The following was translated and sent in by Dippen, to whom I am very grateful.
This is a very inspirational report. With all that’s going at Saab right now, great stories like this should be cherished. I nearly had a tear in my eye as I read it.
Mr Carlsson was surprised that so many showed up for his 80th birthday celebrations at the Saab Museum. All I can say is that there were many more around the world who would have loved to be there and congratulate him on his birthday!
The original report, in Swedish, is here at TTELA. There are a number of photos there, too.
Mr Saab – Erik Carlsson “on the roof” has now turned 80. This was celebrated on Saturday at the Saab Car Museum, where a lot of friends, admirers and Saab enthusiasts came to celebrate the rally legend.
A emotional Erik Said:
– I believe in Saab, don’t be worried, everything will be fine.
While he signed autographs and hugged people, Erik said:
– I can’t believe that so many have taken the time to come here and celebrate me. It is unbelievable!
When the celebration started at 11a.m a long queue was formed to the table where Erik sat and recieved the congratulations. The participants where both old and young people, fans and friends.
Gosta Karlsson, who has known Erik for many years, handed over a big beautiful orchid and shook hands with his friend.
– This little flower is for you Erik, it is alomst on this day, 50 years ago that we meet for the first time. Do you remember?
– Absolutely!, Erik says.
Gosta started to tell the story when they meet for the first time and smiled:
– We were participating in an ice racing competition in Vilhelmina. Erik won and I came in third place. After the competition when I was packing my stuff in to the car, Erik came forward and said : “You can call me this week and I will arrange so you can buy a car at a discounted price. And then we became friends”
– I was an old racing driver who drove for Saab 1960-1966 and was racing cars with Erik. Erik and I raced twelve competitions togheter. He is a very good old friend. Gosta says and smiles towards Erik.
Later it was time for the birthday kid’s next surprise.
– Erik, are you intrested in eating a bit of light brunch?, Per Olofsson said. He is the head of Saab’s staff resturants and put forward a big plate of oysters.
– Oh yes! are they Irish? Erik says
– No they are from Grebbestad, Per said and served the oysters.
– They where very good, a thousand thanks.
Per Olofsson said that Erik is a big oyster lover and he during the years has talked a lot about it with anyone who shares the same interest.
– I had five oysters with me and he would easily have eaten five more. I promised to bring ten oysters when he turns 85 years.
Afterwards it was time for Erik to be congratulated by Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson and the management board.
– Hello, did you have time to show up?, Erik says.
– Of course, it is fun to see that Erik has eaten oysters, JAJ said and told a little anecdote.
– At a gathering in Ireland, Erik decided that we two should eat oysters. Erik ordered in 20 oysters; I ate two and he ate 18!
Jan Ake Jonsson did hold a tribute speech for Erik where he told about how important he has been for Saab during the years.
– As a birthday gift you will get this picture and a total renovation of the property you like so much.
JAJ was referring to Erik’s litlle red Saab 96 that he received as a birthday present when he turned 50.
After the speech there was cheering at the Saab Museum.
– The most important thing is not that I live for hundred years but that Saab lives long after this! Thousand thanks to all Saab employees. I belive in Saab and everything will be fine, I think most of the people here do believe the same thing too, otherwise they would not have been here.
Erik received applause and smiles.
TTELA-reporter: Congratulations Erik, how does it feel to turn 80 years?
– I am turning 80 years? No, you must be joking! Thanks. It is very nice to receive the congratulations in this way. I could not believe that so many took their time to come here.
TTELA-reporter: And there is no doubt in your mind about Saabs future?
– Not a bit, We have good cars,good people and very good chief ,CEO Jan Ake Jonsson. This will work.