Friday Quick Snippets – 4-oh edition

Hi all.
Posting may be light on the weekend due to early 40th birthday celebrations with the family this weekend. Eeks!
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On a sadder note, thoughts are with the family of Jerry York this week, following his passing at age 71.
York wasn’t exactly revered around here, being the metphorical Size 12’s for billionaire investor, Kirk Kerkorian. York advocated that GM get rid of Saab a few years ago when he had a position on GM’s board. At that time, it could well have meant the end of Saab via closure, not sale, as Saab didn’t have the efficiencies or new models in place that made them an attractive company to sell in 2009.
Still, it’s sad to hear of his passing. York had a cerebral hemorrhage on Tuesday and died on Thursday.
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Bad Mazda. Bad.
Doesn’t do anything for the MX-5 at all, let along commemorate an important anniversary.
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The Eurotuner Saab Tuning Guide, an accompaniment to their piece on that superb Saab 900 Convertible, is now online.
Not comprehensive by any means, but a good primer and featuring my mates at Maptun, which is good to see.
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The WSJ is reporting that there may be a snag in the sale of Volvo to Geely.
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A new TV spot for Saab (where are the convoy photos?????)



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Is it just me, or does the new McLaren ‘affordable’ car (huh!) look like a deranged cartoon car with an unsettling grin and wacky eyes?
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I’m crazy!!!!!!

Back home and Saab news snippets

I love travelling to Sweden, but I don’t have the words to describe how much I hate getting there and getting home.

Hats off to Singapore Airlines, though. I flew with four different airlines on my trip home (SAS, Lufthansa, Singapore and Virgin Blue) and Singapore are by far the best airline I’ve ever flown with. That’s not a long list, by the way, as I’m not a frequent traveller. But it’s Singapore first with clear blue-sky daylight between them and anyone else.

The wife and dog both recognised me when I got home, so that’s a good start…..

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My second task now that I’m back home is to sell my Mazda MX-5. A guys is flying down from New South Wales on Saturday morning to look at it and I had several local enquiries via email while I was away, so it’s looking positive.

Hopefully I can start the 99 Turbo project pretty soon!

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My first task now that I’m back home is to catch up on some of the Saab news going around. I was so busy in Germany and Sweden that I didn’t check my RSS Reader even once.

Hence, there’s plenty to cover…….

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ctm has emailed me the news circulating in Sweden, stating that Augie Fabela has finally done what I figured he must do: taken up a significant stake in Saab. This was reported a little while ago, with the revelation earlier this month of the Solsken company taking a 42% interest in Saab.

Solsken is a company registered in Holland and owned by Fabela.

Back on September 5th we had the following ownership structure:

  • ‘Solsken’ – 42%
  • Alpraaz – 24%
  • Eker Group – 24%
  • Koenigsegg Auto – 10%

It appeared therefore that Fabela had bought out Mark Bishop and some shares from other owners.

The other thing of interest is the minority stake now owned by Beijing Automotive. Auto Motor and Sport have reported that stake to be 20% of the Koenigsegg Group, but I’m left wondering if that’s come about by way of purchasing ownership from existing owners, or whether they’ve injected capital and own 20% of the new entity?

That would be a much more desireable scenario to me.

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I had a brief chat with Magnus Nordberg in Frankfurt. The name may not be familiar to all of you but his work should be.

Magnus is the business writer for the TTELA newspaper, which covers Trollhattan and surrounding areas, so he’s been plugged in to everything that’s been going on at Saab. I’ve got nothing but admiration for this quiet Swede, who seems to just go about his business and produce great reports on the Saab affair that are well balanced and full of access and insight.

Some of his more recent work:

Saab to win back customers – An interview piece with Saab’s chief marketing man, Knut Simonsson.

Simonsson sees Saab’s current situation with good doses of humor (the phrase all publicity is good publicity has been stretched too far with Saab) and realism. He believes there’s a lot of pent up demand for Saab’s new product, with people waiting anxiously on the sidelines for greater reassurance in the wake of the headlines written by much of the Swedish media.


Could be the perfect compromise
– an editorial on the pressure facing Saab in the coming weeks (with regard to EIB loans, etc) and the recent potential addition of BAIC to Koenigsegg Group’s ownership register.

The automotive industry today is torn between a fear of falling into Chinese hands, and on the other hand, a desire to find an easy way to enter the huge Chinese market. When, as in Saab’s case, they get a Chinese owner of minority interests, it may be the perfect compromise.

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and finally…… it seems the head of Beijing Automotive was in Trollhattan at the same time I was!! I don’t know what he was doing that night, but he certainly wasn’t bowling!

Employees from China Beijing Auto has been at Saab in Trollhattan in once a week. On Thursday the CEO was there. The purpose: See if there is technology to buy the company’s manufacturing operations in China.

– They are so far very pleased with what they’ve seen, “says Kjell ac Bergstrom, CEO of Saab’s subsidiary Powertrain Sweden, to TT.

…… The company has promised a minority stake in Koenigsegg Group, but to get the letter of intent to mature into a definitive agreement with spices Koenigsegg Saab Technologies.

– BAIC is prepared to invest what is needed, but want to get something in return. They have not gone into this just because it’s fun to support Trollhättan, “says Kjell ac Bergström.

……- In order to be able to develop its own brand, the access rights from a manufacturer like Saab, who can sell the licenses, “says Kjell ac Bergström.

GM and Saab are still negotiating about the technology owns Saab. It’s just that the Chinese will see. In addition, Saab has taken a lot of precautions.

– They may not take any photos, do not bring any copies, “says Kjell ac Bergström.

He is, like, the management of Saab and Koenigsegg Group, warmly welcomes the BAIC.

– The company feels very stable, with a leadership that has experience in Western car companies, “he says.

Good pictures help to sell cars

As you may know, I’m currently selling my Mazda MX-5 in order to fund the restoration of a Saab 99Turbo I’ve agreed to purchase.
I’ve written before about my belief that good photos have a significant part to play in getting your online advertisement noticed. Today, I received some stats on my current online ad that lend a lot of credibility to that theory.
When I first advertised my MX-5, I only had a handful of rushed pictures that I wasn’t really happy with. The weather had not been kind and combine that with the hardtop being off the car for a partial respray, good photo opportunities were minimal.
I eventually got some good shots, however, and I added these to the advertisement last Saturday.
Mazda MX-5
That’s now the lead photo on the ad, and whilst there might be too much blue there, etc etc, it’s still a striking pattern in the background and it’s a picture that draws the eye.
As mentioned above, I got my weekly email from carsales.com.au this morning, which shows some stats on how many people have viewed the ad each day for the last week.
I think the point at which the new photos went up should be self-explanatory. Click to enlarge.
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As you can see, the number of people clicking through from the MX5 page to read the full advertisement has almost doubled. That hasn’t necessarily translated into a whole heap of phone calls or a sale at this point, but it’s definitely increased my chances.
My tip if you’re selling a car – find some local spots that will catch the eye and still showcase the car.
What really sells a car is a combination of the vehicle itself, it’s condition, and the price you ask for it.
But before you get to that, people have got to know it’s for sale. In a situation where you’re advertising online and people will glance at thumbnail images to decide which ads to look at, some striking shots wil go a long way to maximising your chances.

On the road to the 99T….

As regulars here will know, I’ve recently purchased a Saab 99Turbo to restore. Unfortunately, that means I have to sell my Mazda MX-5 as the money needed to restore the 99 is all tied up in the Mazda.
After a lot of trouble getting half-decent photos (a conspiracy involving the weather and my camera batteries) the MX-5 is now advertised on the web, and I finally got the chance to get some really decent photos today.
As you know, I love sharing good photography and if I may be so presumptuous, I’d like to post a few pics of the MX-5 that were taken today.
There was a kind of special occasion going on as Drew B had just finished re-painting the back section of the roof for me. The hardtop had a couple of 1cm stonechips on the sides and some flaky paint on the strip at the rear. It now looks brand new again.
I only had one hardtop photo in the ad, so I went for a drive to a few favourite spots this afternoon to get a few more.
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These last three are Drew’s handiwork. I thought there were more photos from my camera, but they fell victim to the camera conspiracy as well.
At this point, it’s been rubbed back and has just been primed….
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And the two-pack applied, leading to the photos you see above. Another first class job from the house of Drew…..
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…..But it’s a PORSCHE!!!!!

On my way to work this morning, I saw a Porsche 944, just like the one below, pulled up at a set of traffic lights.
I had two immediate and concurrent reactions.
porsche-944-turbo-front-2_165.jpg One was “Wow, that looks fantastic!” and the other was “what a pity it doesn’t drive anywhere near as good as it looks”. For those who might be new around here, I looked at buying a 944, only in silver, earlier this year. All my childhood fantasies turned into mush when I finally got to take it for a comprehensive and unaccompanied test drive.
The car was selling for $8,000 and at that price, it was the cheapest 944 for sale in Australia. I considered it for quite a while before knocking it back. I was considering the Mazda MX-5 as well. I had dinner one night with some friends and Greg, when I asked him what he thought of the options, answered with some kind words about the MX-5, then said “……but the other one is a Porsche!!!!”
That’s pretty much what I thought for most of my deliberation period as well. Forget the shabby and incredibly dated interior (this was a pre-86 car) and the A-pillar right in front of my face. Forget the big noisy engine that puts out only 85% of the power my old 900 Turbo did, despite being 25% bigger. And forget the fact that it ran hot on the test drive, despite $15,000 of service history over the last few years. Forget that I feared having to re-mortgage my home just to do the clutch…… It was a Porsche!
If I’d spent that money, I’d be weeping right now.
Instead, I spent a few thousand more and bought a low mileage Mazda MX-5 and I look forward to every weekend now. Last Saturday I had to run two errands to get my internet connection fixed up. There I was, in the middle of the Tasmanian winter with the roof off and a huge smile on my face.
That was living!! And I’ll do it again next weekend, too.
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I didn’t just write this to re-hash my car purchasing stories all over again. There’s more to it than that.
Koenigsegg have just signed an agreement with GM to purchase Saab. I guess you could call this entry some sort of open letter or appeal to Koenigsegg to remind them of something (not that they need the reminder at all. Just because it came to mind).
We’ve all heard, read and spoken a lot about Saab’s heritage and model history. That’s because to a large extent, there’s not been a lot else that’s been positive to talk about in recent years.
Saab’s history is now in your care. It’s up to you.
Saab have a number of revered models, especially the 900. Needless to say, though, they can’t trade on memories any longer. Even the most die-hard of fans will only harbour affection because of those old cars. It won’t make them buy a new one.
People don’t buy Boxers or Caymans because of their memories of the 944. They buy them because they’re good, modern Porsches.
We’re all looking forward to the 2010 Saab 9-5. It’s the first all new Saab in around 6 years and it’s the first since GM “re-committed” to Saab back in 2005. It’s Saab from the ground up and I’m sure it’s going to attract heaps of interest.
But the next round of Saab cars is yours to design and build. They can’t rely on the Saab name or the Saab badge. They have to be good, safe and smart because all those elements were designed into them.
I can’t wait for the future of Saab Automobile to come around. It’s going to be a cracker!

Sunday night snippets – MX5 in my garage edition

So………I probably overpaid for the MX-5 – a little.
I gave it a pretty thorough test drive a few weeks ago, but not long enough to get it to tell me what it told me today. As it turns out, the clutch gets a bit jiggery in first and reverse when the car is warmed up, so I might have to shell out for that quite soon.
It also ran a little hotter than expected. I got off the boat this morning and hit 110 on the highway, which is the posted speed limit here, and it nearly overheated. I slowed down to 80 to cruise to the next town, topped up the water and eventually the car was able to run at a temp that made me comfortable at 100.
The radiator fan is cutting in OK, so I’m going to put a new thermostat in tomorrow, flush the cooling system and take it for another spin.
I’m not unhappy or disappointed. Not at all. I’ll call that overpayment the price I had to pay to secure the only “smurf blue” one for sale in decent shape, with a hard-top and in a convenient location.
It’s been great fun already and will be a blast to play with. Hopefully I’ll get some better photos tomorrow, too.
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As yet, I haven’t grown a snout.
I’m still eating like a pig, though.
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So what do you think is the particular project being undertaken here?
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The answer is after the jump……

Read moreSunday night snippets – MX5 in my garage edition

Swine flu vacation…..?

Tomorrow I head off to Australia’s swine flu capital, Melbourne, to pick up my new weekend fun car.
This is it:
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I called ahead and apparently my sister has influenza, though they’re not sure if it’s the kind where you grow a snout or not. Seeing I’ll be spending the afternoon there, I think there’s a reasonable chance I’ll come away with something. If not, I’m sure the overnight ferry back to Tassie with several thousand other visitors to/from Melbourne will take care of things.
They’re pretty relaxed about swine flu in Melbourne as it’s going around everywhere. Here in Tassie, though, there’s very few cases so if I come back and even think about sneezing or coughing, I’ll most likely be quarantined for a week.
That should give me plenty of time to clean up the roadster, maybe the Monte as well. I also see a Godfather trilogy in my near future…….

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