Famous with Swedish Teenagers the Epa Tractor (aka A-Traktor) is a short wheelbase transformed pickup limited to 30km/h allowed by anyone who is over 16 to drive. Many of these trucks are never ending customizing projects and are a great way to learn the ways of customization. Many A-Traktors have been rebuilt and reborn endless of times, with people adding or changing the cars in the process. Prices range from perhaps a hundreds of euros up to ten grand depending the condition of the vehicle.
During the second would war there was a shortage of tractors and farm equipment, but with the availability of trucks the Swedish farmers did with what they had. So tractors were made out of these trucks, mostly based on Ford A or AA, and used for hauling stuff around the farm. These trucks were first called Epa-traktors, and got their name after the chain Epa which sold low-priced commodities. In the mid seventies the government changed the regulations of the Epa Traktor, into the A Traktor we know today.
The rules called for the A-Traktor,
- a maximal wheelbase of 225 cm (old regulation for Epa)
- an unsprung rear axle, and a 10:1 gear ratio. (old regulation for Epa)
- maximum truck bed not larger than 1.25 square meter
- top speed was regulated to 30 km/h (18 mph)
- a triangular slow vehicle sign in the back
- second row of passengers not allowed
- the dead space behind the driver and passenger could not be usable in any sort of way, not for people or goods
- tow hitch is mandatory since its a farm vehicle
You can distinguish an old school Epa to the newer A-traktors with the shortened wheelbase. In Sweden the most appropriate and largely available car suitable for those conditions during post war society was the Volvo
PV445, aka Duett. Virtually every flavor of every Volvo
model ever made, someone somewhere has made into an A Traktor. In modern times, the truck has evolved into something similar to the Australian Ute.
Because of these regulations you see a lot of A-Traktors with shortened bodies of the passenger compartment or cutting off the entire cargo hold of the vans. If a pickup truck was converted, that meant the bed had to be made smaller than originally intended, and the boxed in sections of the bed had to be permanent and inaccessible, making the unused dead space unavailable to comply with regulations.
As you can see there is a lot of restriction in having an A-Traktor, lots of effort in binding with the regulations and not so much to gain. So what really is the purpose of this truck? Basically, it’s a loophole vehicle for young teenagers to drive. In Sweden the minimum driving age is 18 years old. However as the A-Traktor is officially registered as a farm tractor, which the license can be obtained at the age of 16. Not to mention that the taxes and insurances are almost irrelevantly low. Making this a popular vehicle to go down the streets of small rural town on a Saturday night and cruising to the nearest mall or main street.
The making of A-Traktors really is the stepping stone into the car customizing scene in Sweden. It’s an easy and cheap way to learn the craft. Although the great irony is that the builders come old enough to get licensed for something faster thus the trucks usually changes hands pretty fast from the older to younger generations.