By Kenneth Olausson
At the beginning of the 1950s people were still rebuilding after the second world war. Most had their thoughts on productivity and looking for an improved standard of living. There were exceptions however – some people were striving for something to happen. A Swedish military lieutenant by the name of Kaj Wessberg, and his wife Mary, set off on an American adventure in the summer of 1954. They travelled 2’000 kilometres through 10 countries on their Husqvarna ‘Dream Machine’. But let's start from the beginning…
Being adventurers, the married couple were keen to broaden their horizons. They wanted to experience more and set their sights on North and South America as their dream goal - but how would they fulfil this unusual idea? It would take more than a holiday to conquer these vast continents and the two were aware of the transport problems. How would they move around freely and cover long distances without delay, and how about the risks and obstacles the couple would encounter on their trip? Kaj and Mary were used to their home in Smaland - a southern county of Sweden - where they lived a safe and uneventful life together, with high living standards.
The answer came from unexpected help. Kaj Wessberg had good contacts with Husqvarna and mentioned his plans to the directors at the factory. They showed interest in this adventure and offered to provide the couple with a motorcycle, should they prefer to go on two wheels. The offer was of course tempting and also economical as the factory support would lower the cost for their journey substantially.
The bike would be delivered to the port of New York free of charge, but should in turn be given back to Husqvarna for publicity reasons. An opportunity like this was most exclusive and would provide good advertising material for the factory, who were trying to strengthen their market share. In the beginning of the 1950s, Husqvarna had more than one Swedish competitor on the market and also faced opponents from overseas manufacturers.
The motorcycle at hand during this after-war period was the ‘Dream Machine’, with the internal code Type 281. The colourful ‘Drombagen’ (the domestic name) was a totally new model and had only a little carry-over from the previous Black and Red-Qvarna 118cc models. The Dream Machine had a brand new 175cc engine, which was designed by Olle Edlund. He developed a reliable and robust power source that would turn out to be unbreakable. The power package had a performance of seven-and-a-half HP at 5,000 rpm and would last a lifelong period.
In the 1950s the big four-stroke singles dominated the market, but this was a two-stroke engine, evolved with a small displacement capacity. The motorcycle gave young people an affordable alternative and the bike proved to be successful. The Dream Machine weighed in at 100 kilos, and was capable of running at a top speed of 100 km/h. It was introduced in 1953 after the prototype had been shown a year earlier. Sales started in the spring of 1953 and it cost approximately 2,000 Swedish Kronor at the time (around 400 USD). The production lasted over six years, during which time Husqvarna managed to wring out more than 6,000 units.
There were actually two models of the Dream Machine – the Tourist model and a Sport version with dual exhausts and more power. Both were supplied with a three-speed gearbox. However, it was the Tourist model that appealed to the Wessberg couple and it was decided that this machine would serve as transport for the adventure. Details of their Dream Machine included a tubular and stamped-steel frame, advanced front forks with leading link together with rubber links, while the rear suspension consisted of tubular shock absorbers including coil springs and rubber cover for safety. A streamlined headlight and two stylish side-covers completed the design, which made it look modern. This motorcycle was the image of European styling.