Two stereotypical raggare at the Power Big Meet 2005
When no American tailfins are available, raggare are sometimes forced to improvise, like using a Mercedes.
A lot of raggare on the roof a 1960s car during Power Big Meet in 2005

Raggare (Norwegian: Råner) is a subculture found mostly in Sweden and parts of Norway,[1][2] Finland,[3] Denmark, Germany, Austria and Russia. Raggare are related to the greaser subculture and are known for their love of hot rod cars and 1950s American pop culture.

While the raggare movement has its roots in late 1950s youth counterculture, today it is associated mainly with middle aged men who enjoy meeting and showing off their retro American cars. However, the subculture retains its rural and small town roots as well as its blue collar and low brow feel. The original phenomenon unleashed moral panic but the contemporary raggare subculture tends to be met with amusement or mild disapproval by mainstream society.



The Raggare subculture's influences are American popular culture of the 1950s, such as the movies Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean, and American Graffiti.[2]


Cars are an important part of the subculture, especially V8-powered cars and other large cars from the USA.[4] Statistically, the most common raggare car (Swe raggarbil) is the 1960s Pontiac Bonneville. They are plentiful, classic, relatively cheap, and have a huge backseat so the Raggare can pile in all of their friends. Raggare have been described as closely related to the hot rod culture, but while hotrodders in the US have to do extensive modifications to their cars to stand out, raggare can use stock US cars and still standout compared to the more sober Swedish cars.[4] Some raggare also drive European cars from the 50's, 60's and the 70's.

Due to Raggare culture there are more restored 1950s American cars in Sweden than in the entire USA[5] and although only two 1958 Cadillac convertibles were sold in Sweden there are now 200 of them in Sweden.[5] Between 4000 and 5000 classic US cars are imported to Sweden each year.[5]


The clothes and hairstyle are that of 1950s rockabilly. Blue jeans, cowboy boots, white T-shirts, sometimes with print (also used to store a pack of cigarettes by folding the sleeve), leather[6] or denim jacket. The hair is styled using Brylcreem or some other pomade.


The confederate flag seem to be popular items in the subculture as they embrace the rebellious message of the flag.[7]


Formation of the raggare culture was aided by Sweden staying neutral during World War II and untouched by the war, due to which, Sweden's infrastructure remained intact, the country was receiving aid from the Marshall Plan, and export economy boomed, which made it possible for the working-class Swedish youth to buy cars, in contrast to most of the rest of the Europe, which needed to be rebuilt.[8]

When raggare first appeared in the 1950s, they caused a moral panic with concerns about the use of alcohol, violence, high-speed driving, and having sex in the back seat. Raggare gangs were seen as a serious problem.[9] The film Raggare! covered the issue in 1959.

Later, raggare often got into fights with hippies and punks,[10][11][12][13][14] something described in the punk rock song "Raggare Is a Bunch of Motherfuckers" by Rude Kids[15] (and later re-recorded by Turbonegro). When The Sex Pistols played in Sweden on 28 July 1977, a group of raggare waited outside and cornered some young girls who came out from the show. The girls had safety pins through their cheeks, and the raggare ripped them right out of their faces. The band was upstairs drinking beer when they heard about it. Sid Vicious wanted to go down and fight, and someone else suggested they should get the limousine and run them over. In the end, the gig promoter called the police. The Hjo band Reklamation was forced to cancel a gig after threats from raggare.[16] Also, Rude Kids was forced to cancel a sold out gig as the police didn't have the manpower to offer protection against raggare. When Rude Kids played in Stockholm the police had to bring in seven police cars to stop the raggare.[17] When The Stranglers played in Sweden, their followers were caught making Molotov cocktails, and the police intervened after a fight broke out.[18]

In 1996 the Swedish post office issued a stamp featuring raggare.[19]

Public image

Raggare with customised Opel Rekord P2, a popular choice due to its resemblance to the Cadillacs of the late 50s

Because of their mostly rural roots, retro-aesthetics, and low-brow attitude towards sex, raggare are often depicted as low-educated and with not too much money. The most famous modern example being the TV characters "Ronny and Ragge", a pair of idiots who cruise around in a beat-up Ford Taunus. There are several gatherings for raggare around Sweden. The Power Big Meet is the most famous, and is also one of the biggest American car meets in the world.

See also


  1. The Police Journal, v.38 1965, page 58
  2. 1 2 OA: Råning og ragging på utstilling
  3. 'http://www.stadin-raggarit.com/history.htm
  4. 1 2 Automobilities by Mike Featherstone, Nigel. Thrift, John Urry. p. 189
  5. 1 2 3 Today: Sweden's car kings: 'greasers' cruising in vintage US wheels
  6. Crime and Its Correction: An International Survey of Attitudes and Practices by John Phillips Conrad, p.126
  7. Jalopnik: Your Guide To Europe's Weirdest Car Culture: Raggare
  8. https://www.vice.com/read/raggare-love-hot-rods-and-rock-n-roll-000926-v20n2
  9. Statistics on Delinquents and Delinquency by Walter Albin Lunden, p.134
  10. Arbetaren: Raggaren lever än
  11. England's dreaming: les Sex Pistols et le punk by Jon Savage, Denys Ridrimont, p.435
  12. Aftonbladet: Raggare rövade bort punkare
  13. Dala Demokraten: Förföljelserna mot oss hårdnar
  14. Vermlands Folkblad: Vi törs inte gå ut på kvällarna
  15. The Guardian: Raggare: the Swedish rock'n'roll cult comes of age
  16. SLA: Unga musiker i Hjo hotade med stryk, 3 mars 1979
  17. Aftonbladet: Raggare stoppar punkband
  18. GT: Tvingades fly från raggarna
  19. Consumption: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences by Daniel Miller, p.155
  20. Vecko Revyn, Nr 30, 25 July 1979
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