Before the Saab Owners Convention even started I had received an email from Christopher Wiseman from Saab Parts North America asking if it would be alright for Saab Parts to do a post on the event to let everyone know all about it. To say that SPNA were excited about being a part of this event and to meet everyone there would be an understatement. Since the event, I have received a number of emails from Christopher with photos from and today this write up that was done by himself and Jeff Gorenflo. Enjoy, this is a great read.
This past weekend was the Saab Owners Convention (SOC) in Albany NY. Saab Parts North America was pleased to participate again this year as a co-presenting sponsor. Well over 300 Saab owners/enthusiasts descended on the HotelDesmond – Albany for a weekend dedicated to Saab.
We are happy to report; the Saab Club of North America is as strong as ever! Attendance rivaled any of the prior conventions when Saab was still making and selling cars. There was a very diverse group of owners and cars from highly modified to pristine restorations. Everything from a vintage barn find 92B to almost a dozen 9-4Xs and NG 9-5s. We found it inspiring to see the continuing passion for the brand and to interact with those who care for the brand and business as much as we do.
The 2013 SOC kicked off Thursday evening with the Sponsor’s Appreciation Dinner. The evening was highlighted by special guest and keynote speaker Peter Backstrom, curator of the Saab Museum in Trollhättan. Peter provided invaluable insight into the last days of Saab Cars and some promising news about the future of NEVS. He is very enthusiastic about NEVS as he can see first-hand that they have made capital improvements to the facilities, hired production workers and have begun building pre-production vehicles. Peter also reaffirmed that the museum and its contents are whole with only one car that was sold. It was a vehicle that they had 2 of and it wasn’t as nice as the one they kept. He went on to add they also have an example of the new 9-5 and 9-4X on display as well.
Friday greeted the conventioneers with a beautiful summer day in upstate NY. With the weather on our side the attendees were out in full. With over 250 registered guests and over 60 day pass attendees, sponsors and their guests; this year’s owners’ convention saw well over 300 in attendance over the course of the event.
A perennial favorite, the Saab Parts North America Parts Tent was the first event of the day, as attendees lined up an hour before opening to get a chance to be the first inside. By lunchtime the parts tent was almost empty, but everyone was still going inside to look for any part they may have missed.
Outside, in the vendor/swap meet area, the attendees were pouring over items from several vendors in attendance such as SPNA’s OSCs Charles River Saab and Performance Automotive.
Friday afternoon held several activities for the attendees.Such as the mobile “chassis dyno” hosted by the Albany Speed Shop and seminars from many of the knowledgeable Saab folk in attendance, as they shared their expertise working and modifying their cars. The seminars covered everything from replacing the water pump on a Saab 99 to installing Trionic-5 on the Classic 900.
Friday evening’s welcome dinner featured Tim Colbeck, President of Saab Parts North America.Tim entertained the gathered guests with a quick game of Who Wants To be A Millionaire, Saab Parts style. The lucky participant selected to play was able to answer all five questions presented to her correctly, with some audience assistance, and was awarded a $500 gift certificate good towards the purchase of parts from a Saab Official Service Center. All other audience participants were also awarded a $25 gift certificate towards parts for their participation.
Tim also shared his insights on the Saab brand now and into the future and SPNAs plans to support owners and the brand for years to come. His encouraging news from NEVS revealed that production of the 9-3 would begin before years end, with production of petrol and electric cars slated to be produced on each chassis; sedan, combi and convertible. Their initial launch will be to the Chinese and European markets, with a possible return to the USA market provided a business case could be made for it. The evening ended with the traditional parking lot socializing that we have all come to enjoy.
Saturday, just like Friday, was another beautiful day at the SOC. The vendors were out once again greeting owners and presenting their wares. The “chassis dyno” was running and several more owners and a few vendors tried their hand at spinning the horsepower wheel to everyone’s delight. The daytime activities culminated with the customary group photo, where all the cars lined up together to commemorate the event.
Saturday’s time honored tradition, the People’s Choice and The Concours de Saab competitions, where owners representing a range of model categories are able to showcase their Saabs, was the day’s featured activity. Many magnificent Saabs were displayed and judged by attendees and the select group of expert judge’s on-hand. The winning vehicles and owners were recognized at the awards dinner later that night.
The Saab Museum’s own Peter Backstrom was honored for his dedication to the brand and hard work at the museum. Peter was awarded this year’s Preservationist Award from the Saab Club of North America, along with a $1000 donation to the Saab Museum fund. The Bob Sinclair, Larry “Stroker” Williams and Walter Kern awards were also handed out.
SOC 2013 drew to a close on Sunday morning with the annual John Moss Charity Auction, benefiting the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY. The Double H Ranch is a nonprofit organization that provides a summer residential camp and adaptive water sports program and fall family programming to children and their families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. Co-founded by Charles R. Wood and Paul Newman, they have been providing memorable camp experiences in a safe and empowering environment since 1993. All monies raised from the auction were donated to this worthy cause.
With outstanding attendance and enthusiasm for the brand, it’s no wonder those who attended are already looking forward to next year’s owner’s convention, which will be held in Redmond, Oregon on August 7-10 at the Eagle Crest Resort. Saab Parts North America looks forward to seeing you all there!
Some more photos from John Christensen at the PDC in Allentown.