March 14th 2009 marks the day when I first visited the museum in Trollhättan. It also happened to be the day they celebrated Erik Carlsson’s 80th birthday and I have to admit that my knowledge of Erik’s epic rally victories was severely limited at the time, but I was eager to learn more.
According to wikipedia, Erik won the Monte Carlo rally in 1962 and 1963 driving a 96. In 1961 he placed 4th in, of all things, a 95. It was quite unusual to race a combi, but the 95 was equipped with a new four speed transmission that was sorely needed. Next year SAAB had finally fitted the 96 with the same transmission and Erik went on to win the race. He also won the RAC rally three years running (1960-62), but the organizers still did not let him keep the trophy permanently (each time he won they promised he would get to keep it if he won the race just one more time…).
The museum is filled with priceless relics from SAAB’s past. Prototypes and race cars share space with neatly kept representatives of their respective model ranges. There is of course the very first prototype, the URSAAB (“ur” probably short for “ursprunglig” — the original) from which the 92 was derived. Next there are the Sonetts, and I think it is safe to say the AeroX steals a lot of attention towards the end.
Also found in my personal and modest archive of photos are shots from the independence day (February 2011). The turnout was good, the convertible looked great and there may have been cake (probably covered with marzipan of which I am not a big fan). Our optimism was dialed a bit high, but so what? A few months later (at a SU-event) I got to sit in one of the IE-cabs together with Lars Carlström and that car fit me like a glove. I was impressed with how well it seemed to fit Lars as well, a man that is a head taller than the rest of us. But that is a story left for another day.
As always, a few words about the moose. David Ross (see the story of the last 9-3, David together with Mark contributed a hefty chunk of the money) once told me that he would put the moose in the left seat while driving his RHD car in Sweden. The expression on people’s faces as they passed his car was priceless.
In December, following the news of SAAB Automobile’s bankruptcy it became clear that the museum’s collection was in danger of being sold off and the museum itself shut down for good. Fortunately for us the old parent company SAAB AB, Peter “Poker” Wallenberg and Innovatum stepped in and saved the day. This resulted in an event celebrating the grand re-opening of the museum on March 23rd 2012. Present were representatives from SAAB AB, the municipal authorities, Erik Carlsson, Peter “Poker” Wallenberg and many fans. My wife and I both experienced a great sense of relief as we once again were allowed to drool over our favorite SAABs (and debate the pros and cons of the AeroX vs the PhoeniX — quite a hot topic in our household).
Finally, in May we got together to celebrate the handover of the last 9-3 (sponsored by the community here on SU). At the end of that event my wife noticed the hall had emptied out and asked me to take a picture of her. The light was with me at that point and I was quite pleased with the result.
That should cover most of the museum-related events that have taken place over the past couple of years. The museum also serves as the main meeting point whenever we set out to meet friends in Trollhättan. In the gallery can also be found a picture of Swade, posing together with my missus. The date is March 4th 2011, and I do not think even Swade knew what trouble lay in waiting for his employer at the time. The AeroX’s driver side door had not closed properly due to a fried electrical motor. I am happy to report that it has since been fixed (at least the door is closed in more recent pictures).
These pictures only serve as a sneak peek for those of you who haven’t visited the museum. They do not beat the real thing and I urge you all to visit the museum in person. Tip: The unofficial SAAB ice cream cone (mint flavored) can still be purchased at the entrance.