Well what a weekend it was!
FRIDAY My trip began from Cardiff Wales with my good friend Chris Redmon with whom we drove both our cars in convoy to the venue for registration, arriving at lunchtime. By that time there were already quite a few cars there. After parking up we then went to check in and were given our very full goody bag. The bag contained lots of Saaby stuff which had obviously been given plenty of thought, not least for the great T shirts, an excellently produced welcome/information booklet and of course the celebratory bottles of specially brewed beer! We then went for a wander and informal chat with those that continued to arrive right through until early evening. We then had free use of some of the rides from 6pm till 7.30, specially laid on for us. It was then back to our hotels for a quick splash and dash back to the venue for a welcome supper which again gave us chance to chat to organisers and old friends whilst of course making many new ones.
SATURDAY was a day packed with activities including trade stalls, club shops and static car displays. As you can see from the Neo Bros post their sensational 96SS had its UK unveiling at noon by no less than Eric Carlsson and Peter Backstom of the Saab Museum. It has to be said that this car and the other projects in the Neo Bros portfolio demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the brand and its heritage. (watch out for a special report later in the year on mine and Robins visit to the Neo Bros operation).
For those wishing to take a break from all the Saab stuff going on there was a trip to Althorp (home of the late Princess Diana) and the fantastic Kite displays by the Flying Squad Kite Display Team which I found thrilling. (http://www.theflyingsquad.org/).
Next up was the lineup of 50 notable Saabs forming a 50 year time line to celebrate 50 years of British Saab Clubs. The time line was then presented to onlookers by Peter Backstom with a running commentary on the history of each car and where possible interviews with some of their owners. It was a delight to be able to talk to Peter about my car. This mammoth task went like clockwork and finished with all the cars driving off the display in age order. Whilst all this was going on outside in the glorious sunshine there were also some indoor events such as Saab memorabilia displays, modern and vintage videos. Also talks by Chris Partington about the Le Mans Classic campaign, James Trent on the brewing of the special commemorative beer and Karl Viner on turbo charging. As the evening drew ever closer it was back to the hotels for a freshen up and preparation for the evening Banquet. Once again the organisation was superb! A great evening with good food, addresses from Eric Carlsson and Peter Turner and music from the band Backbeat.
SUNDAY again had the same stalls etc with a beauty contest set with each model having their own line ups. At 2.30 pm it was time once more to congregate in the Pavilion building for cream tea and the presentations and prize giving. Following these it was time to hand over the Saab Baton which is received by a senior member at the start of the festival and handed over to a junior member until the following year. Next year it will then be taken to Poland for presentation to the local club there. And so it was then time to say our many farewells and very reluctantly start our respective journeys home. I manged to take a lot of photos which can be viewed at my Flickr page.
Make no mistake this was an exceptionally well organised event and all those involved can feel very proud of themselves. It would take far too long to name individuals but a big round of applause to all of you. The weather was kind to us, there was an amazing display of Saabs from our country and from overseas too, we had great food and entertainment, and the whole event had that Saab family feel to it.
I do however feel a special mention to the sponsors is necessary and so to Neo Bros, Charles Toosey of Saab Parts UK, MSA Autobodies, Carnetix, SOC Insurance and Dimini a very well done!!
I have also been asked by my good friends David Leighton & Lesley Ellwood at Saab Parts UK to add this thank you from them.
“Saab Automobile Parts were delighted to sponsor the 2013 international Saab owners club meeting. The weekend was a great success, with an impressive range of Saab’s on display. It is great to see that Saab is alive in the hearts of so many.
Saab Automobile Parts stock and supply the full range of genuine OE parts through a network of professional, trained authorised repairers.
Through free membership of the Saab service club, Saab drivers can be assured of great offers on Saab products to ensure an enjoyable and continued Saab ownership.
You can find a few of our photographs from the event at Our Flickr page.