The Troll car was made as a 2+2 sports car with a glass-reinforced plastic (or fiberglass) body. The idea was to build the first mass-produced car outside the US in this material. In the US Chevrolet made its Corvette in fiberglass, but no one in Europe made cars in plastic.
Fiberglass was a relatively new material in the late 1950s, and the benefits were many. It would not rust, the Troll car would be 130 kg lighter than an equivalent metal car, and the production would be significantly simpler and therefore cheaper.
Engineer Per Kohl-Larsen got hold of the molds for the car in Germany – the man behind the design was Hanns Trippel.
The First Car
The first Troll car was revealed to the press in October 1956. It was not completely finished, but the form of the chassis was final. However, the car could not be driven. This car was later used as a prototype, and many changes were made during later testing.
Norwegian and foreign press showed much enthusiasm towards the project, and the car was compared with brands like Porsche, Citroën and SAAB.
The first customer got his car May 1, 1957.
As the production commenced, Kohl-Larsen had to work hard to get a permit from the government to sell the car. He was only allowed to sell 15 cars in Norway. The reason for this was a barter treaty Norway had with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to buy cars from them as they bought fish products from Norway. The government was afraid domestic car production would disrupt this trading balance. Kohl-Larsen therefore started plans to export the cars to Germany and Denmark. There were also requests from other countries like Finland and Belgium. At one point there were plans to build 2000 cars a year, but after some moderation they said they would be happy with one finished car a day.
However, the company was never allowed to sell more than those 15 cars on the Norwegian market. In addition they didn’t get hold of the investment capital necessary to start large-scale production. When the government made it clear that they never wanted to support the Troll car, all the potential investors closed negotiations. Hence, one of Norway’s few ventures into car production went bankrupt in early 1958. Only five complete cars had been produced.
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews
Photo on top by Ragge Strand, The Car Magazine NÅ. Below: Bjarne Lia