Bengt Wennergren

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Bengt Wennergren's 1949 Ford of Enskedefältet in Stockholm, Sweden. When Bengt bought the Ford, the rear end was already restyled by Leif "Grillkorven" Rose. The build was completed in 1963.
Bengt Wennergren's 1931 Ford Model A Roadster was built by Bengt between 1962 and 1966.
A photo of Bengt next to Louie Bettancourt's 1949 Mercury during a visit to Barris Kustoms in 1967. Bengt moved to the United States in 1967, and he worked for a while for Brian Chuchua at his Jeep Sales. Bengt took several photos at Barris Kustoms, but as his camera later got stolen, most of those photos are now gone. Gone is also the Louie Bettancourt Mercury. Dean Jeffries inherited the car from Johnny Zupan after he was killed in an accident. Dean stored the car outside his shop next to the Hollywood Freeway when it was stolen from his lot in 1970. The car has since then been lost. Photo from The Bengt Wennergren Photo Collection.
A photo Bengt took in California in 1967. Photo from The Bengt Wennergren Photo Collection.

Bengt Wennergren of Enskedefältet in Stockholm, Sweden. Bengt is an early Swedish hot rodder, customizer and drag racer. In 2012 Bengt told Kustomrama that in the 1960s, the press called everyone that wore blue jeans and drove a car a Raggare; "I belonged to a group of people that read Hot Rod Magazine and Rod & Custom, starting out in 1957. I was into hot rods and customs, but we did hang out at the Raggar hangouts such as Henry's and Drive-in, and we were called Raggare. We were many that dedicated our lives to cars, and out of this scene grew many well known Swedish hot rodders and customizers." Beng's first car was a 1951 Ford coupe, that he sold and bought a 1949 Ford. November 22, 1963, Bengt's Ford was given a Metalflake paint job. As they were working on the car that day, Bengt remembers hearing about the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the radio. Bengt's Ford might have been the first Metalflaked car in Sweden.[1]


Hot Rod Shopping in Denmark

In the 1960s, Bengt, and his friends Hasse and Kjelle, also known as Sillarna, frequently visited junkyards in Denmark, looking for hot rod projects. In 1962, on one of those trips, Bengt bought a 1931 Ford Model A roadster that he would build into a street rod; "Denmark had restrictions when it came when it came to importing cars up to the 1960s. Due to this, cars rolling on Danish roads were much older then the ones we had in Sweden. I found my roadster parked in a corner of a junkyard. The Junker told me that we had to use a crane to get it out, because it was very important that we didn't damage a 1950 Opel that was parked next to it. Back then, they had a different view on the value of the cars. We managed to get the roadster out without a crane." Back then, you could buy an Austin A30 for 300 Swedish Kroners in Sweden, drive it to Denmark, and trade it for Model A and B Fords. In 2012 Bengt remembered that they once got three, running, Model B Fords in trade for an Austin; "We drove the Fords across the border on homemade license plates. We shared the paperwork from the Austin so that one had the title, one had the inspection papers, and one had the proof of purchase. We drove separate ways. The trade went down at Kögeskroten. In a small town we got into a traffic jam, driving behind each other. It didn't feel very smart, but no one reacted." Bengt also remembered that on some of the junkyards they visited they could see that Per "Palle" Eriksson and Bo "Gamen" Sandberg had been there before them, as vital hot rod parts were missing.[1]


The Road Knights

In the early 1960s Bengt, "Rompa" and Lars Erik "Junken" Ljungkvist bought an old barn that they turned into a shop. Rompa found the barn, which had seen better days. They started out by molding the floor. Rompa told some concrete-guys that if they had some left-over concrete to spare, they would grateful. After the floors had been made, the barn was isolated before a heater was installed. According to Bengt, it turned out great. The guys had a moving in party, and the barn became a hang out for everyone that like hot rods. The shop became pretty populated. The guys in the barn called themselves the Road Knights; "There was a comic book back in the days that contained a story about some kids that were into Hot Rods. They had a club called the Road Knights, so when we were adding our phone number to the phone directory, we decided to use "Road Knights." When someone called us in the shop, we answered saying "Road Knights." It wasn't much more then that. " Later on "Trötta Lasse" and Richard "Toddan" moved in to the shop as well.[1]


During a trip to Rimini in Gamen's dad's DeSoto, Gamen and his fiance Karin "Morris" went separate ways. After the break up, Bengt and Morris went steady for a couple of years.[1]


Bengt moved to the United States in the 1960s. In 1966 he met Dick Scrithfield. Dick Scrithfield's 1932 Ford roadster was given a Metalflake paint job in 1960, and it is known as the world's first Metalflaked car. Dick invited Bengt and his friends to a cruising with the LA Roadster's. They drove a 1958 Chevrolet, and had to stay in the back, but it was still a huge experience for the Sweedish teenagers.[1]


In 1967 Bengt worked for Brian Chuchua at his Jeep Sales where they amongst other stuff built Jeeps for Baja California. Brian was a friend of Bosse Kasby, who ran BoMac Racing with his brother Ove in Älvsjö, Stockholm. Bengt worked for Brian for about a year, and he remembers that famous racers such as Dean Moon and Ed Iskenderian used to stop by the shop.[1]


Bengt helped arrange "First Go" at Mantorp, and later Anderstorp. In 2012 he told Kustomrama that he was a Juror at the races; "I remember that the flywheel came loose on the "Hot Tomato" during a race, It came right trough the door. Luckily, Lasse Nigell was not hurt in the accident, but "Bärre Päron's" arm was slightly damaged, as he drove next to Lasse on his Harley-Davidson in a spex race. A tarp went over the Volvo right after the race, so no one would take any photos of it. Some more minor accidents followed, so Bengt decided that he wouldn't be the "goalkeeper" anymore, being responsible for the race."[1]


In 2012 Bengt was enjoying the good life. Hot rods were now swapped with motorclycles, and Bengt owned a Harley-Davidson. He was a member of 3 motorcycle clubs; BOMB-MC, HOG, South Chapter and Södertörns Custom Riders.[1]


Bengt Wennergren's Cars

Bengt Wennergren's 1931 Ford Model A Roadster
Bengt Wennergren's 1949 Ford
Bengt Wennergren's 1951 Ford Coupe


References



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