We introduced Christer Persson to R&C readers way back in the June '01 issue when we published a profile on the man and his many cars entitled "The Bubble Gum King." Christer doesn't like the nickname, which he picked up from the bubble gum vending business he co-owns with his father, Bosse, in Malmo, Sweden. All those nickels, dimes, and quarters-or the Swedish equivalent-have added up to bankroll a number of incredible rods, including a black flamed '32 roadster with a Corvette 283 with Strombergs, DuVall windshield, and King Bees; a custom yellow (with purple pinstripes) '40 coupe with a 350 Chevy; a chopped '51 Mercury coupe with a flathead and triple 97s, painted black with purple primer scallops; and a black all-steel '32 fendered five-window coupe with a 283 with six Holley 2100s. When we featured those cars, we provided a peek at Christer's latest project-his in-progress '32 Ford cabriolet. A year later, the car was still under construction, but the chassis was so incredible that we couldn't wait and published Anders Oleholm's studio photos of the Deuce minus body and interior. That story, entitled "Nordic Nostalgia," appeared in the June '02 issue of R&C. Now, at last, we have shots of the completed car.
Christer's passion for hot rods began the first time he saw the movie American Graffiti. He continued to learn by reading as many American rodding magazines as he could get his hands on. The inspiration for the cabriolet came from a Street Rodder Illustrated feature on Steve Centracchio's traditional-style convertible Deuce, one of Christer's favorite hot rods. When Christer met Centracchio in Syracuse in 1995, he took advantage of the chance to closely inspect the car and ask lots of questions about how it was built. By the end of the weekend he had decided to build a cabriolet of his own. The body style would allow him to have the best of both worlds: the fun of a topless car on sunny days combined with the comfort of a coupe during cold or rainy days.
Finding raw material for a hot rod is a lot more difficult in Europe than it is in the U.S., especially when the car in question is a low-production model. As we reported in the earlier stories, Christer found the cabrio in the classified ads section of an agricultural magazine he picked up in a tavern. The car, listed as a "'32 Fjord," was owned by an old lady whose husband had bought it new. The husband died in 1956 and the car was stored in a barn for 40 years, waiting for someone to find it and built it into a rod.
After steaming off 40 years of dirt, Christer discovered that the body didn't have a freckle of rust on it. The interior and top, however, were not worth saving. Much of the buildup was accomplished by Ulf Larsson, but he is just one of many people responsible for the success of the car. The project began in May 1996 and was finally finished in the middle of last year. Christer's intention was to build a clean, nostalgic car without a bunch of extra components. "I thought it would be cool to build a rod that could have won the Oakland Roadster Show in 1958 or 1959," is how he put it. Now that it's done, Christer intends to ship his '32 to the U.S. to show it at some of the big-time events over here. "Shipping the car to the U.S. is going to cost a few bucks," Christer said, "so I urge my fellow Swedes to chew more gum."