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Racing star was the dream

From a orange Volkswagen Passat with a different colour on left front to a Ferrari 456 GT is the huge huge.

About as far as between a yellow EP record with his own money in a garage in Kärleken and almost 50 million records sold with Roxette and Gyllene Tider's Återtåg as the biggest and the most visited tour a Swedish band has ever made.

Therefore it will be about that - Per Gessle's passion for cars.

The most is said and written about Per-Håkan Gessle. And the focus didn’t become less with Återtåget. So we decide to talk about cars instead.

An interest which in early Gessle-years had some competition by dolls.

-Yes, I had a fantastic Barbie-doll collection and changed between the personalities. On one I made such a fantastic hair-style that I had to cut all hair. So that was probably the first skin-headed Barbie-doll in the world…

But cars were what it was all about. Corgy Toys and Dinky Toys.

-I had surely hundreds in my fictional garage under the wardrobe. Favourites were the Monkees car and James Bond's Aston Martin. But unfortunately everything has disappeared during all moves during the years. On the walls in the childhood room were full of racing-posters.

-I remember when you were little racing-stars were like rock stars. So one day you wanted to be John Lennon - and the next the racing star Jackie Stewart.

But the hero above all was Ronnie Peterson.

-And he still is, Per says. It was then you got this interest, when Ronnie and Reine (Wisell) was active. And myself was in Västkustloppet (Westcoast race), only that was experience.

It isn’t the speed who rules Per's interests of cars.

-No, I have driven racing cars on Anderstorp. But I’m to wimpy and scared to dare drive real fast. Then it is more fun to ride with someone who tests the limits.

-But for me the car is most of all something visual: nice cars are like art. And motor magazines are like pornography.

-Therefore it is so sad that all the cars look alike today. They have no longer any personality, as the cars that were built during the period 1956-62, for example.

Per bought his first car, a Volkswagen Passat, from mum Lisa for 5000 SEK. Then it was a Golf for quite some time.

First a green, then a grey GTI followed by a green-blue GTI which he drove long after his first US number 1 with Roxette.

-Sure I could afford to buy something cooler then. But it wasn’t really needed since I was never home.

-And it's little like that now. Mercan (Mercedes) has not gone more than thousand miles in spite of it being three years since I bought it. So sometimes it is such a long time between the driving I forget which fuel it runs on, Per says and means his Mercedes Benz 600SL.

A Chevrolet Corvette '61, which is owned by a friend and a Harley Davidson is also in the collection. But I’m definitely not a mechanic. The opposite - I am very untechnical and therefore very dependent of a mechanic as Dick Jönsson who now takes care of the car.

Where even a Ferrari 456GT will soon be a part.

-It must be everyone’s dream to own a Ferrari. I saw this at a car-show and fell for it immediately. Partly because it is four seated, and partly because it is so beautiful.

-So with that thought I made an order as a 40-years present to myself. The thing was it was ready much quicker than normal despite those cars are only made on order.

Like a fitted costume.

-But I’m not buying it intending to sell it, but with the hope I will have for the rest of the life. The car is like a bigger me. Its all about identification. And in this case wallet, of course.

But money does not always rule.

-No, I think "Hundkojan" (a small car) and the Volkswagen-cab, I mean "bubblan" are fantastic cars.

-On the contrary I could never think of buying a Japanese car. They have no personality. And Volvo and Saab don’t fit me at all. American cars don't really either except for the Corvette.

-It is incredibly beautiful. But on the road its like grandma's wheelchair.

The Corvette also makes a golden exception in Per's principals.

-Yes, I don’t really like used cars. I want to be the first who turns the key then raise the car myself. When I have recorded a new song I used to mix it down and sit in the car and listen because it has such a good sound there.

-Therefore I am extremely caring about the cars. It is prohibited to smoke and eat ice-cream and of course no washing machines. But I can sometimes find as fun as driving, to stand there and clean your Corvette or Harley.

Beauty, the visual is also decisive when Per chose Formula 1 before Indycar.

-Those cars is much nicer. Above everything is the McLaren car.

But here is of course the competing and the drama play a big part. Schumacher is the best driver but has a bad car. And my tip in the internal betting was that Alesi should win the total, failed huge.

-Then it is of course extra fun when you have been there and how it all works.

That Per has done.

-Yes, in Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo. But I will go down to Monza in September and then hopefully be in the pits.

-Then we are invited to the fabricators in Modena too. Its fun to see because so much is hand made.

What car is the most beautiful car in all time then, Per?

-Ferrari 250GT California Spider '59. It is a masterpiece.


Name: Per-Håkan Gessle, 37.

Family: Wife Åsa (and as of August '97, son Gabriel).

Previous Jobs:
Weighing common mushrooms, musician for the health care, working in a shop, temporary post as a teacher in the lower classes, paperboy.

Car: Mercedes Benz 600 SL, Chevrolet Corvette -61.

Hobbies: Cars, art, antiquities, wine.

Latest film: Seven. "A really bad movie".

Latest book:
Avbrott (Interruption) by Hasse Alfredson. "Genius".

Listens to now: Tom Petty's "She's the one".

Sport (to practice): Tennis.

Sport (watch): Formula 1.

Favourite Team: Halmia and Drott.

Wine "The better wine the less hang-over".

Favourite Food:
Japanese, crustaceous animal Swedish food. "That Åsa cannot see that you get fat from".

Good side: Fun.

Bad side:
Big belly. "Re-run on a favourite".

How I live with the tour life:
By being one day ahead. Try to make things work ok in the tour life. And to travel with people you like, because a black eye is hard to cover with make-up…

Per on Micke:
A real honourable guy. Ultra-kind, loyal, positive and a good drummer. He has a quality all good friends should have. But at the same time he is easily irritated so therefore fun to tease. And he reads a lot. And above all deeper that you can believe when you see how he dresses…

© Photos & Layout: 1996 Hallandsposten
© Translation to English: 1997 Fredrik Sundqvist & Paul Rands