If you saw this 1984 Audi parked on a street corner then you might think there is nothing particularly remarkable about it — at first glance.
Look a little closer though and you’ll see a chimney sticking out of the bonnet.
Peer inside the windows and you’ll see that the chimney is connected to a sauna stove in the front passenger seat and that the entire interior has been converted into a wood-paneled sauna. Only the steering wheel and gearbox remain.
This sauna was created by a group of friends in Estonia who were once planning a sauna evening at a location that was still under construction. They first looked at options for renting a mobile sauna, but calculated that it would be cheaper to simply buy an old car and all the parts needed to convert it into a sauna that they could keep. The total cost was just €200.
Two weeks later (and in time for the party), SaunAudi was born.
The steering wheel and gearbox weren’t just left inside for show though. Incredibly, it is still a working car as well as a sauna.
The wooden panels beneath the steering wheel can be removed to reveal the pedals too and then it can be driven around — although not on public roads.
“Seatbelts and seats” are the only things that prevent the car from being legally driven on the roads, according to Willem Mäesalu who owns the car.
When looking for a sauna to rent, some people now turn to them first so it has already been towed to a number of events across Estonia.
They’ve also added a sound system, LED lights, and an outdoor deck on the roof for cooling off between sessions in the leiliruum (hot room),
We discovered SaunAudi this weekend in Rakvere for the city’s first Eesti Saunafestival (Estonian Sauna Festival), which included weird and wonderful saunas from all over Estonia. We’ll have another article and video shortly about other saunas at the festival.
But SaunAudi is now one of our favourite saunas.
We hopped inside with Inno Pagil, one of the Estonians behind the project, and he gave us a tour. Here’s our video:
EDIT: We’ve received a lot of media enquiries over the past few days since publishing this article. It was first covered by Estonian World then picked up by BBC News! One small correction though: Some media outlets said it was formerly a funeral car. Actually, the Audi is described in the video as one of the models that were sometimes used as funeral cars, although this particular one has never been one.
Estonians convert old car into sauna
A sauna festival in the Estonian town of Rakvere over the weekend had some unusual steam room conversions on display…
About ‘Estonian Saunas’
Thanks for reading. The Estonian Saunas blog is run by Anni and Adam, explorers and exporters of Estonian saunas.
Anni is a green building specialist who grew up here in Estonia immersed in sauna culture, while Adam is a väliseestlane (‘foreign Estonian’) whose family were exiled to the UK during Soviet times but he has now returned and is still trying to understand the sauna — and everything else about his Estonian heritage.
Together, we love finding weird and wonderful saunas all over Estonia and telling the world about them. Check out our plan to make 100 Estonian saunas more famous around the world.
We also offer two saunas in Tallinn that you can visit. Both are based on the best of Estonian design and technology, although in very different ways. The first is our smoke sauna, Rangi saun, which combines an ancient sauna heating technique with a contemporary Estonian design. The second is our WiFi-controlled e-sauna, Tondi Saun, which is part of our apartment that you can book through Airbnb.
In addition to reading our blog, you can follow Estonian Saunas on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There’s also a Facebook group for fans of Estonian saunas where you can share advice and stories.
Finally, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.