Saab Support Convoys started in earnest on Sunday, January 17th. I’m sure anyone who participated in one of these gatherings can remember the incredible feeling of solidarity that existed that day and in the weeks that followed.
I thought it appropriate to take a quick look at how it all happened.
Early December, 2009 – a couple of Dutch Saab fans have the idea of holding a Saab Support Convoy in January. At that time, everyone thought that Saab’s fate would have been determined by mid-January. This event was going to be either a celebration of Saab’s sale, or a wake to remember a great company gone too soon. No-one thought Saab’s fate would still be in the balance.
18 December, 2009 – GM cut off all negotiations with Spyker, saying they’ll wind Saab up. Spyker refuse to accept this and revise their offer, removing all the obstacles that GM had identified as being in the way. We all spend Christmas waiting and wondering and the number of prospective convoys continues to grow.
5 January 2010 – With a GM Board meeting due on the 7th (and a decision expected on Saab’s fate at that time), Ryan from Saabhistory.com questioned why people were waiting until the 17th to show their support. Jalopnik.com picked up on this and before you could say “Damn it’s cold in Detroit in January” the first Saab Support Convoy is held in Detroit on the 5th with Ryan leading the gathering, just down the street from GM’s headquarters. With around 28 cars and a few more people in attendance, it’s a small convoy but the effect is significant. A number of big news services cover the story and imagery of Saab people waving signs at GM’s offices. Seeing the effect that a convoy can have inspires others to set up gatherings of their own and the growth
17th January 2010 – D-Day for Saab Support Convoys around the world – and I think it was bigger than anyone actually envisaged.
If I recall correctly, the Dutchies thought their initial plans would attract between 150-200 cars. Those plans had to be altered several times as the campaign gathered momentum and they ended up with an estimated 800 cars at the actual event.
An estimated 2,000 cars came to Trollhattan and the ceremonial drive from the Museum to the Factory ended up as a continuous line of Saabs linking one to the other.
Convoys were being held in places where I didn’t even know an organised Saab following existed. Places like Taiwan and Malaysia stunned us all with their passion for the brand. St Petersburg stunned us all with the beauty of the images that came from their gathering. Poland stunned us all by the size of their gathering and heartfelt warmth of their people.
It was amazing. I was here at home manning the computer as emails and images came pouring in from all around the world. It’s no over-statement to say I couldn’t keep up.
From the records kept on the Saab Campaigns site set up at the time, Saab Support
Convoys were held in the following places that first weekend:
Bulgaria, Brisbane, Kansas City, Vienna, Linz, Stockholm, Taiwan, Frankfurt, Brno, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Beijing, Vilnius, Melbourne, Italy, Hungary, Belarus, St Petersburg, Slovakia, Netherlands, Southern California, New Mexico, Prague, Brookline MA, Helsinki, Adelaide, Shanghai, Moscow, Trollhattan, Atlanta, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan, Montreal, UK, Ningbo (China), Ekaterinburg, Bodoe, Tolga, Sandes, Kristiansand, Malaysia, Denmark, Umea, Paris, Denver, Toronto, Singapore.
Apologies if I’ve missed anyone but the dates get a little confusing after that.
All of those convoys in one day with a bunch more in the following weeks. An amazing show of support and it generated plenty of news coverage for Saab, which developed into one of the objectives of the excercise: make sure GM couldn’t get away from the spotlight surrounding the sale of Saab.
To those who participated in these convoys, as well as the ones that followed, I’m quite sure that Saab is grateful. I hope you have fond memories of the days you spent fighting for this company together with your fellow Saab enthusiasts.
And to Saab and the Saab dealers out there, I hope you remember what you nearly lost and continue to build and service cars for the people who stood up for you.