Per Eklund in Finland

This is the second of my Finland updates for this evening. It’s a bit of an historical record, given that it happened late in 2009, but the story and the pics are so good I had to run it for you now.
Again, this was submitted by Marco H and I offer him my thanks for a good Saab tale.

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Finland will host one race in the European Rally Cross Championship this year and the Kouvola rally cross track will be the venue. We got a nice guest racer in the race last fall. I got an excellent chance to see this team perform live thanks to my good friend Mr. Simo R. Lampinen.
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The people in the pictures are Per Eklund, Simo R. Lampinen and myself. The cars are nice “cousins”: Both rare (at the time only 100 units of 9-3X had been built) and both all wheel drives. The licence plate (sticker) on the 9-3X is for transfer use only within Finland.
The ERC Saab is quite heavily modified with fenders, doors and hoods made of Carbon Fiber. The car produces approx. 600 bhp and is of course an AWD vehicle. That weekend in Kouvola they had to take down the launch control to a minimum in order to prevent excess wheel spin. It is probably unnecessary to say that Mr Eklund won the race against the local Rally Cross heroes. The race itself was a kind of scrutineering for the Kouvola track to see if the organisation could handle and ERC event (the other candidates were Norway and Austria). And as stated earlier – it will…
Link to FIA pages
I believe you know Per Eklund is competing in the ERC series with the Saab 9-3. Simo and Per are friends from a long time back.
But did you know that Simo R. Lampinen competed with the Saab factory team in the 60’s and 70’s? He also competed with the Finnish “factory” team as well. Yes, we were manufacturing Saabs in Finland and we had a team here. I believe the cars were at least as fast and reliable as their Swedish “brothers”. I have seen some really nice pics from Simo’s personal files from his competing days with Saab…
Simo R. Lampinen in Wikipedia
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Sunday night snippets – Alive edition

Pearl Jam are touring Australia at the moment, and whilst I won’t be seeing them (bummer) it does remind me of one of my favourite road trips of all time, during which we had a cassette tape of TEN on auto-reverse for an entire week.
Remember when auto-reverse was the biggest thing in audio? I digress.
This whole dealer upheaval, price upheaval and model range upheaval has me in a spin. Will the car company that I’ve grown to appreciate, even love, look anything like it does now in three or four years from now? Will it have the same qualities that drew me to it in the first place? Will there be a Saab motor car that I can not only appreciate, but genuinely aspire to?
I’m still alive when it comes to Saab. I fear that the company is turning its back on its own history, but remain hopeful.
The next 9-3 has a big burden to bear, doesn’t it?
Sorry if that was all a little too dramatic, but sometimes you just have to write what you think.
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Per Eklund, standing on top of his car having just driven it to victory at the Solberg Extreme Motor Show. From Rallycross.com
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I’m not sure what was involved in this event (and I think it was mostly for laughs and a good show), but Per beat some good competition to win the best-of-three final round.

In the ‘Real Deal’ class Per Eklund (SAAB 9-3) beat 2009 FIA European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen (Ford Focus ST) in the final after both drivers won their semi-final from respectively Morten Bermingrud (Citroën C4) and Camilla Antonsen (Ford Focus).

Per also hired out a car to another driver, who drive the Saab 9-3 to victory against Marcus Gronholm to take the ‘Golden League’ event.
Hat tip to Mike Jager, as usual.
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So what goes into renovating a kiss-ass dealership in the US?
Try a gymnasium, masseuse, manicurist and every other amenity under the sun.
Read and enjoy this article from the Chicago Tribune on a new Cadillac/Toyota/Chevy/Scion dealership. This takes some money.
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I must say…..
In considering my thoughts as posted at the top of this article, I was compelled to consider the appreciation I have for my own modern Saab.
Yes, I prefer the older stuff, but I’ve got to say that my more modern Saab really is one heck of a nicely sorted machine now. I’d even go so far as to say i’m more attached to it than what I was to my Viggen. It doesn’t look anywhere near as good, but it does drive every bit as good.
They really made something great out of that car. The 900/9-3 was my least preferred Saab when I first saw it back in the 1990s. If only I’d known then what I know now.
Bottom line: in spite of my fatalistic outlook, this company’s clearly capable of some brilliant, brilliant things.
Have a good Sunday.

Thursday Snippets – oops! Edition

It was all good news for Koenigsegg at the EIB board meeting, but it was nothing but bad news for a New York Koenigsegg dealership after a car was bought in for service and ended up like this:
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Apparently this scrape with a guard rail also managed to scar a Porsche GT2 as well.
There ain’t a font big enough for this OOPS!
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People like this shouldn’t drive Saabs:

A “professional thug” from Thames Ditton, who was caught by police with a sawn-off shotgun and a pot of sulphuric acid, was jailed on Friday for at least 10 years…..
Police recovered the shotgun and acid, as well as ammunition, ties ready for use as handcuffs, two baseball bats and a picture of the men’s target, from the Saab convertible they were travelling in, the court heard.
They also later found a stun gun.

“Bubba” is waiting in cell block B, Mr McRae.
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You know I love Alfas, right? And I can appreciate Anime, even if it’s not something I’d choose to watch.
But the two should never meet.
This abomination was spotted in the carpark of the Tokyo Motor Show, which is on at the moment. More pics at the link.
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Employees at the new HQ of Saab Cars USA stand to make an average of around $2,200 per week.
This little factoid was revealed in a story about the company getting some initial approval to set up their headquarters in Royal Oak, just outside Detroit. They’ve applied for some tax concessions and consequently have to spill some beans on how many people they’ll employ, what the jobs will be worth, etc.
That’s an average of six figures a year for 50+ employees.
Here’s an offer, Mike Colleran: I’ll uproot my family and drag our soon-to-be miserable butts all the way to Michigan and work for you for $95K a year.
That’s a bargain, and a genuine offer.
UPDATE: That offer’s out there for you, too, Mr Batish. We could be in Melbourne by yer-end. Just say the word.
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I haven’t covered Per Eklund’s exploits for a little while.
It seems the GFC has limited Per’s schedule and travel to a point where he’s competing in races mostly around the Nordic region. He cancelled an appearance in Belgium in August, but has since taken 5th in a race in Norway and 1st in a race in Finland.
More over at Mike Jager’s page.
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One final little observation from here in Australia.
It seems Saab have had to give up sponosrship of one of the big horseracing events of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne.
The Saab Quality Stakes was the final big hitout and always keenly watched by punters as an indicator to the biggest race in the country – The Melbourne Cup. Saab have sponsored this event for a number of years, also hosting a hospitality tent during Cup Week.
Not in 2009, however. A search of the Melbourne Cup Carnival website shows no reference to Saab and it seems the event has been taken over by insurance company, AAMI.

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