I love that the world is being made better for future generations by vehicles going electric; it’s the right thing to do. But I also love the past and, to be frank, I sometimes wish I was born a bit earlier so I could experience all the car-related craziness the world had to offer when emissions targets weren’t even a thing.
While car dealerships here in Sweden are moving at a slow but steady pace towards an all-electric automotive future, there are a handful of shops still keeping it old school. One of them is Kaiser Classic.
Most car geeks in Sweden will recognize the name Kaiser; it’s been part of our racing heritage since the 1950s. In the early days, the main focus for Gert Kaiser was Porsche, and as a factory driver for the German automaker he smashed the Swedish speed record in a blue 550 Spyder.
Gert became a regular at races across Europe, competing in and winning events such as the Nürburgring 500km, Nürburgring 1,000km, the Berlin Grand Prix, Sweden Grand Prix, Rally des Alpes, Rally Monte Carlo, and the Midnight Sun Rally in Sweden, just to name a few.
Gert, who passed away in 1999, loved all things auto-related, and that shows in the numerous pictures and memorabilia that line the walls of Kaiser Classic today. He even went as far as competing in Swedish yacht racing and winning a race between the 1990 to 1997 seasons. Gert sounds like the kind of guy that I would’ve loved to be friends with.
Despite the early focus being entirely on Porsche, as the years went by Kaiser’s specialized auto dealership branched out to include a wide array of brands. Gert’s passion for cars was soon adopted by his sons, and Staffan, who runs the family business today, holds the same standards his father did all those years ago. Which brings us to my favorite part…
A Warm Welcome
As the large, heavily reinforced steel doors opened at Kaiser Classic, I was greeted by not one, but two Porsche 356 1500 GS Carreras. Both cars are in immaculate condition, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they’re still driven and raced regularly.
They really do scream vintage racing. Their interiors and engine bays are spotless, and the hand-painted ‘255’ on the doors and hood of the red car gives me an idea on how it was back in the day. I will be taking a closer look at the history of these 356s at another time, so until then I can only imagine what it’s like seeing them on the road.
Greg Copeland describes the feeling as “surreal”. He drove behind the two 356s in a ’71 Porsche 911 to a Midnight Run event in Stockholm.
Having joined Kaiser back in 2020, Greg’s history with cars starts early.
“My whole family are into cars; Top Gear was like church for us, every Sunday at 8pm. My grandfather took us to races at an early age, and even in his 80s would still join us at Goodwood and race meets. To now work somewhere like this is just a dream; I wish he had seen it. To be around these cars every day, unearthing their stories and meeting some of the people that are a part of this narrative is a real privilege. And of course it is awesome to work with so many Porsches, especially given the Kaiser family’s storied history with the marque. I’ve always loved the 911, the simplicity of that form and engineering ingenuity that is repeated through every generation. I’m really drawn to their lack of flashiness and theatre.”
The best thing about my visit to Kaiser was seeing Greg signing the documents to his dream purchase. A two-owner, matching-numbers 1969 Porsche 911T that’s only been driven 4,700 miles.
“To own one now – especially an early one – is something I never thought would happen. And inevitably for a guy who grew up reading Max Power and can quote lines from The Fast & the Furious for days, I was buying parts for it before I even had the keys. I’m so excited to make it my own little period-correct weekend racer.”
The Show Cars
Greg’s office is nothing short of awesome, and just a short distance away from his desk I found this 1 of 86 Porsche 964 Turbo S ‘Leichtbau’. A quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know about this model, but to see and sit in it felt really good. For a cool €1.5m (US$1.62m), it’s yours.
Moving further down the halls, this Porsche 911 (964) Speedster was just begging to be photographed. After being sold new in Japan, the owner handed it over to Mitsuwa Motors who gave it a more aggressive look by fitting the OEM 964 wide-body. With the top up, the car kind of resembles a mix between a Porsche 365 Carrera, a Porsche 365B Carrera Abarth GTL and a Porsche 911; with the top down it’s a stunner.
One of the highlights for me was the RUF 930 BTR Slantnose. Not because of the car itself but because of the colour.
This version of Royal Blue comes very close to my favorite color, Porsche Zenith Blue. Heck, it might even be the same color. Don’t be surprised to see a Toyota 86 rolling with this color combo in future…
By the looks of it, the car has been well used during its lifetime. Chipped fenders and scratched paint is fine by me if it happened through driving.
Almost 300,000km on the odometer is almost unheard of when it comes to modern classic cars, but I welcome it. For many, it’s all about preserving a car’s condition these days. To me, that sounds like a load of bollocks.
This 1990 Audi Quattro has certainly seen some good times since it was bought and shipped over to Switzerland back in 1990. The first owner racked up 290,000km over the course of 21 years, so I bet the car has some stories to tell. After getting a mechanical refresh recently, it’s only been driven 1,500km.
If Americana is more your thing, Kaiser has that side of the automotive spectrum covered too. I am not a fan of American cars in general, but even so, it’s hard not to appreciate the craftsmanship when they look as good as this. I’m sure by the time I’m in my 60s I’ll probably want one.
There were so many interesting cars in the showroom, but I was itching to take a look behind the scenes, so let’s head there…
Every car that comes through the Kaiser Classic workshop as inventory goes through a thorough inspection, followed by servicing and any repair work required to bring it up to spec. New wheels, tires, paint, engine and driveline, suspension, brakes – you name it, everything is done in house.
In Kaiser’s newly-refreshed engine room, I met Porsche guru Bertil Karlsson, who had a number of jobs on the go. With 50 years dedicated to the German brand, Bertil has become a household name in the Swedish Porsche scene.
If you’re a Porsche racing history buff, you’ll no doubt recognize this 1975 Porsche-Kremer Carrera 3.0 RSR with Jägermeister livery. Bertil owned this piece of motorsport heritage for a short period of time.
The car was in pretty bad shape when Bertil purchased it, and he subsequently completed a full restoration at great expense. So great in fact, that he ultimately needed to sell it on. It’s changed hands numerous times since then, but today is still being raced in the US in its restored 1975 specification.
Behind Bertil sat an odd-looking Ferrari engine with its internals missing. You’d think that this motor would be put back into a Ferrari, but you’d be wrong. This would probably make Enzo Ferrari roll in his grave.
On my second visit, the team had moved the bare shell back to the workshop to test fit the engine and see if this crazy idea would work. Yes, that’s a Shelby Cobra replica body.
The Ferrari 360 Modena motor looks tiny in the Cobra’s expansive engine bay, and as I was taking pictures I overheard the guys discussing ways to utilize all the extra space. I’m definitely keeping my eyes on this project.
One of Kaiser’s bigger projects right now is not really a secret, but it’s not that public either. I’ll meet you in the middle and say this: a road-legal Porsche that can be used for driving to, at, and then back from race events. Sounds pretty cool to me and another one to look out for.
The Race Cars
Given that the Kaiser name has a rich racing history, it would be wrong of me not to include some of the awesome race cars they have on display. Rally seems to be the most common theme, and when I saw what was lurking at the far end of the lineup, my jaw dropped.
This is what I mean when I said I sometimes wish I was born earlier.
I am a huge fan of Group B and the madness that made the golden era of rallying so amazing. It might be a replica, but this stunning Audi Quattro S1 has all the things to make it a perfect Group B car, including many period parts. The earth-like smell, exposed wiring, an uncomfortable-looking racing seat and an old team radio – it’s so cool.
I walked around the car for a good 20 minutes soaking it all in and checking out every detail that’s hard to see when watching grainy videos from the ’80s.
The engine bay wasn’t too bad either, and seeing the hardware in use I’m sure the turbocharged five-cylinder packs a serious punch. If it’s anything like this Audi Quattro S1, who wouldn’t want a drive?
Next to the Audi was this 1969 Ford Escort Mk1 which, remarkably, has only had two owners from new. After being used and abused as a race car for 10 years, in 1979 the car underwent some major upgrades. The intake manifold, exhaust manifold, camshaft and sump were all replaced with new parts and the Ford raced again. In 2005, there was a change of ownership and the car was treated to a full nut and bolt restoration.
Kaiser Classic only ever accept cars that meet certain criteria, and rarity is one of them. Looking at what they had in stock when I visited, I can safely say that I’ll be keeping a close eye on their inventory from now on. In the meantime, I very much look forward to taking a certain pair of 356s out…