• Husqvarna hack

    By Kenneth Olausson

    Fifteen years into last century, Husqvarna introduced their first sidecar models. They manufactured these hacks for over two decades before discontinuing the three-wheelers. Here is the exceptional story of the Weapons factory in Huskvarna making units for customers, government use and racing purposes.


    Several historic documents reveal that Husqvarna made their first sidecar vehicles as early as in 1914. The factory engineers used two models for the inauguration of the concept. As options, both the 70A- as well as the 75A-models were fitted with the ”Standard” and ”London” versions of the newly developed rigg, costing respectively 300 and 400 Swedish kronor.

    The 496cc 70A was produced in approx. 40 units during two years, but it is unknown how many of these units were fitted with a sidecar. The 75A was sold for three years and here were certainly many more sidecar vehicles made.

    Some time after New Year in 1917, engineer & constructor Gustav Göthe was hired by Husqvarna. In a virgin magazine interview, Göthe stated: My first task was to develop solo- and sidecar units, he said, we were now ready to give up our dependency from abroad and produce an all-Swedish product. Due to new circumstances, we were forced changing our concept by only manufacturing solo machines that instead could be fitted with sidecars - easier and cost-effective.

    When the 160-model was fitted with a sidecar, the outfit turned into the designation 500. The sidecar was a sturdy construction, developed for transportaion, commuting & racing. In 1922, the 6-Days event was held in Switzerland and Pelle Svanbeck rode with Husqvarna’s chief engineer Gyllenram in the rigg. Unfortunately, they broke down after gearbox troubles. However, in the following year the Husqvarna team won on home grounds. In 1923, the first Novemberkåsan had a separate sidecar class, won by the Husky-equipped rider J A Byland!

    In a fullpage advertisement in the renowned motoring magazine ”Svensk Motorsport”, it was announced that the Husqvarna Weapons Factory had delivered 43 units of their sidecar model 600 to the Swedish army. It happened in May 1926 and all the produced vehicles were effectively lined up in front of the Huskvarna factory, which made an impressive photography. They also produced a street version of the 600-model. All in all, it is estimated that some 200 machines were manufactured with sidecars – about a third of the entire model-production. Next up, the Swedes manufactured a street version of its original 600, now naming it model 610, of which a total of 200 sidecar motorcycles were made.

    Karl-Axel Hjelm in Västerås, west of Stockholm in the province of Södermanland, ordered his Husqvarna sidecar machine in the beginning of 1928. His particular vehicle went through the factory in the spring of 1927 before it was delivered on the 14th of May to the ”Husqvarna Generaldepot” in Stockholm. At this storage, it stayed for a year before the exclusive model 610 was picked up for registration on the 24th of april. Karl-Axel Hjelm did not have to go to the capital in order to receive his new machinery, but bought it at the local bike shop in ”the Västerås Cykelaffär”. The price for the brandnew Husqvarna was set at 2 200 Swedish kronor (approx. 450 US dollars). The factory number of this vehicle was 10 x 267 and included an effective Bosch light-equipment. Karl-Axel paid 1 625 kronor in cash and the rest was settled as he traded in his used ”Excelsior”, also equipped with a sidecar and valued at 575 kronor.

    In the following twelve years, Karl-Axel used his motorcycle for transportation to friends and relatives. It was never ridden for commuting to work, though. He went to towns and places as Mora, Uppsala, Gävle and Enköping. In the beginning of the 30s, the owner suffered from a loose muffler as it had rattled apart on the uneven roads that he travelled. The wheel tracks were more than 30 centimeters deep when it happened a few miles from Karl-Axel’s home. Consequently, he lost the silencer along the western highway leading towards Gothenburg. The silencers should have been replaced, but weren’t and instead they were provicionally repaired and lasted until the war broke out. After 1939, the Husqvarna was taken off the active register leaving it to rest due to lack of petrol and tires during the war period. But in 1945, the 610 model was again active on Swedish roads. Unfortunately, the original tyres were discontinued and the bike was equipped with 19-inch wheels.

    Eventually, the son of Karl-Axel, Olle Hjelm, overtook the responsability of the ”klenod”. He not only fixed the silencers, but also invested in a thorough renovation of the 610 Husqvarna machine. It took Olle 20 years to dismantle bits and pieces before the bike was up to date in an original state of mind. In the 30s, the sidecar concept became popular among customers and fans. Husqvarna developed their concept further with new vehicles and outfits for racing purposes. But that is another story.