Who said wagons are no longer popular?

Sweden is known for many things. From the IKEA and H&M shops in our malls to ABBA and Ingmar Bergman in the art field. It’s also the land where those Viking stories come from and the country that gave us the "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" novel that spawned a great film. When it comes to vehicles, Sweden is home to iconic marques like Volvo, Saab, Koenigsegg, and Scania. It’s also the country where station wagons are still extremely popular, something I found out while spending a couple of days in Stockholm recently.

Station Wagon Heaven

Sweden Is the Land of Station Wagons and Old American Cars
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More than half of the cars on the road are station wagons

And I do mean extremely popular. I didn’t really notice it at first, as I was rather busy absorbing the city’s unique contemporary architecture, but later I realized that more than half of the cars on the road are station wagons. Coupled with the smaller hatchbacks, tailgate-equipped cars made out at least 70 percent of the vehicle population. With station wagons having lost a big share of the market to crossovers in recent years, it was an amazing discovery. Sure, wagons are still pretty popular all over Europe compared to the United States, but I haven’t seen so many of them in one place in any other European city I’ve visited so far.

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More than 90 percent of taxis are wagons

When I was in Oslo, electric cars were all over the place. One of every three cars that drove by was either a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla, a BMW i3, a Volkswagen e-Golf, or a Renault Zoe. Stockholm doesn’t have as many, but it seems to be a heaven for station wagons. And it’s not just mundane cars from Skoda, Ford, or Volkswagen. Premium cars are also preferred in this body style. I’ve seen a lot of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi wagons, not to mention a big fleet of new Volvo V90s. More than 90 percent of taxis are wagons. It was actually a real struggle to see a cab with a four-door sedan layout.

For a station wagon fan like me, Stockholm was a real treat. And it got me thinking that maybe the wagon market still has a future, despite the crossover segment still having a lot of room to grow.

A Cult for Old American Cars

Sweden Is the Land of Station Wagons and Old American Cars
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There are more restored 1950s American cars in Sweden than in the United States

Swedish drivers also have a strong passion for classic American cars. This is impressive for two reasons. First, American cars aren’t very popular in Europe. Sure, most Western countries have U.S. classic car clubs, but this feels somewhat weird in a country focused on green energy and electrification. Second, word has it that there are more restored 1950s American cars in Sweden than in the United States. Do consider that the U.S. has a population of around 325 million, while Sweden is home to only 10 million people.

It’s actually more of a greaser subculture, as it also includes a 1950s American pop culture. It goes by the name Raggare, and it’s associated mainly with middle-aged men who enjoy meeting and showing off their retro American cars. It also has to do with the fact that Swedish people enjoy one of the highest average income in Europe, which comes in handy when importing and restoring old American cars.

I also discovered a garage full of 1970s pickup trucks and quite a few 1950s Buicks and Chevys

And trust me, everything you heard about Raggare is true. Despite being a Scandinavian country that loves Volvos and station wagons, Sweden is packed with American classics. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to take any photos, but I spotted quite a few on the highways around Stockholm, including an old F-150 truck towing a 1970 Mustang that needed a serious makeover. I also discovered a garage full of 1970s pickup trucks and vans and quite a few Buicks and Chevys from the 1950s. But it was late in the evening, and my phone camera doesn’t take darkness too kindly.

All I have is a photo of a more recent Buick Roadmaster woody, but if you ever travel to Sweden, be on the lookout for old American gems among all those station wagons.

Sweden Is the Land of Station Wagons and Old American Cars
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