• Sweden edition
 
TOP GEAR COMES TO SWEDEN
Sexy Volvo, clever Saab, and Swedish massage

Sexy Volvo, clever Saab, and Swedish massage

Published: 13 Mar 2012 14:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Mar 2012 14:16 GMT+01:00

The Local: What do you think of when you think of Sweden?

James May: Hmm, the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show. Snow. Saunas. Saab and Volvo spring immediately to mind. Oh, and nice bread.

TL: How long are you here for?

JM: Only 4 days this time. We have to do Top Gear Live in Denmark too, so we have to prepare for that. I have been to Sweden previously but only working, so sadly it has generally been rather short stays.

TL: Anything special you are planning to do while here?

JM: I rather fancy trying some of that traditional Swedish massage. No rolling about in snow, mind, or being whipped. Just therapeutic deep tissue massage by someone with kind hands.

TL: Are Swedes really into Top Gear, you think?

JM: They seem to be. I always think the show might seem silly to Swedes, as we Brits think of them as very level-headed and serious people, but the show seems to appeal across the cultural divides – we are rather free-thinking and modern, I guess.

TL: Would you be surprised if you were recognized on the streets of Stockholm?

JM: I am still quite surprised when it happens in London, I am still not used to it. We’ve been to some remote places in Iraq, Japan and the South Americas with the show and we’ve been recognised everywhere we went – to me it feels remarkable wherever it happens.

TL: If you could meet one famous Swede of your choice, who would that be?

JM: Crikey. Well, there was that scientist, no hang on – he was Swiss. And then there’s Björk… no – she is Icelandic, isn’t she? There’s Abba, I guess. Oh, and Britt Ekland. And Greta Garbo.

TL: What’s the best thing to come out of Sweden car wise?

JM: I have always been rather impressed by the fact that Swedes changed over to right side driving overnight, sometime in the sixties. In the UK we often say ‘why can’t we do that’, forgetting that we have a lot more people and a lot more cars than Sweden in the sixties. In truth though, we’d mess it up.

TL: I hear Saab’s on offer on the cheap – you interested?

JM: It's funny, Jeremy (Clarkson) and I actually talked about this on Top Gear the other day. We reckoned we could buy Saab for £1 and we got quite excited about it until we realized we’d have to pump a lot of money into it to actually make cars. So we decided against it – we’ll buy a pub instead, Jeremy and I, when we retire.

TL: In Sweden, Saab is considered an iconic brand, would you agree?

JM: Saab is iconic – it is seen as such in Britain as well. Here it is driven mainly by the ‘intelligentia’, by architects, graphic designers and specialist doctors. It’s definitely driven by a special sort of person. In fact, there’s a bit of a cult of Saab in the UK. Saab owners wave to each other as they drive by. And you’ll never hear anyone say ‘look at that lunatic in the Saab’.

TL: Is it worth saving?

JM: In Britain, we are very sad about the demise of Saab and if there is a way to save the quirky design it should be done. Saab’s a great car enthusiast’s car. So much to talk about.

TL: Could a Volvo ever be described as a “sexy” car? What would it take?

JM: Volvos are sexy these days. When I was a boy they looked sort of square and were laughed at a bit, although still admired in their own way. Today they are practically Saabs. In the UK they are driven by public school yummy mummies picking up their offspring.

TL: The Stig – his name sounds vaguely Swedish to our ears - could it be that you are really here to visit him?

JM: Ah, well, you know I can’t reveal that. Stig does sound Swedish and he has sort of become this Father Christmas figure who may or may not be living in a North Pole cave – but I can say nothing more about it.

TL: Here at The Local, we have an on-going feud regarding the word elk versus the word moose. If one of these critters were to hit your bumper during your stay in Sweden, would you say that you had an elk accident or a moose mishap?

JM: I would definitely say elk. But isn’t it the same animal anyway?

TL: Be that as it may - so you’re an elk man, then?

JM: Yes, you can definitely put me down in the elk camp.

Top Gear Live opens in the Stockholm Ericsson Globe Arena on Friday, March 16th.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

16:30 March 13, 2012 by Abe L
He didn't know about Koenigsegg? The only car Sweden can really be proud of?
17:27 March 13, 2012 by gpafledthis
VISIT AMERICA for cut rate hunting of our MELKS !! Be the first in your village to have a trophy American Melk !!
19:04 March 13, 2012 by Roccy
Jag är ledsen! This man is thought of as a complete buffoon in the UK too so please ignore his ignorant ramblings! Makes one apologetic to be a Brit!
19:19 March 13, 2012 by Lukestar1991
@Roccy

He may well be but there are thousands worse than him.
22:25 March 13, 2012 by Ballcocks
@ Roccy

James May is fantastic and certainly not regarded as a buffon by this Brit. There are plenty more Brits that we should be ashamed of before we come to James or any other Top Gear presenter for that matter.

James' series on Toys was the BBC at its best. Who else would make a full scale airfix spitfire or a Lego house that you could actually live in ?
22:50 March 13, 2012 by Opinionfool
@Abe L

As The Stig broke one of the Koenigseggs and it nearly killed him --- shot off the track at "The Follow Through" --- he suggested improvements that were then incororated into production models. But on Top Gear the original is known as Koenigsegggggggg and the later one as Koenigseggseggseggseggseggseggseggsegg... They are both up near the top of the Power Lap board.
08:07 March 14, 2012 by Flygger
@ Roccy

James May a bufoon ?? Perhaps you may think that but that doesn't qualify you to make comments on behalf of everyone in the UK.

James May is a great guy in my humble opinion and I doubt I am alone there.

I don't think they let buffoons drive Veyrons or fly in U2's.
12:31 March 14, 2012 by samson123
@ Roccy = Troll. THE END.
23:18 March 15, 2012 by BenC30
I'm glad he likes Volvo and can agree that they are sexy. I think mine is! I just wish he didn't stereotype Saab and Volvo drivers, they are not all the same. I too, like James, have always been impressed with the Swedish switch from left to right lane driving. He really should have brushed up on his famous Swedes though.
16:20 March 16, 2012 by Escort
The "cool 'n' sexy" image that Volvo have tried to cultivate since the mid-1990s hasn't done them any favours in the longer term and has led to the alienation of many loyal customers. They are simply trying to ape Audi and BMW and in so doing have lost much of their unique appeal. Maybe that's why so many people are now buying VWs, Skodas, Hondas and Fords instead of Volvos.
22:56 March 16, 2012 by dibble
James May is no buffoon and a great guy in my opinion also. Presents good programmes and I think he gets rather frrustrated at the antics of the other two presenters.

Not sure about the cool n sexy image of Volvo but they are still good. I have an Amazon and S60 and like them lots. And those who have gone from Volvo to the Fords, Hondas etc the majority will, I am sure at some stage, return to Volvo - safe, comfortable, reliable.
01:20 March 17, 2012 by Mgeorge733
I, and almost everyone I know thinks the Top Gear show has crashed big time. Like many of the BBC shows it has become a vehicle for the presenters to clown about and waste money on stupid tasks that are clearly staged but pretend not to be.

James May is the most likeable of the bunch, Clarkson's overpowering screeching voice annoys me no-end.

Rarely do they have a genuinely interesting story, and when they do they manage to make it OTT by staging ridiculous unrealistic tasks. However it does have amazing photography and great music!

I really like a few of Volvo's models, and always have since I was a child. Same goes for Saab too, shame they are no-more!
17:29 March 18, 2012 by jamesblish
Top Gear guys are the textbook definition of the word wan**r.
14:11 March 19, 2012 by svenscum
Lukestar1991 you are a well known knobjockey
16:27 March 21, 2012 by Escort
Dibble

I suspect many of them will not return to Volvo as a lot of the competition is just as safe, comfortable and reliable (probably more reliable, in fact) and better value to boot.
10:19 March 27, 2012 by EtoileBrilliant
@Mgeorge733

Crashed big time or not. The BBC won't drop it for as long is it makes the gobs of money that it does. Top Gear Magazine outsells every other magazine by a wide margin.

I don't like the program myself cos its emphasis on speed but I can appreciate why the masses may like the show.
11:52 April 8, 2012 by mikewhite
I always thought the Top Gear name Stig was a tribute to a famous Swedish racing driver anyhow.
Today's headlines
National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Palestinians in Gaza last month. Photo: Adel Hana

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

Interview
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
For ten days, Globen is transformed into a giant pumpkin. Photo: Shockholm

Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween

American Bill Schacht missed the spooky outfits, family feasts and charity events he associated with Halloween when he moved to Sweden. So he did something about it. The Local meets the founder of the capital's annual Shockholm parade. READ  

Business & Money
Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall
A Vattenfall plant in Germany. Photo: TT

Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall

Swedish energy company Vattenfall has reported losses for the third quarter in a row. READ  

International
Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza
Malala receives the Children's Prize from Queen Silvia. Photo: TT

Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza

UPDATED: Girls' rights champion Malala Yousafzai, who was in Sweden to accept the World's Children's Prize on Wednesday, said she would use all her winnings to help rebuild schools in war-ravaged Gaza. READ  

Swedish Honeymoon Killing
Cape Town 'fixer' phoned Dewani before killing
Dewani in a Cape Town court. Photo: TT

Cape Town 'fixer' phoned Dewani before killing

A man jailed for killing British businessman Shrien Dewani's wife during their Cape Town honeymoon said on Wednesday they spoke shortly before the murder to discuss payment. READ  

National
Bus drivers hit by racist and sexist messages
An SL bus in the Swedish capital. Photo: TT

Bus drivers hit by racist and sexist messages

Police are investigating after several bus drivers were forced to read "highly inappropriate" messages sent through the Stockholm bus network's internal communications network. READ  

The Local List
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Photo: TT

Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Swedish football hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes the headlines almost as much for his offhand comments as for his footballing prowess. Here are our ten favourite Zlatan quotes. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

994
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN