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Erik Carlsson

Erik Carlsson and Saab 96 pictured in 1999, Keystone Resort, USA

Erik Carlsson, aka "Carlsson på taket" ('Carlsson on the roof'), was born March 5, 1929 in Trollhättan. Swedish and was a rally driver for Saab. Some of his rallying achievements were:

Erik Carlsson married Pat Moss (March 3 1963, London), also a rally driver (and younger sister of Stirling Moss). Because of his public relations work for Saab, he is also known as Mr. Saab.

In John Gardner's James Bond novel Icebreaker, Bond gets several weeks of driving training from Erik Carlsson as preparation for an arctic assignment. He also outfits and delivers Bond's "Silver Beast", a Saab 900 Turbo, in Licence Renewed.

Carlsson's replica 1963 Monte Carlo rally car at Linköping, on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of SAAB in 1997

Because the early Saabs he raced with were seriously underpowered, he had to keep a high speed in the curves and developed the left-foot braking technique to perfection. Left-foot braking was done by keeping the right foot on the gas pedal while pushing the brake pedal with the left foot. This brought the rear out in a controlled skid while maintaining speed. The drawback of this was that it wore down the brakes.

In 1965 Pat Moss and Erik Carlsson wrote a book: The Art and Technique of Driving (published by Heinemann, London, selling for 25 shillings). This book was translated into Dutch, German, Japanese and Spanish.

The expression 'Carlsson on the roof' originated from the children's story Karlsson på taket by Astrid Lindgren where a Karlsson character lived on the roof of an apartment building, and the habit of Erik Carlsson to occasionally roll a rally car on its roof. In the Safari Rally he even rolled the car intentionally to get out of a mud pool. When journalists later doubted his story since there were no dents in the roof he proved it by rolling the car again.