• Old Style Motoring News

    By Kenneth Olausson

    Every Swedish race fan looked forward to each Friday when a new issue of the country's one and only weekly motoring magazine was published. What had happened during the past weekend was properly reported by journalists and photographers of the time. Husqvarna could count themselves as one of the major advertising clients during the beginning of the 30s when the factory had tremendous success in motorcycle events.

    "Motornyheterna" was established in 1925 when the surge for news began to spread in the Nordic country. People in Sweden had a great interest in motoring venues, be it an exciting two-wheel race or then a fabulous arrangement for four-wheelers, cars. The newly started magazine covered it all, including articles of boating and flying. The initial price for an issue was set at 25 öre (Swedish currency), equalling three cents in today's Euro. The yearly subscription rate was quoted at one Euro (not updated for inflation, of course). The original format of "Motornyheterna" was a large 35 by 50 centimetres, difficult to handle, but nevertheless manageable. After some ten years the editors cut the size by twelve percent in order to make it more effective.

    The contents varied, as said, and so did the number of pages. But generally, eight pages would suffice to cover each week's happenings around the globe. Yes, by all means, the reports included major events in the world, even if taken with a pinch of salt. But the emphasis was of course focused on true national happenings.

    Looking back at an issue from March 29th in 1929, we find an interesting full-page article on Husqvarna, based on a factory visit by a staff editor from "Motornyheterna". More statistics - this happened in the fifth publication year and the 203rd issue of the magazine. The preamble of this report concerns Husqvarna's history as an arms & weapon manufacturer, dating back to 1689. The Motoring News editor is then walking around the premises which ‘are both modern and old’ as the factory has been updated throughout the years. In the motorcycle division the new models had just been presented. ‘The 30A and the 50A machines – 250cc and 500cc respectively - are sport models, which appeal to its customers,’ the editor states.

    The total employment at the factory was 1,800 workers and 200 officials and the two-wheel production was estimated at 2,000 units per year, among all the other products at the factory near Jönköping. It is reported that the two novelties were tried out at last year's International Six Days Trial event, the ISDT, (in 1928). Here, the machines went through many substantial tests in order to adjust minor flaws between prototypes and production versions. As an example, a test bench was shown to the editor, where an engine had been run for 58 hours non-stop to test the durability of this precious gem before shipment.

    ‘No doubt it is a quality product,’ was the final verdict from "Motornyheterna", the Motoring News.

    The name of the chief editor of this era was Ake Winblad, who had a Master’s degree in engineering. The editorial office was in the middle of the Stockholm centre at Sveavägen, where the advertising was also sold. The price for outside communicating was at three cents per millimetre and column. During the 30s Husqvarna was one of the magazine's major ad-players as the factory had enormous sales success on the market. "Motornyheterna" was printed locally in Stockholm and distributed throughout the whole nation. Its circulation in the 20s lay at 15,000 copies weekly, a figure which was up 30 percent during the mid-stage of the thirties. If you happen to catch an original copy of this eight-page magazine at an auction today, you probably pay around 25 Euros for it!

    Five months after the factory report, Motoring News published a preview for the International Six Days Trial event, this year held with a start in München and finish in Genève. The six sections went through many countries, which was quite a challenge for the 160 entrants from a dozen countries. The Swedes had had tremendous success back in 1923 when the four national riders won the event's ‘International Trophy’. Now it was time for Husqvarna's first try-out in this prestigious race, well-known all over the world and still today considered to be an important event.

    Husqvarna's director since 1911 Gustaf Tham saw the importance of publicity and backed factory-supported racing. In order to achieve results, he hired the super-engineer Folke Mannerstedt as of February 1st in 1929. He became responsible for the R&D division and his orders from the top were straight and simple - make a machine that will win!

    In the article previewing the Six Days, director Tham was interviewed in Motoring News where he stated that it was crucial to make a new type of engine for future races. Folke Mannerstedt agreed and reported that he would follow the team in the sidecar when travelling to southern Germany for the event. Another man, Yngve Eriksson from the tuning department, was also set to go to München for the Six-Days. The Husqvarna team had an optimal backup from their factory, but unfortunately things didn't go their way at the gruelling venue. Instead the British team had another overwhelming victory - as was usual.

    It was at the end of the 20s and things looked bright for the coming 10 years. Husqvarna would be there to claim numerous victories and establish the brand as one of the leaders in this competitive industry. And "Motornyheterna" would be reporting of the success from the Swedish weapons company.