Custom Car Chronicle
Icons of the 80s and 90sThe Personal Stories

1983 Metalflake Inspired




Three wild, Metalflake painted cars from Sweden made a HUGE impact on me when I was a young kid, just discovering Custom Cars.

[box_light]My mother recently came across a couple of strips of photo-negatives, when she was cleaning out the attic in the house I grew up in. I recognized them as some photos I took from this car show I went to with my dad in 1982-83. I had the photos of these negatives in an album, but also knew that scans made directly from the negatives make much nicer digital photos. So back home I scanned these negatives I had taken as a kid. And they did come out really nice, much nicer than the, apparently poorly developed, photos I have had in my photo album since the early 1980’s. These new scans brought back so many memories… Hopefully I will be able to find the rest of the negatives as well… one day.[/box_light]
It was the first ever indoor Custom Car show I went to. I remember my dad reading out loud from this ad in the newspaper, or perhaps in one of his regular car magazines. “Rik, perhaps this is something you will enjoy“, he then showed me the ad. I could not believe it, a Custom Car show in the Netherlands. I had seen some photos of US and Scandinavian shows in some of the very few European car magazines I had back in 1982-83. And now a car show like this would be here in the Netherlands… and we might go and visit it!… I was ecstatic…. “Can we go, can we go…. please!” My father realized that there could not be a NO for an answer…. So a few weeks later we went to the show. We even took the train, not quite sure why, but I think my dad liked to go by train if we had to go to the west of the country, he did not care much for heavy traffic there. It was the perfect father-son day out.

CCC-leiden-show-1983-flyerFlyer for the show in Leiden, The Netherlands.

When we got there I could not believe my eyes. The parking lot was filled with special cars… No Hot Rods or Custom cars like we talk about here on the CCC, but for the Netherlands they were special, and for me, a young kid from a very small town, I was just in car heaven. We bought the tickets and went inside. I was overwhelmed, there were Hot Rods and Custom Cars all over the place inside the building. You have to realize that this was the time that I started to learn to appreciate Custom Cars. Back then I thought everything that had some special paint or chrome wheels, was already cool. The Hot Rods and Custom Cars inside where not the same style or quality as that most of us are now used to, even from back in the early 1980’s. But all these special cars in one building was so spectacular. I noticed cars from the UK, Germany, Belgium a few from the Netherlands, and quite a few from Scandinavia. Especially the cars from the UK and Scandinavian cars were very spectacular in my eyes.

I was walking around looking at these amazing cars when I made it to the far end of the building. There I saw three of the most Beautiful and stunning Customs I had ever seen in my life. (again, remember this is 1983, perhaps even 1982, and I was a young kid, and was not aware of the American Custom Car history with builders as Barris, Ayala, Valley Custom Shop, Winfield etc). From a distance I spotted the gull-wing-doors of what looked like a Mercury. I knew about the Mercury since I had been looking for an AMT 1/25 scale Mercury for some time. (Later I found out that the car was not a mercury, but based on a 1951 Lincoln four door.) The interior looked totally out of this world, with swivel seats, a cocktail table in the back and everything was upholstered is bright red button-tuffed velvet. I had never, ever seen anything like this before. And then the paint… wild glitter paint… Somebody mentioned that is was Metalflake paint.. I had no idea. I guess I must have stared at the car for quite some time before I was able to take my photo camera and try-pod and start to take photos of the car. Photo’s back then were pretty expensive, so I did not take to many. And I also remembered that the cars where parked close to each other, and those ugly metal fences were blocking the view.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-01The 1951 Lincoln was based on a four-door-model, the drivers side rear door is welded shut, but the one on the passenger side is still functional, making it a three-door model. The top is chopped and I think the body is sectioned as well. The headlights where remodeled to look more Mercury units.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-03The interior of the Lincoln was something I just could not believe could ever be done in a car. Little did I know that this was a style very popular in the Low-Rider scene in the US. Apparently the builder of the car, Sven Hansson from Sweden, was much better informed about the history and styles back in 1983, than I was. Sweden was always a much more car oriented country than the Netherlands had been.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-lincoln-02The wild paint turned out to be a Metalflake silver base, the graphics on the side and pin-striping around the headlights and else were, were taped off, and partly covered with candy blue, and fogged in with black. The whole car was covered in many coats of candy red. Back in 1983 it was the most beautiful paint job I had ever seen, and it took me a long time to figure out how it was created. I tried to recreate it on my model cars, but never succeeded.
I absorbed every detail on this car before going over to the one parked next to it. It was an 1962′ Chevy convertible with a long white weird shaped top, totally different than the soft tops I had seen in the magazines. I had never heard of the word Carson Top back then… But I did like the shape of the top on this car. But what had the most impact on me was the huge boat tail section that was added to the back of the car. My head was spinning and I wanted to build model cars of both of these. And again I noticed the glitter paint… metalflake. It dawned on me that I had seen paint like this before. On the local carnival rides… I had never even thought this would look good on a car. This Chevy had glitter details, as in scallops in white and flames in dark red.

The Chevy was so long it barely fitted the space that was reserved for it in the building. And it was totally impossible to get the whole car in one picture without getting the fence in the picture as well. Another thing I noticed, and which I really liked was the chrome side pipes coming out of the front quarter behind the front wheels. I had no idea it as called a lake pipe… but I knew I liked it. The Chevy was low… and these pipes make it look even lower. Another thing that got my eye was that the steering wheel was made from the same chain material as the grille… This Chevy also had the complete interior done in red velvet.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-02The Chevy was tall with is boat-shaped rear end. The license plate had to be v-shape bend to fit inside the recess. The mail slot shaped taillights must have looked totally evil when lit at night. The electrical power supply box and Camel tape wrapped fences blocked the car no matter what I tried.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-01I think the Chevy they started with was a sedan model, and they cut off the top and build this padded top for it with a little overhang at the front. This gave the car even more optical length. The chromed chain grille was odd… I even thought so back then, but it was custom, so it must be good. Notice the poor looking display. The cars in the back ground, vans with special paint, VW’s with wide fenders etc show what most of the cars at this Custom Car show looked like, and show how Special these three Metal Flake Customs were.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Chevy-03I could not believe how low this car was, especially with the side pipes. Most likely it was hydraulic, but I did not learn about that till long after the show. 
The car on the other end of the gull-wing Lincoln was a Volvo Amazon. One that had been turned into a two seater coupe with Targa Style top. Again my head was spinning. I saw those Volvo’s driving around where I lived. So I could see that one day in the future I could have something like this… Something Exactly like this one. The car was absolutely perfect in my eyes… back then!!! I found out that the car was owned by a young kid… just a few years older than I was I guess he just had his drivers license. From time to time he would open the one piece front hinged front end of the car to show the wild V-8 engine they had installed. Sadly I never took a picture of that. This was was, just as the other two, painted with wild glitter paint… Metalflake. The builders must have got a huge discount on the paint. Details were done in white and light blue. And the interior on this one was also done in red velvet.

Per Webb from Sweden explains about the Volvo Amazon: The reason for a very young Martina in the metalflake Volvo Amazon is that the customized Amazon is not a car, but an EPA Tractor! The Swedish invention with a car with two seats, and a technical maximum speed of 30 km/h. The twin tailpipes behind the cab reveal it as well. The EPA tractors can be driven from 15 years of age. These cars made into tractors was a II World War thing but in the 1960-70’s young guys found out that they could be used for streets instead of field use. Most common back then was Volvo Duett made into tractors and there are still some around. Today Volvo 745 is the most common one to modify, and in the countryside (not Stockholm area…) they are quite popular. More than a few hot rodders / custom builders in Sweden has begun with buildning EPA tractors. Photo google EPA traktor and you will find a lot off odd rides and some nice ones!

CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-01The widened fenders, the molded in bumpers, and even the targa-style top was looking so spectacular back in 1983. 
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-03The chopped top and widened front gave the car a much more aggressive and sporty look than any of the Volvo Amazon’s I had ever seen before.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-02Before I found out I really liked Special Cars/Custom Cars I was into big trucks, so the back of this Volvo coupe fitted in perfectly. Back then I really loved those pipes thru the rear fenders, those small taillights and the small etched rear window… Notice the hitch below the molded in rear bumper.
CCC-leiden-show-1983-Volvo-04The molded into one piece front looked really great to me. And for some time I thought that every good looking custom needed to have the bumpers molded in and painted body color… Fortunately my taste in customizing changed quite a bit in the following years.
CCC-martina-hansson-Volvo-01Recently I came across this photo on-line which shows a young kid inside the Volvo. It appears that the Volvo belonged to Ingemar Hansson or perhaps his siter Martina Hansson. both kids of the builder from the 1951 Lincoln. A car just like daddy…. The owner of the Volve looked very young when I saw the car in Leiden, just a bit older than I was looking back then, and this sure helped imaging me driving in a car like this… back in 1983.
These three Swedish Custom Cars I saw at this early 1980’s show have had a huge impact on me ever since. And even though my taste in Custom Car has now completely changed. These cars still have a very special place in my heart. I have build many model cars inspired by these cars, and have spend many hours daydreaming about owning a car just like any of these three…

I know that the Chevy is still around in Sweden, redesigned with a different top and new rear end for the body. The 1951 Lincoln with gull-wing doors now lives in the US. I think the builder moved there in the 1990’s and took the car with him. The car has changed hands several times and now has an leather look interior… but the last photos I saw of it it still looked pretty much the same. I have no idea what happened to the Volvo Amazon.

(this article is made possible by)



Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

4 thoughts on “1983 Metalflake Inspired

  • I remember these cars , truly outlandish cars back in the 80:ties and inspired tons of people to get into the car hobby just like me . The guy named P-O that built the -62 Chevy (I think it was) with the boattail died from illness in may this year , he was into lowriders , customs and bikes , built cars for him self and customers in his own shop in Gothenburg and had one of the only businesses with a secret phone number , you could only visit by referral , I thought that was funny . I had that number but he never answerd on that secret phone number , funny guy . He helped me register my -51 Merc and got it passed inspection . Thanks Rik for highligting the eighties , the big car hobby intrest back then is the reason why I got into it so my hat off to the these guys !

  • Priceless memories, Rik. Thanks for sharing. Sure can see how the torch of passion was lit for you, too. Magazines and photos were one thing, being able to see a custom restyled car in person: absolutely life changing. Jack Bushmaker’s Purple Burp chopped Chevy did that for me, too.
    Larry Pointer

  • Great article Rik. Guys look back now at the 80’s and really hit on the style of those cars hard. I guess they are too young to have remembered even here in the US, customs had all but died, so anything remotely resembling a custom was a standout car and worth looking at and dreaming about. I, like you, am thankful my tastes have “matured” since all my dreams of custom cars in the late 70’s and 80’s, but it sure was a special time getting excited about any new custom that showed up in a magazine or a car show.

  • Rik ,did you use to live in the netherlands/i did visite the Custom car show in Leiden when i was younger.I did own Custom Bedford CF vans ,a vw beetle speedster lowrider and now owning a 66 impala convertible impala lowrider.i am renovating my beetle after owning it since 1989 with customtricks like hardtop,suicide doors ,reversed trunk,enginelid,custom led taillights,neon lights,custom interior etc.

Leave a Reply