The story we never finished (fuel, testing and Saabs) and why some of us are absent

Note the previous owner’s logo still semi-visible. On the desk, a BAIC model sits proudly.
I do not have access to this site’s traffic numbers anymore, but it is no big secret that saabsunited.com probably has way less regular readers than back in its heyday. Many (all?) of the former contributors either moved on or went into hibernation following the factory’s bankruptcy. Without new content being posted on a regular basis, how can we expect to have as many readers? Though some of us remain interested in Nevs’ endeavors, there just is not much to talk about yet. That will hopefully change soon (?), but things are what they are.

My latest effort dates back two years three years. Heck, I thought it was only two years ago, but it has actually been three! RedJ was writing a post about TechROi and I tagged along as his inept photographer. TechROi is one of the many spin-offs following the bankruptcy as former Saab engineers continued developing automobile technology elsewhere. In this case, their main focus was a gasoline tank made from steel. Yes, steel. “Isn’t plastic lighter..?” It turns out that no, it isn’t! By improving the way they press the steel, the engineers managed to increase tensile strength while keeping the steel sheet relatively thin. The result is a lighter and safer design.

This is what happens when dropping fuel tanks onto concrete
It was a promising story at the time. Not least of all, there was a tie-in with Nevs. Back in 2014 Nevs resurrected production of the 9-3, but several parts proved difficult given the low production numbers. One of the old partners eventually told Nevs “why do you not get in touch with TechROi?”. Being a smaller company meant that they could accommodate Nevs. There was even a hint dropped that a future unannounced Nevs product might some day use the new TechROi design… Then they showed us a fuel tank that had seen severe track testing: They unbolted the tank, then drove 70kph on the side of the test track dragging the tank through the gravel. A plastic fuel tank would not have coped so well. I was reminded of one of those videos shown inside the museum, of Saab engine testing ‘back in the day’: A guy strapped across the hood of a 93 (or 96?) checking the two-stroke engine _at speed_! Crazy, but you cannot fault their attention to detail. Not to mention the 10m drop onto concrete test. Saabs are not built like regular cars and every component must be as safe and strong as practically possible. (yet many of us expected to pay way less than what we would have paid for lesser cars, go figure)

RedJ and I left that meeting feeling a little bit more optimistic about the future. We believed we would see

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Saab Car Museum Festival 2017 (June 9th)

Next generation Saab fan in front of previous generation Saabs. “Black Saab rules!”
As most of you already know (judging by the scarcity of available hotel rooms in the area), the bi-annual festival is starting on June 9th. For three whole days Trollhättan will be filled with Saab aficionados and fans.
This year’s highlights:

  • Saab cars – 70 years
  • 40 years of turbo
  • A tribute to Per Gillbrand
  • Saab 9-5 – 20 years during the weekend

I thought it would be the 9000 Talladega run in focus this year, but I guess I was wrong.

If you have not attended before, what you can expect is thousands of fans gathered in and around the museum (the main hub of this event). At other locations in Trollhättan spare parts can be found (and/or harvested for more vintage models). Tip: Get there early! There are even some professional vendors trying to get in on the action so they can sell you the same parts at a significant markup later. I.e. good bargains can be struck.

Various Saab veterans are milling about the event as well. Lots of great stories straight from the horse’s mouth! Incidentally, the museum usually staffs a veteran outside these events as well, but it is rare to get so many in the same spot. The festival’s biggest “problem” is that some events take place simultaneously so it is difficult to cover it all. There is usually something of interest for everyone.

Saab’s management team cleared of all charges

Sveriges Radio reports that all three defendants were found not guilty.

Their extensive coverage of the case can be found here.

Some of the things discussed:

  • Geers signed a contract using the signature of Saab Parts’ CEO. The CEO later said he had no recollection of giving his permission, but recanted when Geers produced an e-mail asking for said permission
  • Saab received payment in advance for a dealership deal struck in Ukraine. The prosecutor asked if Antonov orchestrated this payout. (never mind that Riksgälden at the time had approved Antonov)
  • Did the management team mislead suppliers, creditors and the public by not admitting how bad the situation was?
  • The prosecutor spent considerable time on dwelling on the previous court case, rehashing the same arguments that won him no favors the last round. Surely an odd thing to do, but some people cannot help themselves I suppose.

I have been tempted to provide a full translation of Victor Jensen’s superb reporting, but I have unfortunately not have had the time. In addition, the prosecutor comes off looking like a complete ass, so I feared the SR reporting may have been biased. E.g. at one point Muller is quoted as saying (addressing the prosecutor) “if you are coming after me, you better be prepared!” (said in disgust several days into the prosecutor’s expensive fishing trip). The prosecutor then wanted to know if Victor was threatening him…

I have in the past hinted that the prosecutor is not playing with a full deck of cards. I stand by my original assessment. At the time I thought the prosecutor wanted a win in a high profile case so he would get promoted into a political career of sorts. I now believe that a win is not really required for that to happen. Good things happen to incompetent men.

On a more positive note, Victor Muller remarked, on the last day of the trial, that former employees had gathered in the Saab museum for an evening meal with both Jan-Åke and Victor invited. He was grateful for the show of support and hinted that it is unusual for former employees to do such things on the trail of a bankruptcy.

“A Man Called Ove” – The Movie!

A while back I wrote a few words about what quickly became one of my favorite books. This week, the movie based on the book premieres in Swedish movie theatres. Judging by the trailer, it is the perfect movie for the holidays.

The story begins with Ove who, quite rationally, decides to off himself. As the story unfolds, the reasons behind his decision becomes clear. Along the way we are also treated to the story of his next–door neighbour, Rune, who drives a Volvo… (why the Volvo–driving character is named “Rune” is a worrisome question, but as this is a work of fiction don’t let that stop you)

Some hastily translated dialogue from one of the trailers:

– Stop! Stop I said!

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MSN: The 900, A Cool Car!

Probably even cooler in yellow!
Probably even cooler in yellow!

MSN’s website features a gallery of 51 cool cars. SAAB 900 is of course among them.

Out-of-the-box thinking shouldn’t care what people think. On that note, here’s a front-driver with its engine mounted backward and heeled way over to fit the transmission, with visibility so good it seems you’re outside, but with heated Swedish seats, so you don’t feel like you are. And driving it is so fantastic, you don’t care how it looks. But it looks cool.

(h/t Paul in comments)

Vote: Lego Saab 92

Lego Saab 92
3 months ago jemanuelson posted a very nice 92 on Lego’s ideas site.

What is Lego’s ideas site? Basically fans will upload suggestions for what Lego’s next big model should be. The 92 is an obvious choice, although there might be one or two copyright issues to be worked out first. Either way, I think it deserves the full support of our community. Vote now and vote often. And if you get into the spirit of the thing, why not suggest a Lego AeroX or a black 900 turbo?

What we need to do:

  1. Register on Lego’s site
  2. Go to the project’s page
  3. Click the “Support” button
  4. Answer a few simple (and non-committing) questions

From https://ideas.lego.com/projects/100677:

Saab 92 is the first production automobile from Saab. The design was very aerodynamic for its time, with a drag coefficient of 0.30 (an impressive figure even by today’s standards). The entire body was stamped out of one piece of sheet metal and then cut to accommodate doors and windows. Full-scale production started December 12, 1949.

Come on folks. You know you want at least two of these. This kit effectively sorts out all christmas gifts for the next decade!

Italian Convertible Sunday

(From our friend Talija, translated by my wife, comes a report from a recent club meeting)

Last Sunday in Italy (Friuli district) an annual gathering of 900 OG convertibles took place.

This year only six beauties turned up. At last year’s meeting more than 20 retro convertibles attended. All belong to longtime owners who know each other.

Organizers of the meeting of the club were SAAB 900 CABRIO AMATORI TRIVENETO.

We discussed food (an important topic for a conversation in Italy), the destiny of Saab and how sad that the glory days of the great brand rests in the past. And how great, that these Swedish convertibles were made in Uusikaupunki, Finland. 🙂

Passing cars saluted us with a solid blast of their horn – their passengers all waves and smiles.

Next meeting of the SAAB 900 CABRIO AMATORI TRIVENETO (Italy) club is scheduled for September. Region Veneto. (Venice)

Easter Snippets

Anna and I often get a kick out of spotting Saabs in contemporary TV shows. The Big Bang Theory is one of the shows we never miss, and one of the main characters (Leonard – the most normal one of the bunch) drives a sleek-looking 9-5. Usually they only show a glimpse of his 9-5, I guess to make it less obvious that most of the time they use a green screen to provide the background.

However, this week’s episode was filmed on location, and several great shots of Leonard’s 9-5 was shown. The 9-5’s Saab logo on the hood nearly burned a hole in my screen.

Visiting the Skywalker ranch
Visiting the Skywalker ranch

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interceptorsPeople not driving Saabs every day are more likely to punch you in the face. However, they can also provide a great source of entertainment. Three guys who used to run a popular car show have formed their own facebook group.

(And in case any of you missed it, make sure you check out Top Gear’s Saab Tribute)

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A good friend and allround decent chap, Johan Bohlin (yes, the Saab ice cream guy) wanted to show his support for the factory and started a new facebook event: We Support Saab. It is a virtual event (and at the moment very low key), so no need to go anywhere physically, but maybe it will be a good idea to find a nice place to visit (in your Saab of course) and just enjoy the day? It can also serve as a mental preparation for this year’s Saab festival. We will be attending the festival and look forward to seeing you all in Trollhättan.

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