Any simpler and you'd drive it naked: the strange, charming Norsjo Shopper

shopper  brochure
"Finally, a chance to ditch Grandma for the day!"

Combining the elegance of a parking lot ticket booth with the speed and sex appeal of a Hoveround, the Norsjö Shopper comes from us via Sweden, a European country known for its high rate of alcohol consumption as well as its periods of darkness where the sun isn’t seen for days at a time, which would explain both the Shopper as well as the drinking.
In 1962, here’s what your enterprising Swedish city slicker could have gotten for his hard-earned krona: three wheels, one headlight, one 47cc Fichtel & Sachs moped engine, one wiper for the colossal windshield, one thin vinyl seat presumably stolen from a Soviet army truck, and a shallow, trapezoidal shaped shopping basket from where the Shopper gets its name. And that’s about it, really. Be lucky that it comes in a color. If it were any more minimalistic, its driver would be naked.
It's got one seat because you weren't going to pick up chicks in it anyway.

The giant fiberglass canopy, which juts upward like a knife stuck in an especially uncooperative fruitcake, offers some wind protection for the motivated driver, and, well…that’s about it for the bodywork, folks! The entire thing swings outward to the left like the front door on an Isetta, threatening to tip the entire car over. “For the last time, it IS finished,” the chief engineer must have said to the rest of his staff, as they asked him again to finish drawing the rest of the car already. He clearly took a line from Raul Julia: what is behind is not important. There is, for example, nothing to save you from climbing over the backrest after a few shots of Koskenkorva Viina—makes you wonder why they bothered with that swinging canopy in the first place—and tipping over the sides precariously like the ending to The Italian Job.
There is also no weather protection for the precious cargo bungee-corded to the basket. You could buy a curious tent-like enclosure for the “cargo area” that resembles the world’s most uncomfortable motorcycle helmet, but that was about it. Want to keep the rain off your salmiakki? Drive faster: push the rain over the canopy and away from the groceries!
Parking lot attendants will feel right at home.

But “faster” is relative, of course. With a twist of the moped-derived handlebars, the mid-mounted, single-cylinder moped engine, stolen from a Husqvarna Cornette, will eke out a top speed of 40mph. Not bad for an engine with the same amount of horsepower as an actual horse. A horse might be more practical, as a matter of fact: while the Shopper may not leave droppings in the driveway, a horse can be ridden to school without an elaborate disguise worthy of a Witness Protection Program.

In all fairness, I can’t say I’ve driven one before, unlike the teenagers and elderly who adopted the Shopper in droves. But I would imagine that pootling one of these down busy Stockholm streets would be an adult-diaper-wetting experience: dicing it up with actual cars with such modern technological advances as, oh I don’t know, side and rear panels. You could possibly achieve the same effect by cutting holes in the back of your trousers and walking through the New York Stock Exchange on your knees.

Contrasting French-stitched seams are not an optional extra.

Despite its popularity with the same members of society that many believe shouldn’t be anywhere near motorized machinery, the Shopper sold well enough to be built well into the 1970s. Mercifully Alas, there aren’t many left. The sporty red example shown here is from the Microcar Museum, the world’s foremost treasure trove of straight-faced automotive hilarity next to a Pontiac dealership. How charming is the Norsjö Shopper? It takes real chutzpah to stand out in a building where the Brütsch Rollera exists.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec87NV7vr_I[/youtube]
[Microcar Museum: 1972 Norsjö Shopper]

0 Comments

  1. The Norsjo Shopper…for those times when a golf car just seems ridiculously overbuilt.

    1. The Norsjo Shopper…for those times when a Peel P50 just seems ridiculously overbuilt.

  2. The Swedes always get the nice stuff… meanwhile, across the gulf, we gave our elderly and disabled the gift of mobility with Erkkola Invamopo. Same idea here, avoid any licensing or inspection requirements with a 50cc two stroker. And, unlike a moped, you didn't even need a helmet to ride one – not with that sturdy canvass roof there to protect you. I don't know what this youngster in the picture is doing with one, the helmet is clearly redundant. They were a pretty common sight until the late 90's when people started questioning their safety and the new Italian moped cars had features like fully enclosed cabins and four stroke motors.
    <img src="http://www.freewebs.com/markkusivula/Erkkola%2021.2-06%20008.jpg"&gt;

  3. The Norsjo in the above video WAS in the Microcar Museum but Bruce Weiner sold it off with most of his other post-mid-'60s microcars a few years ago in order to specialize in the older stuff. If you check out the tour index
    http://microcarmuseum.com/tourindex.html
    it's listed in the "no longer in the Museum Collection" section along with what is now my 1980 KV Mini 1, which the museum incorrectly describes as a "1983 KVS" on that page and a "1982 KVS" on its main page:
    http://microcarmuseum.com/tour/kvs.html
    Yeah, I've asked them to correct it, particularly since that page is the one everybody cites, but I've never gotten a response.

  4. There’s one of these in a motorcycle museum in Marquette Kansas. It’s in mint condition and it’s on loan from the owner who lives in Tecumseh Kansas.

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