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    Bragging about being the ‘biggest and best’ was not out of order for the Americans in the fifties. They prospered after the Second World War and hit a big economy leap. Research and development resulted in modern products which were very much sought after in Europe. American motorcycling was everyman's game, be it in the desert or just scrambling around the forests. Things looked gloomy for the Husqvarna two-wheelers at the beginning of the 60s. Despite good intentions and motocross titles, the board of directors had limited understanding of the motorcycling potential. To say the least, they were against most of the ideas that came from responsible people in this division. But as it happened, chance would alter the future for the Husqvarna off-roaders and the answer lay in the United States. The Swedish dealer Stig Ericson of MC-Trim in Stockholm was travelling around San Diego in southern California. As winters were cold back home, ‘Stickan’ preferred the western state sun to the local snow. In a nifty smorgasbord joint called ‘Bit of Sweden’ in El Cajon, he, by sheer chance, met with salesman Edison Dye over a meal. The American had been in the bike business for years and the two started talking about European motocross. Edison showed genuine interest for Husqvarna, but the MX sport had yet to be discovered in the U.S.A. However, Mr Dye figured that there would be interest in solid offroad machines such as the Swedish product. Consequently, Edison Dye approached the weapons factory with a letter asking them to let him and his company MED International represent Husqvarna in the United States. True to the negative instinct from the leaders in Huskvarna, the simple answer was "no”, with a polite twist of saying "thank you for the interest". Their point of view was enhanced by factors such as; no desire to export, no motocross market available, no knowledge of recreational riding and last but not least, an unfavourable dollar-exchange rate, which made Swedish goods expensive across the Atlantic. But mister Dye from Oskaloosa in Iowa did not give in as easily as earlier interested parties had done. The rebel had a temper of a whirlwind and was persistent enough to be invited for a meeting by the autumn of 1965. Two representatives from Husqvarna met with the eager American in Scandinavia. Edison Dye convinced the Swedes that he was the right man for the job and bought 50 machines to be delivered during the 1966 season. The initial deliveries were air-freighted, which saved valuable time as Edison Dye wanted to give the first Husqvarna to ace rider Malcolm Smith. Edison had seen Malcolm ride on a track outside San Diego and he went to see Smith in Riverside. The ace rider showed interest to switch from his British make to Husqvarna. "I will try out your bike and let you know how I feel," he said. Malcolm was impressed with the Swedish product and had a great smile on his lips when returning from a long ride in the hills. "I want to try it next Sunday at a desert race," was Malcolm's comment. Of course, he won the race by over 20 minutes at the finish line. The rest is history. Malcolm Smith became the number One rider for Husqvarna in the United States, backed by Med International. Their relationship lasted over a period of more than five years. Edison Dye also wanted to have machines in his Californian showroom. One of the initial 50 machines was bought by Steen's and delivered to Alhambra in Los Angeles - a Husky which I rode in 1967 and blogged about some time ago (see ‘Mojave Dancing’). For three years the Swedish factory had only churned out a few hundred units a year, but this changed in 1966 when USA hit the market for the Husqvarna products. Edison Dye: "The first year I sold 100 machines, then it was around 500 units while the third year's sale came up to 1,000." Not only was MED International successful, but also triple world champion Torsten Hallman, who rode 23 races with as many wins. He was the true Swedish ambassador who presented the sport to the U.S. motorcycle fans. Shortly after, Dye & Hallman introduced the classic Inter-AM motocross series in the USA, where most of the world top stars came to compete towards the end of the sixties. Now would have been the right time for the Husky people to react and invest into the future. Unfortunately, that did not happen although the U.S. market swallowed the better part of the factory's production. From 1961 to 1970 Husqvarna only manufactured 14,000 units, of which 5,000 were made in 1970 when the new Ödeshög factory opened. But the demand from the American market was bigger than that. Hungry customers waited to lay their hands on this new Scandinavian product. Edison Dye was the father of American motocross and did many fine things for the sport when it was established in the USA. By 1974 Edison Dye decided to end his successful business and stop going to races. He had spent a good part of his life selling bikes. Edison wanted to retire as he also had lost his influence on the international motocross series (first called ‘Inter-AM’ - then the ‘Trans-AMA’ series). In 1999, the American received a Motocross Life Achievement Award in the USA for his outstanding efforts with Husqvarna during an influential 10-year period when motocross arrived in the big country.

    At 70, Arne Kring still enjoys his time fixing two-wheelers. Although he was a factory rider for Husqvarna, he never left his true profession as a repair and salesman for bicycles in his private shop. Kring became globally famous when he ousted the entire motocross world back in 1970. He led the 500cc championship and would have won the title had he not crashed severely injuring his back. The result - Arne was runner-up to Bengt Aberg, who instead clinched his second MX world title. He had the calm persona of a true northerner and Arne Kring never used big words around his colleagues. Coming from Knada in the county of Hälsingland, he was born on November 16th in 1942. In his teenage years he became interested in motorcycles and started to ride a 175cc Husqvarna Silver Arrow with great passion. More often than not, he rode his two-stroke on gravel roads and into the woods to have some fun. So, in the early sixties, Arne Kring decided to be a racer and took up motocross seriously. By chance he entered the Swedish GP at Vännäs in 1963, as the event was held not too far away from his home. Arne surprised the entire elite class by finishing second overall behind Torsten Hallman. Kring was only 20 years old at the time and there were of course big headlines in the press upon his unexpected success. After his podium achievement the Swedish youngster continued racing. Between 1964 and 1967 he rode Lindström and Ricksson machines, both makes were developments on the Husqvarna bikes. At the Swedish 250 GP in Motala 1967, Arne Kring took world championship points again coming fourth overall. This popular result prompted the Swedish factory to give Kring a machine for the 1968 GP season, but it was still early days in his coming career. In 1969, Arne Kring hit top form and was right there from the start of this season. Not only was he in good physical condition, but he also had the best 500cc machinery available from the Husqvarna factory. The second round on the agenda came in Motala where Arne had scored two years before in the 250 class. Now he was into the powerful big-bore machinery, but it made little difference for the Swede who delighted his home crowd by winning his very first Grand Prix - ahead of Bengt Aberg. “It was a fantastic feeling beating my neighbour from home,” said Kring with a great smile on his face. “Bengt and I are good friends, but not on the track, of course.” For good measures Arne went onto the next GP in Norg, Holland, where he took yet another Grand Prix victory in the sand. After three GPs he now led the championship. By mid-June the elite crowd of riders had gathered in Prérov, Czechoslovakia. Kring delighted the spectators by taking the chequered flag as second rider overall, gaining a valuable 12 points. He now placed second in the overall 500cc standings. “The scene in the eastern world is incredible,” said Arne. “People really care for motocross and they are knowledgeable of our sport.” It took until the last round in Schwerin, East Germany, before Kring won again, cheered on by spectator’s hats and handkerchiefs. It was a fantastic year for the Swede, placing fourth in the championship - behind winning Aberg. It was a tremendous season for Husqvarna. When not on his motocross bike, Kring was occupied with two-wheelers. He has a shop at home for selling and repairing bicycles together with other bits and pieces that may be required out in the countryside - far from the big cities. “The bicycle shop has been my safe heaven and main income,” said Arne Kring with a cup of coffee in hand. “The motocross was serious for a few years and I enjoyed the time thoroughly. But I also knew that when push comes to shove, I could rely on my business although it never grew out of proportion. I guess some customers came because they wanted to see who the racer-guy on the Husqvarna was.” Arne also has a great collection of motocross machines at home, mostly Husqvarnas in original condition. All his bikes are in perfect shape and will probably end up in some museum one of these days. “Maybe, if I get tired of them, but they are certainly not for sale now,” Arne says. In the meantime, the bikes are displayed in his shop to be seen by customers during opening hours. 1970 began with Kring on top form. Halfway through the season he was leading the championship with three GP wins - 14 points ahead of his neighbour Aberg. The two unfortunately clashed in their home GP and both had to retire. In the second half of the season Arne Kring had a severe crash in Belgium at an international race and hurt his back seriously. It put him out of the season and out of the title race. Still, he came second in the 500cc championship overall. Arne Kring raced in the world-series for another five seasons. In total, he won seven Grand Prix victories, but decided to stop riding motocross after 1975. Years after his active career I visited Kring in his Knada shop, 300 kilometres from home. “Welcome, here is a cup of coffee,” he said when the phone rang. “Can you please answer and listen to what the customer wants? I have to attend to a bike over here.” Half an hour went by and Arne remained occupied. An hour went by and he still acted the salesman. Myself, after having served a few more customers and answered questions, decided to leave. “Nice to see you,” Arne Kring said with a big grin on his face. “Please come see me again. Maybe then I can spare a few moments...”

    The International Six Days is well known to most bike enthusiasts. Back in 1950 the Swedes wanted their own enduro, so the first "Motoring Six-Days" event was introduced. This gruelling race lasted throughout 50s and was cherished by riders who wanted success despite the sacrifices. It was also the official racing comeback for the Huskvarna Factory after the war. Carl Heimdahl was one of the leading technicians at Husqvarna's R&D department, having been contracted by the factory from the beginning of the 30s. Among his other achievements Carl was also responsible as the chief engineer for the coming ‘Silver Arrow’ - Husqvarna's biggest street success throughout history. He was also a keen competitor and had collected a lot of trophies on his bookshelf. In the beginning of 1950, the newly developed 125cc engine was ready for testing at the factory. Since the ‘Motoring Six-Days’ was coming up in mid-May, everyone was looking to finish the new machine in time for this decisive race. 90 participants throughout five classes - including sidecars - took off from the start at 5.30 in the morning of May 13th 1950. The day’s stage went from Linköping to Västerås, and was 463km long. As the final part consisted of a swamp section, quite a few of the delegates had to unfortunately abandon the race there. Only five riders were without penalties after day one. The second stage was easier to accomplish, while the third consisted of a tough night-stage, 324 km long. It was a cold night and very testing for the competitors - just 30 men made it through the darkness. After only four hours of the sleep, the next stage was held over 244km. The final stretch then went to Stockholm with the riders completing a total distance of 1,900km. In the 125cc class, Husqvarna dominated the results sheet by taking the four first places, including Carl Heimdahl who placed fourth at the finish. The popular event was repeated in 1951, but the race ran from Falun to the Stadium in Stockholm over seven stages - the night section included. This time, the start was held on June eighth, which made the enduro conditions a little less extreme than the previous year. In the landscape of Dalarna, many difficulties were encountered by optimistic riders. Stages in touristic towns like Leksand, Rättvik, Orsa and Mora had to be covered. The knockout sections were saved until the last days, in order to separate the men from the boys. After his 1950 success, Carl Heimdahl was awarded to start as the number two rider a few minutes after six o'clock in the morning. However, he was out of luck and did not finish the competition. Instead, two other Husqvarna-mounted riders were successful and finished second and third in the 125-175cc class. 1955 was the last true Six-Days event of the ‘Motorsexdagars’ as it was shortened after this year. A record number of 105 riders turned up to participate, but only 65 percent of them managed to take the chequered flag on May 22nd when the competition came to an end. Before that, the race was not only a nightmare to conquer, but the authorities had turned against motorcycling in general - bike racing such as enduros in particular. The police were watching everywhere and gave out penalties to surprised riders who in some instances had broken the law with the lowest margins. Despite all the rattling, Husqvarna managed to dominate the 175cc class with their reliable machines. Out of 11 gold medals in this class, the Husqvarna riders captured no less than eight golden plaques - a phenomenal record in the books. The rider Bengt Fasth came home without penalties, having ridden the ultra-new Silver Arrow with modified front forks and a rebuilt rear-frame. One year later, the event had transformed into a four-day competition due to the high costs of the venue. 97 men started this enduro in Strängnäs and 66 made it to the finish line. The Husqvarna riders Sune Olsson and Lars Hansson were first and second in the 175cc senior class, where the competition was very strong. In 1957 the race was reduced further to three days, which would remain for the lifetime of the event. Rolf Stagman was a good enduro rider for Husqvarna and won a gold medal there. He was then approached by the factory and assigned as a test rider for the ‘Silver Arrow’ project. In 1958 the Motoring Six-days had the status of a national enduro championship race. Again, the 175cc class was won by Husqvarna with Göte Berglund in the saddle. Finally, 1959. It was again a super-tough race with only a couple of riders without penalties at the finish. Consequently, the organisers prolonged the riding time by 10 minutes in order to be able to distribute all the 41 medals that had been prepared for 55 riders in this event. There were of course massive protests from the most successful participants, but the organisers insisted, so the result sheet wasn't a complete waste of paper. In the circle of life, the "Motorsexdagars" came to an end after costs sky-rocketed and interest diminished. It was a stellar 50s venue where only the strongest were victorious. Husqvarna made a strong contribution to this success!
  4. FINNISH GP 1932

    People in Finland have always had a sweet tooth for motor racing. Through the years they have fostered more than a few world-class motorcycle riders. Looking back through history, it all started in 1932 when the country organized their first Grand Prix, outside of Helsinki. There was a place that initially had been reserved for a zoo, but plans changed and it turned out to be a good location for a TT racing circuit. Therefore, it received the name ‘Djurgarden’ (animal garden) after it had been initially called the Eläintarha track. After thorough preparations and massive publicity, things looked optimal for a tremendous weekend with a new national record crowd present. It was reported that nearly 50,000 spectators made it to the Eläintarha/Djurgarden circuit, which had been made up to Grand Prix standards ahead of this fabulous event. It was such a crowd-pleaser that thousands of would-be attendants had to return home due to a scarcity of tickets and lack of space on the racing grounds. Every inch was packed to the limit when things started to happen. The cars were starting on this day and it wasn't until two o'clock in the afternoon that the two-wheeled TT riders made their entrance. Husqvarna had their two aces lined up at the start, represented by Gunnar Kalén in the C-class (500cc) while Ragnar Sunnqvist rode in the B-class (350cc). The two motorcycle classes had a joint start with 20 riders taking off from the grid at the grandstands. At the getaway, Gunnar Kalén, displaying the number eight was the quickest man off the grid, closely followed by the local star Otto Brandt riding a British-made Rudge. In third spot Ragnar Sunnqvist (Husqvarna) already haede Ove Lambert-Meuller had problems with his AJS right from the beginning and was forced to catch up with the rest of the field having been severely delayed - at least, he rejoined the race. After a little more than one-minute, the leaders raced past the grandstands having completed their first 2,034 metres out of a total of 42 laps. Kalén was still in the lead and now being followed by the Finn, Arne Anttila on his AJS, and Hans Thorell. The home rider K. G. Granberg, on a 500 cc Saroléa, lay fourth just ahead of Sunnqvist and ace Erik Westerberg on a well-tuned Norton, both battling for position. After five laps the front order was still the same while Thorell had advanced to third place follwho like Anttila was heavily supported by the delighted crowd. The Finns realised that their riders did not have the same experience as their Swedish neighbours when it came to international bouts. By lap 10 Kalén had increased his lead and now was 500 metres ahead of second and third men, Anttila and Granberg. So, Gunnar Kalén on his super-tuned 500 Husqvarna stormed away on the long ‘Railway Straight’ in front of a massive bunch of spectators. Ragnar Sunnqvist now lay fifth overall, but second in the B-class. At this time the five leaders had an overwhelming margin to the rest of the field. During the next ten laps, Granberg made a stunning effort, catching up with Kalén. After a little more than halfway through the race he was just 25 metres behind the leader. Erik Westerberg was forced to pit, adjusting his gear lever before he rejoined the race. However, he was a lap behind at that stage. Right up until lap 40 Granberg followed Kalén in the leader's shadow. The Finn then overtook the front runner to the great excitement of the spectators – Kalén however soon re-took the lead. Granberg tried too hard to regain his former position when he crashed, injuring his shoulder and having to retire. After this incident, the road to the finish was clear cut for Gunnar Kalén who won almost a full minute ahead of Arne Anttila and Erik Westerberg who had been catching up during the last stage of this gruelling race. Ragnar Sunnqvist came second overall according to the measured time, but he was of course the master of the B-class, celebrating a comfortable victory. Ragnar was almost four seconds ahead of the Finn R. Lampinen on his Rudge machine. This was a double win for Husqvarna beating the opposition fair and square. “We had a devastating advantage over the competition with our full-blood machines in perfect order,” recalls Kalén after crossing the finish line. His overall time was one-hour eight minutes and 37 seconds - at a stunning average of 89 km/h. “You can't do more than win,” said Ragnar Sunnqvist after having scored in the 350 cc B-class - his speed was 88 km/h. Fanfares played out to both Husqvarna-mounted Swedes. Now, the motoring world looked forward to the next Grand Prix at Saxtorp, a venue which would be held in just three months' time. Here the two ace riders would again score a double victory. Caramba!

    Twisting the night away dancing salsa or samba was never my kind of thing. No, I'd rather be doing it dirty in the dunes - preferably on a Husky-engined bike. Come with me back to 1967 and follow me through the desert - just 18-years-old and newly-graduated, I came Stateside to dance around in the Mojave. Surfers and blondes, step aside! Early May, after graduating from high school, it was party time. I was out for an adventure and planned to start the following morning – a trip to the US Indy 500. But first, I had a few drinks and ended up in Hotel Foresta, outside Stockholm city. As it turned out, the Beach Boys were on tour in my home-town and we hit the very same bar in the wee hours of the night. Talking to Brian and Dennis Wilson, the subject soon got onto cars - a favourite topic. I proudly told them that I would drive a Shelby-Mustang press car for three weeks in California, but they were unimpressed: "It's a slow car”, they said unanimously, “we prefer the Shelby sports car, which is a lot faster". True, but then I did drive the supercharged version, which produced an awesome 450 horsepower, more than enough power for a poor graduate. After Dennis signed my college cap, we parted ways and they wished me good luck on my Surfin' Safari. I had been invited to Los Angeles after helping a lost American media man in Sweden, the previous year. "Why don't you come visit me in Pasadena?” he’d asked. “Be my guest and stay as long as you want". Such a nice proposal couldn’t be rejected and Lynn Wineland was the kind journalist who would take care of me. Being a true Californian, he had broad shoulders and pale-blue eyes, having spent his youth surfing - just the way the yanks do as a lifestyle here. He also had access to one of the first Husqvarna motocross machines that were imported to the United States. "Why don't we enter you in a race?" he asked matter-of-factly. Being open to new things, I agreed without hesitation. "I'll take you to the Mojave for the weekend." Lynn promised. Like many epic trails, the Mojave Desert was an old Indian trade-route. The Indians lived here along the Colorado River, following tracks that guaranteed water. Then the Americans moved west. Kit Carson came this way to reach the Mexican Pueblos. Gold was found, and people went crazy. Gold or not, the Mojave was an early route that brought pioneers to California. The soil is unique and much of the countryside is the same now as it was once found. The Mojave consists of sand mixed with gravel basins, potholes and salt flats. It is a vast, arid region in south eastern California and you'll see cat claws grow along the arroyos. Trees are few, the exception being the Joshua, which is a yucca. We left early Sunday morning, it was pitch black outside. Stopping for breakfast - American style - scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast and hot coffee. Yummy, not like yoghurt and cereal back home! Getting close to nature, we watched the sun come up over the horizon. Unforgettable. To me, this was the Wild West, which is America to Europeans. The desert lives with its fate and has its own rules. Water means everything, or better still, the lack of it. In fact, an oasis is all that is on your mind despite all the bike fun. For it will get hot out there, and it gets dusty and your throat is going to be clogged, nearly as bad as your carburettor. I didn’t realise at first but I had been entered into a cross-country event - a free-for-all invitation. Before I knew what was happening, I was straddling a brand new 250cc Husky, about to compete with a few hundred race fans in the desert. Among them, the rising star J. N. Roberts who was also Husqvarna-mounted. We were the only two guys riding the Swedish brand this Sunday. The Mojave Preserve is huge, empty and with little service available. "Take plenty of emergency rations, extra water and fill up your gas tank". I did the opposite, thinking back to the same advice mentioned in Australia when I was riding a bike towards the Kakadu National Park; “Bring water and petrol into the outback” – I did the opposite. When young, you’re indestructible. Feeling lost among these riders ready to race, I missed the start, realizing too late it was time to go. Being late, I flew away eating dust and sand from the back of the field while J. N. was up front. I bounced around battling for control while adrenalin pumped through my veins. Small, bumpy hills are a blast to cover and I went as fast as I dared over rocks where vision was poor. Driving full throttle over blind obstacles may not be my favourite game, but here I had a short time to enjoy the world's most enjoyable toy, so I gambled. The engine revved out when airborne, the power peaked in a crescendo and the rear weight caused the front-end to rise into the air. I wouldn't want to do a somersault here - better keep out of trouble, they weren’t my wheels after all. A small breeze of hot and dry air flowed through my helmet and felt like a river of wind. I saw a long left-hander coming up and dropped down to 3rd gear. The Husky went wide and I tried holding the broadside throughout the curve. It is said that this trail still brings out the best and worst in people, being such a dangerous stretch. Picnickers should stay at home, as travelling here is unforgiving. Be it a sandstorm or a whirlwind, the climate is going to set you back a few pounds when you’re sweating. The race in the sand was over in a little over half-an-hour. I had been chasing jack rabbits more than racing, but I competed, did some wheelies and crossed the finish, proud to have made it. Some guides predict you can die out here, maybe that’s what made my trip so challenging. What an adventure for an 18-year-old teenager! I've been to Bonneville, rode a bike around Australia and driven to 14 countries within 24 hours - a Guinness Record. But riding the Husqvarna in Mojave tickled my fancy, because the machine was fast and furious. The experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. Oh, the race results? J.N. Roberts crossed the line before anyone else. Myself, I came last. Hurt, but not injured. So, a Husqvarna at both ends of the results sheet - 50 years ago!
  6. ICE RACING IN 1935

    In the 1930s, Husqvarna dominated the Swedish ice-racing scene. Riders such as Ragnar Sunnqvist, Ivar Skeppstedt and Martin Strömberg took to the frozen lakes on Husky 350cc and 500cc machines equipped with lethal-looking spiked tyres. To the cheers of thousands of spectators these men were the gladiators of their time, racing hard in some of the toughest conditions. Ice racing on studded tyres has always been popular in Sweden. It started in the twenties and there were already many famous events to choose from. In the mid-thirties, Husqvarna played a major role in races on the slippery frozen surface. The leading man in the festivities was Ragnar Sunnqvist, he rode for his private Husqvarna team as the factory had stopped supporting their riders at the time, but races were still won on the successful brand. Vallentuna, outside Stockholm, was the initial event for a new private team, Scuderia Husqvarna. The factory had withdrawn their official racing support, so Husqvarna’s new fate was established through private interests. It was February, it was cold and the lake had been frozen for quite a while when riders gathered to race in two classes. On February 17th in 1935, the event set off in super-windy conditions at a temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius. Despite the temperature some 15,000 spectators came to watch, hardened people who didn't mind getting cold during the day. The track consisted of many curves with one long straight, this was odd for an ice race. The start time was set at one o'clock, and the first heat was ready to get away with riders at the start line, engines running. Husqvarna entered with several machines, all on studded tyres with centimetre-long spikes moulded into the rubber. In order to race on the slippery surface, there had to be lots of spikes in each tire. In fact, there were more than six Husky bikes on the starting line which consisted of motorcycles from two separate classes; the 500cc C-class and the 350 cc B-class. Most Huskys were twin-cylinder, but there was also a single-cylinder 350cc ridden by ace Rolf Gülich. The twin-cylinders were a bit rough at the start as they were manufactured to be bump-started - turning the engine to fire up. That meant the first gear was very high, which made the Husqvarnas slow to get away when the flag was dropped. Dancing on the ice began with riders charging hard from the start. One of the competitors, the legendary Ivar Skeppstedt, missed the second corner and rode straight into the snow-wall. He did recover, but was a bit behind, pushing hard to make up lost time. The race was over 10 laps and the length of the track was four kilometres long. The track was covered in snow, which whirled in the wind, making visibility non-existent. The studded tires bit into the ice, blasting clouds of tiny frozen drops in the air. This was not only a rider problem, as the crowd also had trouble seeing much of the action. However, with 20 riders active on the circuit the battle went on, regardless of each individual’s impression. At least, nobody was in the need of a Sherpa showing the way. As had happened many times before, Ragnar Sunnqvist took the lead of the field, having no problems whatsoever seeing where he was heading. Husky rider Skeppstedt was soon on Sunnqvist's heels despite his previous mistake and in third spot lay Arnold Linder, also Husqvarna-mounted. Then Sunnqvist had to make a stop to clean his wires and spark-plugs, due to them being clogged with snow. A new rider by the name of Larsson now took the lead, but he took a shortcut due to bad visibility and was consequently disqualified from the race. Then something happened, the wind dropped and all the riders suddenly had a clear view of the track. In the big C-class Skeppstedt managed to pass his fellow Husqvarna competitor, Sunnqvist - the latter suffering with a misfiring engine. This made the ace-rider lose more and more ground to the leader which couldn’t be recovered. Instead, Ivar Skeppstedt took his Husqvarna to the overall victory, five seconds ahead of team-mate Arnold Linder. Husqvarna's third man over the finish line was Ragnar Sunnqvist, almost a minute behind the winner. Husqvarna took all three places on the podium and received all the accolades from a cheering crowd. In the B-class, Husqvarna also managed a triple podium. First to take the flag was Martin Strömberg, while Arthur Olsson and Carl Bagenholm followed in pursuit, around half a minute behind the first man. It was a remarkable day, with chilly weather and hot, hot races – perfect for the ultrafast and reliable Husqvarna machines!
  7. HUSQVARNA ERA 1903-1910

    Life was different in the old millennium. The revolution in technology set in and people started to move around in vehicles. Husqvarna produced its first two-wheeler in 1903, pioneering the trade after the company had been around for more than 200 years. In the period from 1903 to 1910, Husqvarna manufactured four different models. Over millennia people had relied on horse and carriage for transport. In the beginning of the 20th century, there were research and developments that led to better comfort and faster access. When Husqvarna started its operation in 1689, it was an armory where rifles and weapons were manufactured.Two-hundred years later the company expanded, to also produce sewing machines. After that "the House-Mill" stoves and household appliances were added to the menu by the end of the 19th century. 1903 was a distinct breakthrough for the now growing company situated next to the river of Huskvarna – meaning "House Mill"- in the town with the same name. The "Moped" was invented here and the name was nothing more than an abbreviation for "Motorvelociped" - an engine-velocipide. The engineers were thorough and tested several foreign-produced drive trains before arriving at their result. Their final choice was to use a Belgian-made FN-engine (Fabrique Nationale) in connection with the homemade bicycle. The single-cylinder engine from Liège had a capacity of 225cc and the performance was measured at one and a quarter horsepower which gave this machine a manageable speed of 40-50 km/h. As the petrol tank contained four liters of fuel, it was possible to cover a distance of approximately 150 kilometers without filling again. But in fact, the final product was more like a pedal bike with an added power package. And the transmission from engine to wheel was made by a leather-belt. In the book of instructions you could read: "There are no obstacles in learning how to operate this engine-velocipide. Nor does it take any technical knowledge for the purpose. However, you do have to take care of this machine carefully and see to the fact that it functions impeccably. If not, this vehicle will not perform to the satisfaction of the owner". It was furthermore added as a tip on the starting method of this power source, should it be difficult to get it going: "If the petrol is too cold, you can warm up the carburator by holding a burning newspaper or other sheet underneath it. Do not under any circumstances use a welding torch to heat it!" The Husqvarna logotype was painted on the tank and the machine was manufactured on a small scale between 1903 and 1906. The initial price tag was set at 700 kronor, SEK (approx. 150 US dollars). In the book of instructions, it was furthermore stated that the weapons factory did not give any warranty on the FN-engine, but instead took full responsibility for the velocipide itself. In the last season, the original power source from the FN was increased to the tune of 2 3/4 horsepower. There are no sales figures available from this era. But, the "Motorvelociped" had dual purposes being both used for transportation as well as for racing. A year after - in 1907 - Husqvarna made a test using a NSU engine, which gave an output of 3 1/4 HP, but the German-made power was only used for two years. However, as of 1907, a magneto was standard on all power sources handled onwards in Huskvarna. Still, a generator for the battery lay a long way ahead in time. From 1908 the first manufacturing figures are known to the public. The weapons factory churned out and sold 14 units of its product. At the same time the Swedes initiated a co-operation with Motosacoche in Switzerland. This company was based in Geneva, but also had a factory with 300 employees in Genova, Italy, where both engines and motorcycles were manufactured. The Motosacoche power sources were then sold to more than a dozen different two-wheel producers all over Europe. The Swedish collaboration with the Swiss lasted for almost four years. In the following year, Husqvarna took a giant step towards making a two-wheeler that looked like a motorcycle. Using the single-cylinder Motosacoche No 58 they made a nice looking machine that had an aura of the weapons factory. All in all, 23 units were sold during 1909. The sales doubled in the coming year when a new collaboration was introduced. This time, it was again a Swiss company, by the name of Moto-Rève - the Motorcycle Dream. The power source of the model 65 had a capacity of 298cc and a performance of 2 HP, but the main feature of the 1910 model was the configuration of this engine - a dual - cylinder v-twin. In their initial eight years - 1903-1910 - Husqvarna had made a giant step in engineering, but only sold approximately one hundred units. Soon enough the market would be attracted by the new models from the next pioneering Husqvarna era - 1911 to 1920.
  8. Dream Machine - Episode 2

    In the beginning of the 1950s, not many people had travel on their mind. But some people strived for adventure. A Swedish military lieutenant by the name of Kaj Wessberg and his wife Mary set off on an American trip in the summer of 1954. They travelled 2,000 kilometres through 10 countries, on their Husqvarna ‘Dream Machine’. The model 281, as it was also known by the greater public. Here is the second episode of their fantastic story… Being adventurers, the married couple were keen on broadening their horizons and wanted to experience the sights of North and South America. But it would take more than a holiday to conquer these vast continents on a motorcycle. There were no purpose-built touring machines around in these days. After receiving support from the Husqvarna factory, the ‘Dream Machine’ was shipped to the west coast of the United States. In New York, the start of this epic trip began with a time-consuming visit to the American Customs authorities. The Wessbergs had arrived to pick up their machine in the harbour, which proved to be all but simple. The Customs officials asked a lot of questions and were keen that the Swedish machine would leave the USA and not be resold here. “The worst nightmare was to find our way out of this Metropolis,” Kaj Wessberg told the reporters who covered this long-lasting event. “We had troubles finding the right way out of the big city.” Heading southward, after some delays, the couple were on their way and rode towards Florida, which would be their first stopover. Having completed this distance without troubles, it was nice to experience the hot summer winds of the Florida coast. The couple enjoyed the sun before continuing to Texas. After this big state, they once again turned south heading into Mexico and on towards Guatemala. “The roads were often very bad and we struggled along, sometimes physically exhausted.” Mary wrote home. But camping life worked out well since the Wessbergs had been thoughtful, bringing adequate equipment for their tour. One of the less pleasant experiences occurred in Mexico when the couple were staying with the Swedish Consul General. “When we woke up in the morning, everything had been taken away from us,” Mary told in a sad voice. “The theft meant that we had no money, no passports, no binoculars, no camera, and so on. It took us two weeks to replace everything and be on our way again. Very frustrating!” The media had a keen interest in the adventurous voyage and followed the progress closely. “It was of great value having press clippings when we had to contact local authorities for help,” said Kaj Wessberg. By the time they reached Nicaragua, the political situation was in turmoil. Luckily the Husqvarna mount received military escort through parts of the instable country. It was ordered by Nicaragua's leader himself, Anastasio Somoza! The tour went on through the Central-American countries of Costa Rica and Panama before the next objectives Colombia and Ecuador. “The people in the countryside were overwhelming and supported us all the way,” Mary told. “They were spontaneous and often took their instruments to entertain us with their local music. Despite camping during the entire voyage, we were never molested in any way.” During the journey, the couple also came to conquer the Andes on their Husqvarna Dream Machine. The 175cc engine was a bit weak in higher altitudes and Mary sometimes had to get off the bike in order to continue by foot. It was sometimes necessary for her to push in order to make the steep hills. At Pico del Aguilla they reached an altitude of more than 4’000 meters where the gravel roads were almost non-existent. Oil-mixed petrol was sometimes scarce, but in the end, there was always a local farmer who had fuel available. A full tank contained 13 litres of fuel, including a one-and-a-half litre reserve. Generally, petrol was extremely cheap. On one occasion, the Husqvarna was pushed onto a trolley and they rode on the railway from a banana plantation in Colombia to the final destination of Venezuela. After ten long months, the adventure was over and it was time to return to Sweden. The Husqvarna and its riders had covered more than 2,000 kilometres before the bike was shipped back on a container ship. It went from Caracas to its home country and was immediately shown at the Swedish Fair in Stockholm, where visitors could admire this precious gem at the factory's own stand. “The only mishap with the Dream Machine came after a small crash when the throttle cable was damaged and had to be replaced with a new wire,” Kaj and Mary Wessberg stated with pride. “Otherwise it was full throttle all the way.”

    At the beginning of the 1950s people were still rebuilding after the second world war. Most had their thoughts on productivity and looking for an improved standard of living. There were exceptions however – some people were striving for something to happen. A Swedish military lieutenant by the name of Kaj Wessberg, and his wife Mary, set off on an American adventure in the summer of 1954. They travelled 2’000 kilometres through 10 countries on their Husqvarna ‘Dream Machine’. But let's start from the beginning… Being adventurers, the married couple were keen to broaden their horizons. They wanted to experience more and set their sights on North and South America as their dream goal - but how would they fulfil this unusual idea? It would take more than a holiday to conquer these vast continents and the two were aware of the transport problems. How would they move around freely and cover long distances without delay, and how about the risks and obstacles the couple would encounter on their trip? Kaj and Mary were used to their home in Smaland - a southern county of Sweden - where they lived a safe and uneventful life together, with high living standards. The answer came from unexpected help. Kaj Wessberg had good contacts with Husqvarna and mentioned his plans to the directors at the factory. They showed interest in this adventure and offered to provide the couple with a motorcycle, should they prefer to go on two wheels. The offer was of course tempting and also economical as the factory support would lower the cost for their journey substantially. The bike would be delivered to the port of New York free of charge, but should in turn be given back to Husqvarna for publicity reasons. An opportunity like this was most exclusive and would provide good advertising material for the factory, who were trying to strengthen their market share. In the beginning of the 1950s, Husqvarna had more than one Swedish competitor on the market and also faced opponents from overseas manufacturers. The motorcycle at hand during this after-war period was the ‘Dream Machine’, with the internal code Type 281. The colourful ‘Drombagen’ (the domestic name) was a totally new model and had only a little carry-over from the previous Black and Red-Qvarna 118cc models. The Dream Machine had a brand new 175cc engine, which was designed by Olle Edlund. He developed a reliable and robust power source that would turn out to be unbreakable. The power package had a performance of seven-and-a-half HP at 5,000 rpm and would last a lifelong period. In the 1950s the big four-stroke singles dominated the market, but this was a two-stroke engine, evolved with a small displacement capacity. The motorcycle gave young people an affordable alternative and the bike proved to be successful. The Dream Machine weighed in at 100 kilos, and was capable of running at a top speed of 100 km/h. It was introduced in 1953 after the prototype had been shown a year earlier. Sales started in the spring of 1953 and it cost approximately 2,000 Swedish Kronor at the time (around 400 USD). The production lasted over six years, during which time Husqvarna managed to wring out more than 6,000 units. There were actually two models of the Dream Machine – the Tourist model and a Sport version with dual exhausts and more power. Both were supplied with a three-speed gearbox. However, it was the Tourist model that appealed to the Wessberg couple and it was decided that this machine would serve as transport for the adventure. Details of their Dream Machine included a tubular and stamped-steel frame, advanced front forks with leading link together with rubber links, while the rear suspension consisted of tubular shock absorbers including coil springs and rubber cover for safety. A streamlined headlight and two stylish side-covers completed the design, which made it look modern. This motorcycle was the image of European styling.

    Swede Christer Hammargren never dominated the motocross world, but he was an avid racer with several championships and titles to his credit. The lanky rider from the Smaland district had his best seasons from 1967 until the middle of the 1970s, during which time he mostly enjoyed factory support from Husqvarna. From a young age, Hammargren had an early interest for the motoring world. He was born in Vaggeryd on October 5th, 1944. Living a mere 30 kilometres away from the Husky factory, Christer soon took an interest in offroad racing, which at this time of course was dominated by motocross. In his teenage years Hammargren went from being a keen fan idolising the country's most well-known names such as Torsten Hallman, Bill Nilsson & Rolf Tibblin, to starting to race himself. He soon found that one of his specialties was racing in deep sand. Hammargren felt at home on most kinds of circuit and was always capable of good lap times on any ground. There was just something special about his pace in the challenging and gruelling sand. After a few years of competition, Hammargren had gained some experience and had a go at the national junior championship. The year was 1964 and the event was organised on the very famous Ulricehamn motocross track. On a muddy circuit Christer had the upper hand already in the early stages of the race. He was being chased hard by his opponents but managed to hold them off, winning his first big victory. Happy and content, he went on training even harder than before. Unfortunately, he had a bad crash which resulted in severe back injuries. Doctors told him it would take considerable time before he would be back in the saddle when they learned that Christer was determined to make his comeback in motocross. After several months in plaster, Hammargren could finally start practising again, but it took a lot of determination and a long time before he was back on track. “I went to my chiropractor maybe fifty times before my back healed and recovered,” Christer remembers. Christer Hammargren's international breakthrough came in 1967 when he managed to finish second in the Swedish 500cc Grand Prix round. As ever he was riding Husqvarna, who by this time had opened their eyes and closely followed the talented rider from Vaggeryd. In Hammargren's first world championship season the Swede managed to finish in seventh position overall in the final 500cc standings. His biggest success came when Hammargren took part in the 250cc team championship, this year held in Payerne, Switzerland. “I was teamed up with Bengt Aberg and Bengt-Arne Bonn and we managed to beat all other nations,” told Hammargren. “It was quite a feeling being able to say that I was a world champion.... sort of...” In the following season Christer had a really good year in the national 500cc championship. Always smiling and never far from telling another joke, Christer was a popular face in the paddocks among his international competitors. He now enjoyed full support from Husqvarna, which together with a good performance rendered him second place in the national championship standings. In the world series, he came home 10th. Despite his breakthrough two years earlier, it was in 1969 that Hammargren really got noticed in the world of motocross. Not only did he win the Swedish 500cc championship, but he also came eighth in the top international series (the World Championship). The season started at the right level and Christer won a spring race held in Strängnäs, 80 kilometres from the capital of Stockholm. “It was a tough race,” said Hammargren afterwards. “The muddy track made me almost blind and my shirts and riding-pants were so heavy that my trousers almost fell off! “My girlfriend Ann-Charlotte would have some work to clean the equipment,” he laughed. 25-year old Christer won both motos in grand style, well ahead of all his competitors. He had a good season to look forward to. In 1970 Hammargren made his best ever world championship performance coming fifth following top rider Bengt Aberg, who won his second outright 500cc title for Husqvarna. Both riders, together with Arne Kring and Ake Jonsson, also took the prestigious win in the MotoCross des Nations in the team 500cc class. The event was organized in the town of Maggiora, Italy. Christer Hammargren was at the top of his career, but it did not end there. In 1971 he was once again selected to represent Sweden in the big-bore class team race. This time the motos were held in Vimmerby, not so far away from Christer's home turf of SMK Värnamo. Again he was teamed up with Aberg, Jonsson and Olle Pettersson, the latter usually a 250cc rider. In Vimmerby the quartet were victorious in front of the Swedish crowd, who were cheering for their home team. Once again Christer also won the national championship for Husqvarna. This was his second local 500cc title in just three years. Before retiring, Christer Hammargren competed for another five years on other machinery, but he never gained any bigger success before packing up his career. Later on in his life, Christer began racing in veteran motocross. “This was of course just for fun,” said the lanky rider from Smaland, who can now look back at many successful years for the Husqvarna factory.

    After a ten-year enduro and motocross career, Bror Haglund turned things around to become a Husqvarna factory mechanic for some of the world's leading riders. But let's start from the very beginning – back in the old days… Born in March 1941, Bror (meaning Brother) saw his first race at the age of seven when he went to a 1,000-metre speedway event in 1948. “I was impressed by the Norwegian, Basse Hveem who had his gear in perfect order, besides being a good rider,” remembers Haglund with a smile on his face. Ten years later Bror Haglund took part in his first race. It was an enduro by the name of ‘Shellkannan’ - the Shell trophy. Unfortunately, Haglund had engine problems and was forced to retire in his debut. In the same year of 1958, 17-year old Haglund went to work for Tage Nyholm, a well-known engine tuner, based in Stockholm. “I learnt turning work, lathing camshafts and other machine challenges,” says Haglund. “I did it during my spare time when doing my military service nearby. It gave me an extra income so I was able to buy a decent machine to race with.” After three years Haglund received an offer to start working as a mechanic for the tuning genius Nils Hedlund, who was responsible for preparing the 500cc Husqvarna factory machines in the 1960s. “In Nisse's workshop, I was able to enhance my technical knowledge during the six-year period I spent with him in Spanga, outside the Stockholm centre.” In 1963 our ‘Brother’ rode his first motocross race in Ulriksdal. Haglund had purchased a four-speed 250cc Husqvarna, but he turned out to be a more successful enduro rider than in the saddle of a motocross machine. In the seasons between 1964 and 1966, Haglund won two gold and one bronze medal in the International Six-Days races. He was also the national champion in the 175cc enduro class, still riding his Husqvarna. To top it off Bror Haglund came third in the national junior championship straddling his motocross bike. At the age of 28, Bror decided to quit his riding career and went to Huskvarna in order to work fulltime for the Swedish factory. The following season Bror Haglund was given the task of being a works mechanic for Bengt Aberg, who won the world 500cc title for the second year running in 1970. “I also helped Aberg's rival and teammate Arne Kring during the period from 1970 to 1973. Kring was second to Aberg in the 500-class in 1970,” Haglund tells in a matter-of-fact way. “Don't forget it's the rider who wins the title - not the machinery and certainly not the mechanic. “Bengt Aberg was a natural with a cruel feeling for balance that was second to none,” Haglund continues. “We were very close during his heydays at the beginning of the 70s.” Bror "Julle" Haglund has a favourite story from 1972 when Aberg competed in muddy conditions at Sittendorf, Austria. “It was extremely slippery in the dirt and I couldn't make it uphill in my transporter,” smiles ‘Julle’. “Bengt missed the start, hearing the riders getting away when he was still in the paddock. Bengt caught up with the field lying third when his engine overflowed and stopped in the mud. Otherwise he would have won this moto.” His longest trip came during 1972 when Haglund spent four months abroad without visiting home. After the European season ‘Julle’ went to the United States and then on all the way to Australia before returning. “At least Bengt Aberg and I came back in time to celebrate Christmas with our families.” In 1975 Bror Haglund received a new challenge working for the up-and-coming American Brad Lackey, the former "hippie from Berkeley", who had set his sights on the championship throne. “Brad was a decent guy with many good assets, told ‘Julle’. “He was not only a fantastic rider, but also a dear friend who was true to his word. But the season became extended, of course, as Brad not only raced in Europe, but also contended back home in the U.S. This fact made me travel a few miles extra, but I enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon and do other sightseeing trips cross the Atlantic.” A memorable race was held in New Orleans where ‘Julle’ was told to be quick packing up after the races. “Oh, we have mosquitos back home as well, I told the Southern folks, but it turned out they were right. The place was swarmed with biting mosquitos which invaded the place during the late afternoon. Fortunately, I listened and was quick to leave.” By the end of 1976, Brad left Husqvarna for a competing company. Bror Haglund was offered a place in the new team, but immediately turned it down. He had dedicated his life to the Swedish Arms factory and he was not about to give up this relationship any time soon. “I did not trust the Japanese guys then,” he says. “Besides I had been brought up with Husqvarna and wasn't about to leave the town of Huskvarna, at least not at that moment.” Haglund did another three seasons as a factory mechanic before leaving the motocross world behind. Instead, he went back to working with shock absorbers in Sweden, settling down in Stockholm. “During my years of travelling around the globe I found the races way back then being as hard as they are today,” ‘Julle’ tells us. “The difference is money, which tends to spoil the sport. People nowadays race to get rich - not because they love the game. Besides, no one blamed the mechanic for failures back in the old days. That's often not the case these days unfortunately” Bror Haglund has been to most places and seen the sights of this globe. All in all, he reckons he did at least sixty laps around the world. “It has been a tremendous life being able to work with the best Husqvarna riders of all time. But I can't retire yet. I get frustrated being at home, says the 76-year-old who is still working with a lathing machine. “I can rest when I get old.” Laughs Bror.
  12. A Husky Handful

    We dug deep into our archives and found details on a twin-cylinder 490cc Husky prototype from 1967. This machine would prove to be the basis for a successful machine introduced a year later, in 1968. The Siamese motocross twin racer from Husqvarna was a first of its kind. It was developed for the U.S. market thinking of desert races and long-stretching enduros such as the Baja 1000, where it was very successful. In the beginning of the 1960s the Husqvarna factory chief engineer Ruben Helmin had an idea of putting two 2-stroke engines together. It would result in a potent twin power plant with a displacement of half a litre. It wasn't until in the autumn of 1967 that he began developing his thoughts into reality. Helmin used two 250cc engines and integrated them into one power unit. The pistons were the same as the regular 250 with two rings on each piston as opposed to the later 504 version with only one ring for each piston. The result was a 492cc motor mounted into a 360 frame. The modifying consisted of other engine plates and used the gearbox and parts from the 420cc Grand Prix bike, then used in the world championship. "The engine developed some 50 horsepower at 6,000 rpm,” said Ruben Helmin when the bike was introduced in 1968. The new Siamese twin racer was meant for the desert, but initially there were also hopes for a brand-new machine to compete with the big bore bikes widely used for motocross at this stage. Motocross riders Torsten Hallman and Rolf Tibblin, representing the 250 and the 500cc class respectively, made test runs with the new beast, which had lots of power and a 100+ mph top speed. "It was definitely not a machine for motocross,” were the unanimous comments from the two world champions - but they would be proven wrong. After a further year of development, the giant Husqvarna beast was over-bored to a displacement of 504cc, which made it eligible for the international FIM cup during 1969. This machine now had two upper exhaust pipes as opposed to the prototype, which had one of its exhausts swept underneath the 360 frame. This did not give the bike sufficient ground clearance and the exhaust was soon changed to a two-into-one system. The two pipes were brought together just under the fuel tank, which also had to be adjusted for desert use. It could swallow up to 15 litres of fuel and was fastened with leather straps for a quick release. The full tank weight of the race-ready machine was 137 kilos. Baja winner Gunnar Nilsson was given the job to ride the bike by the Husqvarna factory. In the five-race series, Gunnar went to beat the big-bores and won the FIM championship. Reliability and performance proved to be excellent. This win proved extremely popular and the marketing people now started to consider production of the twin racer. Despite the international success, the project was still only at an experimental stage. Bench figures from 1968 showed that the power output was now 52hp at a healthy 6,800rpm. The top speed was clocked at 110mph using a rear sprocket of 47 instead of the commonly used 53 ratio. For carburation, the Amal 32mm concentric carb was handling the breathing. Two throttle cables were used from the carbs all the way up to the throttle grip. A Bosch ignition system was fitted and had a slightly altered performance as opposed to the standard version. The flywheel and the magneto originally came from a snowmobile, however still the same size as for the 400, but stronger for the twin. With this development, the frame had to be strengthened to cope with the additional power resources. Basically, it was now the same as for the 400 Husqvarna. Heavy engine plates were used to match the big power plant. Two extra brackets were mounted underneath the engine to serve as skid-plates. They also supported the frame and the footpegs. After success in the FIM series, a 492cc machine was shipped to the USA for participation in the Mexican Baja 1000 race. With the two ace riders Gunnar Nilsson and J.N. Roberts they managed to win this classic event by a good margin, despite a late crash in the dark. Gunnar Nilsson had to spend almost half an hour searching for his bike in total darkness. Luckily, the incident occurred close to the finish in La Paz. The overall win was followed by a few other US races, but without much success. It was then decided not to continue the project and the bike was forgotten in storage until it was rediscovered in the 1990s.
  13. Double Champion Hallman

    23-year-old Torsten Hallman was the Husqvarna-mounted rider from Uppsala, north of Stockholm, who hit jackpot in the 14-round Grand Prix season in 1963. Eight outright victories and two runner-up results secured him a second consecutive 250cc title. Hallman won his second world championship crown following a strenuous year, during which he raced full throttle from start to finish. "The rider who succeeds in winning the year's first Grand Prix in Spain, is doomed to lose the title". For a long time winning the opening GP of the year had been a bad omen. Had the Briton Dave Bickers been more superstitious, he would probably had refrained from taking the Grand Prix win at the opening round, held in Barcelona. As it turned out Bickers was followed by bad luck in the following rounds, making him miss his opportunity in 1963. Torsten Hallman avoided this jinx by finishing second overall behind the Greeves-mounted Englishman. Hallman opened his season as the reigning world champion on Husqvarna, set on bringing home a second title to Sweden. In the pouring rain Torsten won the second moto and 18’000 Spaniards cheered for him as he finished second on the podium. In Italy, at Gallarate, the Swede wanted to win. The circuit in the north of the country had 15’000 spectators, who, despite the miserable weather, came to watch the Swedes having a day of their own. Almost overwhelmingly the blue-and-yellow stripes dominated the day and Hallman was on top form around the 2’100-meter lap, which was covered 15 times in each of the two GP races. 14 points and Hallman was on top of the world at the end of the month of March. The next Grand Prix was held in France and we were now in the middle of April. In Pernes-les-Fontaines the world championship contenders met a hilly circuit, which was very fast and tight. Overtaking was difficult, not to say almost an impossible stunt. 20’000 motocross-friendly people had gathered to see the GP riders make a dash for victory. Torsten was once again in championship shape and took an overwhelming 8 points to his already secured 14, which gave him a big lead in the standings after three rounds. Payerne in Switzerland was one of the finest motocross tracks in the championship series. The circuit is situated in the French part of the country where there is always great interest in this sport. The track went along slopes of wine yards and there were numerous jumps, which damaged frames and were hard on the machines. Torsten went on to win both motos after the hard-charging Czech rider Vlastimil Valek had to retire as his machine was not robust enough. 30 world championship points after four rounds for Hallman and Husqvarna. The West-German track at Bielstein was one of the more technical circuits included in the 250cc championship. Hallman’s gearing was too high and he had to rev his engine hard in order to stay competitive. He got away from the start badly in both the motos and had to start a game of catch-up in order to prevail. 15'000 spectators again saw a battle between Valek and Hallman, but the physical shape of the Super-Swede ended the battle in his favour. Eight more GP points to Husqvarna and Sweden. Was Hallman going to clinch his second title already half-way through the 14-round season? Two weeks after Germany the riders gathered in Luxembourg and it was now mid-May. In the village of Schisslange 20'000 people came to watch a bewildered Swedish supremacy with three riders among the top five. Hallman was on top of the world once again and now seemed to have a subscription for the Grand Prix events this year. After successfully completing the 16 laps on the 1'900-meter circuit, Hallman had a secure distance to his competitors and now lead the 250cc champion with a margin of 30 points ahead of the Czech ValekHolland meant sand and in the strong dunes of the legendary Schijndel track there was dust as the greatest enemy of motocross mankind. Hard to see, but the field was off and this time Vlastimil Valek proved too strong for Hallman who finished the day in third position. 17’000 paying spectators saw an interesting race, but had to clean their gear/clothes as they came home after an eventful day on the sandy track. At Scrubland Park in England, the Britons were convinced they’d be able to beat their Swedish antagonists. After all it was their home turf... The track here was hard, dry and very fast. Hallman came away eighth at the start of the initial race, but soon caught up with the leaders. In the decisive moto, it was Hallman and Husqvarna all the way from start to finish, which secured ever-winning Torsten yet another Grand Prix victory. With 58 points in the table it would take a miracle for Valek to catch up during the remaining six events. Hallman had now won six out of eight GPs during the 1963 season! In the weekend after Swedish midsummer the riders gathered in the northern part of the country in the town of Vännäs. At the "Pengafors" track - 2 kilometres long – 7’000 spectators came to watch their idols perform on home ground. Hallman was the undisputed king and won both races in front of a cheering crowd. No one had a chance against the fast-forwarding Torsten whose only challenge came from up-and-coming newcomer Arne Kring. After seven wins Hallman now had his second title in the bag. A week after Sweden the world championship contenders arrived in Finland and the track of Ruuskesanta, a few miles outside the capital of Helsinki. Around this sandy circuit, Hallman was once again unbeatable and secured his eighth Grand Prix win of the season. No one even came close to these fantastic results and Husqvarna proved yet again to be a winner in the competitive 250cc class. "Tavaritj" was the favourite word when the GP riders gathered outside Moscow to battle for the Soviet Grand Prix. Here Hallman crashed, which ruined his day. Instead, Valek and other Eastern-block riders dominated the races and overall winner Valek was happy to see himself walking the straight line towards the runner-up position in the championship. In the following week it was time for the Polish GP and here once again Hallman failed to score. Instead Vlastimil Valek won the event ahead of the Soviet rider Igor Grigoriev, both on CZ machines. Yet another Grand Prix behind the Iron curtain – next it was the Czech GP, which was run outside of the capital of Prague. Home rider Vlastimil Valek was cheered on heavily as he took his third Grand Prix in a row. Hallman finished as second rider home and was of course hailed by the 50'000 enthusiastic crowd. The season's last GP was held in East Germany at the Apolda track. Also here a record crowd of 50’000 people came to see their idols for the final of the 1963 season. Torsten Hallman failed to score but had already clinched his title with a maximum of 56 points (as only the seven best performances during the season were counted for the championship). The Czech Karel Pilar won ahead of Igor Grigoriev. People in those days often asked why the Swedes dominated the sport of motocross so overwhelmingly. “Because we love the sport, and there is no one who can take that feeling away from us at the moment,” commented Torsten Hallman. Trues words from a real world champion...

    Hakan "Carla" Carlqvist is sadly no longer with us – the famous Swedish racer passed away in the early days of July 2017 at the all too young age of 63. His motocross career was so successful that he became well-known to the general public in Sweden, even with those who were not interested in motorcycles. However, those that knew Carla, knew of his stubbornness and good spirit. He is summed up by four key words: hero, achievement, stubborn, beloved – a man with only one goal in his sights. Carla captured two motocross world titles, the first with Husqvarna in 1979… Hakan Carlqvist was born on January 15th, 1954. But the motocross racer we know started out with interests in many sports. At first he was a keen soccer player and an avid ice hockey man, as well as going downhill at high-speed. His interest in motorcycles came at the age of 16 when Carlqvist started to ride a 125cc road bike. The following year, in 1971, Hakan bought a Penton-KTM competition machine, which helped pave his way to future success. Carlqvist won his first race by being stubborn, fast and consistent. Step-by-step, he learnt to be a professional rider. His profession away from the track was as a glass-trader, having worked in the construction business before that. Jumping ahead to 1978 and Husqvarna were only willing to give Carla a production machine and spare parts, having given him factory support the previous year. The season started well. Hakan won the first Grand Prix heat of his life at the series opener held in Spain. But the rest of ‘78 didn’t meet with his desire to conquer. He finished a mere seventh in the championship standings at the end of '78. On home turf Carla was once again second in the national championship after Thorleif Hansen, another successful Husky rider who also made his name famous all over the world. When the 1979 season approached, people from Husqvarna had doubts about Carlqvist's performance. After some negotiations, the factory gave him a chance to prove himself on a factory machine in the 250cc world championship. There was no talk of contract money, but merely bonus for achieved results... “The money was of second importance to me after all my failures,” said Carlqvist, “all I wanted now was a chance to prove myself. Deep within, I knew I was a winner.” 1979 started well with a second place at the April opener, which as usual was held in Sabadell, Spain. Two weeks later, Hakan Carlqvist went on to race in Halle, Holland. In The Netherlands you race on sandy surface, most of the time. The loose ground suited Carla well and he won both motos in style, showing that he was on the right way to success. A week later the GP scene moved to Bra in northern Italy. Carla broke down in the first heat, but won the second. After three rounds, Carlqvist was ahead in the 250cc series and things looked promising. “This season made all the difference to me,” said Hakan, “before I had to fix everything myself, but with my works mechanic Tommy Jansson, I was able to concentrate on riding, which proved to be successful. Tommy J was a man with a previous motocross career and he helped me both preparing my Husqvarna as well as offering psychological support. Our friendship goes back a long way, so this was an optimal solution for our team. I could also note that I was faster from the start this year and that my riding was more consistent than before.” In Genk, Belgium, Carlqvist was beaten by his main rival Neil Hudson from Great Britain. However, Carla won the second heat so he still ruled the championship. In Karlovac, Yugoslavia, the order was repeated, while the Swede regained command in Holice, Czechoslovakia by winning both motos. Half the season was gone and Husqvarna was at the top of the standings. We were now in the beginning of June and it was time for the Polish GP in Szczecin. Again, Carlqvist won both races as he did the following week in Lavour, France. With four GPs to go, the championship was almost decided in favour of the 25-year old Swede. In the coming two Grand Prix rounds, Carlqvist only scored 10 points with a third spot at the U.S. town of Unadilla. But in the first week of August the title chase was decided after Hakan Carlqvist won both motos in Bielstein, Germany. Out of the 24 held, Carla won 14 GP races and with his first world title in the bag, media now renamed him "Superswede". There was enormous joy and it is hard to explain the emotions Carlqvist felt at the time of success. After his bad luck with severe injuries in previous years, he had many times been in doubt. But in the end his efforts paid off and Husqvarna had a new star in their factory team. The triumph of the Superswede received a fantastic media response after his great victory. “My dreams finally came true,” said an exultant Hakan Carlqvist, “but my dreams went further since I also wanted the half-litre class title.” The 1979 season had started on the 18th of February and went on until the 21st of October, with races every weekend but two. “At that time I was tired of racing around the globe and just wanted to relax with friends and celebrate my good fortune.” With increased confidence, the stubborn Carla started preparations for another world title, which came in 1983. He was now well-known for his hot temper and his notorious outbursts. Hakan Carlqvist was a man who never shredded words, and the truth was not always appreciated in this non-forgiving game. His riding style set its mark by always trying to give the maximum and his attack would never be underestimated. Shortly after his second title, I had lunch with Carla in Cologne. He was attending the IFMA motorcycle show. Privately, he was a simple and kind man, with even less words than normal. But some people compared him with the boxing legend Cassius Clay. “But that is only because I am focused,” retaliated the bulky Swede, “it's just my way of being. Having achieved my ultimate goal, I can relax and take the future as it comes. Maybe make some money, so I can retire without economic hassles.” People who saw him concentrate ahead of a race, have another feeling about Carla's behaviour. His hefty temper was both positive and negative for his riding skills. No matter what, Hakan Carlqvist will always be remembered as a hero. He spent his last decades in southern France, away from publicity. He suffered severely from pain after all the accidents during his career and lived with medicine and strong painkillers. “What's done is done, he said, the rest of my life is private and not up for discussion.” In 1983, Hakan Carlqvist received the "Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal" which is the most prestigious sports award you can get in Sweden. He is one of the toughest men ever to sit on a bike. Moulded from hardened steel, he had a warrior's instinct on the track. Passing away in the night of the 6th of July 2017, a Swedish motoring icon has passed. Here's mud in your eye, Carla!
  15. Half a double champion

    World championship status was introduced to the 250cc class for the 1962 season. Previously Grand Prix wins had been eligible for winning the European title, but now the status was upgraded in order to be equivalent with the big-bore 500cc class. Let’s follow the fight for the first quarter-litre world championship title. There were lots of contenders and a few wannabees... he season started in Spain, which is a long trip from Sweden when you’re traveling by a diesel car with a trailer and bikes in tow. Torsten Hallman had sniffed the Grand Prix elite and was now ready for a full season – with high title hopes. Together with the Husqvarna chief engineer Ruben Helmin he set off for Barcelona. He wasn’t even sure his entry had been accepted by the organisers, but time went by and he had to leave in order to reach his destination in time. Passing Hamburg, they found out that the river Elbe had flooded the highway.A detour with a five-to-six-hour delay was to be expected as only the lorries made it through the high water. But Torsten decided to try to pass despite being told not to by the police. Of course, the engine stalled in the water and it took time and patience before they could resume travelling. At the border to Spain customs was closed at 4 o’clock in the morning so there was a short nap before checking in to Spain, before moving on to Barcelona. After some 45 hours of driving Torsten and his companion hit the Spanish city. It was Friday and two days to go before racing started. Husqvarna had Torsten Hallman as their sole factory rider in the 250 class for this season so expectations were high from the employer. Ruben Helmin had promised a competitive machine, which basically meant that the three-speed gearbox was left in favour of the brand new four-speed. This event was the inaugural Grand Prix for the Spaniards and things were a little ”manana” right from the start. The meeting was not so well organised and to top it all off the track was set on a golf course, not so far from the city. As if that wasn’t enough the race was held already at 11 o’clock in the morning, which was unheard of before. But the Spaniards had to be ready for the bullfights, which were in the afternoon! No one would miss such an event for a lousy motorcycle race... Ruben and I thought it would be nice to arrive in Spain for some sunshine, but we were bitterly disappointed by the cold weather, remembers Torsten, there was a cold-wave, which set in at almost freezing-point. The race itself is easily told as it did not last very long. Torsten’s engine stopped after a mere two laps in the first moto and on the first lap in the deciding heat. The explanation came later why so many riders were having machine troubles – the inferior quality of the Spanish fuel did not mix with the oil in the two-stroke engines. So, there were only a handful of riders on four-strokes who made it to the finish. All the trouble and expenses resulted in nothing for a disappointed Hallman who took the long drive back to Sweden. It turned out that two of Torsten’s would-be rivals during the season, Arthur Lampkin and Jeff Smith from England, had won the race on their fourstroke BSAs. And being young, Torsten had a lot of respect for these two British giants. At the French Grand Prix Torsten Hallman had his first outright victory, beating both the BSA riders fair and square. “Now, I realised that I had the pace to outrun them both,” said Hallman enthusiastically. In the West-German GP Torsten and Jeff had a big battle for the win. Hallman lead the first race comfortably when Smithy began closing the gap more and more. Crossing the finish line Torsten was a mere five or six seconds ahead of the Brit. In the second race positions were almost turned around. Torsten did manage to take the start, but Jeff was right on his tail trying to overtake. Getting too excited on a descent Torsten hit the ground but his engine was still running. As Jeff wanted to overtake they crashed into each other. Again, Hallman’s machine was still running while Smith had to push-start his heavy fourstroke. This advantage was all Torsten Hallman needed for the overall victory. Despite the fact that Jeff Smith was right on the tail at the finish, it wasn’t enough to catch the winning Swede. In the Italian village of Gallarate, Hallman was in top shape and he won both motos after a great performance on his quick Husqvarna. “I had over a minute to spare ahead of Jeff and Arthur in both heats,” remembers Hallman with a big smile on his face. “After the second race Jeff came up to me and congratulated me on my victory. It was the first time that he had done so and I felt very proud.” The rest of this season progressed in the same manner and when it was time to settle the bill, it turned out that Torsten Hallman had won his first world title in the 250cc class. He was now halfway of being a double champion as he would also take the crown the following season in 1963. But that’s an entirely different story!
  16. ACE OF THE 30S

    The history of my uncle's racing career is unique. Ake Jönsson was a Husqvarna factory rider in the 30s and had great success on the spectacular machines that were world-known for their performance, durability and quality. In the family bible, my grandfather – Olof Jönsson – has written the following story of the nasty accident which happened after 300 kilometres of driving… "On the 17th of February, 1951 Ake Jönsson started his trip towards the capital of Stockholm from his home in southern Sweden. His mechanic Malte Jensen was driving the truck when they encountered a lorry that blocked their way. Malte threw his vehicle into the snow in order to avoid the truck, but the snow was frozen to ice and Ake hit the dashboard heavily, injuring him severely. An ambulance was required and Ake lay in a coma for 18 hours before he woke. Ake's wife Gulli was contacted and she sat by his bedside for ten days before the doctors were able to X-ray their injured patient. We have prayed to God that Ake may get healthy again. I know that my daughter Hertha and her son Kenneth also prayed for uncle Jönsson. But it was certainly the end of a long, victorious career". Ake Samuel Jönsson was born on the 8th of May, 1911 in Träne, which is near Kristianstad in the province of Skane. The Jönsson brothers, three in all, were interested in machines from a young age and Ake, the youngest started racing bikes at the age of 14. In April 1927 his real motorcycle career took off when he straddled a Belgian 350cc Saroléa in an enduro-type event, which he won. “I think my opponents were lost in the wood as I was not riding very fast,” he smiled with a laugh after the finish line. Ake did eight races during his initial season and won three of them. In 1929 he entered 13 events and conquered all the competition not less than three times. In a yearly ranking system of the very same year Ake hit ninth spot while my father Tore Olausson, also a dirt-track racer, was on tenth position! In Ake's three first competition years, besides Saroléa, he also straddled machines like British Excelsior and Coventry. In 1930 Ake became contracted to the firm of the Swedish "Suecia-verken", a local company based in Örkelljunga in southern Sweden. Ake raced the 350cc machine while his older brother Rudolf raced Suecia's 500cc bike. In 25 events Ake won seven and came second in as many competitions. By 1930 the famous Husqvarna-engineer Folke Mannerstedt had noted the talent from the province of Skane. Ake was offered one of the factory 250cc machines, on which he would start competing in class A for the 1931 season. He was now a team-mate of big stars like Gunnar Kalén and Ragnar Sunnqvist, and of course, his older brother Rudolf Jönsson, who rode in the 350 class. The Husqvarna debut took place in November 1930 on a horse-track in Jägersro, Malmö. The event was a 5’000-meter race and the spectator tribunes were full of people despite the cold November afternoon. Ake showed Husqvarna that they had picked the right man and he won the main event where he showed no mercy to his competitors. His winnings were the equivalent of 25 US dollars and the 1931 season was right ahead in a year that Ake turned 20 years of age. Ake had a strong temper and anything outside victory did never appeal to this thin and fit youngster. "It's probably a character feature in the family,” said Ake to me when I was a child (the blog editor lived a year with the Jönsson’s as a child). Privately Ake was no different. If he was to see someone, let's say at six o'clock, he would turn up by 5.55 and look at his watch to see when it turned six o'clock on the second. He would then ring the bell in order not to be late. Impulsive and punctual were features of this young man who suffered from a state of manic depression at times. Ake's mood was as loose as his foot on the throttle ... But he was also an authority when it came to quick decisions. No one told him what to do or how to react. On February 1st in 1931 there was a 10-kilometer race, again in Jägersro. Ake failed to score but came back three weeks later in order to take an overwhelming victory. That was his style. Loose one, but always regain the dominant peak soon after. In 23 events the same season Jönsson won 16 and came second on four occasions with his ultrafast Husqvarna machine. Ake's overwhelming capacity started to show in 1932 when he won 15 out of 19 races, inclusive the prestigious "Östgötaloppet", which was a 69km event. Ake not only conquered but also set a new race record in his class. With the 250cc Husqvarna he rode at an average of 92 kilometres an hour – a pace which was fifth fastest in the entire event, including the biggest classes. Considering that Kalén and Sunnqvist rode bigger machines and that the race distance lay around 40 minutes, Ake's performance was even more attractive. This was one of Ake's biggest victories together with an event that lay four weeks ahead in time. The TT-race at Onsala had an attendance of a dozen international riders. Ake was back in the 250-saddle, which in this case was half a 500 using only one of the V-configuration cylinders. This machine was a legendary Husqvarna model in the 30s. Among the strong competitors in the A-class was the British world record holder Eric Fernihough. However, the reddish apple cheeked youngster by the name of Jönsson won the race after some domination. The winner’s prize was 200 Swedish Kronor (around 50 dollars) and this success cemented Ake's place in the famous Husqvarna "gang". In the weekly newspaper "Motornyheterna" you could read about Ake's victories… His well-tuned Husqvarna and Ake's outstanding riding technique through corners were a difficult obstacle even for his teammates Gunnar Kalén and Ragnar Sunnqvist. Ake has adopted the world-famous Stevenson-stil with his leg sweeping out behind the machine during cornering. After a five-month delay with no racing, the 1933 season took off with a second place for Ake. The following month he rode in Denmark where he was forced to retire in Korsör. How would this end? The first victory did not arrive until at the end of July, when young Jönsson won in Hälsingborg. "It was a pre-race with all eyes set on the big Grand Prix in Saxtorp", Ake said to the press (I have a post-card where it says "Let's celebrate Grand Prix", signed by all the Husqvarna greats of the 30s). On the 3rd of September a record crowd of 150’000 spectators with 65 competing riders were seen at Saxtorp in the Skane province. It was the biggest motorcycle race ever held on Swedish soil! Ake Jönsson competed as usual in the 250cc class and the distance to be covered measured 14,5 kilometres. The start took place where the church of Saxtorps is situated. And then on to Dösjebro station, south to Lyckan (Happiness), west towards Björnstorp and then north to the finish line. After 21 laps Ake was second behind Briton Charlie Dodson when the Swede suddenly stopped at Björnstorp. Ake had an overwhelming margin to the third placed man, but the machine would not go any further. “It was the biggest disappointment in my life,” cried Ake afterwards when interviewed. In Husqvarna's unfortunate season of 1934, the 23-year old Jönsson only participated in eight events. He won five but now there were dark clouds on the horizon. The Super-Swede Gunnar Kalén lost his life in the German GP and all the Husqvarna machines were damaged severely when loading them on a ship to the Isle of Man. Husqvarna chose to withdraw from its race dominance and frankly just stopped racing. Ake Jönsson was a successful, dominant racer with a good sense of humour. And still he was a man of few words until he arrived at the race track. But the car accident changed his life. After being a nerve wreck for years, his mood improved a little. But Ake was never the same man again. Bike results of king Ake Jönsson 7 years on m/c: 1928-35, of which five years as factory rider at Husqvarna (1931-35) A total of 105 events: 53 victories, 24 second places and 4 third spots.

    For the ordinary citizen in the Soviet Union, life was different from living in the West. In the 60s the restrictions were harsh and people had to fight hard for their bread and butter. The newly crowned world champion Torsten Hallman, on Husqvarna, rode to Moscow and found transportation and other duties not to be rock ‘n’ roll on the highways. Listen to his own story of a memorable trip in 1962. Fascinating is the best word to describe my trips to Russia, that I visited during the 60s. Of course, in those days everything in the communist Soviet Union was either impossible, or rather prohibited. My adventures behind the iron-curtain consisted of obeying rules and never taking decisions on my own. After the Finnish Grand Prix in 1962 it was time to hit Moscow and there were a few riders set to participate there. So, we travelled together. Not least to have some company. Four members of the Russian Federation met us all at the Russian border, to help take care of the border transfer. But, as always in the Eastern countries in those days, there was a real Kalamazoo at customs. Despite good intentions from the Motor Club in Moscow, it took a few hours to clear visas, declaration of money in each currency (we always had a wad of money in many currencies as we travelled a lot) and finally what was brought into the country. Customs officials wanted to know just about everything and took note of frame numbers, spare parts, etc. etc. You name it and they’d check it! After procedures were over we had a good 1’000 km trip before reaching Moscow – with a speed limit of 50 km/h - tiresome is not the correct word. Excruciatingly boring is a far better description of the journey. We were only allowed to drive on certain transit roads so that the military could have full control on our ride. They also wanted to be sure that no one in our group got lost. On top of it all we had to stop every 30 klicks to make certain everything was OK and that no one was missing. Our overnight-stops were carefully planned in advance and also went according to a well-planned procedure. First, passport and papers were checked scrupulously. Then different lines to receive blankets, cushion, towels and so on. Then we were shown into a tent where there was a tiny cot to lie down on. But after two hours of going through all this, nobody was in the mood for sleeping any more… I remember there were lots of discussions about the travel speed and we finally convinced the authorities that our cars were not suited to such low speeds. But this in turn meant that we had to take a travel guide on board, which we did after some further disputes. Having seen the poor countryside with views reminding us of the 19th century we were amazed when reaching Moscow. I think it at least used to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and it made a strong impression when we rode around this vast city to see the sites. The Russians have thought ahead and the streets were wide and on top of it we found a lot of modern high-rising buildings in the downtown area. The traffic was dull and not too many cars on the roads as most people couldn’t afford to buy a vehicle anyway. The Swedish party of motocross riders took two days off to discover all the secrets of magnificent Moscow. But we soon found that everything was more or less prohibited in the city, just as it had been outside. On the famous ‘Red Marketplace’ we were looking at the Lenin mausoleum and all the fabulous churches around. We had to follow certain paths and not take any photographs of the police. Of course, we did quite the opposite and were questioned until they got tired of the Swedish tourists. There were more that 150’000 spectators who came to watch the Soviet Grand Prix – despite the fact that I had already clinched the 250cc world crown. In fact the track was situated in the city of Moscow, just two kilometres from the famous Lenin stadium of which we had a tremendous view from our golden pond. The race itself was of little interest. A new local name turned up as we gathered to compete. Victor Arbekov (later to be world champion in 1965) rode a home-made machine and took the holeshot to the great delight of the big crowd. I soon caught up with him with my quick Husky, but didn’t dare overtake as he was all over the track, moving unconvincingly. In a jump I gave everything to pass but Victor saw me coming and hit me so we crashed badly when hitting the ground after the jump. Unfortunately, my throttle cable broke which forced me to abandon this first heat. I was furious at Arbekov and was the first to ‘congratulate’ him on his win, swearing in Swedish which he of course didn’t understand. The Russian Federation asked me to apologize for all my dirty words, which I had to obey. So, I rode my Husqvarna to victory in the second race after my Viking blood had reached boiling point! Returning home we all enjoyed food and sleep in our own beds!
  18. Double world champion Rolf Tibblin was well-known for his extreme fitness. The Swede was always in top physical form and if nothing else went right on the track, his physical stamina would help him cross the finish line as a winner. In the beginning of the 70s Rolf lived on the US west coast and began hosting a Husqvarna Training School. Here are some memories shared. The Husqvarna International Training Centre was introduced in California and started in 1973 after Tibblin had arrived in the USA. Several locations were looked at, but it was decided that San Marcos would be an ideal place as the Carlsbad track lay in the vicinity. A hotel in town provided the meals while a local gym was perfect in order to practice the physical training. The first school included five days of attendance, but it was later to be reduced to three. The true training buff in motocross is the Swedish giant Rolf Tibblin, who won his first 250cc crown for Husqvarna back in 1959 and then went on to a double title victory in the 500cc class for the same brand. Tibblin regarded the physical training as an absolute must in order to become a successful rider. Not only did he preach for practicing strength, but he was also keen on emphasizing endurance and stamina. No doubt he became one of the fittest motocross riders ever and in order to do so Tibblin developed his own training regime. Motocross in the USA was a young sport in these days and fathers did not teach their kids about how to tackle and practise this young game of action. And since there were more learners than teachers around, most youngsters charged into racing with an overabundance of enthusiasm and a lack of experience. People would go out on Sundays with their only rule being to ride fast - without any boundaries. Some riders went berserk over their banzai method and in worst cases they would break a leg or worse. But now there was a possibility to learn the motocross game properly and safely - with a true master as the teacher. The interest for the Husqvarna International Training Centre was vast and considering the fact that each class only consisted of some 20 youngsters, the queue in line was long and people had to stay on a waiting list before they could enter the Holy Grail contest. It all started in January 1973 and for the first four months, Tibblin ran the course single-handedly before picking up assistance. The program was equally divided into instructions for physical conditioning and riding experience. Rolf Tibblin was a true believer in physical fitness. He had the opinion that riding fast over long periods takes 75 percent physical and mental skills while only 25 percent is about riding ability. Tibblin felt that fast kids with good potential were ignoring the 75 percent as well as the fact that they were learning the rest all wrong. And this is what my training is all about, said Tibblin proudly… ”The class usually gathered at 6:30 in the morning at the pool of the hotel. The majority of the pupils were between 20 and 25 years old, while the rest were younger with braces on teeth or a few still with pimples. It was definitely a group of beginners.” But then, it also happened that Steve McQueen - a good friend of Rolf Tibblin - passed by to get some inside info from Tibb. After breakfast it was time for morning workout. Tibblin started by emphasizing the importance of warming up properly in order to retain your body heat. Then he went on with many different exercises and the workout concentrated heavily on legs, stomach and back muscles, which Tibblin said a rider should rely on most. “The trick is to control the bike with your lower part of the body if you ride for long periods,” said Tibblin with a broad smile. “The arms should relax on the handlebars while you ride with your knees.” As an example the following exercises were included on Tibblin's practise scheme: kneebends in four sets of 15 each with a 10-second rest between sets and push ups in double sets of twelve. Furthermore, there were toe raises, waist bends, swivel hips, leg thrusts, waist stretch, toe touch, scissors, arm circles and headstand among the features. Physical training methods are different and vary. In the end there was of course the practical exercise on the machines out on the Carlsbad track, Here, Tibblin showed on "how to" and gave every rider his personal instructions. “And don't you try to cheat on the exercises,” was Tibblin's mantra, “you're only cheating yourself!” As a roundup task, there was a small motocross race. The contestants had to walk the track first in order to learn it. It took time but in the end it would save time while riding. And for the final everyone had to show what they had learned. Performing well was in for everyone at the Husqvarna International Training Centre, which went on for a few years before the school was abandoned in 1975.

    After three successful years the Saxtorp race became even more important. The Swedish GP was elevated with the status of the European Grand Prix. The year was 1933 and to this day the race was the biggest motor event ever held on Swedish soil. In this episode we will follow the exciting race weekend at Saxtorp when Husqvarna made its name as a world leader in TT (Tourist Trophy), today's road racing. The important recognition of the organisation of the European Grand Prix came after the splendid management of the previous motorcycle assignments. The circuit had also been updated on several occasions and was now considered to have the highest standards possible for a Grand Prix. Word had also got around among the riders that they both liked the track as well as being satisfied with the safety standards introduced. The Saxtorp general, mister Axel Löfström, was highly regarded both among the Swedish delegates and the FICM (equivalent of today's FIM). And the media had nothing but positives to report from the previous years. Another fact that influenced the decision to elevate this event was that Gunnar Kalén and Ragnar Sunnqvist had conquered the C class in the previous year of 1932, leaving the Brits and the rest of the field behind. This enormous victory for the two Husqvarna riders naturally had an impact when it came to choosing the European Grand Prix for 1933. The organising committee had their hands full as preparations for the event started. One of the more important issues were the press releases to the media, which served as good PR for the event. The interest to participate was overwhelming from various countries, “We had to choose carefully in order to get the best possible riders for the start,” said Axel ‘the general’ Löfström. The British riders were, of course, leading the list of important applicants and it was clear that they wanted revenge for the defeat in 1932. In the end eleven nations were present on race day, which was set for the 3rd of September. Husqvarna had done their home-work, naturally scheduling the important event to be their highlight of the year. Mannerstedt had introduced engine parts to be manufactured in light metal, i.e. aluminium. It gave advantages concerning the weight and also a better performance. But could they rely on the sustainability of this novelty? Would the power source be up to standard and withhold the entire stretch of this long Grand Prix? Mannerstedt also discovered that the valves were wearing too much during full throttle tests. This was naturally of greatest importance as they had to consider a race distance of 400 kilometres. Mannerstedt had to figure out a way to solve the heat dissipation and to compensate for the abnormal wear. After some tests Mannerstedt found several technical solutions to the problems and the three C class 500cc machines for Gunnar Kalén, Ragnar Sunnqvist and Yngve Ericsson, were ready. The British Norton team consisted of the following riders – Stanley Woods and Percy Hunt in the 500cc C class and Jimmie Simpson and Jimmie Guthrie in the 350cc B class. These four men were the main antagonists to the Husqvarna team. A record crowd of approximately 150’000 people were registered on this memorable day. More than 20’000 persons made their way on ferries from Denmark and on the press stand there were more foreign journalists than there were from the local media... The royal stand was sold out with dignitaries including the king himself who took a vast interest in this event. The national pride was at stake for many reasons, but the day did not start so well for the home riders. After the Swedish flag gave the signal for take-off, the Husqvarna rider Gunnar Kalén was standing still on the starting line before he could get away, severely delayed. Everyone thought he was out of success for the day. Instead, the British riders were in command. The duo Woods and Hunt appeared in the front and lead alternately with a slight margin over third man Ragnar Sunnqvist. However, the Swede rode faster than the Britons and was catching up with the leaders, which pleased the home crowd enormously. The tension was high when the top riders started to lap slower riders on lap 14. Woods and Hunt passed the Swede Eric Lundberg on either side, which was permitted on the scene. Spectacular, to say the least for those who witnessed this bold action. But Hunt collided with the Swede, who met his fate and unfortunately was killed, while Hunt had to be taken to hospital with a broken hip. Death had come to Saxtorp! Only a few of the spectators were of course aware of the terrible crash consequences, so the race went on with Sunnqvist chasing the leader Woods. Could the Husqvarna rider repeat his previous success and win over Norton? Stanley Woods was pressed hard and after 19 laps he received signals from the pit to stop for refuelling. However, Woods was not alert and ignored the signal, which had awful consequences. Woods had counted on making his margin bigger over Sunnqvist with another lap, but instead he was eliminated for running out of petrol on the 20th lap! Therefore, Sunnqvist passed the tribunes in a most popular lead with a big margin to his followers. With only five laps remaining, people started to cheer for the winner who lead four out of them. However, on the very last lap, Sunnqvist met his unfortunate fate and had to retire. What had happened? Only a few kilometres from the finish line, Sunnqvist sat next to his Husqvarna. The chain had broken and there was nothing he could do but mourn his bad luck. So, instead, Gunnar Kalén was the first rider take the chequered flag in the C class. What had started with a spark plug misfortune, ended up with an overwhelming victory to the delight of the spectators. Kalén took his biggest victory of his career and Husqvarna was on top of the world. Gunnar Kalén set the fastest lap with a time of 6 minutes 22.6 seconds, which was equivalent of a speed of 136,6 km/h. His overall speed was set at 127,03 km/h. It should also be noted that the blogger's uncle, Rudolv Jönsson, was an ostentatious third rider over the finish line on his Husqvarna in the popular B class!

    A new racing era began in 1930 when the Swedish Grand Prix was introduced for motorcycle competition. In the little village of Saxtorp in southern Sweden, more people gathered than had ever before witnessed two-wheel racing. Husqvarna was present in the inaugural event and played a major role in the big-bore 500cc class. A third place was well-deserved for the local ace Yngve Ericsson, who thrilled a massive crowd of 70’000 spectators. The Husqvarna team arrived full of hopes in Saxtorp, the little village in the province of Skane where the first-ever Grand Prix of Sweden was held. It was not a coincidence that the GP scene would be attributed to Saxtorp. The village was inhabited by a mere 625 people back in 1930. But the decisive factor was its geographical position, which attracted the attention of the organisers. Here was a great junction and people from all over could gather easily as there were numerous ways of getting to the small village. Even motorcycle fans from Denmark could go to Saxtorp without big troubles. By ferry it was easy to reach and by airplane you could access Saxtorp by buying a 30-kronor ticket (approx. 6 US dollars). Another feasible factor was the possibility of closing down the whole area around Saxtorp without encountering any big traffic problems. Saxtorp was a place that had not changed very much since the railroad came along some 30 years earlier. Tobacco growing was one of the more popular aspects and it was promoted according to the "half/half-principle", meaning that the growers lent the land from the owners and split the revenues 50/50 with each other. The tobacco was then transformed into "the Saxtorp havannas" which was a popular and well-known brand in the province. The track around Saxtorp was initially formed to be 14’728 meters long and the rectangular shape of the circuit was supposed to be run with four sharp left hand corners. The start/finish line was situated on the southern outskirts of Saxtorp, near the village church. After only a very short distance from take-off, the first sharp left-hander came and was followed by another not so sharp left. Then came a long, long straightaway where top speeds of 160 to 170 km/h were recorded. For those who wanted to see speed, this was the ideal place of the track. Then the riders reached Björnstorp (the cottage of the bears) where another sharp lefthander had to be handled. By now the riders had covered almost a third of the lap's distance. On it went on a short stretch to Lyckan (happiness) where yet another left-hand corner met the competitors. Now, a straight of 2’000 meters+ had to be covered and also here the riders would reach a substantial speed before the circuit's last corner at the station of Dösjebro. The last third to the finish was more or less straight but did consist of some minor curves, making it difficult to handle the machines on full throttle. Only those with guts would! The Husqvarna factory had a new chief engineer as of the end of 1928 when Folke Mannerstedt was hired to do the R&D work at the plant. The director of Husqvarna, mister Gustaf Tham, was a motoring enthusiast and had no problems with his decision to employ the up-and-coming talent from Stockholm. Mannerstedt received a yearly salary of 8’000 Kronor (a new 500cc machine from Husqvarna cost 1’000 kronor at the time and a fat smorgasbord at the fashionable Riche restaurant in the capital set you back by 1.50 kronor). There was also a bonus on sales for Mannerstedt, which was guaranteed to be at least another 2’000 in his pockets. The factory had tested their latest machines in the Six Days contest, which this season was held in Switzerland. The new product had held up well without technical engine incidents, but punctures and broken chains had put a spanner in the wheels of the Swedish national team. The latest engine had been revised by new cylinder heads and work on both crankcase and conrods to improve the performance. Now the big question was on how to better the reliability in order to make sure the power source would last for at least 400 kilometers, which was the total race distance. And, to make things even more difficult, the engine had to be run on normal fuel (while sprint motors were run on methanol). The director Tham had his views on why Husqvarna should go racing… “It is paramount that we learn about heat problems, tolerances and material-qualities,” he said. The factory's rider Yngve Ericsson was to test the chassis and brakes of the newcomer while technical matters were on the agenda for Mannerstedt. This included also taking advice from an Englishman hired for the occasion. He was a specialist on JAP engines and came over for the Saxtorp event being paid by the Husqvarna people to make the most of the Swedish machines. Then there were the people from Bosch, Amal carburetors, chain & tyre experts and other accessory people who wanted to have their say on various subjects. The initial practice sessions started with the usual analysis of spark plugs, jet settings and some gearbox settings .On the second and third days Mannerstedt was into pistons & valves while also checking on the engine's overall work load. On basis of the results he was adjusting the gap of the piston rings, valve clearance, ignition, spark plugs, gear ratio and so on. Now everything was set for race day, all the machines needed now was fuel... The Swedish Tourist Trophy Grand Prix attracted a record crowd of 70’000 spectators. People were curious on this big-scale event as well as having a profound interest in motor racing. They came by bus, by car, on bikes and some had gathered on foot from a nearest villages. Even the king and his family came to watch and entered their grandstand at precisely 12.40 hours. The weather was bright and sunny this late-August day so the climate for a successful stunner was right there before your eyes. The officials, doctors & medical folks and the police had taken their spots to get the best overview and it was now time for the day's first race. The English riders were distinct favourites as they had more experience of long races than the local riders. In the 500cc class big names such as "the tiger" Jimmie Simpson on Norton was a crowd-pleaser. Yngve Ericsson was the lone representative on a 500cc Husqvarna and nobody knew in advance what chances he had among this international elite. The modern gladiators started up their engines and a roar was heard all over the starting area. Some white smoke could be detected from the odd motor, but most power sources only went clickety-clack as it should sound. There were three classes that were eligible for GP status and the two smaller ones were first at hand on today's agenda. In the 250cc class there was a hard-fought battle between a Swede and an Englishman. This being the A class the winner was local hero Erik Bohlin who rode a Swedish-produced NV machine. He won ahead of E A Mellors who straddled a New Imperial. In the B class, the riders with 350cc motorcycles came to the start. It was a nice, bright day as the riders gathered on the line in order to take the Swedish flag for their départ. Two Swedes and a Danish rider crossed the finish line as the top three. The winner was Tore Oscarsson riding a Velocette. The main event was the C class where all the top stars were in for a fight. But nobody could match the skills of Jimmie Simpson who won with a margin over Simcock on a Swiss Motosacoche. On third place was Yngve Ericsson who had done well on his Husqvarna. The Swedish machine proved to be up to standards and the local hero was met with stunning ovations from a delighted crowd. In a coming episode we will look into one of Saxtorp's grueling events that made head-lines all over the world for being a grand event. Be patient!
  21. Triple world champion

    27-year-old Torsten Hallman won his third world championship crown back in 1966 following a hard season of racing. The Husqvarna-mounted rider from Uppsala, north of Stockholm, had just finished his studies as an engineer when he hit the jackpot in the 15-round Grand Prix season. Five victories and four-second place results secured him the 250 cc title. "The rider who succeeds in winning the year's first Grand Prix is doomed to lose in the title chase". This was always a bad omen and had the reigning champion Victor Arbekov been more superstitious, he might have refrained from taking two moto wins in the opening round, held in Spain. Torsten Hallman avoided this jinx by finishing second overall behind the Russian rider. In France the Swede wanted revenge. At the same time the Russians were at hand early inspecting the superfast track in Pèrnes-les-Fontaines. They wanted to be sure on having the utmost prevailing chances of yet another victory. And it paid off in the opening heat when Arbekov managed to take the chequered flag ahead of mister motocross – Torsten Hallman. However, in the second and decisive moto, Hallman had his revenge and won convincingly. Victor Arbekov overdid things and his efforts were in vain as he crashed heavily, being unconscious for half an hour after the spill. This incident spoilt the entire season for Arbekov who did not make a comeback until on home turf in the 14th round of the championship. But Hallman had to look out for his ever-strong opponent and contender Joel Robert from Belgium. In France the overall order was: 1. Sweden and 2. Belgium – eight world championship points as opposed to six for second man Robert. Husqvarna beat the Czech brand CZ. However, the third round was on Joel's home turf in Belgium. The rain poured down and the circuit was left in a terrible state, almost impossible to conquer. This suited Robert well as he was an outstanding rider in such circumstances. Rain and mud were Joel Robert's favourite! On top of it Torsten Hallman lost third and fourth gears at the start and contemplated giving up. But this was never his style so he continued the race with only first and second gears available. Going up the first uphill he had to avoid a mass of riders who had been caught standing still in the mud as they did not make this steep part of the track. Among the bystanders was Joel Robert who looked unhappy and then finished in 10th spot after this first moto. Who won? Well, Hallman had overtaken one after another and managed to take the heat win despite very poor odds. In the second Robert was out on his own leading Torsten by three and a half minutes at the finish. But the overall victory belonged to Hallman and his Husqvarna. In the fifth round Hallman took his 50th victory and his 25th Grand Prix success was now a fact. The Czech track suited him well and there was never any doubt who would be the overall conqueror in this event. Bielstein was a famous place for motocross in West Germany. Hallman missed the start of the initial race and had to be content with second overall after Joel Robert. The fight between the two giants was now quite even, at least after seven championship meetings. In Italy Hallman gained once more the lead as he passed the finish line first in both races. Robert's CZ engine was out of order and the Belgian was so mad that he took a hammer and crushed his 250 power-plant entirely. He explained: "I've asked for a new engine for a long time now!" This strategy seemed to work as Joel won both races in Poland with his brand new CZ machine. At this point it was four to four in GP victories between the two rivals. East Germany held their GP at Apolda. Here both Hallman and Robert failed to score on the top level. Robert hurt his foot, but without breaking any bones he was fit for the rest of the fight. The Swedish round was boycotted by most foreigners as the organisers refused to pay a decent starting fee. The Belgians all stayed at home and instead taking part in international races. They probably made ten times the money without having to drive all the way to Motala. Hallman won this event with pride and now looked good for taking his third crown. Bot there were still three rounds to go... ”If you ride like that tomorrow in the race, you are absolutely going to win, Olle,” said Hallman to his Husqvarna team mate Olle Pettersson after the practice session on Saturday afternoon. The riders were now in Finland and had to compete in the sandy dunes at the Hyvinkää track. True to Hallman's verdict, Olle Pettersson won this gruelling event and passed Hallman to the second spot. The championship was now almost decided, as Robert did not clinch any points in Finland. In the Soviet Union the track was muddy waters after some heavy showers. Joel had to win in order to have a chance on the title crown, but came second, which spoilt his chances for 1966. So, Torsten Hallman clinched his third world 250 cc championship here despite some bad luck in the race when his chain broke and came off the sprocket. However, this did not make any difference in the final moment of the exciting season back in 1966. Hallman & Husqvarna were the overall winners of the FIM world title!
  22. Double world champion

    At the beginning of the 60s the Swedish Motorcycle Federation, SVEMO, had a wish – to have at least one world champion per season in motocross. In 1962 Husqvarna had won both the 250 and 500 cc classes with Torsten Hallman and Rolf Tibblin respectively. For the 1963 season the 500 cc competition was more fierce than ever; the threat coming from more Swedes than any other country... Bill Nilsson (Husqvarna), Sten Lundin (Lito) and Rolf Tibblin (Husqvarna) had conquered the 500 cc world during the past three years winning in grand style. In 1963 it would mostly be up to these three names to battle it out during the 12 Grand Prix long season held throughout the European continent. In the opening round, traditionally held in Sittendorf, Austria, the order of the three contenders was Lundin, Nilsson and Tibblin. In the following GP the order was Lundin, Nilsson with Tibblin fourth while Great Britain’s Jeff Smith managed to win in Denmark. So, after four rounds of the championship it was Sweden dominating the 500 cc world! 26-year-old reigning champion Rolf Tibblin from Stockholm now made his sixth season as a Husqvarna supported rider. He had previously not only won the 500 cc title, but also the 250 cc European championship in 1959 before this class gained world championship status. Now he was in better shape than ever and his 1963 path to victory started in the Dutch village of Markelo where the fifth round of this important season was held. A crowd of 40,000 motocross fans had come to this sandy circuit, which demanded the utmost physically from each and every rider. 15 laps in each heat were to be covered on this two-kilometre long track. Tibblin had a fierce battle with the strong Englishman Smith. They won one moto each, leaving the deciding factor to aggregate time difference, which fell in favour of the Swede. A week later in May it was time to travel to France where a brand new track was inaugurated in the town of Saint-Quentin. This circuit was also two kilometres long, but here 18 laps in each heat were completed before reaching the chequered flag. On this hilly and unforgiving track Rolf Tibblin made one of his best outings on the Husqvarna, claiming the overall victory after two consecutive moto wins. Tibblin again! In Italy the world championship riders had to conquer both dirt and asphalt as they were riding in a local park. Rolf won and now held an overwhelming world championship lead ahead of Sten Lundin. In Praha, Czechoslovakia, the seventh round of the series was ridden outside of the capital with an enormous crowd cheering their local hero Vlastimil Valek, who rode a 263 cc bike in the 500 class! But he tried in vain coming to the finish line as runner-up to Tibblin. Rolf now claimed his fourth outright victory and had the title in a firm grip although it was not decided yet. Theoretically... The Husqvarna 500 cc factory machine was well prepared for Tibblin who sought assistance from his mechanic/friend Nils Hedlund in Spanga, outside of Stockholm. Hedlund prepared Tibblin's machine from time to time between the championship races. Rolf also made visits to the Husqvarna factory in Huskvarna in order to serve and update his 4-stroke machine. The engine was developed from the 500 cc 112TV Husqvarna model and had a British four-speed transmission. Front suspension came from Ceriani/Norton while the rear shock absorbers were products from Girling in England. The frame was "house-made" and consisted of chrome molybdenum tubing and it should be noted here that the factory machines from Husqvarna were considerably lighter than that of Tibblin's competitors. All in all, some twenty 4-stroke Husqvarna bikes were produced and are now of huge interest to motorcycle collectors around the world. Back to the world championship! Rolf Tibblin now lead by nine points ahead of main rival Sten Lundin after seven world champion rounds. The eighth event for the title was held in Russia, outside the city of Lvov. Conditions were so sloppy that the organisers let the start go as both Tibblin and Lundin were still in the paddock! But they fought back and Rolf managed to file for second place behind winner Ove Lundell riding a Swedish-built Monark. Hawkstone Park was the traditional motocross track during the early championship stages in motocross. It is situated in the western part of England. Jeff Smith won while Tibblin retired with a broken hose, which went from the carburettor to the air filter. Zero points here for the Swede. In the old castle part of the city of Namur, the Belgian Grand Prix was organised. It is a very special track where riders go through a hilly park and then cross the old castle each lap. Here the spectators get a mouthful and really get to see their favourites sliding spectacularly through this sandy part of the track. Rolf Tibblin played the first string of the fiddle and took an overwhelming victory, securing his 500 cc tile. He had collected 52 points all in all while second man Lundin had 46 to his credit. It was the first time in history that a 500 rider won the title two years in a row. Rolf completed his good season by also winning the national 500 cc championship, which in those days seemed to be harder than winning at the international races.
  23. Edgy Golden Arrow

    Two years after the Silver Arrow was introduced, Husqvarna decided to widen their product range. The 1955 machine now had a big brother that was equipped with a 200cc engine. It went by the name of “Golden Arrow”. The 1957 Golden Arrow was a top-of-the-line product and could match machines from rival brands Monark, Nymanbolagen and Crescent… It started back in 1951 when the Husqvarna 230 model was developed. Powered first with the older 118cc power unit, then later the more modern and robust 175cc engine. Two years later the Swedish Six Days team won several gold medals. The internal name of the race prototypes was the 218 Sport model. But this so called "Dream Machine" never made it big-time in sales, although it was marketed between 1952 and 1959. In Swedish it had the nickname of “Drömbågen”. Since the Dream Machine never sold to expectations, a new motorcycle was introduced in January 1955, stealing the name "Silver Arrow" from Mercedes’ successful four-wheeled racers. This newcomer had exactly the right styling needed to tempt many of the youngsters becoming interested in motorcycling during the next decade. Actually, the weapons factory in Huskvarna benefitted from almost two decades of income & developments, which can be traced back to the Silver Arrow. All in all, 11’300 units were produced in the province of Huskvarna between 1955 and 1964. After a couple of years on the market it became clear that the existing 175cc power plant needed development. Increasing the capacity to 200cc this newcomer was soon nicknamed the "Golden Arrow". The engineers counted 15 horsepower under continuous load while the machine was only 10 kilos heavier than its predecessor. This made a subtle advantage on the market, where competition was now stiff with competing models such as the Jet Crosser, the Blue Stinget and the bike from Nymanbolagen all more or less in the same price bracket. There were also many smaller workshops, producing "home-made pies", but they didn't sell too many units to be counted on the market. However, all of them relied on imported engines from the European continent. Husqvarna was the only manufacturer who produced their own power plants. As the thoughts of an elder brother to the Silver Arrow came into mind, the R&D team were convinced that it was necessary to increase the capacity of the current 175cc engine. Therefore the team went on the hunt for a bigger cylinder. It was decided to order four different types of cylinders from a local German manufacturer by the name of Müller. These prototypes had the advantage of a traditional single intake manifold as opposed to many producers who relied on dual intake manifolds, which weren’t considered favourable for the new machine. The first model year for the Golden Arrow was in 1958, although the machine was introduced in 1957. As previously mentioned the newcomer had a displacement of 200cc and was based on the successful Silver Arrow. This upgraded machine used basically the same power plant as its smaller sister, but had a big bore 200cc cylinder. The gearbox had three positions and all in all this beast was capable of doing 100 km/h, which at the time was good performance. According to standards the lightweight tubular frame was a simple but elegant stamped-steel product where the engine helped make the bike stable as a part of the build-up. Streamlining was also part of the styling concept and Husqvarna wanted no less, of course. Both the front forks with leading link and rubber links and the headlamp suited well into this modern, up-to-date design. The standard single-exhaust system trimmed more weight, however, there was later a Sport model, which used double-exhaust pipes. Immediately, the weight crept over 75 kilos but this was of minor importance for the export markets. Externally it may have looked similar, but its colour trim was in black and gold, which made it easy to separate these exquisite pair of bikes. Some of the Golden machines were fitted with dual exhaust pipes to make it look snazzier, but even so the newcomer failed to attract. The colour scheme was not as attractive as the red/silver Arrow unit, which also influenced sales negatively. The Golden Arrow was made between 1957-59. A mere 1’250 units were manufactured before Husqvarna dropped the model entirely. It was said to have one horsepower more than its little sister, however it never turned out to be any quicker than its 175cc sibling. On top of everything, the Swedish safety authorities had some issues with the 200cc machine. They thought it to be too strong and so violated the initial intent of the nation's original law, which was a machine below 75 kilos, ready to go. Crucially, according to Swedish law restrictions, the new machine had a weight just below 75 kilos, which was the legal formality for using a "Lightweight Machine". In this weight classification both equipment and a full tank of petrol were included in order to make the bike legal for 16-year old teenagers with a riding license. The law was actually counter-productive and bureaucratic as the factory was inclined to use light and next-to-perfect components in order to make the 75-kilo-limit. The price of the Golden Arrow in 1957 was around $400.00 USD at the time. Today, the Golden Arrow is a much sought after machine as only a few of this attractive model were ever manufactured.
  24. Training camps

    Most people know that you have to be in a good physical shape in order to ride motocross well. This was common knowledge already in the 50s, but it wasn’t until twenty years later that training camps became popular. As Husqvarna wanted to support a future American world champion they recruited Brad Lackey, who in the 70s was as determined about strength practice as he was training on his Swedish bike... One of the true training buffs in motocross is the Swedish giant Rolf Tibblin, who won his first 250cc European crown for Husqvarna back in 1959. He regarded good physical training as an absolute must in order to become a successful rider. Not only did he preach for practicing strength, but he was also keen on emphasizing endurance stamina. No doubt he became one of the fittest motocross riders ever and in order to do so, Rolf Tibblin developed his own training regime. Another rider keen on keeping in shape was four-times world champion Torsten Hallman. In his book "Mister Motocross" (ghost written by yours truly), Torsten spends a whole chapter on the physical practice. It turned out that there extensive analysis was made by the Swedish Physical Sports Institution. They wanted to compare statistics with other sports and athletes and it provided some interesting results when comparing figures. The physical tests carried out were on eight different top riders, of which four of them had been world champions. At the time of the tests they were aged between 21 and 34, weighing between 66 and 84 kilos. Without going into details one can say that during a race the rider inhales ten times as much oxygen in a minute compared to a person at rest. The maximum heartbeats in the race situation is around 180 per minutes while the compared figure for a simulated race lies at 160. The remaining 20 palpitations can be assigned to the stress moment. Torsten Hallman also pointed out that no other sport has a similar maximum frequency, or even close to maximum, of the heart during such a long time. Consider there were two motos at the time, each consisting at around 45 minutes of hard racing. The representatives of the Swedish Physical Sports Institution were surprised at the results for the motocross riders. They had never expected to see sportsmen so fit in this category of motor sports. The American Brad Lackey started to ride in Grand Prix Racing back in 1972. During his two first seasons he came over to race in Europe on his own expenses before hitting it off with Husqvarna for the 1974 season. Brad was riding in the 500cc class together with the Finn Heikki Mikkola. Both riders were keen athletes and devote a lot of time to their individual physical training. It was therefore no surprise that these two men were leading Husqvarna's winter training camps as they were held in northern Sweden near the town of Alfta. From the factory leaders the competition manager Roland Arréhn was responsible at the training camp. Here, not only physical practice was conducted. There were also serious discussions over proper diets, how the rest influenced the training moments and also mental practice was part of the extensive program here. The camps usually lasted for a week or so and the rigorous physical exercises were conducted both in and outdoors, more often than not under winter conditions. Outside, people were running around in the snow while practicing indoors meant being in a gymnastics hall. Most of the tests & exercises in Alfta imitated race situations as much as possible, which resulted in making the right groups of muscles work while static. Last, but not least, over and over it was stated that a future top rider has to practice and be stubborn beyond most standards. No champion was ever made in a day!
  25. Military sales in the 60s

    At the end of 1964, Husqvarna was back in business with the military, who had always favoured motorcycles to be part of their vehicle equipment. The Swedish brand had sold some bikes in the 30-ties, but now it was a serious order - the military asked for a quote for 5 000 machines! At first, a prototype Husqvarna was built up to specifications from the military. Among other things the machine should be possible to equip with skis which was nothing new to the R&D department at Huskvarna. During 1965 the newcomer was tested under severe conditions, with few modifications at hand. Among other equipment was a tank bag and a rear rack to accommodate extra material. Husqvarna began production and was ready to deliver at the beginning of 1966, when politics set in. Everything was delayed and the new model named MC 256A was stalled on production. In the meantime, customers in the United States demanded more and the importer Edison Dye decided to take advantage of the situation. He had a Sportsman version imported to the U.S.A. and it was nearly the same machine as the 256A, but, of course, without the skis and other unnecessary equipment... As the time of delivery to the military grew closer, the order diminshed to a fifth of the original figures. No more than a thousend machines were delivered for terrain purposes in the military. As it turned out the Swedish brand was superior to the previous used foreign brands (machines from England, Germany and Czechoslovakia). Both durability and performance were more satisfying now with the "Swedish steel" biting. A few years later the military planned for a new model, which would not be based on any existing material. But the "Request for Proposal" in 1971 did not only go to Husqvarna, but also to competing manufacturers. The new military thinking included details as an engine which kept running while the machine was lying on its side. They also wanted the wheels to be interchangeable. Last but not least: the newcomer had to be equipped with an automatic gearbox as the machines would also be ridden by inexperienced riders. This time, the size of the order was 3,000 units, to be delivered by the end of the 70-ties. After having developed a suitable new machine, three manufacturers went into further discussions with the military. During testing, it turned out that none of the prototypes were good enough to pass the request list. A second round was initiated, which gave Husqvarna and Hägglund each the chance of improving their prototypes. The new machine used an automatice gearbox with a centrifugal weight clutch and freewheel for each gear. This way, the selected gears were depending on the speed of the rearwheel. The construction consisted of a gearbox with only three gears and worked well from the start of the tests. The machine was also included in the "International Six-Days Trial, ISDT" in 1973 which gave the general public a chance to see this latest development from Husky. However, to everybodys' surprise, Hägglunds was awarded the final contract as "they had submitted a most innovative design in their presented prototype". But Husqvarna did not give up. They had been very successful in the ISDT and continued developing a commercial machine. It would sell as a street machine with excellent performance also off the road. Only a year and a half later, Hägglunds realized that they had failed making a production vehicle from their appreciated prototype. Husqvarna was asked to take over the responsability for delivery. This came in handy with the developers in the company and a special group was formed leading the way. It took until the fall of 1976 before everything was negotiated from both parties. But further delays and discussions set the final delivery of a thousend machines to 1980/81 when the elusive Husqvarna model 258 was handed over for military purposes.