Like me, you might have seen the occasional photo of a red Saab convertible with a red Saab trailer floating around the internet. I can’t remember if I saw them in a forum, or on Flickr, but when I first saw the photos that John C sent to me, I had a sense of the familiar.
What I knew nothing of, however, was the story behind the trailer – which is the story that John’s passed on for sharing here at TS.
I just love original projects like this. Enjoy.
Saab and a half……Or Clifford and Harvey (halfy) as my daughter prefers.
My daughter named our 1991 T16S convertible Clifford as he’s red, has a name tag (the Clifford alarm plate) after the children’s cartoon character Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Harvey, well, let me explain about Harvey.
Last year we went on holiday to Albas in the Lot region of France, and after many an evening enjoying the good food and very good wine, we bemoaned the fact we had flown, which severely limited the amount of wine we could take home.
After one particularly long day enjoying the fruits of the region and several hours evaluating the possibility of resurrecting our guests’ VW Karmann Ghia Conv from the boathouse, our guests knowing we had a passion for Classic 900’s suggested we drive down the following year and bring a trailer to allow us to take home as much wine as we liked. After a few more glasses, the plan became more contrived and it was sort of agreed that a Saab trailer would be created to be towed behind our T16S Conv.
Unlike other silly late night discussions, this one carried forward to the next morning, and got more meat on the bones. My wife Julie thought it was just like me, but as the 900 we were planning on driving down in the following year was hers, she contributed that as long as it was the same colour, had the same body kit and alloys, then why not? Let’s do it!
After a few months of planning I began looking for a suitable donor vehicle that was cheap and eventually I found a 2-door 8 valve Turbo that was good and solid for £150 and collected him from S.Wales. Jon Saab in Poole kindly helped strip him down to a carcass, and distributed the engine, gearbox and other usable items to the needy cars of the region while I found help to get the oxy scalpel to work.
Andy, John and the guys at New Milton Motors initially thought we were bonkers but agreed to fabricate the chassis, cut the donor vehicle in half and mount it on the frame. I have to admit it was a very strange sensation drawing cut lines on pillars and the floor pans like some mad surgeon, but the deal was done, torches were lit and the 900 became half a Saab. The roof became the front panel, a heavy duty hitch was bolted on and phase one was complete and ready for a road test. The very strange looking appendage towed like a dream, but did create some amusement to the pedestrians we passed.
Next the trailer went to Kustom Kolors, the previous year they had done a good job in stripping down and re-spraying Clifford and were intrigued by the challenge of making a slightly rusty half a Saab look like a fully fledged trailer. It was decided we would line the trailer space with aluminum checker plate with the individual plates being seam welded, cap various holes created during the creation, fit an S kit post-spraying and work out how to fit a tonneau cover at a later date. A few months and a lot of part searching later Harvey was rolled out of the workshop and smiles the size of the Grand Canyon appeared on the faces of all who had been involved in creating it.
The last 2 parts of the jigsaw still remained, tonneau cover and alloys. The trailer went to a friend of Kustom Kolors called Gary (a vehicle upholsterer and roof manufacturer) who worked out the best way to match in the mohair and fit a cover that wouldn’t blow off while eating up the French motorway miles to Albas. This just left the alloys, Clifford has curly alloys but the trailer was born from a 1985 2-door leaving me with a slight problem to a problem, the axle stubs are different sizes which would mean acquiring a replacement axle for the trailer and fitting it in the 2 weeks left before holidays, so with great disappointment new wheel trims were fitted and that was that, to be honest it didn’t make that much difference, and did leave me with something to do next year.
Clifford was serviced, a new gearbox (many thanks 2stroke) and clutch was fitted in preparation for the journey and off we went. I can honestly say having been to several classic car rallies and shows that the combo definitely attracted more attention than envisaged. Clifford and Harvey were photographed endlessly on the motorway, at the services with many an interested party engaging in discussion about how long it took, how much it cost but all in all everyone was very positive and complimentary on the Saab and a half.
We arrived in Albas at Justin and Robin’s, a Saab friendly holiday destination where the initial idea was born, and the story of Harvey is complete. Needless to say many a vineyard visit later we returned home fully laden, very relaxed with great memories.
No breakdowns, 1700 miles later, averaging 30mpg empty and 26.5mpg loaded up, this years holiday was much more fun that simply getting on a plane, with the bonus of having made lots of new friends because of the Harvey the trailer. We thought we would share the experience with you.
A few more photos follow. As always, the photos are enlargeable with a click.
My thanks to John for passing on this great story.