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The letter that saved the museum

March 9, 2012 in Saab Museum

Klassiker´s (Swedish Classic Motoring magazine) Claes Johansson played a crucial role in the Saab Museum was rescued in January.

It was only hours left of the offer period at the Saab Museum. The risk that the unique industrial history collection to be dispersed forever was imminent and the vultures circling in the air to get to the juiciest bits. Some motoring magazines put bids on individual items. But Klassikers Claes Johansson worked on saving the museum as a whole, saving it in Sweden. In addition to writing a highly acclaimed chronicle of he also contacted Poker Wallenberg, the most automobile interested of the Wallenberg sphere, to ensure that he was aware of what was happening.

Claes, who had never previously met Poker, wrote a letter that apparently hit right in “the solar plexus” (swedish expression). In an article in Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet March 4 tells Poker Wallenberg about Claes Johansson’s letter was sent around the family and how a rescue operation began. A campaign that led to the winning bid of SEK 28 million for the museum as a whole. Here is the letter (somewhat abbreviated) as Claes Johansson sent January 18 at 16:51 – and that made all the difference:

Hi Poker

Wedding chores are always top of the to-do list, I wish you all the best. Nevertheless, I hope that I for a moment can steal your attention.

It is urgent.

My name is Claes Johansson, I am a reporter and photographer for the newspaper Klassiker. As well as a Saab enthusiast.

I’m guessing that you are informed about the tragic closure of the Saab Museum in Trollhättan. A unique collection is up for sale, as a complete collection or in pieces. I find it hard to find words for how I feel about this.

The museum should long ago have been protected by some sort of a foundation. This should have been started last year at the turbulent Muller-period, that should has been one big alarm bell.

Now it is here. Friday is the last day to put bids on the collection of of Swedish industrial history ‘crown jewels (and turkeys). I have heard that many heavy international speculators are out there being interested. To believe otherwise is naive.

My opinion that the Saab museum must remain as it is today, I share with many, but the lack of time and accurate information has made any form of concerted action impossible.

Saab museum is more than nostalgia. It is design history. Cultural and industrial history. It’s glorious racing history, engineering and counterintuitive ideas. It is the story of Sweden, the Saab.

The museum has a crucial role in the healing process of the people of Trollhattan, but eventually it will become an indispensable source of inspiration for future ideas. A focus for research etc.

Saab has set souls on fire for more than 60 years. Saab museum can convey that feeling to future generations. To start and rev up the monster double-two-stroker (Two side by side 3 cylinder engines) every 10 year means probably more for the future, than all the wind farms together.

As I see it increases the possibility to conduct sound economic business when the links to Saab Automobile are gone. One can broaden and deepen the business and find new financially sustainable business models, which aim not only to sell last model year of a Saab. A vital, vibrant Saab museum, not necessarily the same size as now, could be reborn on the good forces allowed to operate.

Wallenberg’s family history is intertwined with the Saab.

Can the Wallenberg family in any way, in this panic moment, act? In a discrete way I guess, but it would be possible? Goodwill benefits are obvious. Sweden might have lost Saab, but it will not feel so bad if the museum could be saved.

It’s panic, but the key person at the moment is probably Innovatum CEO ToreHelmersson.

Maybe I have sown some seeds with you. Maybe not. I have this Saab disease, but the ability to look at it with somewhat fresh eyes I hope.

Best regards

Claes Johansson, Klassiker

15 responses to The letter that saved the museum

  1. It never amazes me at the impact just one can have on so many, more importantly saving so much history.
    Thank you Claes, Thank you to the Wallenbergs.

    It is people like yourselves that truly give the spirit for others to follow your kind lead.

    I hope what has been done to save the SAAB Museum, will be done to save “OUR” great brand SAAB.

  2. After seeing so much negativity in the Swedish press towards Saab, it impresses me very much to see that some Swedish people understand that Saab Automobile is not only a company but also a part of the Swedish industrial heritage, and as such it is very much worth saving it for the generations to come.

    I hope not only the museum can be saved but also the company, showing the world that Sweden is still one of those few countries capable to convert 1.5 tons of steel and plastics into a desirable piece of engineering with identity.

  3. I had a great conversation with Claes yesterday. He is planning some nice Saab articles in the Klassiker magazine he works for. Will keep You guys here posted on that. It is interesting that two “communicators” not knowing the others intentions within two days act in a similar way. A TEXT message from me and then a nicely written E-mail from Claes. The combined impact paid off. That is the most important. It rose the awareness among the Wallenberg family to care for their family history as well as for Swedish Industrial and Cultural heritage. Well done now we look forward for the grand re-opening of the Museum in a few weeks time.

  4. I can´t believe that I´m crying over a car-brand. but this lleter and how it must have been recieved brought tears to my eyes…:$

    I cannot understand why any Swedish Heavy Consortium wouldn´t want to keep Saab in Sweden (not as a foctory as such but also as a owned business).
    There is so much of Saab rooted in Swedish history that makes me a proud Swede, but also a very shameful Swede when it comes to the fact how bad Saab has been written down in the media these last 4 years.
    I´m not saying that I´d want Saab to still be owned by GM, but I can´t ignore tha fact that IF GM had not gone bankrupt and IF they had stayed on the line with the new businessplan for Saab that was established in 2005-6- Saab probably would have sold around 150.000 vehicles/ year. and we would have had the 9-5 in 2009 already as well as 9-4X, the SC in 2010, and the NG 9-3 (pre-Phoenix) in 2012. Maybe a 9-1 (aka 9-X BH) in 2013….

    This is NOT how it went dowm, unfortunatelay for all the employees at Saab, but for the brand as such, it it a refreshing thought as Tim wrote in the “Time”-post -that we may be seing a totally reborn Saab in 2015 with a product lineup that is filled with Saabish styling, thinking, smartness and gadgets. THAT is the future as long as a bidder with the right vision and long-term commitment for Saab is the winning bidder.

    Have a great weekend all!

  5. PS:
    Thank YOU Claes, and Poker as well as our own Trued!

    And let´s not forget SAAB AB and the city of Trollhättan.

  6. Wow. simply wow.

  7. Wonderful letter, written to great effect! Now, I’ll try to keep calm while I wait for the letter that saved Saab to be posted.

  8. I echo all the positive sentiments! I am so happy to share in Saab culture with such a great group of people from around the world! Cannot wait to visit the museum!! It will be a thrill!

  9. I somehow don’t like the word “museum”. How about Saab Car Heritage Collection.

  10. Nice words Claes.

  11. Taken from Collins English dictionary:

    MUSEUM =


    1.a place or building where objects of historical, artistic, or scientific interest are exhibited, preserved, or studied

  12. Kudos to both of you! Fantastic what you two did. From a previous post I was under the impression that the museum was solely saved by Trued’s text message to Wallenberg. Nice to see it was team work!  I really respect a man that don’t take all the credit himself.
    BTW is Classic Motoring my old favourite magazine that used to be called “Signalhornet” back in the seventies and eighties?

  13. I dont´t know if this has been posted already. But this link says that BMW talks to GM.