Berlin & Düsseldorf because I happen to be a 178 cm tall Stones fan (i.e. a medium to large fan) and they just happened to be playing those towns (if any of you have two spare tickets for Stockholm, let me know).
Wolfsburg because RedJ and his wife lives nearby and we enjoy hanging out with them. Apparently they have an automobile factory down there too.
Kiel… Well, as Trued reported there was a Saab meet taking place there last weekend. Knowing that Autohaus Lafrentz have specialized themselves on the NG 9-5 I decided it was an opportune moment to check them out.
The event was one of the most pleasant Saab weekends I have ever participated in. Lafrentz had gone all out and provided free food and beverages for the 34 NG 9-5 owners who signed up for the event in addition to a hefty bag of swag (flashlight, Hirsch cap and a usb memory stick among other things). Friday evening we enjoyed a nice barbeque, followed by a hearty breakfast the next day, and finally the big dinner on Saturday. In between the scheduled activities we got to talk to old and new friends and see lots of great 9-5s, including eight of the pre-production combis.
After seeing some of the neat stuff Lafrentz have in stock, it dawned on me just how significant they have become in the NG 9-5 community: Replacement dashboard fascia (as previously reported by RedJ), rare 9-5 SC parts secured after the bankruptcy and some upgrades intended for future 9-5s.
Case in point: A fellow Norwegian had his 9-5 retrofitted with a back-up camera. The job was completed in about eight hours, and a new discovery was made along the way: MY11 sported a different wiring harness between the transmission and the steering wheel. MY10 seems to be better prepared for this particular upgrade than its slightly newer sibling. Wires have to be redone elsewhere too (regardless of model year), but in the end the camera worked as planned. Saab were going to offer the camera as an option for MY12.
Another nugget: A retractable tow bar. Pull a small handle and out comes the tow bar. Fresh from the manufacturer.
Some repairs were also being carried out that Friday. The #10 9-5 SC had met with an accident while being loaded onto a truck. Its front had nearly been pulled off and only temporary repairs had been carried out in time for the event (parts scheduled to arrive just after the weekend). As luck would have it, #10’s owner had instinctively removed the special front “lip” that was unique for some of the MY12 pre-production cars. “I was very relieved when you told me it wasn’t the hatch that had been damaged” Markus Lafrentz commented. Indeed, there are not many parts available for the rather unique rear section of the 9-5 SC.
A Swiss gentleman (Joachim?) told me the story of how he got, quite literally, hit by Saab. He was driving along in his month-old BMW when a SAAB 9000 crashed straight into him. The other driver had not spotted him, and they were both doing about 80 kph. A grueling hour while the rescue team carefully cut him out of the wreckage and a full body-cast later, he paid a visit to the scrap yard to inspect the wreckage. Although the five year old 9000 was no longer drivable, the passenger compartment was still intact. The driver had kicked open the door and spent only one night in observation at the hospital. The BMW on the other hand had failed miserably. The engine nearly ended up in his lap, and there was little evidence of any crash protection at all. He was lucky to have survived. When the insurance money kicked in, he bought a Saab first thing.
Kiel, being a ferry-ride away from Sweden, naturally attracted quite a few Swedes. One of the Swedes in attendance was Marcus Bergfeldt of Tranås, who is a first-generation Saaber. His dad has been trying to convert him to the dark side (Ovlov) for years, but to no avail. Marcus’ NG 9-5 is his sixth Saab. What struck me as peculiar is that Marcus’ German wife is actually a second-generation Saab fan. How is that for a statistical anomaly? They started chatting after Manuela posted pictures of her dad’s new 9-5 on facebook. “Oh, to have a girlfriend whose dad drives such a nice car would be a dream come true” Marcus commented and they started chatting and eventually married. Marcus told me their story with a warm smile wide enough to warrant a place in The Guinness Book of Records.
Katrin and Markus Lafrentz had also prepared a scenic ride through Kiel. As the convoy reached a local ferry stop, passersby were curious about what was going on. Seeing one or two 9-5s is nothing special, but dozens in one place? That is quite something.