Erik Carlsson aka “Carlsson on the roof”
The expression “Carlsson on the roof” originated from the children’s story Karlsson på taket by Astrid Lindgren, in which a Karlsson character lived on the roof of an apartment building. The name was given to Carlsson as a result of his habit of occasionally rolling a rally car onto its roof. In the Safari Rally, he even rolled the car intentionally, to escape from a mud pool. When journalists later doubted his story, he proved it by rolling the car again. The Ford factory team then tried the same stunt with their Ford Cortina, causing more damage to the car than had occurred during the entire rally.
Erik Carlsson has done a number of unusual things during his rally career. During one rally in the UK, he needed a spare part and happened to find a brand new Saab 96 on a parking lot. He and the mechanic quickly started disassembling the car when the rather upset owner discovered them. The co-driver managed to defuse the situation by explaining that Erik was a factory driver for Saab and the owner would be given a new car. In the end Erik could keep driving and they remained friends and still exchange Christmas cards. At the time, rally regulations often stipulated penalties for damage to the car at the finish. Towards the end of the rally, Erik’s car had acquired dents to both the front fender and one door, so to avoid the penalty points they stopped and switched the door and bumper with the support car. Then it looked a bit suspicious to have a clean door and fender while the rest of the car was covered in mud and dust. As they had no water they used the spare gasoline to wash off the car. Reporters covering the event were impressed that they had had the time to wash the car before arriving at the rally finish. After the finishing festivities, Erik Carlsson looked out the window from his hotel room and saw the support car parked outside: clean, but with a dirty door and fender, still with the starting number visible in the dust.