Hässleholm, Sweden, where Julia Eliasson lives, is over 4,600 miles from Atlanta. Turns out that hot rodding is an easy way to bridge that distance. Julia is the proud owner of this beautiful 1977 Trans Am, and, I learned, part of a large hot rod community in Sweden.
Julia obtained the T/A in July, when it was put up for sale in Sweden. Originally built in North Carolina, the Pontiac was shipped to Germany where it was a display car in a GM dealership for almost 10 years. “It came to Sweden 1992 and had been used very little,” Julia said. “My dad saw an ad for the car and we went to check it out. It’s totally free of rust and in great condition. I fell in love with it, so I bought it on sight. I was the lucky one among many others that also were interested.”
Julia was raised with muscle cars. “When I was little, my dad had a few,” she said. “A 1970 Chevy Nova, then a red 1975 Firebird, and then he bought the yellow 1973 Firebird with stripes. When I grew older I got a bigger interest in American muscle cars.”
She bought her first car when she was 18 – a black Volvo 850 T5-R. “But I got tired of it really fast,” she said, “and then I bought my Trans Am. I’ve always loved Trans Ams.”
If you weren’t already jealous about Julia’s classic American muscle car, wait till you find out it’s a numbers matching T/A with a 400 HO engine, 350 Turbo-Hydromatic transmission, and the original suspension. The exhaust system was replaced by an earlier owner but Julia is planning to put the original system back in. The car got repainted when it came to Sweden, and as you can see from the pictures, the wheels are not original but, Julia says, “I kinda like them anyway.”
In true GHR fashion, Julia does her own work on her Firebird and drives it often. The long, cold Swedish winters do shorten the driving season, but provide plenty of time for turning wrenches. “I have it in winter storage for almost 6 months,” she explained. “During that time, I work on the car and prepare it for spring. My dad is helping me. I’m so grateful for that, and I learn so much when we’re in the garage working together.”
I asked Julia if it was difficult the get parts in Sweden. “It’s not difficult at all,” she said, “and I’m very grateful of that. I can buy my parts at Classic Industries, and we have many shops in Sweden.”
But when spring arrives, Julia has the T/A on the road. “When it’s nice weather I drive it really often. I drive it to car meets. It’s a really nice car to drive.” She didn’t show the car this past summer, but is planning to do so in the future.
One thing Julia is not planning on doing is racing her Firebird (despite Jonas’ obvious ability to do seriously good burnouts in his Nova). “I didn’t buy it for racing,” she said, “It’s my little baby and I take really good care of it. And I will never sell it.”
I was not aware that the car club and hot rodding community in Sweden was so large. But Julia told me, “It’s really big. We have several car meets in Sweden, including the Power Meet and Wheels And Wings. There are thousands of cars at those meets.” And “thousands of cars” means 20,000 at the Power Meet, according to their website. The 2019 Power Meet will be July 4-6 in Lidköping, Sweden if you’d like to check it out.
Sweden’s car community includes a lot of American muscle cars, including Jonas’ 1973 Firebird. He bought it 2009 and is going to restore it. “By the way,” Julia said, “if you know anyone who has a 455 engine, he will be interested.”
It’s easy to look back at the birth and growth of hot rodding in the U.S. and assume it’s a unique part of American culture. I certainly did. But the satisfaction that comes from making something look and perform better, the rush we get from driving a high performance car, and being able to share those experiences across generations, seem to be common bonds across miles and nationalities.
Julia’s Trans Am proves that.
All photos courtesy of Julia Eliasson
You can follow Julia on Instagram at @juliaeliass0n