This is the first installment of a series of posts on attempts at Danish car production after the Second World War. First up is the 1950 Sommer S1.
After the Second World War, a Dane named Erik Sommer, who made and supplied various parts for primarily trucks in Denmark, saw how the car industry was booming in England and France. In both nations nearly all cars on the roads were domestic due to a high import tax on virtually all goods, but a low sales tax. In Denmark there was a high sales tax but a low import tax. Sommer assumed this would be changed to a setup like in the aforementioned nations. That would be an obvious way to get Danish production and economy going again as it would provide Danish manufacturers with an advantage over imported goods.
If that came to fruition, there would be a big market for Danish cars and with his business already prepared to build at least a pre-production series, as well as experience from running Ford dealerships, Sommer felt he would be capable of meeting that demand.
The car he set out to build would have a Jowett-Bradford drivetrain – more specifically a two-cylinder boxer engine of one liter producing 25 horsepower. In addition to the drivetrain, only the wheels would be imported. The rest would be Danish made. The goal was for the car to be a Danish “people’s car” priced just above the VW Type 1. The car’s body was built with wood framing with the body panels attached to it, like in the pre-war days. Particularly the front end design was amended several times. The car was to be presented at the International Motor Show in Copenhagen in 1950, but the night before the doors opened, it dawned on Sommer that the front looked like a carbon copy of an Armstrong-Siddeley. His team of engineers and fabricators worked through the night to try and fix it, but only managed to do so superficially. Afterwards the look was redesigned to the look it has in these photos.
This car is, according to some, the only one ever built, I have read some say a couple more prototypes were built, but I am not sure that is the case. In any event the car in these photos covered more than 100,000 miles in the fifties and did so admirably, but the Danish import tax system was not changed at that time, so the market never materialized.
The S1 is considered the most serious attempt at building a Danish car in the post-war era.
The car in the photos actually belongs to The Technical Museum of Elsinore to which Erik’s son, Ole, donated it before he ever had plans to start his own museum. They have lent it to Ole Sommer indefinitely. The car looks very well made for a first try. The paint is very worn and so is the vinyl top, but it looks solid and in useable condition even after 65 years.
The photos are taken at Erik Sommer’s son, Ole’s, museum north of Copenhagen. It is called Sommer’s Automobile Museum and is well worth a visit. We will hear more of Ole Sommer in the next installment of this series.