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Swedish Car Day 2013

August 19, 2013 in Fan Stuff, News, SAAB Parts North America

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On Sunday 25 August 2013, Charles River Saab and Boston Volvo Village will present the fourteenth annual Swedish Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts (just outside Boston).  One of the largest lawn events hosted at the Larz Anderson, over 200 Volvos and Saabs are expected of every vintage and will be displayed on the beautiful grounds of the museum.

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Beyond the cars, which are always the stars at Swedish Car Day, there will be three additional attractions. Dean Shaw, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Volvo North America (and former Brand Strategy Manager at Volvo) will speak on a variety of Volvo topics, and has promised to share some secrets about the new safety systems and the hybrid power train in the next generation XC90. Next, Swedish Car Day welcomes Saab Parts North America President Tim Colbeck. Tim follows a number of other Saab presidents who have made appearances at Swedish Car Day over the years. Finally, an old friend of Swedish Car Day–Seth Wonkka–himself a multiple Saab and Volvo owner and former Village Auto Group employee who has attended many a Swedish Car Day, returns with his band to entertain the assembled.

As always, there will be judging of the displayed cars by attendees, a raffle with many prizes and the parts tents will be in full swing.

The official opening of the event is at 10am with and Swedish Car Day finishes at 2pm. However, the lawn will open to attendees starting at 8am (not before!). Admission is $20 per vehicle. Information regarding fees for walk-on attendance, address and so on is available at the Larz Anderon website. A registration form can be found at www.swedishcarday.com which can be printed and completed for presentation upon arrival (there is no online registration) to speed check-in. Updates on Swedish Car Day, plus many photos of prior events, can be found at the SCD Facebook page.

Volunteers willing to help with registration, traffic direction on the lawn and ballot counting are requested. If you’d be willing to help, or have questions about Swedish Car Day, please contact Pierre Belperron at belperron@gmail.com.

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by Jeff

Swedish Car Day 2011

September 3, 2011 in

The annual tribute to Swedish Cars i the Northeast US, hosted by Charles River Saab – www.crsaab.com – Volvo Village of Norwell – www.volvovillagenorwell.com – and Boston Volvo Village – www.bostonvolvo.com – at the Lars Anderson Auto Museum – www.mot.org.

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by Jeff

UPDATE: Irene Postpones Swedish Car Day

August 25, 2011 in News

That may be the weirdest headline I’ve ever written. No, she’s not some fat angry lady causing trouble, she’s a big fat hurricane causing serious havoc on millions of Americans’ lives this weekend. Because of the impending hurricane (after the east coast’s first earthquake in as long as anyone can remember, my house shook…), Pierre from Charles River Saab let us know that Swedish Car Day will be postponed one week. From Pierre:

The change is official.

Swedish Car Day has been rescheduled. I am announcing this earlier than previously stated. The museum needed to know today so as to arrange their staffing, and it did not look like there would be any significant news regarding the weather pattern. If anything, the forecast for 2-10” of rain in the northeast corridor preceding the hurricane made the change inevitable. Therefore:

Swedish Car Day 2011 will take place on September 4, 2011
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by Swade

Saab 95 – “Ol Blue” with Saabo in tow

September 14, 2010 in Saabology

It’s with great pleasure that I’m showing you these images today. These are from Swedish Car Day, which I was fortunate enough to attend a few weeks ago in Boston.

As with the Saab Sonett V4 that I showed last week, the Saab 95 below is owned by one of the technicians at Charles River Saab. His name is Peter Maitland, and once again, it’s nice to know your tech loves the brands as much (or more) than you do!

And just like Ralph’s V4, this Saab 95 and Saabo won an award at SCD – Best in Show! You’ll see why below.

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Ol’ Blue is a 1968 Saab 95 purchased by Peter Maitland in 2002 in Butler PA, while Peter was working for Saab Cars USA. The previous owner had the car nine years and had only driven it 100 miles! Prior to that, it was owned by Jack Ashcraft in Oregon, where it had been driven since new. Under Ashcraft’s ownership, the 95 had been repainted once, the original Husar Blue, and the interior had been reupholstered.

1968 Saab 95

Improvements that Peter has made include installation of a Jack Lawrence high output motor and induction system (good for 120 bhp), Deluxe model dash and gauges, new wiring harness, wheels, rebuilt Sonett transmission (selected for its taller gearing), striping and decals on its flanks, front air dam and an XM radio tucked away in the glove box. Peter has driven the car 50,000 miles (true total mileage on the car is unknown), including to the 2004 Saab Owners Convention in Washington state. It was on the return trip east from that SOC that Peter stopped in Iowa to purchase his Saabo.

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by Swade

Swedish Car Day – Saab Sonett V4

September 3, 2010 in Saabology

I’m going to feature a couple of the award winners from Swedish Car Day, held last weekend in Boston.

If you were getting your Saab serviced, wouldn’t you feel a little reassured knowing that your mechanic is as big a Saab nut as you? Or maybe even a bigger one? Such is the case at Charles River Saab, where a couple of the mechanics took away prizes in various classes.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking the awards were an inside job – one look at these cars and you’ll see the quality. There were plenty of great cars at Swedish Car Day, but the two that I’ll show you over the next day or so were worthy winners.

The first of the two cars I’ll show you belongs to Ralph Bockoven, one of the techs at CRS. It’s a 1968 Saab Sonett II V4 and whilst it looks sweet in virginal white, this car is far from innocent.

Ralph bought the car in 1989. It was far from the showpiece you see today and despite the low 58,000 miles on the clock, Ralph got it for a bargain $1,000 from a very sick owner who hadn’t had the time to restore it (the owner actually passed away the day before Ralph came to pick it up).

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Photo Mysteries from Swedish Car Day XI

September 1, 2010 in Saabology, Troll Stuff

A quick post with some brain teasers from the Swedish Car Day XI. The idea is to answer the questions in comments. No cheating! If you’ve already been “in on” the secret, please defer.

First up, a license plate brain teaser.  This is Steve in NJ’s beautiful Saab 900 convertible.  His license plate is a personalized or vanity plate, but at first glance doesn’t seem to be.  What does it say or what does it stand for?

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Second, here is a great example of Erik Carlsson’s generosity — he’s signed this Saab for the owner!  Upon which model Saab does this signature appear?  (Absolutely no answers from any New England residents, you have seen this most likely.)

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Third, this is a photograph of Swade speaking in the upper room of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.  What make and model is the car is parked in the middle of the room that everyone seems to be standing around?  Hint:  it is not a Saab.

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Bonus question:  As I mentioned in my previous post, we were impressed with In Control driver training.   With four cars employed for a full-day course (about four hours of driving given the amount of classroom time), how many classes does it typically take for In Control to wear through a set of H-rated tires on each of the cars?

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by Swade

SCD photos please

August 31, 2010 in Saabology

In every piece of satire, there’s some reality. Such is the case with Eggs’ rib tickler from earlier today.

I’m certainly no rockstar. But one of the great things about being able to come to events like Swedish Car Day is that I get to meet a bucketload of people that I would otherwise not be able to touch base with.

One of the ever-so-slight downsides of that is that I don’t get to see as many cars up close as I’d like to, and my photo count from the day is way lower than what I’d ideally like it to be. I do have some stuff to share, but it is of a limited number of vehicles.

I know there are some comments coming through where people have taken photos from SCD and posted them online. I thought it might be good to have an entry where people can have access to those links in one place.

So…… if you’ve got some photos from SCD that you’ve loaded up to the web, please leave the link in comments here. Please keep it to one link per comment (link to the album, not to each individual photo) and that way, the comment won’t get caught up by the spam filter).

I’m off home. See you all soon.

Saab Press Release: Swade Officially a “Rockstar”

August 30, 2010 in Troll Stuff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 29, 2010

BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS, USA:  Saab officially acknowledged today that Steven Wade, aka Swade, proprietor of the Saab automotive enthusiast website SaabsUnited.com, is a true Saab rockstar, only without the drugs and groupies.  With this new-found public affection Steven has been inundated with admirers for a good 25 minutes, maybe 30.

“It’s been a long time coming,” observed Parveen Batish, marketing guru of Saab Cars North America.  “He’s was ‘starving artist’, ‘up-and-comer’ and ‘well-known authority’ in succession.  And how can you forget the lengthy stint as ‘media darling’?  None of us thought he’d ever make it beyond that, but here we are.  Quite stunning, actually.”

With such lofty public status and affection comes the attention of the masses, and today’s crowd at Swedish Car Day 2010 is no exception.  Crowds thronged to see the antipodean pundit, who was obviously in his element among Saab and Volvo enthusiasts.  “I read the blog every day,” said one Saab enthusiast, who asked not to be named.  “However, that may change since he referred to Pierre [Belperron, the organizer of Swedish Car Day] as ‘that little guy’ during his presentation.”   Speaking to tens of Saab enthusiasts after his speaking engagement, Steven regaled the eager attendees with tales of his life as a “man with a lot of time on his hands.”

Indeed, out on the grounds amongst the fabulous display of Swedish iron, Steven seemed to barely notice the cars on display, preferring to greet complete strangers as they approached him for autographs, handshakes and locks of his hair.  “I touched him!!!” one excited young woman shrieked, running towards  her car with her hands held high.  Later, she was seen habitually re-applying hand sanitizer as she walked through the museum muttering something about “inoculations”.

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker Cars NA, parent company of Saab Automobile, and Jan Ake Jonsson, President of Saab Automobile, released a joint statement, saying, “Steven Wade is truly a rockstar that helped to save our brand.  We couldn’t have done it without him, yet we are currently seeking a replacement.  You know how temperamental rockstars can be.  Before long Swade will be asking for top billing, vegetarian meals and sorted M&M’s.”

Of course, this is satire.  I’ve got a real post about Swade’s rock star status in my head that will come in about a day.  Swade really is a rockstar, of course.

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by Swade

Swedish Car Day – DONE!

August 30, 2010 in Saabology

I’ll post some detailed information from Swedish Car Day here in Boston tomorrow morning. Right now I need to catch some Z’s.

Suffice to say, however, that the event was absolutely OUTSTANDING and a highlight in what has been a banner year both for me personally and Saabs United as a website.

They had 202 official registrations for the event, but the actual number of cars on display was probably closer to around 220 or so. I arrived at the event at 10am and the grounds were pretty full, but cars were still arriving up to an hour and a half later.

Of course, another highlight after around 5 years of knowing one another, was to finally meet the Eggman…..and others….

Thanks to everyone who was so wonderfully hospitable in coming up, saying hello and generally just sharing your stories and your cars with me. You were all so very kind and I apologise if there’s anyone I didn’t get to say hello to.

And second, to the crew at Charles River Saab in general, and to Pierre in particular – you folks are absolute legends. Events like this are the lifeblood of a community and you did your organisation and the Saab brand proud on the weekend.

Thanks so much for inviting me to come and participate in this event.

As I said, more to come….

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by Swade

Presentation to Swedish Car Day 2010

August 30, 2010 in Editorial

I was very fortunate to be asked by Charles River Saab to attend their annual Saab and Volvo car show – Swedish Car Day.

The following is a rough-ish text version of the presentation I’ve prepared, which will be delivered at the event here in Boston.

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Swedish Car Day presentation.

Sunday, August 29 2010. Larz Andersson Auto Museum, MA.

The state of Saab (as I see it)

….some opening remarks…..

I’d like to take a moment to thank the people at Charles River Saab, who’ve put on this magic day. They got their order in for the weather on time, as you can see. I know Pierre Belperron has been working on this day for months now. There’s a lot of organisational work that goes in to something like this and if you’ve had a great time today, go up and thank Pierre for all of his hard work.

My personal thanks also go to the powers that be at Charles River Saab, who allowed Pierre to convince them that the idea of bringing a blogger all the way from Australia might be worthwhile, too. It’s been a rare privilege to make this journey, meet all of you and see all of these wonderful vehicles on display today.

Of course, the other thing on display here is a very generous helping of Saab Pride – and we know that the love people have for this company is one of the most tangible, visible and real loves that’s right up there with any brand in history insofar as companies that have managed to capture the imaginations and the hearts of the people with the wisdom and willingness to try it.

It’s hard to believe that it was only six months ago that guys from Spyker, Saab and General Motors were sitting around a table in Stockholm, hammering out the final details of the deal to sell Saab. Just six months.

I can’t begin to tell you about the complexity of the work that 1) went into that deal, and 2) is going on right now to separate Saab’s working day from GM’s working processes. Everything that people do in Trollhattan – every part of their working day – was governed by a GM working process. Whether it was something as complex as a decision about engineering or crash testing, or something as simple as ordering new napkins for the staff cafeteria….. Everything was done according to a process that GM had ‘perfected’ over a century as an automaker.

Then……Combine the difficulties of separation with the difficulties of startup. It took Saab weeks to get the factory rolling again because the company was effectively in liquidation when it was sold. When you’re in liquidation, you don’t have a whole heap of stock hanging around. You’re not doing daily maintenance on the machinery that you need to build these cars. In fact, they were planning the deconstruction of the factory.

Now think about the thousands of parts that go into every car and the organisational effort needed to get the supply chain working again – from Sweden to greater Europe and Asia – think of the effort required to do that.

You think of these issues and the fact that it’s been only six months since the sale and you can see why I get a little bit antsy every now and then when some newspapers decide they’d like to turn what is essentially a nothing-story into some sensational headlines.

But why do we feel this way? Why the strength of feeling….?

  • Because of the heritage of the company, and
  • Because it all came so close to coming to an end.

I don’t have to tell you about the affection that people have for Saab’s history. The fact that you’re here today is testimony to that.

But I will anyway….

The cars that they built were so engaging, so practical and still so much fun to drive that they’ve inspired millions of people over the last 60+ years.

I don’t have to tell you how cool a Sonett is, or a 99 Turbo, a 900 SPG, a Viggen or a 9-5 Aero. You can walk outside right now and instantly – and you know this as well as I do – INSTANTLY you’ll fall for something and you’ll be scheming up ways you can get the money together to buy one. I’m already trying to plan – once again – how I might get a Sonett III back to Australia cost-effectively.

But on top of the cars, there’s the history of the company. This little company that punches so far above its weight.

Born from Jets isn’t a tagline, it’s a small variation on the truth and if people started getting a little tense about the whole BFJ campaign, it’s probably because it took a rich history with so many interesting stories, courageous people and fantastic designs and boiled it down to slick, catchy video clip.

That’s heritage. I could talk all day about that but I have to keep moving.

There’s also the fact that it really did almost come to an end. We did a fantastic collective job of continuing to believe back in early 2010. but I’ve got to tell you, there were a few days when it was hard to keep believing.

  • The day Koenigsegg pulled out of the deal. (talk more about Koenigsegg).
  • They day Eric Geers talked about moving to southern Europe (the Canary in the coalmine)
  • The day they announced Saab’s stay of execution in early December
  • The day GM stopped negotiations with Spyker (talk about the phone call with VM)

I was fortunate enough to be pretty well connected through this process, with various people in various places – all connected to the process in one way or another – updating me daily as to what was going on. That’s why when others were guessing about the players involved in this process, I was telling you who they actually were.

Keeping that story together, and accurate – keeping GM accountable for the potential closure of this great company – was the main motivator behind the hours that were put in covering this story.

No matter what ended up happening to Saab, my determination was that GM would not be allowed to close this company down quietly. The story was going to stay in the spotlight as much as possible and you all know about most of the campaigns that were orchestrated to that effect (there is at least one campaign SU was involved in that you don’t know about).

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Saab/Spyker have now effectively bought themselves another five or six years.

As Victor Muller is so fond of saying, they were there in the midst of the Perfect Storm and bought a fully functional car company – with a factory, a workforce, and most importantly, complete brand new models that were ready for market – representing billions of dollars of investment.

So what they’ve got now is a company that’s ready to sell its products for the next 5 or 6 years – and that’s when the big test will come. The Big Test is whether or not Saab will be successful enough to be able to invest in replacing the new models that they will sell now. If they can do that, they’ve not only bought themselves jobs, but they’ve got continuity.

So what do we know?

Well, we know that they’ve got a bunch of new models coming up. The 9-5 Sedan is just rolling out into showrooms and (finally) the private homes of customers right now.

Next year Saab will add the 9-5 wagon to that range and they’ll also add a vehicle that I’m really excited about, the Saab 9-4x. What really excites me about the 9-4x is that it is a vehicle that Saab really need this market, in North America. I think the 9-4x is going to be THE vehicle responsible for a large portion of whatever growth we see in Saab’s marketshare in this critical market in the next 5 years.

And I have a feeling that the Saab 9-4x is going to be really, really good. Many of us standing here aren’t going to see it as something that would be appropriate for us. I had a drive in an absolutely beautiful white Sonett II last night and for me – that’s what the ideal of engaging motoring is all about. A fun, zippy little car that you look at, feel and enjoy every minute of. Extend that ideal to a more practical level and you get a fun zippy sedan, wagon or hatchback that will hopefully incorporate the engagement of a Sonett with the practicality of an everyday car that can carry people and stuff.

Which brings us to the other new model Saab are working on – the new 9-3.

Consider the range that Saab have had over the years, with cars having to evolve over the course of up to 20 years (or more commonly, around 12-13 years) before they’re replaced with something new.

When the Saab 9-3 comes in late 2012 as a 2013 model year car, the brand new 9-5 that you can see just over there will be the oldest car in Saab’s range. That’s a very exciting prospect.

Where the success of the 9-4x will be critical in expanding Saab’s market presence here in the United States, the success of the new Saab 9-3 will be critical to Saab’s survival.

We all have expectations about what the new Saab 9-3 will bring. It’s so very tempting to thing that now Saab are independent again and they’re going to build into the 9-3 everything that made the Classic Saab 900 feel so wonderful to drive. It’s tempting to think that now Saab are separate from GM, they can just revert back to being the old Saab that we all came to love.

My words to you would be resist that temptation. Block it, throw it out the door and open your mind to embracing a new Saab – one that will unfold in front of us over the next couple of years.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s because everything we’ve seen from New Saab so far indicates that that will most likely be the case.

The first big indicator of this was the appointment of Jason Castriota as the head of Saab Design. Whilst Saab have had external designers come in in the past (think Sergio Coggiola with the Sonett III), I think it’s pretty unusual to have someone being tasked with the job of heading up and leading the whole design department whilst still remaining outside the company.

It’s controversial, unconventional and personally speaking, I’m not sure that I like it, but it’s a considered decision that has shaken the people involved and the proof of the decision will be in the car that we see – a new 9-3 – at some unidentified Auto Show in a few years from now.

The second indicator that Saab will be going a different way is some of the recent advertising that we’ve seen. I made a big deal out of not liking a few of those ads just last week and there has been a lot of discussion about these in various circles. Whilst I still don’t like some of the writing that I’ve seen in some of those ads, I’ve now reconciled myself to understanding what they’re trying to do and a little of the science behind it.

As traditionalists, loyalists and enthusiasts, these decisions shake our boats a little, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Saab have to treasure, honour and keep telling the story about where they’ve come from. I’m convinced that their history can be a valuable loyalty builder and therefore a key part of their future.

But as much as these recent decisions have shaken me up as an enthusiast and commentator on the company, the one thing they show is that Saab are on a careful, considered path and that the people in charge have the intestinal fortitude to make a tough decision and to stick to it.

They know the cars they want to build, they know the place in the market they want to get to, and they’re charting a course to get there. It may not be the segment we were expecting. It might not involve a path that we thought we might have to tread.

Personally, though, I give them a lot of credit for having the guts to identify a vision and follow it. I just hope and pray that they bring the crowd that stood up for them along for the ride.

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by Swade

Connecticut convoy for Swedish Car Day

August 26, 2010 in News

UPDATE – New Hampshire/ Maine convoy added as well! See below.

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A question was asked the other day about convoys heading to Swedish Car Day in Boston from Connecticut.

There IS a convoy arranged and there’s even a Facebook page for it.

Let’s try to meet off Exit 68 from I-84 in Tolland, CT at 7am. We’re leaving at 7:10 SHARP. Parking on the lawn at SCD is between 8 and 10am so it would probably be best to get there (to SCD) around 9am. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

I’d say look for the Saabs at that exit and you’ll be amongst the right people….. Or look for the police cars – apparently they’re meeting at Dunkin Donuts :-)

See you there!

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New Hampshire and Maine – let ‘em know you’re coming at the Facebook page

For those trekking southbound to SCD from Maine or from the Seacoast of NH, we are assembling at the I-95 “Safety Rest Area” Liquor Store just south of the Hampton Toll barrier for a 7:30am SHARP departure