Last night was the entertainment jewel in the Saab Festival crown, with the gala dinner held in the newly refurbished Nova Arena just behind the Saab Museum.
Attendees at the last Saab Festival would be familiar with the location of the venue as it was in the same physical location as the 2007 dinner. That’s where the similarities end, however, with the Arena fully refurbished and looking absolutely fantastic.
The food was Italian, to commemorate the Mille Miglia that VM and JAJ both competed in earlier this year and of course, there was a strong Saab 96 theme to the evening as well, as the festival is marking the 50th anniversary of the Saab 96 this year.
The highlight of the evening – aside from the Italian food – was the discussion style entertainment provided by Peter Backstrom & Co. It was presented in a setting reminiscent of the TV program, Top Gear, with Peter Backstrom (Saab Museum) and Christopher McKinnon (Product Development) presenting the program and interviewing various luminaries (and others) during the evening.
Segments of the program included chats about the following:
- Development of the Saab 96 two-stroke and V4 models. The move from 2-stroke to 4-stroke was quite an adventure for Saab involving resistance at the senior management level and petitions to the ownership (the Wallenbergs) that resulted in a small country cottage becoming the secret development lab for adapting the Saab 96 to take the Ford Cologne V4.
- A chat with Erik Carlsson, who was the main man in charge of having fun with those Saab 96s over so many years.
- Discussion with VM and JAJ about the Mille Miglia (those two are turning into quite the double act, with VM bouncing off the walls in a verbal sense, and JAJ meeting his animation with dry one-liners that brought the house down). This included a presentation of trophies to both of them, which had some significance as it’s not unusual for lower place-getters in the Mille Miglia to avoid presentations at the event, primarily because they are placed in a low position. Peter made sure JAJ and VM received their trophies for placing around 230th and 260th, respectively 🙂
- Presentations to all the trophy winners from the Car Show earlier in the day (photos coming soon)
- Discussion with myself and Claes Robertsson from the Saab Turbo Club of Sweden about how the Saab Support Convoys evolved, both in general and more specifically, here in Trollhattan.
Victor Muller and Jan-Ake Jonsson about to receive their trophies for the Mille Miglia:
Yours Truly and Claes Robertsson talking about Saab support and social media:
After all that, it got a little embarrassing but in a very nice kind of way.
The last part of the evening was given over to the presentation of a new award that the company has struck and will give again at the next Saab Festival.
It’s called the Saabs United Award and will be awarded to an individual (or perhaps a group) who go above and beyond the call in their support for Saab. The actual award itself is in the form of a shield, attached to which is an UrSaab model and a boomerang.
The boomerang is actually a gift I gave to Jan-Ake Jonsson last month, with a message written on the back thanking him for all his work on behalf of the Saabs United community. The symbolism of the boomerang was two-fold: a) It’s Australian, like me, and b) no matter how many times GM tried to throw Saab away, we kept coming back.
It’s nice that they’ve chosen to use it this way and it was equally nice that they made the first presentation of this award to me *blush*.
Personally, it was a very nice ending to a great evening, and another truimph for the Saab Festival organisers.
Following are a few more photos, which were sent on to me by SU regular, Thilo. You can see more at his fantastic photography website.
The trophy winners from the various classes judged at the Car Show earlier in the day. Their cars were parked at the rear of the hall and looked fantastic.
Victor gave a very enthusiastic welcome to Vladimir Antonov, as did the audience. He had driven straight to the dinner (in his Spyker LM85) from the finish of the Midnight Sun rally.