Advanced driver training – The Saab Club of Canada

We have a fair share of Canadians visiting SU and it is our pleasure to relay the club’s announcement of the May driving school gathering at the Shannonville Motorsport Park:

Twice a year at Shannonville Motorsports Park in Shannonville, Ontario, The Saab Club of Canada offers an Enhanced Driving School to all members of the public that offers the opportunity to learn and improve driving skills in a controlled environment.

James Bergeron reported from the event back in 2009.

After taking the Saab driving school, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to improve their car control skills.

Fill out this form then print, sign it, scan and e-mail (or fax) it to the club.

Finally: Show up with your car (doesn’t have to be a Saab), have fun, takes lots of pictures, and report back to us.

On a personal note, I pulled a 180° in my old 9000 back in February — Quite involuntarily, I might add (snow&ice packed tight in the rear wheel well). Although I managed to stabilize the old boy (starting at 90 kph), a wee bit of practice ahead of time would have been lovely. If someone are arranging advanced driving courses here in Sweden, please let me know.

Saab 900 in mad driving video by Claude Lelouch

Timing can be extraordinary sometimes.

This morning I was reading one of Pierre’s latest entries at the Charles River Saab blog about his favourite driving filmsRonin and C’était un Rendezvous. You can watch some great driving at that link.

Rendezvous was famously directed by a guy named Claude Lelouche.

Later today, Eggs n Grits posted a tweet linking to another piece of video by LeLouche. This one’s called Un homme et une femme : 20 ans déjà. The driving isn’t quite as stunning in this piece – it’s more like mayhem and bedlam!!!

The cars featured in the video include a Saab 900 and a Lancia Thema (near cousin to the Saab 9000) as well as an Audi 100, BMW 5 Series E28, Mercedes 190, Peugeot 505 Turbo and a Renault 25 V6 Turbo.

Buckle up and enjoy! And thanks Eggs!


(TGI) Friday Snippets

It’s been a hellish week – tonsils and the flu. A big bowl of not good. And the next few weeks are going to be about as busy as January this year, which was the busiest time I’ve ever known. I need 26 hour days.


Autoblog can be a bit saccharine sometimes and the comments section can be like walking through a cabbage patch full of zombies (or wannabe comedians, which can be painfully close to the same thing). In general terms, though, Autoblog does a pretty good job at covering the mainstream US car scene.

This article – in terms of recognising a moment and documenting it the right way – is pretty close to blogging perfection.

Well done, Mr Shunk.


What’s this? And what’s it got to do with Saab?

inflatable helmet

It’s an inflatable bike helmet, useful for those who don’t like to mess up their hair. You’re seeing it inflated in that picture, but it starts life as a collar and acts like an airbag in the event of a pending collision.

The developers – Swedish, natch – used a Saab 9-3 as part of their testing regime.



Good luck to James Sera, who’s going to try and seal the Australian Sport Sedan Championship this weekend in a Saab 9-3. Well, actually, this car is to the Saab 9-3 as Darth Vader is to humans – it’s heavily modified (700hp Chevy engine, for starters).

Dean Randle Saab 9-3 racer

The car is actually built and owned by Dean Randle of Swedish Prestige, in Melbourne. A lot of Melbourne visitors would be familiar with Dean’s work. He actually looked over my Viggen for me when I bought it back in 2005. A great guy with a great workshop.


One of Australia’s elder statesmen in the music scene, guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, toured Sweden recently.

Whilst in Mellerud, he was set up with a new Saab 9-5 TiD by the local dealer, Roybil. Apparently he loved the car so much he insisted on driving himself the full 150km to Landvetter airport in Gothenburg when it came time to leave.

Tommy Emannuel Saab 9-5

It looks like enjoyed himself…..

Tommy Emannuel Saab 9-5

And to close the snippets for today, here’s a little bit of Tommy’s work. It’s always incredible to see someone so in tune with a musical instrument, like there’s no separation between them. Great stuff.


Saab Club of Canada’s enhanced driving school – reviewed and praised

The Saab Club of Canada runs an Enhanced Driving School twice a year at the Shannonville Motorsport Park in Belleville, Ontario. It’s always well attended, primarily because they’ve been doing it for a long time now and have great instructors who know their stuff.
Their most recent session was attended by a journalist from Canadian Driver, a guy named James Bergeron. He was fortunate enough to score a XWD Saab 9-3 for the day, too.
His account of the day is now online at Canadian Driver.
The intro….

Driving is serious business; most people get their license when they are 16, pass the “driving test” which is more of a test of one’s abilities to follow the law than to operate a motor vehicle, and then never look back. The majority of the drivers on the roads today haven’t had any training other than a few quick lessons from their parents or a driving school.
Do you remember what to do if your car goes into a skid? Was it turn into the skid? Or maybe it was turn away from the slide? Across the hood, that’s a good one; wouldn’t that mean you always turn right?
Forget all of that. The best way to learn, or re-learn, how to drive, is to practice. Twice a year at Shannonville Motorsports Park in Shannonville, Ontario, The Saab Club of Canada offers an Enhanced Driving School to all members of the public that offers the opportunity to learn and improve driving skills in a controlled environment……

….and the conclusion (both the course and the car)

All the instructors were extremely knowledgeable, easy-going and friendly. My instructor, Paul Kitchener, was extremely knowledgeable and went above and beyond by letting me take his Corvette Z06 onto the track for some added thrills.
After taking the Saab driving school, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to improve their car control skills. For $265, it is a bargain; heck, they even provide lunch!
How did my Saab 9-3 fare on the track? I came away impressed….

You can read the in-between stuff at Canadian Driver.
If you’ve not attended a driver training course in the past I really recommend you consider it. Your Saab’s limits on the road exceed your own by a large margin and it’s best to learn where yours are in a controlled environment.
Just don’t do what I did.
If you’re in Canada and you want to attend the Saab Club of Canada’s Enhanced Driving School, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until next year. Courses are usually run in May and October each year.
Bookmark the club’s website and be sure to check it out in the early stages of 2010.

Sunday morning snippets – winding road edition

It’s the weekend and things are slowing down a little on the SU Sweden Tour 2009.
I’ve been joined here in Sweden by Dave R, who knows this area like the back of his hand and has graciously acted as host and guide around the area.
Yesterday we headed north for a drive and apart from the scenery and some great strawberry waffles, the highlight of the drive was a road called Brudfjallsvagen (forgive the lack of umlauts but I haven’t figured those out on this new computer just yet).
This is an 11km stretch of undulating, winding road that’s just so much fun you want to drive it again and again.
The road runs between Tisselkog and Haverud and it well worth searching for if you’re over this way.
Here’s a video of the drive shot from a motorbike. You don’t get the full rise and fall of the road, but it’ll give you an idea.
The SU Trollhattan meetup was on last night and whilst we were few in number we were many in spirit. Dave and I were joined by Mats (a local) and Rune made a huge effort in travelling all the way from Oslo with his wife Anna.
It was great to see Mats again (he gave me my first tour around Thn back in 2007) and fantastic to meet Rune and Mrs Rune for the first time. We had a drop-in visit from a young guy named Hampus (forgive me if I’m wrong), but he was too young to be allowed to stay in the pub.
Thanks to all for another great evening!
Just a small part of the fleet of 9-5 test mules in Trollhattan. A post about that experience will come later.
I’ve got enough content backed up to last a month, but there’s even more still to come on the SU Sweden Tour 2009.
This afternoon we’ll take the 9-3x out for a good thrashing 🙂
Tomorrow I jump in a rental car and head for Orebro, which is where Maptun have their facility. I’ll meet up with Fredrik and the rest of the team there and have a look around before heading off to Stockholm.
In Stockholm I’m hoping to meet up with Jorgen from the SU Historic Rally Team as well as some guys from Auto Motor and Sport.
That’s Monday and Tuesday morning taken care of. Tuesday afternoon will see me jump on a plane again for the long ride home to meet my wife’s loving arms and my dog’s loving wet nose.

Aussie Cabrio Challenge – November 2009

Here’s an event that’s not for the faint-hearted.
I’m unsure as to who the organisers are, but they seem to be a pack of wind-in-the-hair maniacs who like to take convertibles to strange foreign lands and put them through some punishing drives.
They’ve already done “Norcape” – a trip from Oslo to Stockholm via the Arctic Circle. And “LatAm” – which was South America from top to bottom, travelling as many as 900km a day through Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. Another epic was “Eurasia”, which took drivers from Amsterdam to Singapore.
Home_route smaller.jpg
Now they’re doing “Aussie”, which will go from Sydney to Sydney via the Whitsundays, the Northern Territory (including Uluru), South Australia, Victoria and back to Sydney.
And this is a cabrio challenge, so all entries must be convertibles.
And those convertibles will be travelling along plenty of outback roads, unpaved but hopefully with a spattering of fuel outlets along the way. They’ll also be travelling to the Northern Territory in the wet season (Darwin, the NT capital, only has two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. Temperatures all year range from 30 – 33 degrees C).
This is not a trip I’d like to take in my MX-5, that’s for sure. But the entries so far show no MX-5s in the lineup, just a small group of German convertibles and one Saab 9-3 Aero convertible.
Maybe some of you Aussie Saabisti would like to add some Swedishness (phrase copyright, General Motors) to the group by seeing some more of your own backyard?
If so, the website for the trip is here.
And for you foreigners wealthy enough to consider coming here for a month, tripping around our uninhabited areas with the dust wind in your hair, here’s a little song from the Australian tourism officials – Come to Australia (You might accidentally get killed)
Thanks to Jörgen!!

Tuesday Snippets – Remembering Bob Sinclair edition

There’s a couple of great tributes to former Saab USA chief, Bob Sinclair, hanging around the internet today. If you don’t know, Bob passed away on May 10 due to cancer.

UPDATE: There is a fantastic tribute over at the New York Times. Thanks nahtanoj!
UPDATE II: There’s also a fitting article at Motor Trend.

The Hemmings article that I linked to in an earlier piece on Bob has had some wonderful comments added to it from people who knew Bob over the years.

I came to know Bob Sinclare as a former Saab dealer (1975 – 1997). He was a true automobile enthusiast, an insightfull CEO, and a delightful gentleman. He made the rare effort to get to know all his dealers, he respected our opinions, and he became our friend. If not for his efforts, Saab and many of us dealers would not have prospered during his reign. I wish he were here to save the company today.

Bob was truly a Saab man’s Saab man.
There is also this tribute over at Edmunds (and by the way, Edmunds, that’s how you post a link, a common courtesy on the internet). Despite their lack of nettiquette, they do have a great ending to their piece:

It took Bob Sinclair less than 10 years to fashion a formidable image and reputation for Saab in North America, along with a near-fanatical following. It took GM considerably less time to gut the brand.

I couldn’t agree more. We need some more Bob Sinclairs at Saab today.
This Total Abstainer guy from Flickr – who I’ve featured a few times in the last few months – is really setting a high standard when it comes to Saab photography.
Another fantastic effort:
There will be a new UK-based Saab “megaforum” launching in the next few weeks.
It’s called Saabtalk and if the current forums out there aren’t shaking your tree, then perhaps that’s a URL you should bookmark.
It’s not live yet, but there is a signup box where you can receive notices about the progress, etc.
I have a strange mental relationship with tattoos.
As with car art, this is something I wouldn’t do myself, but I admire the dedication the person must have in order to get it done.
From James R:
For those who want to learn, Car and Driver have an instructional piece on how to do the Scandinavian Flick
Finally, to all those who have emailed me in the last week or so – my apologies if I haven’t sent a reply.
I’m getting to that point that some website operators get to, where the volume of email that comes in is pretty heavy and whilst I read everything, my capacity to reply is limited.
No offence is meant and I will try to credit all stories here on the site where appropriate.
I hope you understand.

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