During my recent period of unemployment following the demise of our Saab dealership in Cardiff UK exactly 12 months ago, I was offered an opportunity that was just impossible to refuse. My good friend and fellow writer RobinM asked if I would like to accompany him on a road trip to Oktobafest in Trollhattan.
It really did not take much thinking about and I quickly replied with a resounding yes!
My trip was to begin with the very simple drive from my home in Wales to the home of Robin in Yeovil where I stayed the night ready for a very early start next day. The trip was to be done in Robins’ car, his 9-5 TiD estate with recent Hirsch performance upgrade. Robin had added me to his insurance to enable us to share the driving. Having experienced driving many cars that have had this Hirsch upgrade it was a revelation to be able to drive one for such a long distance, and I can honestly say I strongly urge anyone who has considered a performance upgrade but has not yet purchased one to consider a Maptun or Hirsch upgrade. It is very worth it!!
Our journey was to then travel through France to Belgium where we then picked up Nikolas and Amaat. Following lunch at Nilolas’ home we then set off (taking in The Netherlands) for our overnight stay at the home of Robins’ sister in Bomlitz Germany. The welcome here was exceptional and a big thank you to both Janie & Nigel.
Next day we set off on the second leg of our journey which was to take us through the remainder of Germany, into Denmark and finally into Sweden for the drive up to Trollhattan arriving late afternoon.
Saturday was spent on the SU stand at the auto jumble where I met a lot of new people, made some new friends and saw a lot of interesting cars. Late Saturday afternoon was one of a number of major highlights for me, being the visit to the Saab Museum where we had a conference covering a number of topics and ending with the address by Mathias from NEVS.
I really cannot stress enough how inspiring this address was. For anyone who has not yet seen it I urge you to do so. If you were unsure of NEVS beforehand you should not be after listening to that address.
And so it was then back to the Swania Hotel for the evening meal and my second major highlight, meeting one of my idols from the past world of rallying and a great ambassador of Saab, Simo Lampinen. This guy is hugely charismatic and his enthusiasm for the brand unwavering. He really did leave an indelible mark on my visit. For any of you who are not sure who he is just take a look at this link.
Next morning, Sunday, it was time to say our farewells and to begin our return journey in reverse order, but not before taking a nostalgic detour to the site of the Saab factory. Personally this was a very sad part of my trip to Sweden.
It was a very emotional and poignant visit to the once beating heart of our beloved brand, made all the more dramatic by the dark grey skies and torrential rain.
To see the site so idle and without life broke my heart having been there twice in the past to see it at it’s complete opposite.
More pictures here:
And so, it was onwards back to an overnight stay again in Bomlitz, with another early morning start for our homeward journey back to England and Wales.
To summarise, this was a trip that firmly hammered home the strength and bond our community still has and always will have, for it is like no other. When people say our community is like a second family, it surely is, for where else could you travel to another country, meet total strangers yet instantly feel like you have known them all your life? Such is the magnetism of the bond we all have.
With a new chapter about to evolve in our history I sincerely hope this united feeling will always remain.
There are far too many people to thank for this wonderful experience but I have to single out a few for special praise: Robin and his lovely family both in Yeovil and Bomlitz, Tim, Nicolas & Ellen, and Armaat.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmastime, a very happy new year and best wishes for 2013.
It is going to be a big year folks!