In Norway, Greger's parents got divorced, and the young kid moved to the small community of Stange with his mother. "There was a blacksmith in town that dad called Petter Fabrikken," Christian recalled. "Dad enjoyed hanging out with the blacksmith, and he used to spend every evening watching Petter work."
Growing up in Oslo, Greger had already in the early 1930s seen men such as Arvid Johansen and other run fast in homemade and hopped up automobiles. He had also seen some of the few "real" race cars that had been sold to Norway.
In 1937 Greger rode his bicycle to the Avus-racetrack in Berlin to see his idol Eugene Bjørnstad race his ERA. He got to hang out with Eugene and his crew in Berlin, and he even got a ride with them back to Norway after the race.
Back in Norway, Greger decided that he wanted a race car himself. At the time he didn't even own an automobile, so in the spring of 1937 he bought his first car, a 1930 Ford Model A four-door Sedan. Greger paid 1800 NOK's for the Model A. At the time a normal Norwegian salary was 1.50 NOK per hour. The sedan would be the starting point for Greger's first race car. The inspiration for the build came from a Finish race car built by Einar Alm. Einar's racer had competed at Bogstadvannet in 1935, where it actually beat Eugene Bjørnstad's Bugatti, ending up on 5th place. Arvid Johansen, who competed in the "Sportsvogn" class at the same race, was also beaten by Alm's time. Alm's race car was very light, and it was basically built from plywood and cloth.
When Greger built his first race car, he lived in Trondheim, working for a company called Gaden & Larsen. Greger wanted his race car to be a surprise at the race at Leangbanen, so it was built secretly. He drove the stock Model A around for a while before he eventually parked it under a tarp at the parking lot where he worked. He started by removing the front axle. The front axle was modified so it could be mounted above the frame of the race car. After the front axle had been modified, he put it back under the Model A that he hid under the tarp. He continued by removing and modifying the rear axle so that it could be installed under the frame as well. New brackets for the spring were welded on before he could put the rear axle back under the tarp as well. The engine was removed and fitted with a French built camshaft that Greger had borrowed from Arvid Johansen, as the camshaft wouldn't fit with the Record OHV head that Arvid ran. The engine was bored as much as possible before new pistons were installed. The head was shaved for higher compression. A Scintilla-magneto was also installed so Greger could skip the heavy battery. The weight of the flywheel was reduced by 15 kg, about half of the original weight. Greger ran it without a fan. The front brake drums were retained, but they were empty inside, so Greger had only brakes in the rear of the car.
First test run of the engine turned out to be a failure. The camshaft provided enough speed, but the carburetor was not able to give as much fuel as it needed. Greger split the carburetor and modified the jet so it would run faster and provide a lot of power. The modified carburetor required high speeds. The rear end and transmission were kept stock on the inside. The result, according to Greger, was around 3000 rpm and 60-65 horsepowers. A Ford Model T frame was used for the build. The frame was fitted with the modified Model A axles. The final build weighed about 600 kg, something that resulted in a good acceleration. Top speed was around 100 km per hour. About a week before the race, the chassis was drivable and ready, but he had no body. The rolling chassis was rolled out on a Saturday evening after work. People were amazed to see what Greger had been up to, and even the boss honored Greger for what he had built. It was time for Greger to ask people for help, as he was still missing the body and various other parts. Greger had built the structure for the firewall. Hermann Eriksen built an aluminum grille, while a body man made most of the body parts. Greger kept the stock radiator, but he moved it behind the front axle. The stock steering gear was kept as well, but it had to be repositioned a little towards the center of the car.
It didn't take long before everyone knew that Greger Strøm of Gaden & Larsen had built a race car. Until that Saturday, Greger had secretly worked on the chassis after work hours and during the nights. Some days he snuck back into the shop after dinner. There were some holes in the fence that he could use to sneak back in after dinner. A handheld lamp was used for light. A hacksaw and welder were heavily used, and even though chairman Langnæs lived on the second floor of the same building, nobody knew what was going on.
Friday night before the race, half of the panels on the tail of the car were missing, so the body could not be painted before Saturday. It was painted white on Saturday, the day before the race. Several newspapers had heard about Greger's creation, and on Friday both Dagsposten and Adresseavisen came to take pictures of the race car. Two men had to stand next to the car on the photos to cover up the unfinished tail.
During a test-run at Leangbanen the day before the race, the middle crankshaft-bearing broke, and the race car had to be towed back to the shop. With help from Birger Knutsen and others, a semi-finished bearing was adapted and mounted. They finished the engine up 3 o clock that night.
Greger understood that a low weight would be the secret of his success. Even though he had borrowed a camshaft from Arvid Johansen, he knew that the engine wouldn't produce much more horses than a stock engine. He started the race in second gear, and a had a lead position from the beginning. Arvid Johansen was competing in the same race, and Greger knew he had to keep him behind him as long as possible. Arvid didn't catch up with Greger during that race, and Greger won in front of 7000 spectators. In 1995 he told the magazine Right On that right then it felt like he had won the Indianapolis.
After the race, Greger installed the front and rear axle on the Model A four-door again. He returned the camshaft to Arvid Johansen, and the engine disappeared. The race car was left rotting away. In 1995 nobody knew what happened to the Greger Strøm Special No. 1.
The following year, Greger had started another build. This car was also built secretly, as the new foreman at Gaden & Larsen was very strict. This time Greger wanted to go all the way, with a homebuilt tube-frame. Low weight was again what Greger aimed for. Tubes for the build were bought and sneaked into the shop. Work was done in the evenings and weekends, and the parts were hidden during the day. The parts-manager was informed, and he helped Greger ordering parts. Parts were also borrowed from the shelves in the shop. When it came to the engine, Greger got a broken 85 horsepower Ford flathead V-8 in a trade-off with a bus-company in town. Rebuilding the broken engine cost half of what it would have costed to buy a new one. The body was built at some acquaintances place in Namsos. When rumor hit the town about a race car being built in Namsos, the local newspaper decided to stop by the shop. The journalist wanted Greger to take the car for a spin around town, and he fixed a permission from the local police and fire department. The police and fire department shut down the main street of Namsos so Greger could show off his creation. The race Greger wanted to attend at Leangen was one day away, so the same night, Greger jumped into the car and drove it the 124 miles from Namsos to Trondheim. He had temporarily license plates and used two flashlights as headlights. The flashlights were tied to the front end, and they lasted for about an hour. After that, he drove the rest of the distance in the dark.
The race at Leangen started good for Greger, but with around 100 meters left to the finish line, the throttle linkage broke, and Greger lost the race. It was a frustrating situation for Greger who was in it for the win. As with his first car, the Greger Strøm Special No. 2 was also parted after the race. The engine was sold, but Greger never got his money. Borrowed parts were returned, and the rest of the car was left rotting away. Nobody knows what became of the remaining parts of this race car as well.
In 1939 Greger was back in Oslo, working for Fram Motor Kompani. WWII stopped all racing activities in Norway the following year, and after the War, it was a shortage of products in Norway. There were also import-restrictions on cars. Arne Hinsværk was a known race-car driver in Norway after the War, and he ordered a Ford V-8 special racer from Fram Motor Kompani. The car, known as Greger Strøm's third special racer would soon enter the history books as one of the most-winning Norwegian race cars ever. A tube-frame was constructed from scratch. The front and rear axle were Ford components, and they were placed above the frame. Arne's race car had brakes on all four wheels and a two-circuit brake system. The engine was a 100 horsepower flathead V-8 from a 1939 Ford that Greger hopped up with a Mercury crankshaft. The car, a two-seat roadster, was built in all publicity at Fram Motor Kompani. It featured fenders and headlights, and it was registered for usage on the street. Being built at a Ford-dealership, the car was fitted with a 1947 Ford grille. The price tag was 15.000 NOK.
Greger Strøm's Race Cars
Cars Built by Greger Strøm
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep history alive. For as little as 2.99 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional information or photos to share about Greger Strøm.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.