Bitter and Sweet by Martin T16S

I had this email come to me from Martin in Cardiff (UK) and wanted to share it with you all,

Well what a Bitter/Sweet ccouple of weeks it has been!

As some of you know, until the 23rd December 2011, I had worked in various roles within UK SAAB dealerships since leaving school in 1975. My first introduction to SAAB was as a trainee panel beater or Body Repair Specialist as they are now called. My first ever job application and I got the job there and then! I started a week later and immediately caught the incurable infection that is SAAB. As I was very much into cars in a big way it did not take long for me to fall head over heels in love with this wonderful car. I spent the next ten years repairing them and got to know every single nut and bolt on both the 96, 99, 90 and 900. The more time I spent working on them and putting them back onto the road the more hopeless was the case of me ever being cured. Not that I wanted to be!
After they closed the bodyshop I moved into the parts department as my knowledge of taking them apart stood me in good stead and I subsequently became Parts Manager.

I then became involved in Sales quite by accident in 1985 when I was asked to cover showroom duties along with parts whilst my MD took a short break. Upon his return I had to brief him of any enquiries that I had taken. When I informed him that I had sold a brand new 900 T16s (Aero) and had actually delivered it to the customer I was immediately installed with a desk in the showroom! I have never looked back. My MD at that time became my role model and mentor.From that day, all my dealings have been conducted in the way he would have done. Sadly he (Stuart Williams) is no longer with us but his influence remains with me to this day.
During the 37 years since I caught the SAAB bug I can honestly say I have had the most fantastic times and met the most wonderful people. Both customers and staff members alike. Many of these customers and colleagues remain close friends to this day and I count them as treasured people. Some, sadly, have now left this planet and just today I have been to the funeral of one of my best loved customers who I first dealt with in 1985. He also had this crazy unexplainable SAAB bug that we all have and went on to buy many SAABS from me, including just recently a NG 95 Vector SE Tid Auto with Ventilated seats and NAV. Only two weeks ago I washed the car for him and he was lamenting SAAB and saying how sad the current situation was while at the same time saying it was the best SAAB he has ever had.

It has been a wonderful 37 years with a wonderful product and wonderful special people and it breaks my heart to see what has become of it.
Just yesterday we visited our dealership for the final time to remove the last of our belongings. The whole day all I could think of was that day way back in January 1975 when I first had contact with SAAB. Such special memories.

There have been countless good times along the way with wonderful incentive trips all around the world, 3 times to the factory, ice driving in Lapland, Jordan, Arizona, Israel, Africa..the list is endless and I thank SAAB so much for a fantastic career with them and all the great people I have met along the way.

Part of my Bitter Sweet heading relates to a happy note and is attributed solely to Saabs United, or as in this case, it has turned into Friends United.
Back in 1992 my best friend, who also had the SAAB bug had a bad breakup with his partner and immediately decided to leave the UK to make a new life in the USA. I continued to have contact with him for 2 years then all went quiet and have not had any contact since.
Until this week!!!!
I was sat at home and received an email from someone who had been following the Saab saga on Saabs United for a while and had noticed a thread and a few posts from someone that could have been me. it was indeed my long lost buddy from 20 years ago who is now living in Fort Lauderdale! We are now emailing like mad and trying to catch up on 20 lost years!

So, to summerise my Bitter Sweet couple of weeks. I have had to say goodbye to the job with SAAB that I loved so much without having any opportunity to say goodbye to the masses of loyal customers, many of whom have become good friends, it feels like I have been taken from my second family possibly never to see them again.
I have said farewell to a dear friend/customer of 27years who,s funeral was today.

The Sweet part is that I have regained a lost friend from 20 years ago who is now living in the USA thanks to Saabs United.

What a melting pot of emotions!!

The weekend of the 14th/15th will be especially poignant for me for obvious reasons. I have recently met many new acquaintances via Saabs United and some lost friends too.

It is with a heavy heart that I reflect on the beloved SAAB that we all know so well that seems to have almost died, but as we speak we all know it is a fighting brand and who knows, maybe I will soon be reunited with another great friend……our cherished, reborn SAAB.

Keep up the tremendous good work Robin and all the SU team and indeed our entire SAAB โ€˜ familyโ€™ worldwide.

Bless you all.

Martin Lyons
(Martin T16s)

36 thoughts on “Bitter and Sweet by Martin T16S”

  1. What sentiments. My first drive was in a yellow 1966 96 from Anderson’s in Stockport. I too moved to the USA and drove that SPG just like the one in the picture for over a million miles. I too caught that chronic infection in Britain.

  2. Thanks for this inspirational and great insight, to hear from people the other side of the desk and the addiction these amazing cars can give to us all thanks Martin and good luck in the future

  3. Very nicely written!! My first drive was a 1967 Saab 96 3 cylinder 2-stroke with the oil tank. This car was passed down to me from my dad (God rest his soul!). That started the bug! Thanks Dad!! I have driven saab ever since, and will continue to drive Saab until I expire!! I’m 53 now, so hopefully I will have a few more years to enjoy saab! I do enjoy my current Saab 1999 9-3 (base model), even if it is GM-ized! Lets all pray for a miracle!

  4. Very well put Martin. Your thoughts and experiences will resound amongst the SAAB community for years to come. I wish you well and look forwarded to meeting and chatting to you again soon.

  5. What a nice chap………i only had a brief dealing with these guys at Concept and they were excellent at what they did, a credit to the SAAB brand and to themselves. I have been driving SAAB’s almost as long as Martin has been selling them, 33 years and i kind of know when i am getting a good service. Believe me, i’ve had some crap service but probally 9 out of ten dealers are pretty spot on.
    I wish you good luck Martin, you are a credit to the industry and all the best in what ever path you may take.

  6. This post takes me back to my first Saab purchase. A Saab 96 from Dave Moore’s Mayfield dealership in Liverpool in 1973.
    Apart from two brief detours into company-car-dictated Ford Granada’s and Vauxhall Carltons, I’ve been with Saab ever since.
    That first Saab 96 was 3 years old when I bought it…… it was driven by me and my family for 25 years!

      • Not sure. He had a stroke following which the business came briefly under the control of other family members (son and daughter?) Anyway, within 6 months they had gone bust. That was all not long after a massive expansion with additional showrooms etc. (We are going back too many years to remember just when all this was: two of Dave Moores staff had left previously to set-up on their own and fell out with him and with Saab. They are still running a secondary Saab business Sarbkar (after Saab objected to them incorporationg the correct spelling of Saab into their name).
        The garage is now a tyre fitting station.

  7. My thoughts are with you Martin, My first involvement with SAAB was in about 1972, delivering a 96 from Paignton in Devon to Plymouth, that drive converted me forever, in about 1974/5 i drove the first 99EMS to Plymouth, i,m now in heaven,So many memories, most of them good.Good luck for the future, Chris H

  8. Martin and I recently shared much of this information. We were together many times, but never met, until now through SaabsUnited !

  9. Martin,
    Was this lost friend the one you were reconnecting with directly in that post? I remember reading some back and forth with you and someone you had worked with in a post a while back and how cool I thought that was to see. You know what I think of you and your commitment to Saab and your friends/customers. You are exactly what this company needs to go forward, thanks for sharing your story.


    • Hi Jason, thank you and the others in here for all your kind words. No, this is a different friend from outside the industry that was my best friend socially. I do have to point out that my thoughts and feelings are not exclusive to me nor were ever meant to be. When writing this I very much had the thoughts and feelings in mind of all employees and customers who are feeling a loss at this time. None so much as those that were at the very heart, the beating heart of our brand, the workers and their families at Trollhattan.

    • The person you saw me connecting with is mpprh who worked for SGB in those halcyon days when Saab were in a much better place. He recognised some of my comments and just happened to have been involved with 2 of the set ups of dealerships I worked at.

  10. I was at Ashton Court in Bristol. If you get a chance take a look at the flicker pictures under the UK event details. It is an amazingly stunning location. Our day was enhanced further by the presence of the renowned author and Saab aficionado Lance Cole.

  11. What a BEAUTIFUL car and a great tale!!!! There truly IS something special about these cars. I hope that Saab will rise again some day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Thanks for sharing Martin.

    You may know me as Mike from Technical Support (ASAC) in Sweden, I know I have spoken to you and your boys on the phone.

    We are doing all we can to Support the markets and will Never Ever Give Up.

    All the Best,

    Mike aka Conkers

    • Hey Conkers! Yes you have been of help many times for us. It is so good to hear your comment of continued support although unfortunately our dealership has now closed and is in administration. I daresay there are many others who have suffered the same fate.

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