Tomi, from Finland, writes about his Spa trip

Tomi Tikanmäki drove all the way from Finland to take part in the IntSaab2012 event in Spa and in a rally prepared 96.

Here is his story

After the organizer for the International Saab club- meeting inquired if I would bring the original Works 96 to Spa together with Simo Lampinen I was a little bit nervous how I would manage it due to a leakage in the engine gaskets. My more realistic choice was 900 T16 Aero M84. As I wrote before, it was a lot of work; one and half week waking up 4:00 am and making AEU ready for the trip until 10:00pm every single day. I understood that the whole happening is about Saab Rallying/Racing and therefore they really wished for the original pair to be present – Simo and AEU.

2000km is now behind, and AEU worked well the whole trip. Ok, fuel consumption was around 10 litres more per100km than my Aero, so my extra cost was round 340€ to make the organizer happy. Yes, you read it right, I didn’t pick up the car with a trailer. Ferry tickets were so expensive that it was impossible to bring the car with a trailer. Our trip went like this: Lappeenranta-Travemünde-Lybeck-Bryssel-Outenaarde-Bryssel-Spa-Francorschamp-Spa-Hamburg-Travemynde-Lappeenranta. Oil consumption was 6 litres in this trip, mostly due to some rust damages in cylinders as I wrote in my previous article. But as the most important thing, the car worked perfectly- just as a Really Saab should do.

Some highlights I noticed during this week in Belgium were:

  • Weather was good
  • Nice hilly roads thru Ardennies countryside
  • Beautiful rural landscapes
  • Wonderful event place in SPA
  • Meeting new Saab friends
  • AEU exceeded expectations
  • Meeting & having discussions with Simo is always super
  • Also children have their own activities in Spa; that was great!

We (I and Co-driver Salla) took part in so called Pre-meeting which consisted of a roundtrip thru villages and some other places to visit. Here is a list of places of interest we visited:

    1. Braeckman spirit distillery
    2. Mahymobiles Museum in Leuze-en-Hainaut
    3. Ber brewery Dubuisson
    4. Atonium in Bryssel
    5. Autoworld Museum Bryssel
    6. Spa Francorschamp Racetrack
    7. Jacques shocolad museum and Factory&shop
    8. Imperia car museum in Nessonvaux

The organizer had chose great places to visit. Thank you for that!

Park in the downtown Spa was excellent for such an event. Market place also looked very nice with old architecture & steel structure and therefore ideal for Saab enthusiasts’ swap meeting. Absolutely one of the best places to hold Car meetings. One nice thing was that also children had their own activities, such as: painting old Saab 900, pony riding etc. That was super. There were also many hotels located in the nearby neighbourhood, so it was practically just walking cross the street and you were there. It would be a fantastic place also in the future.

The swap meeting was practically from Friday to Sunday. I got a feeling that there are no worries driving a Saab in the future. People and companies were selling parts practically for every Saab model from two stroker to last 9-5. Here are some example:

  • Onno Kempink from Netherlands has a lot of new production to two stroke and V4 Saab. So called “hard to find” screws, clips, rubber parts etc. Just look his websites for more info.
  • As a rally crazy, it was nice to meet such a professional V4 engine developer like Frank from Sweedspeed. The company is located in Netherlands also, and offer tailormade solutions for V4 tuning. The company was also the main sponsor for IntSaab2012.
  • Frederik&Dimitri from Schwitzerland has a company called Dimini which sells modelcars. They had an honour to sell two tiny blue and white rallySaab96 to the rally hero himself, Simo Lampinen. Nice guys with good enthusiastic attitude.

On Sunday afternoon it was time to start heading back home. My friend Tero had problems with his V6 Custom Kayak so we decided to drive behind him. That was a good solution, just 12km after Spa, V6 sylinder head gasket blew up totally. For a half an hour Tero tried to make some tricks under a highway bridge, but nothing helped- the game was over. During the first aid Tommi, his father and Simo arrived at the scene with his rental Fiat. As an experienced organizer Simo made several phone calls to his friends for help.  At the same time we made a decision with Tero to drive slowly to the next village and parked the car there at a gas station. I found the owners of the block back the station- elderly Italians- who spoke only Italian and French. No problem, we had Simo with us who had driven several years in Lancia/Fiat worksteam, and therefore speaks good Italian. The man was a little bit surprised when suddenly guests from far north arrive and one of them knows famous personalities, for example Lancia’s worksteam boss Cesare Fiorio as well Ferrari boss Luga di Montezemelo. It was nice to hear those three speak and shake hands like people usually do in Southern Europe during a normal conversation. So, Tero´s car has found a nice temporary parking place, and Tero with his wife got a ride in Tommi´s 900i. I also took some luggage in my rally car 96, and our journey continued. At the same time Simo organised Tero´s car to be towed back home.

Next stop was Motel Hamburg- absolutely one of the best for car/bike enthusiastic. Price level was correct 87€/night/2person with breakfast/own garage. What is special about this place is that it is located near downtown Hamburg and every room has its own tiny garage. You can’t ask for more! Your hobby vehicle has its own safe locked garage under you room!

Rest of our journey was safe cruising to Travemünde ferry terminal, and from Helsinki to Lappeenranta. It was a nice trip, and I hope that at least some of you enjoyed seeing the original Works 96.

You will find the original story at  with many pictures added.

5 thoughts on “Tomi, from Finland, writes about his Spa trip”

  1. Jacques chocolad museum, Factory & shop is just 5 minutes from my Saab Dealership away. I always do test drive of my customer cars in this industrial area and always pass in front of Chocolaterie Jacques. What a pity I did not see you!

  2. Great write up Tomi and It certainly was good to see your car there. Here is a post I posted previously so forgive me for posting it again.
    This was the first international for me and a lot of other firsts too! First time to take a car abroad, first time to holiday by camping, first time to live a few days in a tent ( grateful thanks to Robin for the loan of the tent)! First time to cross the English channel by both ferry and Eurotunnel, so many new experiences to take in. To say it was a fantastic event is a total understatement. The highlights just did not stop coming! I have to echo Robin,s thanks to Nicolas & Ellen also the rest of the organisers who put on a truly fantastic event. I managed to meet lots of new friends in a very welcoming friendly country. Saw some great cars, visited some fantastic museums, a superb chocolate factory, ( far too much spent in the factory shop)!, ate great food and had fabulous weather. For me the ultimate highlight was to be able to take my car around Francorchamps race circuit. This was an experience I will never forget! After my first session of three laps with David Dallimore as co pilot I was then given a second opportunity to do another session of three laps, and so with a quick swap of helmets my new co pilot was RobinM. When they say this is the most beautiful racetrack in the world I now know what they mean. To sum up, this was a most wonderful event, held in a beautiful country, with very friendly hosts. I have come away from Belgium wanting to live there, that is the impact it had on me. Thank you so much to everyone that made this such a memorable event for me. I sincerely hope the UK event next year can be as successful. Well done all.

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