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The Finnish Hot Rod Association American Car Show, Helsinki, March 2008
Meets, Shows and Events
Every Easter the Finnish Hot Rod Association hosts the American Car Show in Helsinki, Finland. Finland is Europe’s largest country and a fair percentage of its sparse 5.3 million inhabitants, 67,000 in fact, flock to its capital Helsinki for this show.

To cater for differing tastes, the show is split into several groups; the American car show includes the great American classics that everyone loves, hot rods of all types, Motorcycle Heaven produces the finest custom bikes in Europe and the GTi tuning show caters for the younger element into hot hatches and sound systems.
 
I of course, knew nothing of this until I received a phone call around Christmas 2007 from Zane.... "The Finns would like to have your Trike in the Helsinki show, they saw it on the Bristol web site". At this point I didn’t know where Helsinki was (the far East?) or even sure where Finland was for that matter. See map for you non-geographers.

I was relieved to hear that the FHRA would pay for all costs, transportation, hotels, and flights, with the Missus. Too good to be true surely? So on a chilly March morning I dragged the spruced up Trike to Tilbury docks to assist with loading the nine cars (ok vehicles) into the shipping containers.
 
 
In fact my Trike wasn’t very clean as I had decided to cover it with WD40 to avoid corrosion in shipping, but loads of road dirt stuck to it on the way up.

The beauty of doing something new like this - I’m a show virgin - is that everything is a unique experience. I was a bit of a rookie in the whole 'hot rod scene', and had never met anyone in our twenty strong group before, but later became good friends.

The other vehicles travelled from all over the UK to be there, most of them I had never seen before. The pictures don’t do these cars justice.
 
 
 
The combination of the organisation of the FHRA and Zanetours (long story) made everything runs incredibly smoothly. Swanky minibuses were waiting at Helsinki Airport to whisk us through the chilly air to our plush Holiday Inn accommodation adjacent to the show halls.

To our relief the containers were neatly parked in the carpark at the rear of the hall ready for 'Docker Zane' to remove the secure tags and unload. As the doors swung open you felt the freezing air rush out, most vehicles struggling to run smoothly after the -20c sea journey across the North and Baltic seas.

It was a very strange feeling to start the cars up in front of the gathering crowd and drive into the show, that lovely sound of open piped V8’s filling the air and echoing around the halls. So it was time to get the cleaning rags n polish out to create that 'show shine'. We cleaned until the early hours; assisted of course by a few beers hid in the back of Pete’s Ute.
 
 
Helsinki had a lot to offer for the sight seer, with a great transport system that will let you travel on the excellent trams, trains, buses and ferries for a mere 18 Euros for a five day pass. But the food and drinks were expensive so take care to check out prices before ordering if you ever go.

Zane arranged a meal in 'Zetors' a tractor-themed restaurant for our group to help get to know each other, Reindeer Steak being a popular choice.
 
 
 
The FHRA gave us free tickets to see the great Chuck Berry in concert at the show, it was just a shame he’s forgotten how to play guitar.

The FHRA also arranged a party in Helsinki town (approx 3 miles away from the show) which included free drink, I chose Newcastle Brown (never again) and a great Rockabilly band whose rendition of Tainted Love in a Rockabilly style, sung in a Finnish/English/American accent had to be heard.

All too quickly our five days in Helsinki was over, just as we were getting used to the cold and the art of walking on snow. Finally of course, congratulations to Pete, Jim and Rich for bringing home some silver.

Ivor Knapp
Additional photos with thanks to Robbie Greig
 
 
 
 
A few more photos from the show..
 

Above: Alan Spittle's Centre Door Model 'T'.

Right: Jim Rutter's flattie powered '32 roadster.
 
'Nervous' Nick Brook-Langham's Devon Gasser
 
Dave Killick's '29 'A' Sedan
 
Pete Moore's Pop Ute
 
Robbie Greig's Model A
 
Steve Lang's 'T'
 
Ivor Knapp's V8 trike
 
Richard Parker's flathead powered '39 Coupe
     
 
     
     
 
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