Lance Cole: Spirit of Saab Savoured

Lance Cole is a writer living in England and has penned several books on automobiles and aviation. Saab enthusiasts would know him best for the book Saab 99 and 900: The Complete Story, which is an excellent and essential volume and available for sale at the SU Bookshop.

Click here to read all of Lance’s previous contributions at Trollhattan Saab.


Photo report from Lance Cole – who rode a Saab 96 in the UK Saab convoy

I had forgotten just what fun the two stroke Saabs are. Thanks to the kindness of ex-Saab GB technical director, Chris Partington, I joined the UK Saab Support Convoy in his lovely blue 1963 Saab 96 – complete with four-speed gearbox and the full radiator blind kit.

All photos by Lance Cole. Click to enlarge.

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Chris, along with his wife and I, buzzed across country in the burbling, wailing, all-singing stroker – its manic ‘thrum’ and ‘burble’ bouncing off the ice bound winter landscape.
Chris used to drive works supports cars for Erik Carlsson and it shows – Chris really knew how to handle the little 96 – rally style and fully stoked up, with the superb feel of the direct steering and strong brakes allowing the driver to point the car with accuracy. Chris told great tales of the 1970s and ’80s heyday of Saab GB and life on the rally support team.

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Then we parked up at our first convoy meeting point and had a chat with Erik – as you do ….

Onwards then to Duxford and the Imperial War Museum where Josephine Gatsonides, Mike Philpott, and all helpers from the Saab Owners Club, dealers et al, had an emotional and nostalgic Saab gathering; the cake was great (thanks Cambridge Saab) and Erik Carlsson cut it open ‘on the roof’ – as bidden by us all!

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Swedish Day UK organiser and SU favourite Robin Morley was there too – in a Saab 9-3 ‘vert: Lots of SU readers turend up as well, which was fun.

Brit motoring journalist John Simister turned up in his two-stroke – with Autocar’s Rchard Bremner on board. Car Magazine was there as well – look out for feature on Saab. A nice Sonnet 3, a rare 900 four door, and every mark of Saabs old and new turned out.

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I think it was the thought that other Saabisti were doing likewise all over the world that made its mark upon us. The love for the brand and the respect for the men that made it, was tangible. And to see all those cars gathered – it was a pure Saab day…

I jumped back aboard the 96 and we buzzed off into the sunset, engine and exhaust wailing. I sat there, part of the little Saab and its wondferful design, thinking of Lungstrom, Mellde, Sason, Envall, the Holms, Svenson, Carlsson and all those other names from the band of brothers of Saab – our beloved Saab. It was quite emotional.

Ah, what a day – my best Saab ride in years. I will never forget the sight, sound and smell of the Saabness of things.

Whatever happens, we will all love the days of Saab, always.

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