Charles River Saab to close at Watertown – move service to Boston Volvo

UPDATE – I’ve re-worded the headline so it’s somewhat less scary. Please note that Charles River Saab’s service personnel will be moving their Saab Service work to Boston Volvo, nearby.

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I only got to know a few dealers well during my time writing about Saab. The one that I probably got to know the best – Charles River Saab – is hosting a farewell open day this weekend to mark the closing of their Watertown business after 55 years.

I got to know Charles River Saab when the Service Manager, Pierre Belperron, invited me to Boston to attend their annual Swedish Car Day event, back in 2010. Whilst Pierre and I had exchanged a few emails prior to me getting there, I really didn’t know what to expect when I landed in Boston. What I encountered there was a dealership and staff that epitomised the heartbeat of a vibrant Saab community.

For nearly everyone at CRS, Saab wasn’t just their business, Saab was a key part of their lives. Many of them had given decades of service to the brand and forged friendships with co-workers and customers that will last a lifetime. Several of them didn’t just own current model Saab cars leased on a convenient staff deal – they owned classic, immaculate Saab cars.

I spent most of my Boston time with Pierre from CRS and Dan from State of Nine and for a guy who lives on the other side of the world, it was a fantastic introduction to the depth and intensity of the north-eastern US Saab scene. You couldn’t meet two more dedicated guys if you tried. What made it all the more amazing for me was seeing the commute that Pierre would travel each day to get to work (he lives in a neighbouring state), sometimes arriving in the wee hours in order to clear snow from the CRS lot before any of the other staff arrived during the winter. Dedication personified.

And of course, what made my time with Pierre and the folks at CRS all the more memorable is the fact that they’re not just dedicated Saab people, they were all absolutely excellent people in themselves. Warm, friendly, genuine, intelligent, capable, interesting and very hospitable.

Pierre has for some time been the author behind the Charles River Saab blog. This week, he’s penned an article looking back at the history of the dealership and profiling some of the key people involved with the outfit. It’s recommended reading.

That Saab dealers are closing is a sad, but inevitable fact of the current situation. I guess it brings things home for me a bit more when I hear about it from a dealership that involves some genuine friends of mine, people I’ve spent time with, had dinner with, etc. This is the personal side of what’s happening in the Saab family.

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This Saturday, the doors at Charles River Saab will be wide open to welcome visitors, current and former customers and staff, and anyone else who wants to drop by and say hello.

The open house will run from 5pm to 8pm on Saturday afternoon.

I know that for many Saab fans in the region, this weekend will be taken up by Saabs @ Carlisle. If you’re not heading there, however, I’d encourage you to drop in and say hello/goodbye/thankyou to the folks at Charles River Saab.

NOTE: A contingent of service staff from CRS will be moving to Boston Volvo at 75 North Beacon Street, Brighton, another of the Village Automotive Group’s dealerships

Time is crucial…

Whenever there is a story on the progress in the bidding process criticism comes up about the timeframe. Many here think the receivers are working too slow and that every day more it takes to sign a deal does even more damage to Saab, be it through bad press or employees finding new jobs.

To be honest, I cannot follow those argumants at all. On the contrary, from what I get to know, I see the receivers are doing a good job. The impression of a slow process mostly comes through the little information we get. But as always the look from the outside does not reflect what is happening behind closed doors.

Another issue is that for our feel the whole thing started with the production stop over a year ago. But when it comes to the people in charge right know we have to admit that they got to start their mission just before christmas. This is a huge difference.

A serious number of former Saab employees have found new jobs – but many at engineering companies that are still in the area. So a new Saab can still hire knowledge and experience from there. With the right buyer Saab 2.0 will be able to re-attract former employees as well as new, experienced people who want to be part of the recreation of a heritaged brand. Something that will be hard to find at any other place in the world.

Read moreTime is crucial…

The World Is Watching Us Followup

Last week I wrote about how the world media was watching us and how the totals just kept climbing. Never once was I worried about hitting the target, I knew we could do this and that our readers and fans of Saab would support this. Since hitting and surpassing that target, I have been checking to see what has been written in the different media outlets. Below is a list of some of the different links that I have found and what they had to say.

Chicago Tribune

the group’s members raised extra funds to support the museum

Automoblog

Today Saabs United has reached its goal. Collectively over 28,500 euros (about $37,500) has been raised, no small sum. The remaining amount of money will be donated to the Saab Museum in Trollhattan.

The Motor Report

The website’s community scraped together more than enough to pay the roughly $48,000 price for the last 9-3. The group says it will contribute the remaining amount to the Saab Museum.

The Local

More than 600 diehard Saab fans have assisted in the collection of the money which will be duly converted to Swedish kronor and transferred to a Swedish bank in order to pay the invoice from ANA, the firm responsible for selling the vehicle.

AutoBlog

Congratulations are in order: Saabs United has raised enough money to buy the last Saab 9-3

Origo Hungarian

The initiative was successful, the money accumulated in time.

Motor Authority

Profi-Forex Russian

Auto Tehnika Latvian

Autoclub Bulgarian

Auto Nieuws Dutch

This is just an unbelievable story to watch, follow and support. I feel that this is something we can all be proud of. This is one of those legacy like moments where we have made a definite difference and it is being felt across the world. What we have all done is saved a car that will be seen by everyone who enters the museum and it will be known to all that the 9-3 was a donation from fans for fans to enjoy. I just want to once again thank everyone that made this vision a reality, we could have never done it without you all.

The Indian Angle

Ever since the receivers took over the control at Saab quietness ruled the news. There were those regular press conferences but most questions were only answered very vaguely if at all. Most things happened behind closed doors, which was very strange for us after the very public Spyker era. I don’t want to judge the latter here but I do have to admit that I like that calm style. There are certain things in business that do not belong into the public and the talks with potential investors certainly are such.

This silence was broken a few times by Youngman who gave some interviews that were merely intended to polish up their image. In the end, at least for me, they left more questions than answers. I do not see them as a good owner for Saab as they may own a few mines and be a big bus manufacturer but their car subsidiary is rather small and since they lack a joint-venture with a big automotive player it is in danger to be eaten up by the threatening consolidation within the chinese automotive landscape.

Even at first look Mahindra seem to be in a totally different league. They are a modern conglomerate consisting of many sectors: automotive, agricultural, aero, defense technologies, IT-services to name but only a few. If you wanted to compare them you’d have to look at companies like Samsung or of course Tata.

But as we learned under GM sheer size of a parent does not guarantee success and growth for a brand like Saab. But the more I dig in it I can see what Mahindra stands for and why they became not only my personal favourite, but also the one of people at Saab and among the receivers.

Read moreThe Indian Angle

SAAB USA Parts Now Shipping To Canada

Great news for Canadians that are having trouble getting parts, Saab USA Parts which is run by Fred Shaw and his team, are now delivering to Canadians. In his email to us below, he explains:


I hope all is well for you.  I have some exciting news about our operation that I would like to share with you and the Saabs United community.  For awhile now, we have been receiving many requests and inquiries from our Canadian friends to the North, but have not been able to provide parts since we were not equipped to ship outside the United States.  We have solved this problem and are happy to announce that we can now fulfill orders to Canada regularly.  We are very excited    about this new market and look forward to forming   many new business relationships. 

To access their website, just click the image above and check them out. If you remember, Shaw Saab was one of the founding Saab dealers in the US and was in business for 44 years. Fred has stayed committed to the brand by keeping the parts business to service many new and old customers and coming into Canada is just another of the many ways he continues to show that commitment to Saab owners.


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