Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The 'Järnsängen' story (1)

In March this year I was contacted by Nils Holm of Sweden, who wrote to me: "Hi! My name is Nils Holm, Living in Stockholm, Sweden. Today I got in contact with the blog Maximum Mini and read about the 'Holmbarth 1100' also called 'Automec Special'. I got very excited because this car was build by my brother Per-Henrik Holm (not Per-Erik as in the text - amended now-JB) together with Kjell Andersson in the 1960's. My brother - called Pelle - has now restored it into what I would call 'mint' condition.

He and his son Mikael (Micke) are working on the 'Holmbarth' making it even better and trying to get it accepted again as a veteran racing car. I tried to find out how to add a post on the blog... but could not. Therefore I write this mail to you, hoping you can tell how my brother Pelle can get in contact with someone interested in the 'Holmbarth' status today. I talked to Pelle and he is very interested giving more information about the 'Holmbarth' and what has been done last years. I have asked him put together some info we will send to you as well as some pictures.

Fast forward a couple of months and Nils' message arrived just before I went on my holidays (to Sweden). He added: "I apologize for the long story about the 'Holmbarth' (a name Pelle does not prefer), and I hope it can interest you what has been done. Since the car now has become a 'family interest', we will continue to add more facts and data about coming events. My best regards, Nils"

So that's the introduction to what Nils now calls - The 'Järnsängen' story.
Here we go:

The racing car build by Pelle Holm (Per-Henrik Holm) and Kjell Andersson, later on called the 'Holmbarth 1100' and / or 'Automec Special', was build during the 1960's. Pelle started in 1962 and did most of the work on his spare time at BMC in Södertälje Sweden. Due to some personal circumstances the work was delayed and the car got into a mode as the 'sleeping beauty' for a couple of years mid 1960's.

Pelle and Kjell ended their employment as mechanics at BMC racing competition department in Södertälje and started the company 'Automec' in Bredäng, Stockholm in 1967, and continued the work from there. The working name Pelle and Kjell used during the process was 'Järnsängen' (the iron bed). 'Holmbarth 1100' was a name given much later and not made up by Pelle and Kjell.

First test when it had to confess its power and performance was held at Uppsala airport somewhere around 1966 / '67, and it went well. Most of the components were from the BMC Mini, in Sweden called 'Hundkoja' (the Doghouse)… and at first it was equipped with a 1275 cc Cooper 'S' group 4 engine, later on replaced with an 1100 from an MG.

Pretty soon it got a bit crowded at the Automec garage. They also had a Cooper Formula 3 standing in a corner, earlier bought from Rolf Skoghag, who in his turn had bought a F3 Tecno from Ronny Peterson, later on our great Swedish F1 driver. Pelle and Kjell decided to sell the F3 Cooper, but when a buyer came up and showed more interest for the 'Iron bed' they sold it to him 1968.

Pelle and Kjell split up in 1971. Pelle left Automec and started his own business now with excavators and construction machinery instead of racing cars, while Kjell continued with Automec for a couple of years. The Cooper Formula 3 stayed with Pelle for a few years but was later on sold due to lack of time for it. Where it is today is hard to say.

Up next: part 2 about the rediscovery of the car. Thank you very much Nils!

The Holmbarth 1100 / Automec Special before it was called that. 
At this stage it was only known as the 'Järnsängen' or 'The Iron Bed'
Picture Nils Holm

The boy in these pictures is 'Micke', now the owner together with his father 'Pelle'
Picture Nils Holm

Pelle and his mate Kjell had been mechanics at BMC racing competition department in 
Södertälje but started on their own in 1967
Picture Nils Holm

It used a 1275 Cooper 'S' group 4 engine originally, which was later replaced by an MG 1100 unit
Picture Nils Holm

The car seen at an unknown racing venue in Sweden somewhere in the 1960s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Claes Boreus

This ad shows the car for sale in 1970 when it was known as the Holmbarth 1100
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

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