Nature Reclaiming Remote Swedish Junkyard and Bygone Cars
Photography by Christer Lundem
“You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is still (just) a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by…”
(Mr. Herman Hupfeld, song from the movie Casablanca)
However, no kiss will awaken the sleeping beauties in Båstnäs from their slumber. This is where machine meets nature and vice versa. Let’s visit Ivansson Bilskrot, or if you will, the junkyard near Töckfors, Sweden.
This is not a place you just happen upon. The location is real, but the long drive makes you wonder if the place isn’t just a product of creative imagination. Ivansson Bilskrot is located close to the Swedish-Norwegian border, only 25 km from the small community called Töckfors. Norwegians used to drive to the Swedish junkyard in a quest to find unobtainable parts for their cars. Decades ago, import in Norway was strict and car parts where hard to get. Business was good. But times changed and so did people. Today the yard is all but forgotten by most. However, rumours and pictures on the internet, makes people go there to find solitude, breathe in the scent of history and of course to look at cars.
It was Easter and early spring in Norway. The weather was good, the sun was warming pale, Scandinavian-winter skin, and you could hear bird songs floating on the breeze. Most people would go to the beach or travel to their cabins in the mountains. My family wanted to experience some adventure too and I had a plan. Maybe this wasn’t what they had in mind, but then again we are not your average family. We were driving our vintage Fiat. The old Italian steed had already stopped once this week.
My girlfriend, two six-year-old sons, and I had been on the road for some time. Many miles spent on a deserted forest road. There were no other cars there, just solitude and the sound of the small four cylinder humming. The tarmac suits the old car; the small wheels are spinning eagerly on the loose gravel. Small stones hit the underside of the car sounding similar to popping corn. So one might think that everything was perfect? Even the sun was getting warmer, but an uneasiness filled the car. The houses were far between and few people were to be seen. I muttered quietly to myself as to comfort, “Please dear Fiat, do not stop now, keep on going little friend!” My prayers seemed to work. The Fiat was in a good mood and enjoying the adventure. So it was fitting that one of the first cars to be seen is a relative: an old, mossy Fiat 850. The junkyard comes out of the blue. Cars are everywhere: The fields and forest are full of them–and they look like they’ve been here forever, coexisting with the wildlife.
For a classic car fan it is heaven. Cars long gone and forgotten, found in as-left condition. When did you last see a Lloyd Alexander, a Borgvard Isabella, or a Simca Aronde? Besides the trees, the most common inhabitants are Saabs and Volvos, all left out to rot, but still able to fuel our imagination. Being there overwhelms you with a sense of respect. The site is the only one of its kind in Northern Europe. There used to be over 1500 cars, but over 1000 still sleep there! The yard has not been up and running since the seventies but is still ‘run’ by the brothers Ivansson.
However, today the real owner is nature. The place is serene and beautiful, but under the calm surface old wrecks fight against time and the elements, losing slowly. Once it was a thriving business, now a cemetery. Two hours pass swiftly walking among the bodies. We tried to be as gentle as we could–to not disturb the dying cars and allow others to experience the same feelings and humbleness as we did. Doors we opened, we shut carefully again. We left everything as we found it.
For me it is truly art, a collaboration between man and nature. It reminds us that nothing is forever, and that enjoying life when you can is the most important thing.