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Sunday, October 9, 2022

Did You ever know this Norwegian custom made classic sports car?

Unique ONES Don't know what to put here? Well, as far as we know Norway is one of the countries in Europe where the automotive industry is very rarely heard of. However, that would mean that the country absolutely has no story of the automotive world. As some time ago, we published an article about a Norwegian-made classic custom car called Almar's Space Race Dream Car by Almar Nordhaug in 1955. This car is so famous that it was immortalized in the form of a postage stamp in the Faroe Islands in 2011. 
This is the first Norwegian sports car produced in the early of 1950s based on a design created by Ralph Lysell under the brand of RALLY (not after the sport).. (Picture from: Drive-My.com)
Well on this occasion we will again briefly discuss about classic sports car unheard before by one of the defunct Norwegian automakers. The car in question had dubbed as the first Norwegian sports car produced in the early of 1950s based on a design created by Ralph Lysell under the brand of RALLY (not after the sport). Who is he? Ralph Lysell is an eccentric industrial designer who was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1907. At the age of 16, he moved to the United States, briefly studied at Columbia University in the City of New York by taking evening classes. Shortly then he entered the automotive industry in the US in 1936, and rumoured he had ever designed a sleek futuristic dream car by himself projected to be mass produced. Unfortunately the car he designed was never produced, and it is not known exactly what happened.
The dome canopy was in the original design of Ralph Lysell, but only added during restoration by Eirik Bøle. (Picture from: Drive-My.com)
After leaving the United States in 1938, Ralph Lysell went to Europe. He had known to visit in several European countries and stay in Germany worked as a consulting engineer for companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Adler and BMW, even had worked as a test driver for Mercedes-Benz as well. When World War II broke out, he was in Stockholm for a promotional tour of Mercedes-Benz. At that time, he decided to stay in Stockholm by working as an industrial designer and not return to Germany. At first, Ralph Lysell worked as a designer for L.M. Ericsson, and was involved in designing the initial designs for the iconic Ericofon in 1941. So then together with Gösta Thames and Knut Hugo Blomberg, he filed a patent on the design as an assignor to Ericsson in October of the same year.
Ralph Lysell's original design for the futuristic RALLY sports car. (Picture from: KustomRama)
Later Ralph Lysell founded his own company called AB Industriell Forgivning where the company received design assignments from another Swedish companies such as Volvo and Electrolux. Unfortunately his business venture failed which ended in heavy losses for investors in 1947, and made him should moved out Sweden to France, and worked as an industrial designer in Paris. After France, Ralph Lysell then moved again to Oslo, Norway in 1949. It is not known why he moved to Oslo, but it is most likely that while living in Paris he met his wife who is also a Norwegian. Besides that, there is also another story said that he was very interested in new materials, so it could be the Norwegian aluminum that brought him to move to the country.
An early construction photo of the RALLY sports car taken at Norsk Flyindustri on the outskirts of Oslo’s Fornebu Airport. (Picture from: KustomRama)
Meanwhile, after World War II, there was restrictions on importing cars and trucks in Norway. So that there was a surge in the need for cars and trucks that were considered as business opportunities for many Norwegian entrepreneurs at that time. The same thing was seen by Ralph Lysell who is an industrial engineer and designer with an automotive industry background. He saw the opportunity to produce and sell Norwegian-made cars.
The 1951 Ralph Lysell 'RALLY' sports car is powered by a Mercury Flathead V8 that was fed through two-carburetors.. (Picture from: KustomRama)
Fortunately when he came to Norway, he brought along with a number of futuristic cars with him, which could be said at least it made smooth paths for his plan in producing various cars including sports cars, taxis, and trucks. Ralph Lysell starts making the automotive plans and his own marque, RALLY (not after the sport), which is most likely taken from his first name and family. Then the Ralph Lysell's automotive plans was presented in an article published in the Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper on January 17, 1951. At that time he had begun to build one RALLY prototype in Norsk Flyindustri on the outskirts of Oslo’s Fornebu Airport.
Ed Håseth doing some work on the dashboard in the Ralph Lysell 'RALLY' sports car of 1951. (Picture from: KustomRama)
Norsk Flyindustri s a Norwegian aircraft manufacturing company that experienced a decline in demand for aircraft development in the late 1940s, then the company looked for new ventures by looking a niche in the automotive industry.. At the same time, Ralph Lysell saw an opportunity to build two cars to be a taxi and a sports car specifically used for Norwegian's roads and climatic conditions.
The Ralph Lysell 'RALLY' sports car featured with a fully aero-inspired dashboard and instrument panels. (Picture from: Drive-My.com)
As the result, the RALLY is an open two-seater with a body made of 3 mm aluminium, has 5.3 m long, 1.96 m wide, and weighed around 1,300 kg. It was powered by a tuned Ford V8 coupled with the twin carburettors to achieve some 160 bhp of power, and in theory, the windcheating RALLY could top 200 kph (125mph). It wasn’t until 4 September 1954 that the car received its first numberplate, and the chassis number VDN 478 (where VDN stands for Veg Direktoratets Nummer, a series of identification numbers allocated to self-built cars and trailers).
The dome canopy of Ralph Lysell 'RALLY' sports car is inspired by the dome of the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville concept. (Picture from: UndiscoveredClassic)
The RALLY was licensed to Jack Roar Rollve, who worked for the state as a car auditor, but just a month later it changed hands again. After being sold to its third owner in 1959, the RALLY was overhauled and repainted. Four years later, Roger Glans from Halden bought the RALLY, fitted the rear screen of a 1950s Studebaker as a windscreen and made a fabric hood for it. Finally, in 1964, it received a two-tone paintjob in the style of an early Corvette.
The Ralph :ysell 'RALLY' sports car has a body made of 3 mm aluminium, with 5.3 m long, 1.96 m wide, and weighed around 1,300 kg. (Picture from: UndiscoveredClassic)
Glans then gave the car away in 1968, apparently due to its poor handling. Little is known about the two subsequent owners, but in 1980 a local enthusiast heard rumours of ‘an old Corvette’ and came across the RALLY in Trøgstad. After it had passed through a further keeper, Pål Heine from Sarpsborg bought the car in 2007 and began exploring its history.
Today, the Ralph Lysell 'RALLY' lives with Eirik Bøle on the island of Nesøya, on the Oslofjord. (Picture from: Drive-My.com)
And what of Ralph Lysell? Always seeking the next challenge, Lysell spoke seven languages, was married seven times, and was something of an eccentric. Sadly, the RALLY was destined to be his last car design and although he had plans to build 15 examples (and reportedly had the preorders to back this up) the adventure stalled. He died on 22 June 1987 in Värobacka, Sweden. 

Today, the RALLY lives with Eirik Bøle on the island of Nesøya, on the Oslofjord. The 59-year-old project manager has been collecting cars since he was 17 and now focuses on those with VDN chassis numbers and Norwegianbuilt racing cars. He also owns the Stousland Special, a second car built by Norsk Flyindustri and raced by Carl Jacob Stousland in 1951.

Bøle overhauled the running gear and took the body back to bare metal, but the biggest challenge was finding a glass roof dome: Ralph Lysell had included this detail in drawings, but it couldn’t be made at the time due to a lack of funds. Bøle’s solution was to copy the dome of the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville concept as part of an extensive rebuild that was completed in 2012. The RALLY is housed in a building on the disused Fornebu airport site, and Bøle hopes to one day set up his own museum, where this Norwegian oddity will undoubtedly to be a star exhibit. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | KUSTOMRAMA | DRIVE-MY.COM | UNDISCOVEREDCLASSIC ]
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