At the SOC 2008 – one man’s view

I’m pleased to bring this account of the Saab Owner’s Convention 2008, from Jonny Del. Jon’s covered several Auto Shows in the northeast on TS’s behalf over the last few years, and has done a superb job once again here.
Jon accompanied Steve Shannon for part of his time looking around the Saabs on display, and provides a superb account of the show in general.
Photos are clickable, as always. Thanks Jon!!!
This years SOC was greeted by picture perfect weather, we could not have asked for better conditions. Although some serious spf was required otherwise Terry’s Sensonic car wouldn’t be the only thing bright red.
I must say that this was the shortest trip we’ve ever made to travel to the National Convention. Jeff Proposki and I set out Thursday around midday, and our families were going to drive out on Friday. Well an hour and fifteen minutes later we made it to Devens for the shortest recorded trip of 66 miles. It was almost anticlimactic when we pulled into the parking lot after such a short journey. I guess we’ll pay the price next year when we drive to Copper Mountain in Colorado.
We arrived to be greeted by the turbo cars of the GM heritage collection, as well as the 9x Bio-hybrid that was flown in especially from Sweden. The 9x was being guarded by a Turbo-X Sport Combi, a black ’08 9-5, and a Lynx yellow convertible. The cars from the heritage collection were all turbocharged examples of SAAB’s history. Starting with the beautiful ’78 99 turbo, and the ’85 SPG that GM restored specifically for the unveiling of the Turbo-X last November in Boston. Along with a 400 mile Viggen there was also the Long run 9000, the Talladega challenge NG 900, and a NG 900 that was raced by Simo Lampinen up Pikes Peak in the late 90’s.
We spent Thursday cleaning cars and catching up with old friends as well as indulging in some libations. Jeff and I were waiting to see what Jon Williams had done to his newest SPG, since he had stripped the car down in February to do his first grounds up rebuild on a C900.
We would have to wait a while since he just got the car fired and out the door from his house in New York around 2:00 pm Thursday afternoon. So we decided to see what other cars were around the grounds. We bumped into our good friend from the other side of the globe, Steve Bunton world SAAB traveler extraordinaire, as well as the Coyle’s who were nice enough to put him up while he stayed in Beantown.
Being in New England there are always plenty of vintage cars that come out for the weekend. Plenty of Bullnoses, Longnoses, and Sonnets. As well as a group of immaculate 99’s turbos, including Mike Hedges original condition car from Vermont.

After grabbing a pint and a bite at the local Irish pub with Jeff, Abigail and Peter, and Steve it was back to the parking lot for a few hours of tire kicking and catching up. There we were greeted by Jon’s new White Airflow SPG, and what a stunner this car is. Basically a new 2008 C900 SPG, with so many intricate details that we could do a piece just on the build of his car. A few hours of chatting and it was off to bed.

Friday dawned beautifully, and we were off on our day early. Trying to get the car wash functioning properly for all those who wanted to use it, before the mad dash at 10:00 am to the SAAB parts tent. This year was a little tamer when the doors opened, and everything seemed much more calm and organized. Wheels, did you say you wanted wheels? There were plenty of sets of Fondmetals and a smattering of other OE wheels but not in sets. If you needed oil, dexcool, or stainless polish you were in luck.
From the parts tent we were off to see all the cars that had come in overnight. Along the way we bumped into PR director at SAAB Jan-Villem Vester, and had a chance to chat about what beautiful cars had turned out for the convention.
The poker run went off in the afternoon as well as a few tech sessions, but because of the weather quite a few people were hitting the pool. The afternoon was relaxed and we had a chance to look at the cars that SAAB brought up close.
Friday’s dinner banquet was a great gathering as everyone ate well, and the hotel did a great job with the food. Simultaneously NESA was holding a BBQ for those soles who weren’t interested in the more formal affair and speaker, all in the name of fundraising for the Chrisman fund. After dinner Sten Wennlo former SAAB global president gave a lovely talk on what it was like at SAAB in his day. After the dinner was over it was back to the car park for more tire kicking and libations.
Saturday dawned with another sunny day, and the chance to do some final detailing before peoples choice. Off we went to the show field with coffee in one hand and final detailer in the other. The guys from NESA were on hand to organize the field as people pulled into the show area.

While the cars were being judged I had a chance to speak with Steve Shannon on the state of SAAB’s newest models and what was to come. Steve had just had the chance to drive the 9-4x a few weeks before and he raved about how it drove and handled. And if you have seen the car in photos from the auto shows Steve said about 97% of the concept car was going to make it into production, and better yet it will be on the ground in dealerships in about 12 months. Even better news about time frames is the fact that the all new 9-5 will only be a couple of months behind the 9-4x’s arrival in you local dealer. Steve will be off to Sweden in the next few weeks to drive the new 9-5. Hopefully someone in Sweden will get some shots of those cars driving around the countryside.

Then Jan-Villem took Steve around to show him some of the beautiful and rare models that were on hand at the show. Starting with a beautiful Griffin edition 9000 that was a Concours contestant with all of the original items and accessories that came with the car. Next we looked at Mike Connelly’s 1984 Prototype SPG show car. One of six cars that SAAB brought into the US to showcase what the SPG would look like. Finally a very beautiful 93 Bullnose in powder blue, Steve seemed very intrigued by all the cars at the show especially the rarer ones on hand.

After lunch and peoples choice judging it was time to line up the cars for the group photo. Once again lining up for the picture seemed to go off mostly without a hitch, and we were able to get the photo done again in record time. Especially if you were around for the Ohio conventions line up.

The rest of the afternoon was spent looking at cars and enjoying company of fellow SAAB lovers. While waiting for dinner we had the chance to look over the GM Heritage cars, and decide on which one we would most like to take home.

The banquet always seems to come faster that you want it to, but that is unfortunately the nature of the beast. Steve Shannon was the speaker on Saturday night and he spoke about the new 9-5 and the 9-4x and how they would wow the SAAB community. Talking about the models available, he spoke very highly of the 9-3x 2.0T that is coming to market this fall. If you want the perfect balance of performance and economy Steve gives this combo the big thumbs up. So as we went into the night with awards and kudos as well as the promise of another great convention in the high altitudes of Colorado we adjourned for one last night of late night tire kicking, and spud launching.
As we made our way to the lot John Moss was showing off his new toy. A gas fired heater system for your car. Interestingly it uses gas from the car and then lights it off in the combustion chamber to make heat. Not exactly what I would want in my car, but better than what Frank Stromquist of SQR wanted to do with John’s toy. Frank insisted that in about an hour he could turn the heater into a little jet engine. Needless to say John passed on Franks offer.

Meanwhile Carl and Kenny were in the process of firing up their 4-barreled DI fired spud cannon. I must say the sound of the consecutive barrels firing off was quite an experience. Carl keeps outdoing himself every year with more innovative ways of lobbing spuds. So as the night passed on, I ended up going to bed around 3:30 am.
Sunday morning was a quick little flurry of the SAAB corporate roundtable, and the charity auction. Followed by packing up and heading out on the long journey home for most people.
Kudos’ go out to the Chairman Linnea Krajewski and the gang from SCNA, as well as the efforts of the newest members/officers of NESA, which in the winter months was finally resurrected by a group of young enthusiastic SAAB owners who were willing to take over the reigns of the New England club that has been sitting idle since the convention in 2005. I look forward to next year’s convention in Colorado, as well as hopefully good news over the next 6-8 months on new SAAB products and where we are heading as a brand.