EPA’s and A-Tractors, the (slow) Swedish hotrods!
In Sweden, it’s legal to drive a tractor at a younger age, than you are allowed to drive a car. At the same time you are allowed to modify a car, and register it as a tractor.
This has turned into a tradition with a cult following, of building the so called EPA’s and A-Tractors.
The EPA tractor is the original.
Originally these were built by farmers, who modified old cars in ways to help on the farm, doing anything from ploughing to pulling wagons with hay home from the fields.
In the late 1930s the government estimated that there were approximately 5.000 of them running around on the roads, and decided in 1940 to pass the “EPA Tractor law”, with rules of how they must be built in order to be allowed to run on public roads.
After the second world war, the types of EPA’s you saw on the streets changed rapidly.
The farmers swapped their EPAs with purpose built machines, and the youth started a subculture much like the American Hot Rods, with converting old cars.
From 1952 all EPA Tractors had to wear a licence plate.
The Swedish government decided to ban the EPA’s on the 31st of march 1975, but after a strong reaction from the public, they backed down and chose instead to stop registering new EPA-Tractors, and letting the existing ones continue running.
From 1980 all EPA tractors had to be MOT tested every other year.
- Must have a frame based chassis
- Rear axle must be mounted directly to the frame without any suspension
- The gearing must never let the rear wheels turn faster that 1/10th of the crankshaft
- The wheelbase must not be longer than 2,25 metres
- Must have a trailer hitch
The top speed was not limited (besides the 10:1 gearing rule), but the speed limit is 30 km/t, as with any other tractor.
Today one of the most iconic EPA’s are those based on the Volvo Duett.
They were born with a suitable ladder chassis, the by disabling second and third gear they could run more than double the speed limit without braking the 10:1 gearing rule.
These often are found in barns and behind farms, but without a registration certificate, they are rarely revived.
With the A-tractor, there is a longer list of rules.
A tractor rules
- Must be based on a standard vehicle
- The original car must have a curb weight of at least 2.000kg before modification
- Cars under 2.000 kgs can be modified, but must be built as an open pickup, and be able to pull a 1.000kg trailer
- Must be modified so that there is no space for transporting people or goods behind the front seats
- Must have a trailer hitch
- Must have a reflective tractor triangle mounted on the back
- Must be restricted to a top speed of 30 km/h by disabling gears and/or mounting gearing
- Must be modified so the engine can’t run at higher revs
- Frame and body must be original
A collection of (mostly early) swedish tractors: