I’ve just read over at Saab History that the legendary former head of Saab in the United States, Bob Sinclair, passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer lasting just short of two years.
I knew this was coming, but nothing really prepares you for the news, does it?
I only met Bob once, at his home in January 2008. One of our regulars here, 1985Gripen, was kind enough to pick me up at the airport in LA and together we drove up to Santa Barbara and chatted with Bob for a couple of hours in his dining room.
We went downstairs and checked out his bikes and his Volvo-powered dune buggy and then took a drive to a small pub for some food, me riding shotgun with Bob in his Ferrari.
Needless to say it was an outstanding day. I was braindead from 14 hours on a plane and an extra two hours on the road to get there, but I hung on every word Bob said.
Ryan and Carl have prepared an excellent summary of Bob’s career and life at Saab History, and I recommend you click through and have a read.
If you’d like to listen to my phone interview with Bob from 2008, please click here.
Eggs posted a tribute to Bob back January 2008, around the time I met Bob.
I heard that Bob had taken a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago so I took the chance to write a final note to him at that time.
I’m not sure if he had a chance to read it, or have it read to him. I hope so. But for me the main thing was having a chance to write it – having a chance to tell this extraordinary guy how much he meant to so many people.
I’m not even sure you’ll get to read this, but I thought I’d send it anyway. Some things are just too important to pass over.
I just heard via the V-Saab list that your cancer has spread further and that as a result your condition is deteriorating. I can’t tell you how sad I was to hear of such a vibrant man being struck down in this way, but I guess it will come to us all.
Eulogies are no good to you once you’re gone, so I just wanted to take a moment to tell you my perspective on how important you’ve been to me – a guy on the other side of the world who you’d never have met if it weren’t for two things: your own generous and hospitable nature, and a cooky little car company from Sweden called Saab.
Like many, I’ve developed an un-natural passion for these vehicles and the pleasure that they bring. And the more I read about them, the more I came to appreciate the Herculean role you had in building up their presence in the United States (and effectively, around the world as well). That must have taken a fair bit of business acumen, but more than that, it must have taken something special.
An understanding of human nature? An appreciation of the off-beat? A willingness to take on something crazy? Boundless enthusiasm, energy and good sense?
All the stories I read illustrated that you had these and many more qualities in spades, but they paled into insignificance when I actually got to spend some time at your home back in January 2008. I’m just some guy from Tasmania with too much time on his hands and yet I sat with the great Bob Sinclair – listening to war stories from the old days. I could have sat there for hours, Bob. Your energy and enthusiasm were right there on your sleeve and I felt you could have walked into SaabUSA’s offices that very day and commanded more attention from staff and dealers alike, just by clearing your throat.
I still hold on to some vague hopes of working for Saab one day; a new Saab that’s free from General Motors and able to undo all the abuses they suffered during that time. If that dream ever comes true, I’ll credit a lot of the continued enthusiasm I have for the brand, for the Saab way of life, to my experiences reading about and talking with you.
You inspired me in ways that only a few coveted sports stars and my own father managed to inspire me and I’ll carry lessons from your life, for the rest of my own life.
My heart goes out to you and your family, Bob. Thankyou for everything you’ve done and everything that you are. I hope the coming months bring you some happiness and peace, my friend.