[Over the holidays, Bertil Berggren did more research, and so now, here is the rest of the story!]
Dinner with Ronny Hellquist
by Bertil Berggren, Jan 2004
"I've now gathered some more information about the 'Swedish Thingie' and it's originator Ronny Hellquist.
I've also actually traced him down and had a nice dinner with him at a restaurant, where we talked about past
times in general and this dual-engined 'thingie' in particular.
When I, after some detective work, got him on the phone and presented myself, he initially had a very vague
memory of me. Remember, last time I saw him was 35+ years ago, I was just a kid and he was an adult man in
his early 30's.
35 years later: From my meeting with Ronny Hellquist at a local restaurant.
Ronny to the right, holding the picture of his Flat-Iron car.
Bertil to the left, with Ronny's friend Maya holding the special 'Nightstick' car,
built by Ronny and given to my late uncle as a present on his 50th birthday in 1975.
(More on the Nightstick car on page 2).
Born in 1939, Ronny is now turning 65 and has been away from the slot car scene for a long
time. And he sure remembered his dual-engined 'flat-iron' slot car. Actually, he still believed he had it at home!
When I asked him about the car over the phone, he said:
"Oh, it's tucked away in a box somewhere in the storage compartment in the basement of my house. There's a
lot of stuff from the past down there. I haven't been down there to look for ages."
I told him that I had seen the car on the Internet, and at first he wouldn't believe me. Then I described the car
with the copper-bronze coloured body, the flat-iron shape, the dual engines and the copper 5-ore coin as a
weight up front. And the coin fell down, so to speak.
When we met a the restaurant and I showed him the picture, he immediately recognized it.
"Well I'll be damned, it's my car all right. Very interesting..."
Ronny had no idea how it had found it's way out of his storage compartment,
as he couldn't recall ever giving it away or selling it, or no apparent burglary
into his basement storage. But then again, he hadn't been down there for a long time
Ronny told me this about building the flat-iron:
"I made it out of aluminium sheet in a small workshop
in the basement of the house I then lived in,
very primitive conditions. It must have been in
1966 or 1967. The inspiration was the iso-fulcrum
chassis of the then-new Cox La Cucaracha. I used
a hacksaw, nibbling tool, and a file to make up the
main frame parts. I filed down and glued together
two Dynamic brackets with epoxy to hold the two
Dyna Rewind motors.
The hinged joint in the rear,
connecting the two main pieces of the chassis,
were flaps made of rubber and glued to the metal.
Simple but effective. The front wheels were attached
very loosely, only stuck inside a piece of soft
sponge rubber for suspension. A Dynamic guide
up front and a 5-ore coin to add some weight, in
the rear (british-made) beveled Taylor gears for
smoothest possible action. The rear also had a center
bearing between the gears, kept for maximum
stability. I also think I used Champions True-Lock
system for the rear wheels.
As for the body, I
modeled it to fit the chassis snug - to fit exactly. The
mold was made of wood and Plastic Padding, very
meticulous job. Put it in a box with a hole in the
bottom and a piece of clear lexan plastic taped on
top, put it in the kitchen oven for a while and then
sucked the body down with the vacuum-cleaner."
I asked if the car hadn't been even better with
counter-rotation motors. Ronny explained:
"No, the Dyna-Rewinds were made to run the best in one direction only, due to the advanced timing of the
commutator. The car was fast enough, and held the speed record on every slot car track in the Stockholm area
for a long time."
That's, in short, the story of the 'Swedish Thingie', a legendary Swedish slot car icon of the past."