got dark I took a few night time photos with long exposure time on my tripod. 
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When we where out on our road trip some really great Custom Cars had arrived so together with the guys we went wandering around looking for the new cars, taking photos and talking to the owners. When the sun was setting I went back to my tent, took my tripod and took some long exposure car, people and overall photos. They are always fun to do, with all the nice lights and people walking around looking like ghosts.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-04Early Saturday morning… if you want a shower, you have to get up¬†very early, since there are only three showers on the whole camp-site. The good thing is you have a very long day ahead of you. Palle is heating up the grille to have some toast made and boiling the water for some fresh coffee.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-02Early morning dewdrops cover the Oldsmobile taillights on Andrea’s √Öberg’s New Panoramic Ford.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-05After breakfast Palle downloaded the photos from his camera from the days before to his laptop.¬†He now could check them out full size… and was very happy with the result.
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Saturday morning we had an early rise again… the Line-Up photo-shoot candidates¬†would¬†gather at the gate at half past 9, and some of the guys wanted to give their car a quick wash to clean off the dirt from the drive the day before. I was pretty excited about the Line-Up thing. Last year I had to wait for the guys to get back home again to see the photos, but this year I would be there in person.. and help out Wolf getting the car lined up etc. The weather was absolutely perfect, nice blue skies with a few clouds here and there, and nice and warm. The nicest day so far. There would be two Line-Up photo sessions today. Wolf had scout two locations, the first one, was the same as last year. A nice restored old cobble stone road with a nice hill in front ¬†of it for perfect photo opportunities. The only disadvantage this location has is the that the sun comes from behind early in the morning. But it worked out fine anyway. The second location was a wonderful simple grass airfield across the street from the A-Bombers camp-site. It was the first time Wolf was going to use this, and for this he planned to have the cars sit in a circle and also do a semi Ayala 1951 Motor Trend cover redo.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-06At around half past 9 we left to the gate were we would meet with all the Custom Car guys that Wolf invited for this years Custom Car Line-Up.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-07We had to wait for a little bit… some of the guys were not quite ready after staying up late for¬†the big party last night.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-08We were on a tight schedule, since there were two locations for a Line-Up this year, and most of us wanted to go to the hill-climb early in the afternoon. So we ended up leaving with 8 period looking Customs. Here we just arrived at the old road, location number one.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-09The last three cars patiently waiting before they were called to park their Customs next in line.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-10Wolf made sure all the cars are parked at the same angle, and with the front end on one line. The cars were parked with a bit more space in between them than last year. This way more of the cars would show up in the photos.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-11When all the cars were parked, the owners and helpers climbed up the hill for the perfect view, and to allow the photographers to take as many photos of the Customs with no people around them as they wanted.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-12Camera turned 180 degrees from the previous photo. This is the hill where we could all look down to the Customs and take photos.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-14View from the top of the hill at the moment the owners of the cars were “ordered” to take place next to their Customs and take on the Sam Barris position.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-13Another behind the scenes photo. Palle is taking some photos using the ladder Wolf brought. There is a small hill in the middle just next to the road and you have to stand tall to be able to shoot the photos over that small hill. Lars and Stefan made sure the ladder is not falling over… teamwork.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-15When everybody had taken enough photos we all got back into our cars and headed to the second location.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-16And there we go again, back to the A-Bombers camp-site where the second location was at the small airfield across the street from the show.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-17I just cannot get enough of these wonderful custom cars on the roads. This u-turn leaving the Line-Up location, was perfect for getting the best view of the cars as well as hear the engines while taking off.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-18Wolf was the first one to get to the second location. Wonderful colored empty space background… perfect for the Circle of Custom Cars Wolf has planned next.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-31It took some effort to get all the cars in the right position for this photo-shoot, but in the end it was all worth it. The Circle of Custom Cars looked amazing.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-19It then was time to sort of re-create the famous Ayala Shop Motor Trend magazine cover from¬†October 1951. Wolf drove his ’51 Merc into the center of the circle, and the car owners were asked to take place next to their cars again.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-27Wolf sat on the cowl of his Merc, just as Al Ayala did in the Motor Trend Cover and the others stood with their own cars. It was not intended to duplicate the scene exactly… just inspired by it.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-20Then it was time to hurry back to the camp-site to have a bite to eat and get ready for the hill climb which was another 20 minute or so drive from there.
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After the Line-Up photo-sessions we went back to the camp-site for a quite bite to eat, and then it was off to the hill-climb. The location for this is about a 20-min drive from there. We were a bit late and it was already very crouded there, as well as on the parking space reserved for it. So we parked our Customs a little further and walked back to the race track. Palle wanted to shoot some action photos from the cars at the starting grid. We arrived a little late at the race, and by then the hill road sides were filled with spectators already. So instead of getting back in line hoping to see some action on the road we went to the parking lot to look at the cars and shoot some more photos.¬†After the race we went back to the camp-site, walked around and went to the food place at the site for a really tasty burger. Its now Saturday night… the biggest party night of the weekend, with many bands performing in the music tent.

 

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-21On our way up to the hill climb we stopped for gas. The gas-station was filled with Hot Rods and Custom Cars… so many that I saw several regular cars who wanted some gas leave the place looking for a more quite station.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p3-22Custom Car Parking close to the hill-climb. Palle ended up being the only one going to the actual race, the rest of us hung out on the larger parking-lot down at the hill, to check out the cars there.
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We had to get up a bit early on Sunday, I think the camp-site has to be left by ten in the morning or so. And we had to be at the ferry back to Denmark at eleven. But we also wanted to make a quick visit to Wolf’s place which is on the way to the Ferry.¬†I tried to wrap up the trip in this third part… but there is still so much to tell and show that there will be a part four.
 
 
Go to Part ONE, or continue to part Four of the 2014 A-Bombers Road-trip Story
 
 

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2014 A-Bombers Road-trip part 2

A-BOMBERS ROAD-TRIP 2

In 2007 my wife organized my best birthday gift ever… a trip to the A-Bombers show in Sweden. In 2014 my good friends Palle Johansen and Tim Kirkegaard thought they would try and top this gift. They invited me to join them on their trip to the A-Bombers show in their ’39 and ’47 Custom Cars with tear drop trailers! This is Part 2 of the A-Bombers Road-trip story.

 
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ts Thursday morning July 31, 2014, we have arrived at the A-Bombers Old Style Weekend show in Backamo, nearby Udevalla in Sweden. The day before I had left my home in the Northern part of the Netherlands and drove to my friend Palle Johansen in Assens, Denmark. From there we took Palle’s 1947 Cadillac Custom Car with matching 1947 teardrop trailer and drove to Frederikshavn in north Denmark. On our way Lars Friborg joined us driving Palle’s 1951 Mercury, Lars Kj√¶r driving his 1936 Ford Coupe and Tim kirkegaard driving his 1939 Mercury with passenger Tore Vogh. Check out part one of this trip.
 
CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-01We had made it to the camp-site. Wolf’s SMV trailer is all the way to the left, followed with Tim’s teardrop with matching old tent, the red and white trailer is Stefan’s and the other SMV traler in white and yellow is Benny’s, a Custom guy belonging to the Hammers club. Tim’s Merc and Palle’s Caddy are parked here with Wolf’s 51 Merc and Stefan’s ’48 Buick.
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When we arrived at the Backamo Old Style Weekend location early Thursday morning we were welcomed by Stefan Elebrink (’48 Buick). He had spend the night at the campsite¬†and “guarded” the Customs spot on the capsite together with our friend Wolf. Wolf had brought his¬†nice old SMV trailer, and Stefan had borrowed another nice old¬†trailer¬†to sleep in. We put Tim’s and Palle’s teardrop trailers on each side of Wolf’s SMV¬†trailer, to make a nice set and got some water on the fire, in the small kitchen in back of Tim’s trailer, for some much needed coffee. We had spend the night on the ferry-boat, and there was no real comfortable chairs to sleep on, so we where all kind of tired.

It was really great to meet¬†Stefan, we had spend a lot of time on the email discussing¬†several Digital Restyling projects on his ’48 Buick, but we had never met before.¬†After having some coffee and unpacking some of the stuff,¬†we wandered around the camp site a bit. All the A-Bomber members had also spend the night there in their special VIP building, which is located next to the section we stayed at.¬†We checked out their cars talked a little here and there, and then it was time to check out the Line-Up location Wolf and Stefan had prepped for this year’s Custom Car line-up. The weather was perfect, a bit windy, but sunny and a nice temperature, absolutely perfect. We had received a phone call from the two Larses who where now on the ferry to Sweden in the ’51 Mercury. We all looked forward to be reunited, and especially me, since my tent and some other belongings were packed in the ’51 Merc.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-25Early Thursday morning, the A-Bombers staff cars parked on an otherwise still empty camp-site.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-04The camp-site is located next to this wonderful lake.
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Thursday is not an official Old Style Weekend day, but the campsite is open, and when we got back, for a little trip, more cars and people had arrived. It was really great to see the campsite fill up with great looking cars, and nice people. Some I recognized from 2007, others from Facebook, or the CCC. We were at the gate looking at the cars checking in, when Andreas Åberg arived in his 1950 Ford Custom. Andreas was another guy I had emailed a lot with about his New Panoramic Ford, but I had never met him in person. I knew he was going to park with us at the Customs section, so hurried over to shake hands and check out his car in person. Wow, what a nice guy, and what a fantastic Custom. I spend many hours looking over every little detail on that car. There is so much work done on the body to make it look at its very best.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-05Andreas¬†√Öberg ariving with his amazing New Panoramic Ford. Adreas built this near clone of the early 1950’s Barris/Cerny built Buster Litton Ford and¬†included a lot of his own refinements to improve on the¬†design of the original Custom.
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In the meantime Lars and Lars had arrived in the ’51 merc, and I put up my vintage tent, one I already had when I was a little boy of 12 years old.¬†Later that day Andreas took me for a a ride in his car to go do some shopping with the others. We needed to get some supplies, and Palle had offered to cook a nice birthday dinner for me‚Ķ and the rest of the gang. Due to the lack of sleep I had forgotten it was actually my birthday that day.¬†It was an real pleasure to sit down in the New Panoramic Ford and see the amazing attention for details Andreas put into this car, inside and out. The seating position was quite different than what I was used to for the last day and a half in Palle’s ’47 Cadillac. I have to admit that the¬†Cadillac does drive a lot more comfortable than the Ford‚Ķ especially the seating is far more superior in the Cadillac which is really comfortable and soft, while the ford interior looks very nice, the seats are much stiffer. I got used to it fast though and enjoyed every minute in the car talking with Andreas about his car and all kinds of other things.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-29The guys doing shopping for the birthday dinner.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-02New cars arrived at the camp-site center location.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-03We took Palle’s ’47 Cadillac and Wolf’s ’51 Mercury to check out the location(s) for this years Custom Car Line-Up photo-shoot.
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When we drove to the village to do some shopping, Lars called to let us know the ’51 Merc was having problems again. It turned out to be a bold on the alternator getting loose all the time. This caused the alternator to loosen up and the belt starting to slip badly. Eventually two guys went with Wolf to a local garage, where a friend worked, and there they modified the bold in such a way it would fix the problem.¬†Back at the campsite¬†Palle made a wonderful diner for all of us, and for¬†desert the guys surprised me with an amazing cake they had ordered from a local bakery. I could not stop smiling.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-06Lars having problems with a loose alternator bold and slipping belt. Soon after this photo was taken the bolt was removed and modified at a local garage to fix the problem.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-07Palle (and the other guys) preparing the groceries for perfect diner.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-08The birthday cake they had ordered… it was gooooood!
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That night we all went to bed a bit early… to make up a bit for the lack of sleep the night before, knowing the next couple of days were going to be very busy and long. The next day, Friday, was the first of the official Old Style Weekend days. We took it easy in the morning walking around to check out the new arrivals, and decided to go on a nice little trip at the end of the morning. We all washed the cars and off we went to a trip to the West-Coast of Sweden… to see the ocean.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-10The trip we took on Friday afternoon. The green dot on the bottom right side is the A-Bombers camp-site.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-09Filling up the cars with gas before the trip. Wolf had found out over the years that V-Power from Shell worked the best with his Flathead powered ’51 Mercury. So thats what we all used while in Sweden.
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I had never really been to this part of the country other than close to the A-Bombers camp site. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. And the closer we got to the coast the more rocks and the rougher the terrain. There is something really special about driving together with 6 amazing period looking customs. Most of the time Palle and me were the last car in the row, and it was just amazing to see all these rolling sculptured float over the curvy Swedish roads, see their reflections in windows and watch people turn their heads, put on a huge smile and start waving, pointing their fingers or put their thumbs up. There is just nothing that can compare to see these great looking Custom Cars driving on the road in front of you.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-11On the road, and looking good.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-12Stefan and Ulrika crossing the bridge close to Uddevalla, Lars drives Palle’s ’51 Mercury in front of them.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-14We would drive about the same speed as the big trucks on the four lane high ways. Its great to see Stefan’s 48 Buick in motion. A chop and new grille are planned for the next season.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-15This was my favorite sight. All custom cars lined up on the curvy smaller country side roads.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-16And the extra bonus came at the stop sign’s when the cars got close again and the engines could be heard as well.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-17More rocks, trees, nice houses and the wonderful shape of Tim’s ’39 Mercury.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-18We now had  gotten close to the ocean, the water in this picture is actually the ocean with some small rock islands behind it.
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Last year Palle had major heating problems when he drove the Caddy to the A-Bombers show from Denmark to Sweden, even so much it had to be trailered back home. But after the radiator was cleaned and other issues fixed the car had been driven flawlessly for a few weeks before the show. The trip from Denmark to Sweden the day before showed perfect engine temps, but somehow the engine was running hot again during this road-trip. We could not figure out what was going on. When Palle shut the engine off for a few seconds while driving, it would cool down real fast, after it had just been marked as cooking. Later Palle discovered when he would put the lights on, while driving, there was no heating problem at all. So more than likely there was no real engine heating problem at all, just an electrical problem, or at least an indication problem. It was a huge relieve, to find out there was no real engine heating problem, since we had now been about an hour and half from our camp-site. After a nice long drive we arrived at Kungshamn a small harbor village. Here we all ate a nice burger and looked at some of the boats in the harbor.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-19Driving the caravan of period Customs thru some of the small wonderful villages on the coastline, sure got the attention of the locals and tourists. Perhaps some of these people will remember this sight for ever, or perhaps even get a little inspired by it.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-20At one of the quick stops to discuss the designation plan I snapped this photo thru the mail-slot window in Palle’s Cadillac Padded top.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-22Arrival at Kungshamn. Here we parked the cars in the harbor an walked to a nearby restaurant for a nice burger and fries.
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We thought it would be a great idea to find a nice location for sa photo-shoot of the customs. However none of the better known spots, with a nice view on the ocean, had enough space that allowed for a photo-shoot with all 6 cars. It was tourist season and most parking lots were filled with tourist cars. In the end we found a parking lot at a local factory, that we used to shoot some pictures with the ocean somewhere in the background. Again it was great to see the look on the faces of people coming by, some stopped and took some photos with their cell phones, while others simply put the thumbs up and probably could not really believe what they just saw.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-21After our late lunch, we drove up to some of the small streets of Kungshamn where the cars fitted in very well. While driving we kept looking for a nice location to shoot some photos.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-23We eventually found this abandoned parking lot (it was summer vacation for the workers) were we parked the car. The rock-hill in front of the parking lot gave the perfect elevation for some nice photos with the ocean in the background.
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Then it was time to take the hour and a half drive back to the camp-site again… we took a slightly different road on the way back home. We even hit some rain, but nothing really bad, and on our way home we did some more grocery shopping for the days to come. 6 Customs parking in the parking lot of a local small village supermarket… it was a great sight. This road-trip was one of my personal highlights of the whole weekend. I had loved every minute of it.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-26More amazing scenery on the way back to the camp-site.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-27Andreas needed gas, the others waited for the next Shell pump.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p2-28Shopping for the rest of the weekend in Uddevalla, close to the campsite. Again we had many people stare at the cars. 
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This is part two of the 2014 A-Bombers Road-Trip, check out part one. 
Or continue with in part Three.

 

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2014 A-Bombers Road-trip Part 1

A-BOMBERS ROAD-TRIP 1

In 2007 my wife organized my best birthday gift ever… a trip to the A-Bombers show. In 2014 my good friends Palle Johansen and Tim Kirkegaard thought they would try and top this gift, so they invited me to join them on their trip to the A-Bombers show in their ’39 and ’47 Custom Cars with tear drop trailers!

 
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his 2014 trip is done, and I’m back home now, and I have to say Palle and Tim were actual able to top the best ever birthday present from my wife. Driving to the show in Sweden from Denmark in a period perfect custom, with teardrop was an AMAZING experience. Many thanks to my friends Palle and Tim for making this happen. It all started about a week before the annual A-Bombers Old Style Weekend in Udevalla, Sweden which was held on August the first and second of 2014. Palle asked me if I wanted to join him in his ’47 Caddy, Tim with his ’39 Mercury and Lars,¬†who would drive Palle’s ’51 Mercury to the show in Sweden… as a birthday gift. I did not have to think long about this, and fortunately my wife and son thought it was a great idea. I started packing, and on Wednesday July 30, day before my birthday, I drove to Palle’s home in Assens, Denmark, a 6 hour drive. I got there around 3 in the afternoon, Palle was putting the last gear into the trailer and then we took the car to a local gas-station to check tire pressure and made sure the tires were ready for the trip to Sweden. We load up my stuff in the car and trailer and off we went to Frederikshavn in the northern part of Denmark, were we would take the ferry to Sweden. On our way we would meet up with Lars in Palle’s ’51 Mercury, and later with Tim in his ’39 Mercury and Lars in his ’36 Ford.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-01The trip from Palle’s home in Assens, Denmark to Frederikshavn in the Northern part of the country, then with the ferry to Sweden and up to Udevalla where the A-Bombers held their Annual Old Style Weekend. (Map from Google)
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-07Before we left we filled up the tires with some air and made sure the pressure was the same on all four tires.
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The last time I had seen Palle’s Cadillac was on our GNRS trip in early 2013, then the car was at David Martinez his shop in California, getting ready or the chopped windshield and Padded top. I had seen many photos after the car had returned in Denmark. But nothing beats being able to walk around it, and even better sitting in it knowing the next couple of days would be spend in this car. The seat in this Cadillac is absolutely perfect, its soft, has the perfect seating position and the leather upholstery has the perfect patina. The chopped windshield is still unfinished with no trim on the out- or inside, and¬†even has some holes for the stainless trim were now the open air could be seen outside. This could be fun if we get rain on our trip I thought to myself. The view outside, thru the chopped windshield is amazing, the tail dragging stance puts the nose up in the air, with the chrome hood trim and Cadillac hood ornament showing which direction it wants… forward!

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-03On our way, leaving the street where Palle lives, with a view over the ocean.
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The side windows,¬†temporarily¬†plexiglass units made for the trip were rolled down, and would stay that way most of the trip. The view back is mostly blocked by the heavy padded top, the mail-slot rear window, which is actually the original ’47 Cadillac convertible unit, gives a bit of a view outside rear, but was¬†now blocked by the teardrop trailer.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-04We both had a smile on our face the whole trip. The Cadillac drove fantastic, we both felt like a King in a Cadillac.
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We drove off around 6 a clock, the wonderful original Cadillac flathead engine roar was only noticeable when it was bouncing off a building or structure close to the car, all we could hear in the car was a soft hum of the engine and the air blowing around the chopped windshield and padded top. The weather could not be any better, with nice temps and a wonderful selection of clouds which would shift colors in the next coming hours. The¬†Caddy drove fantastic, like a “modern” car, strong, and even with the trailer behind it did not show any vibrations and Palle could let go of the steering and the car would still go straight ahead. The Northern part of Denmark is always very nice, with soft flowing hills and nice little villages. But this time of year it is even more special because of the large¬†grain fields being ready for harvesting or which have just been harvested. Wonderful deep yellow fields marked with colorful green trees and bushes. And it seams like it even looks better from a chopped padded topped custom. Our first stop was an parking lot at some fast food restaurants,¬†were we would meet with Lars who was driving Palle’s ’51 Mercury. Lars had picked up the Merc the day before and took it home to load with stuff we would need in Sweden. We ate a sandwich and burger an when Lars arrived, did some repacking to take off some of the weight in the Caddy. Some of the heavy stuff was packed in the Merc, which has airbags in the rear. The Caddy has been lowered, but the frame still has to be c-notched. On the way up the heavy load and the trailer caused the rear axle to get in contact with the frame on bad portions of the road. Nothing major, but the repacking raised the rear a little.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-05First stop was to get together with Lars who would drive Palle’s ’51 Mercury. Palle making a call to Lars… where are you?
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-06Wonderful scenery of Northern Denmark with nice villages, and farm land ready to be harvested, or just being harvested.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-08Holding my camera out of the side window created some interesting shots.
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Next stop was an¬†offramp close to the city of Aarhus, where Tim¬†with his ’39 mercury live. Here we would also meet up with Lars¬†Kj√¶r who would drive his ’36 Ford un-chopped, two tone, 3-w coupe up to Sweden. When everybody had arrived we took some photos of the line up on the bridge crossing the highway and off we went, to catch the midnight ferry to Sweden. Now four great looking customs in a row on the highway… what a sight!

 

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-09When we arrived at the¬†meeting point Lars Kj√¶r¬†had just arrived with his in progress ’36 Ford 3-window.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-10Soon followed by Lars Friborg in Palle’s ’51 Mercury and Tim with his Sledge Customs built ’39 Mercury. The guys are glad to see each other and exited about the trip to come. Everybody took some photos, which would soon be followed by many more.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-11Palle took this great photo of the line up at the meeting point on the bridge over the high way. Amazing clouds predicted a wonderful sunset.
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In the meantime it was getting dark and disaster stroke on Tim’s Mercury. Most likely some fluids leaked on the electrical wires caused the lighting on the merc and the trailer, both front and rear to fail completely. There was still electricity in the car, but just nothing for the lights. So Tim had to drive to the ferry with no lights, and it was getting dark fast. Tim and his Merc was ‘”sandwiched” in between the ’51 Merc and us in the Caddy, this way the traffic from behind would not drive up to the non lighted car.

 

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-12Shortly after take off Lars overtakes us with his¬†healthy sounding flathead powered ’36 Ford.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-13Appleton spotlight and a setting sun.
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We had to make one more stop on our way to the ferry, one for gas. When we left the gas-station Lars with the ’36 Ford had some electrical problems, which at the time looked an easy fix. Lars with the ’51 Merc decided to stay and help and Tim with his friend Tore in the passenger seat and Palle and me decided to go ahead to catch the ferry, time was getting short, and both the ’36 and 51 had no trailers and would be able to catch us later. The Lights on our trailer now also failed for 90%, and produced only very little light. But fortunately the trailer also had side markers which still worked. After a while Lars called, to tell the problems were a little more severe than first thought, an that it¬†would take more time to repair.¬†Shortly after that the other Lars called in to report the ’51 had its drive belt broken, and that there was no way he could repair that on the spot right there. It was now completely dark and Tim and Tore drive the Merc behind us, completely in the dark with no lights or marking lights. We tried to go at about the same speed as everybody else on the road so that people would not bump into the trailer. Lots of flashing lights and blowing horns tried to warn us for things we already knew. We know it was not quite save, but we wanted to make it to Frederikshavn to catch the ferry, since we did not know if we would miss it we could go on the next one the next morning. We got at the harbor at 5 minuted before eleven, 5 minutes before the final boarding time…. pfffff.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-15Both Palle’s cars were in for some gas, the others took a change to get a burger and coffee.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-16By then Tim and Lars noticed the¬†failing lights on the ’39 Mercury and trailer. They tried to fix it, but nothing worked.
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By now it had become sure both Larses would not be able to make it there in time. Phone calls were made and arrangements made to repair both cars left behind at the gas-station, so they could make it for the 8 o-clock ferry the next morning. Before we actually entered the boat a little after midnight Lars called that it turned out to be a loose alternator that had caused the belt to loosen and looked broken.¬†He had found the bold that was missing and he was able to fix the merc. The news on Lars his ’36 Ford was not so good. After he had driven the car to a German show earlier that month, a 1,300 plus round trip with no problems, an electrical fire now made sure his car would not make it to Sweden. His car was towed and the Both Larses took the ’51 Merc and drove to the Ferry, where they would catch the next one at 8 in the morning.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-17While waiting for the ferry Tore and Tim were able to get the light on Tim’s Mercury working again. Arriving in Sweden the car had lights again.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-18But the working lights did not last long…
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-21It was early in the morning, and we had time enough, so at this point we decided to park the cars and wait for the sun to come up a little more.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-19Palle took this photo of the two customs pared at the McDonald’s waiting for the light of day.
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Our ferry took off at around 30 min past midnight, and we got in Sweden around 4 in the morning. It was already getting light, but to be on the save side we parked our cars at a nearby Mc Donald’s and waited for the sun to rise so Tim would not have to drive in the dark with no lights on. Its actually mandatory in Denmark and Sweden to have your driving lights on, even during the day. But the police has never stopped us for not having them on the ’39 Merc. Somewhere around 5 it was light enough to hit the road, about an hour and a half more to the A-Bombers site close to Uddevalla in Sweden.

CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-20When it was light enough we drove off to the A-Bombers site… another hour and half or so to go.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-22While it was still very quite on the Swedish early morning roads Palle decided he wanted to have some riding photos of his Cadillac with the teardrop trailer. So I switched seats with Tore and joined Tim in his ’39 Merc so I could photograph Palle driving his Caddy.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-23What an amazing sight it was… is.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-24Early morning warm sun light creating long shadows make up for an amazing image.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-25Arrival at the A-Bombers Old Style Weekend site.
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CCC-roadtrip-a-bombers14-p1-27And at the Customs camp site, where Wolf and Stefan had already put up their caravan’s.
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When we arrived at the show area it was still very early and only very few people were there. our good friend Ulf “Wolf” Christiansson was there with his nicely shaped trailer and his trusty ’51 Mercury and so was our good friend Stefan Elbrink with his ’48 Buick. Wolf had been at the camp site for a day and a half making sure the Customs favorite camping spot could be reserved. It was a perfect spot!

More in part two of the 2014 A-Bombers Road-Trip

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Cross Country in a Kustom

 

CROSS COUNTRY IN A KUSTOM

 

In May 1953 Bob Hirohata drives his Mercillac from California to Indianapolis. An epic Cross Country trip in an award winning custom, that still fascinates people today.



Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s were built as daily users. Unlike most show cars today, these early Customs were actually driven to the shows they attended. Even if that show happened to be on the other side of the country.

I had heard about Bob Hirohata’s epic road trip for quite some time. But it would take me a few years before I finally found a copy of the October 1953 issue of Rod & Custom that was reasonably priced, including shipping to the Netherlands. And when it finally arrived in my mailbox 15 or so years ago, I read the story over and over again. I looked at the small photos in the article. Trying to visually how it must have been for the viewers back then, to see a car like the Hirohata Mercury hover by, in your home town, far, far away from California. And how it must have been for Bob and his friend driving a car that low, and with the quality of the mostly two lane roads back then. What an adventure!

I’m so happy that the team at Rod & Customs realized this trip was something special, and they needed to spend as many pages to is as possible. I still hope that Rod & Custom would do a re-run of this article, and goes back into the archives, to see if there possibly are more photos taken by Bob from that trip, that were not used in the article. How nice would that be! But even if they only have the photo already used in the 1953 article, then it still will be so good to see them, larger, and with modern day printing techniques… or perhaps even as an online article. R&C editors… hope you are reading this!

CCC-hirohata-kross-kountry-01-WBob Hirohata protecting the quarter panel scoops and fender skirts with multiple layers of masking tape before the trip started.
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CCC-hirohata-kross-kountry-11-WA brand new Cadillac engine was installed days before the trip begun.
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The story in Rod & Custom was written down by the R&C editor (there was no name listed for this) as how it was told by Bob Hirohata. Every time I read the article I feel like I’m on the passenger seat with Bob, so both Bob did a great job telling the story and the editor did a great job putting it down on paper to get the right feeling.

Bob mentions in the R&C article that the ¬†article “6000 miles in a Custom in the¬†September 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine, has alway inspired him a lot. And ever since he read that article he wanted to do a similar trip. Bob and his navy buddy Azzie Nishi had talked going to the Indianapolis 500 one day. And when the 1953 race was coming up, and it turned out this could be combined with the 1953 Indianapolis Custom Auto show, Bob decided it was his time to go on the cross country trip.


The amazing thing about this cross country trip is that Bob’s Mercury was an award winning custom. by the time Bob went on his trip the car had won many awards, was featured on the cover of Hop Up magazine (March 1953) and Motor Trend magazine (March 1953) and featured in the even more popular Hot Rod magazine (also in March 1953). But all that did not prevent Bob from going on this trip, of which he knew from reading ¬†Spence Murray’s story in the 1952 Hop Up magazine, that it would be full of rough roads and long empty roads.


CCC-hirohata-kross-kountry-14-WThe October issue of Rod & Custom magazine devoted ¬†6 and a quart page to Bob’s travel story. A lot of pages for a single story, especially in those days. The article also mentioned Bob had nick-named his Mercury the “Mercillac”.
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My guess is that the trip of the Hirohata Mercury, or the Mercillac as Bob called it in his article, must have put huge smiles on peoples face. Quite a few car enthusiast who saw the car on its trip must have recognized it from the Hop Up and Hot Rod magazine features. An most likely the Hirohata Mercury was a car they dreamt about, but knew they would never ever see in person. And now this ultimate custom drove thru town… hovering only inches above the pavement. A car with such wonderful lines and bright color contrasting with everything else on the road then.


I’m not sure if this R&C article inspired other people to do similar trips, but my guess is yes it did. Even 60 plus years later I get the urge to go on this same road trip. Cross Country in a Kustom. In 2011 I had the pleasure of being the passenger in the Hirohata Mercury when Jim McNiel asked me if I cared for a short drive in the parking lot of the NHRA Museum in Pomona (see CCC-Article on this experience). This short ride along was already epic for me… So the cross country trip Bob and Azzie taking several days and sleeping in the car, must have been pure heaven.


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CCC-hirohata-kross-kountry-02-WThis is the only photo we have been able to find of the Hirohata Mercury at the Indianapolis Custom car show in 1953. Hopefully more like this will show up in the future.
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CCC-hirohata-kross-kountry-17-WBob Hirohata behind the steering wheel of his “Mercillac”. A name he gave the car in the 1953 article after the Cadillac engine was installed. But nobody really knows the car by that name. Everybody calls the car the “Hirohata Merc” (photo from the March 1953 Hot Rod feature)
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