Danish Delights #9: 1983 Hope Whisper

This is probably my favorite Danish car and it is so because its story so beautifully serves as a metaphor for the Danish post-war car industry (prior to WWII there were several syndicated factories building Ford and GM products among others as well as a decent Danish chassis and coachbuilding scene).  You will see why after the jump.

If you have read all the posts in the Danish Delights series, you have probably noticed a pattern: electric cars make up a disproportionate part of the attempts at large scale production relative to what the public had actually been buying until Mr. Musk came along. Which is why there is also a pattern in the success of these attempts: There wasn’t any.

So this little beast is, of course, electric. It was pegged as “the car of the future” and indeed this made some level of sense at a time when you were still recovering from recent fuel crises and worried about the ever looming prospects of the Cold War warming up fast. Rationing makes sense in a world of uncertainty.

As you can see, this little car fit two regular sized adults just fine and in a normal fashion with the steering wheel on the left and entry through side-hinged doors. Nothing fancy or extravagant. This is why this was actually viewed as a decent proposition at the time. It looks halfway normal – unlike Danish Delights nos. 6 and 7.

Performance was relatively limited, but being small and light this would serve as a fine commuter car if your driving was mainly from the suburbs to the city center or vice versa. Rated at somewhere in the region of 8 to 14 bhp you would be alright as long as you abstained from lofty dreams of overtaking anyone. Stick to slow rush hour traffic and stick to the rightmost lane and you’re golden.

It would allegedly do up to 60 mph and had a range of about 60 miles. All in all a decent package that would totally make sense to pursue further for possible investors.

This part of the metaphor is where the ambitions totally reflect Denmark’s tradition for green energy: It being a small two-seater and not a Ludicrous Mode Tesla Model S is a metaphor for the modesty-minded Danes. This car very much represents a rational approach to transportation. These are traits associated with Denmark: sensibility and modesty. 

So obviously people were watching from all over the world when the car was to be introduced in 1983. The engineers working on the car had travelled from Jutland and had been working all night to get everything ready. All very admirable – and tiring. During the stress and hard work, one minor detail was forgotten.

When the car was unveiled in front of a crowd and rolling cameras, it immediately became apparent that the handbrake was not applied, and the car slowly and undramatically rolled of the stage (really a bicycle track because in Denmark that is where you would have a car show) and crashed. It is probably the most undramatic crash you have will ever see – almost comically so. However, the most undramatic of crashes immediately killed both the Hope and all hopes of mass production with it.

Great, innovative ideas. A sensible approach. The best of intentions. All of it killed off by amateurish execution. This describes the facts surrounding the Hope Whisper and is a metaphor for every single dream of serious mass production of Danish cars since the Second World War.

As a result of the never-ending optimism and insistence on electric vehicles when really nobody wanted them, there was of course a Hope Whisper 2. Guess how that ended.

Previous installments:
Danish Delights #1: 1950 Sommer S1

Danish Delights #2: 1960 Volvo Special

Danish Delights #3: 1972 Sommer Joker

Danish Delights #4: 1981 OScar

Danish Delights #5: 1967 SVJ 1000 GT

Danish Delights #6: 1987 Ellert

Danish Delights #7: 1998 Kewet

Danish Delights #8: 1888 Hammelvognen