Thursday Night Snippets

UPDATE:
A comment from ctm that I thought was worth bringing to the front page here:

Media in Sweden now claim there are four auto manufacturers interested in Saab: Koenigsegg, Geely, another Chinese manufacturer, and another unknown one.

That would gel pretty well with the whispers I’m hearing. The rest of the dozen who Saab will proceed with would be investment companies.
I had a good conversation with Djup Strupe in Sweden this evening and whilst no identities were forthcoming (they never are), the impression I got was that this is a very mixed bunch full of names you’ve never heard of.
I also got some clarification from Magnus Nordberg at TTELA this evening on something written there and covered here. The presence of BMW in these negotiations, which we’ve written about and discussed recently, is in no way confirmed. In fact, I’d be surprised.
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A new month starts in just minutes from now, which means sales figures will be upon us once more.
Yikes!
Expect plenty of red ink, though there are some markets that are making definite pronounced efforts to drum up interest while others sleep.
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One of those markets that seems to be pulling out all the stops at the moment is the Belgian market.
I recently featured their initial “Future of Saab” roadshow stop, where they showed off the 9-4x and 9-3x at a local dealership.
Last night, that roadshow continued, with 6 combined dealerships inviting guests to come and view the new vehicles. Sofie Van D from Saab in Belgium forwarded a few images from the event, which by all accounts was another raging success.
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My congratulations to Sofie and the crew at Saab Belgium who are doing great stuff in terms of getting the word out to the people about Saab’s current and future product.
If you’re in Belgium and you haven’t heard about this, I’d encourage you to call your Saab dealer. Perhaps our mate on the ground there, Etienne over at Saabhuy, may know a bit more about where the tour is going, too.
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At the other end of the spectrum, the Dutch market is in serious trouble, with Saab’s importer reportedly filing for bankruptcy.
The full story is here for those who read Dutch.
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And on a personal note…..my own car buying saga continues.
Finally, this weekend I’m going to satisfy my Porsche curiosity once again and test drive the cheapest 944 for sale in Australia, which just happens to live 10 minutes from my place. Great handling, no service history, expensive parts, crappy interior, but it IS a Porsche. Did I mention great handling and that it’s the cheapest 944 in the country?
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And in the blue corner….. I’m still fascinated by MX-5’s. Cheap, zippy, great handling, and very upgradeable.
And yes, I do like that blue…….
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Ah well, I’ll always have my Monte……

The most powerful BioPower Saab – the Saab 9-5 Aero Griffin

Many markets around the world are getting a Griffin edition Saab 9-5 for the car’s last model year in 2009.
The Swedish market, however, are getting an extra-special model, the Saab 9-5 Aero Griffin.
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You Swedes can read the full details in your native tongue at Saab Sverige.
The rest of you will have to put up with my laborious (and I mean laborious) translation.
In a nutshell, the addition of a Hirsch tuning package means that the Saab 9-5 Aero Griffin is the most potent BioPower Saab you’ve ever been able to order from the factory.
From what I can tell, the car features the following standard kit:

  • Groovy leather trim
  • Harmon-Kardon sound system
  • CD Changer
  • Bi-Xenon headlamps
  • Rear Spoiler
  • Aluminium pedals
  • 17 or 18 inch light alloy wheels
  • Sports Chassis
  • Double rear exhaust system
  • High Gloss black interior trim

….and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t translate (there’s no cutting and pasting from Saab’s flash-based website, so I’d have to type this stuff all in by hand).
It’s not quite the TS Edition that I promoted as the 9-5’s swansong back in 2007, but it looks like a very nice goodbye model all the same.

Latest news from Sweden: 10-12 buyers remain for Saab

A week or so ago, Saab had as many as 27 different persons on it’s dance card. Now that the initial tours are over and done with, we’re down to around a dozen, depending on who you read.
This much we knew. I wrote about it here the other day.
But there are some interesting news stories doing the rounds and they flesh things out a little more.
This first of these stories is from Sweden’s E24. Tompa’s been kind enough to send through a translation:

Ten looking to buy Saab
The number of prospective buyers of Saab has shrunk from 27 to 10. “Everything is really intense right now” say Guy Lofalk to E24.
We have several processes underway at the moment:
a “carve out”, were we make ourselves independent from GM,
the reconstruction itself ,and
the sales process that is run by Deutsche Bank.
27 interested parties got to sign a confidentiality agreement, but only 10 are now involved in the process, according to Guy Lofalk.
-There is a very strong and concrete interest from several prospective buyers. So far so good, one would have to say, says Guy Lofalk.
Are they interested in parts or the whole of Saab Automobile?
-What is being discussed right now is to buy all Saab stock, to make a complete buy-out.
At the creditors meeting in the beginning of April, Guy Lofalk made it clear that the goal is to make Saab an independent company that is intended to be sold in June.
-The plan can of course come to be revised, but at the moment it is unchanged, say Guy Lofalk.
Rumours of who are interested in Saab are many. Recently Göteborgs Tidning reported that one of the interested parties is the Norwegian state. Also an un-named Swedish consortium have been pointed out as potential buyers according to Bloomberg News.
Besides that, there are supposed to be two investment companies and a private investor interested, according to the car manufacturer.

The next story is from AFP, via Google News.

Up to 12 investors are in the running to buy Swedish automaker Saab, a union leader told AFP on Wednesday, two months after its struggling US owner General Motors put it up for sale.

That union official is our old mate, Paul Akerlund from IF Metall. Akerlund is always worth listening to. He doesn’t talk that often, but like JAJ, when he talks he doesn’t mess around.

“The plan is still at the end of June to have this all resolved and hopefully have a new owner for Saab,” he said, warning that any new owner should not cut jobs in Sweden and relocate production elsewhere.

As Kroum observed in comments, that last statement is a quiet nod to the fact that at least one of the remaining bidders is a company with overseas manufacturing capabilities.
Here’s hoping it never comes to that. I have a feeling the Swedish government will place a lot of pressure on any prospective new owner so that they keep jobs in Sweden in return for loan guarantees.
It’s interesting times, people. Things are definitely brewing!!!

Saab old timers get together at Grieco

Kurt K’s low mileage Saab 96 was featured as a Saab O The Week over at Trollhattan Saab some time ago now. It’s a beautiful ’69 model V4 and I assume it’s still got less than 40,000 miles on it by now.
Kurt took his car into his local Saab indie, Grieco Saab in Boonton NJ, for it’s annual checkup and little did he know it, but he was walking into a Saab retirement convention! Well, maybe not, but it certainly was a gathering of noble old-timer Saabs that made for a few good photos.
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Last Saturday, I had my ’69 V4 in for an annual oil change and lubrication service at a local indie, Grieco Saab which is located in Boonton, New Jersey.
Mike Grieco is a Certified Saab mechanic that began at Zumbach Saab some years ago. He and his dad work together at their shop which is exclusively Saab repair. They have a great reputation and I couldn’t help but ask him to take these unusual pictures, which was almost like a step back in time.
At the same time my car was there, another customer had his ’70 V4 in for a transmission rebuild. Mike owns the ’67 stroker on the right and my V4 is in the middle.

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Mike also owns the blue ’60 93F which has some serious performance upgrades, particularly to the carburetion as well as a Sonett III and many, many parts cars – including 96s, C900s and 9000s.
Best,
Kurt K

Serious performance upgrades??? Check out the exhaust tunnel on the photo above!! That car could almost give birth!!!
My thanks to Kurt for sending these in and a big Saab wave to the guys at Grieco.
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Are Saab going to tease the Saab 9-5 in Barcelona??

I’m quite sure that Saab are not going to show the 2010 Saab 9-5 in Barcelona, but this has got me wondering what they might get up to…..
At Saab-Barcelona09.com you’ll see a fairly groovy but straightforward website that’s designed to let visitors know what Saab might be showing there.
You get links about the Saab 9-3x, the Saab 9-4x, the 9-X Air and Saab’s new XWD system.
What you don’t see is the image you get at this link (also part of Saab-Barcelona09.com)
Click to enlarge.
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As you can see, there’s a quite clear reference to the “nuevo Saab 9-5” there with some flashy looking gauges.
Those gauges are actually from the 9-4x concept vehicle, so let’s not get too excited just yet. Furthermore, I don’t believe Saab are going to show the 2010 Saab 9-5 in Barcelona. That honour will fall with the Frankfurt Motor Show.
But maybe they’ll let a little more information out of the bag. Maybe we’ll get one of those silhouette images that they like to tease us with nowadays?
We’ll be waiting…….
The Barcelona Auto Salon is on from the 9th to the 17th of May.
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Thanks Tiago!!

New Hirsch Performance line officially released for Swiss, German and Austrian markets

Ah, if only that headline said Australian and not Austrian! One day…..
Saab’s official performance tuning house, Hirsch, recently announced their new Hirsch Performance versions of the Saab 9-3 XWD V6 for the three abovementioned markets, so they got together and did a little photoshoot for the media.
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The press coverage has been pretty good, too, with one outlet going so far as to say that on the stregth of potential shown in these performace versions,“Saab will survive”
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Switzerland’s Automobile Revue commented on both the extra boost from the tuned V6 as well as the fantastic interior upgrades.
These new Hirsch Performance versions are the V6 XWD cars. They cover the 0-100 sprint in 5.5 seconds and indulge the driver with interior trim that will hopefully one day be available in all markets from your local Saab dealer (that’s me talking, not Hirsch – it’s just the way it should be)
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“We create with passion and we live from the passion”

Hirsch Engineer, Erik Lundgren, as told to Neue Zurcher Zietung
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More photos from Hirsch Performance.
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And further to this, I can tell you that Hirsch are still persuin availability in the US with an announcement expected very soon. We are literally almost down to waiting on the mailman to deliver the papers.
It’s that close. Stay tuned.

An open letter to those prospective Saab owners

I’d like to say a nice big hello to those groups out there who are investing in Saab.
You know who you are. We don’t, because you’ve signed a confidentiality agreement and as expected, it’s being honored by those who signed it with you.
Whoever you are, though, you’re interested in Saab. Here at Saabs United and on other websites around the tubes, we’re also interested in Saab. We may even be more interested in Saab than what some of you are. In fact, I’m sure that’s the case. Some of you are probably just cashed up investors looking for an asset to flip. But hopefully there’s one or two of you who are as interested in Saab as what we are.
If that’s you,then read on…..
The Saab company that you’ve gone and toured in the last few weeks is surely a very lean operation. They have a very lean product range and at the moment, the sales figures are looking rather lean as well.
If Saab look like a bit of an emaciated shell to you, it’s because they’ve been living off scraps from GM’s table for the last 10 or so years.
But I bet you saw something there, didn’t you?
I bet you saw a spark. I bet you saw signs of life and an excitement, an enthusiasm that shouldn’t normally underpin an organisation that’s been through so much.
What you saw was a confidence in the future, a confidence that can only come from people who know beyond all reasonable doubt that they have something. Saab’s something is a philosophy that’s over 60 yeaars in the making, and perfect for modern motoring. Saab’s something is a knowledge that properly backed, they can design their way to a new future in the automobile world. Saab’s something is a knowledge that there’s a whole crowd of people out there waiting, anticipating, cheering for this little company that can.
I believe that what Saab want, and what we-the-people want, is to have life. Not a heartbeat. But real life.
We want the 2010 Saab 9-5 to be a very competent,acomplished and advanced car. We want it to excel. We want to get excited about it.
But perhaps more than that, we want the cars that will come after the Saab 9-5 – the cars that you and Saab will bring to life.
We want a new, totally ass-kicking Saab 9-3 for the mainstream.
We want a new convertible based around the Saab 9-X Air that goes even better than it looks.
We want a new smaller Saab to toss around. One that can compete successfully in whatever form of motorsport you choose to enter it in.
We want to set BMW, Audi, Citroen, Volvo and everyone else on their asses with our creativity and execution.
We want an Aero-X. Even if it’s a sensible one.
You see, this isn’t about giving Saab CPR and helping them to struggle on for a few more years. This is about a small but storied autombile manufacturer with a sporting heritage, a penchant for design and a historically proven record for being different when being different mattered because you were being right. This is about a company that should be allowed to live in the fullest sense of the word.
This is not about automotive appliances. This is about a brand, a driving way of life. This is about taking the long way home. It’s about the turbo rush. It’s about cars being safe, but scintillating.
I’ve been to Trollhattan. I’ve met a number of the people who used to make these cars, and even more people who still make them now. This is truly a family company in the catholic sense. I’ve met so many quality people from running this website. I’ve broken bread with many of them. I’ve stayed in their homes and had them stay in mine.
We’ve shared frustrations, happiness and many miles of driving pleasure all because of these fantastic automobiles, ones that are unlike any other.
We want Saab to be great again. We’re all here waiting and hoping that you want Saab to be great again too.
You felt that when you were in Trollhattan, didn’t you?

2010 Saab 9-5 update

I thought as much!!
One of those sites covering the Saab 9-5’s latest appearance at The Ring mentioned that it would be built in Russelsheim first with plans to move it to Trollhattan.
This made absolutely no sense. Why pay to set up a factory for production of a car just to do it all over again later? Why delay production whilst you move all the tooling from one place to another?
I asked the question and got the answer.
Saab’s plans are to have all 2010 Saab 9-5 production in the Trollhattan factory.
Saab want it that way and it’s fair to say that the Swedish government would want it that way as well, prior to providing the loan guarantees that a new owner will require when they take over control of Saab.
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I’ve just heard from another source that the 2010 Saab 9-5 is still definitely scheduled to premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year.
Word around the traps is that Frankfurt have actually contracted with Saab to get the 9-5 launch, which is just another in a long line of reasons as to why they’re being so secretive about the production car’s looks.
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All of the above presumes, of course, that Saab will be a going concern by the latter parts of this year.
But they will.
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And in non-9-5 related news, the Barcelona Motor Show is coming up, with the 9-3x, 9-4x and 9-X Air all making an appearance.
Photos will be forthcoming, we hope.

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