Some of you mighthavereadby now that Apple has a secret program named Project Titan to build an electric car. As a few curious photographers witnessed, they’ve leased Chrysler minivans driving all around Silicon Valley with advanced sensors. Several top auto industry personnel from Mercedes and Tesla have already been poached, not to mention visits by Apple executive visits to Austria– think Magna Steyr where they built all those 9-3 Convertibles. This may not mean Apple is 100% absolutely surely going to be coming out with a car, and even if they did it would be years away. They might just be investigating technologies that could end up in future personal electronics, or software interfaces for OEMs to integrate like their CarPlay system. But what if they were, and what if they could leapfrog ahead by aquiring the bankrupt assets of a certain automobile company in Sweden with a rich history of intelligent design and innovation, coupled with a huge factory capable of supplying the Euro Zone with 200,000 plus units?
Follow me here– what would an Apple car look like? Would people want a car designed by their computer company? I’ve seen it work in reverse, Porsche designed phones, but I don’t see the reverse ever truly working. The other silicon valley auto company producing electric cars, Tesla has made a name for themselves by launching an exclusive high end brand that is first and foremost about the core product, autos. While they might end up moving more into home power or grid power backup systems or other different fields, when you hear Tesla, you visualize a Model S. The same can’t be said for Apple.
Just like Mahindra sees the potential value in a prestigious brand with cache, Apple should see the advantages of acquiring such a dirt cheap and storied brand with such similar brand values. It wasn’t so long ago that Saab’s Global brand director Knut Simonsson told Autocar that they were trying to position themselves as the Apple of car brands. Before their demise, Saab was not about blending in, “We don’t want to be another Audi,” Simonsson said. In fact, Audi has been tying themselves to Google, not only through their MMI, but their self driving car experiments. Even if Apple wanted to start completely fresh with design and do something all new and different to what Saab had done before, just having the engineering chops, the crash facilities, the testing and state of the art production labs, the proximity to northern Sweden for winter testing, and most of all the bonafide legacy of well engineered Scandinavian design, it just makes sense.
This weeks SOTW comes from Dr.Os here in the UK, at first glance a 9-3 Aero but as you can see from the picture there are a few differences and they don’t stop there. Read Os’s words below.
The car is a Saab 9-3 Aero Sports Saloon 2003 model. It has enjoyed only the one owner since new. The performance and visual creations of the car started off in 2007 with a Saab City dealership T9 upgrade package.
Since 2007, the car has undergone a complete and extensive metamorphoses, from the factory produced variant into what I lovingly refer to as “The Beast”.
This weekend sees the third European Saab get together in Huy in Belgium.
Organised by Etienne, with help from his good friends Jeff and Rémi plus a few others, this is going to be a very large gathering of Saabs in one place.
The party gets going on the Saturday when many of the Saab owners will start arriving from all over Europe. UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland to name but a few. A dinner has been arranged for the evening with lots of food, wine, beer and laughter.
Sunday morning will see many Saabs parked all around The Town Square and this is when you will get the chance to mingle and chat about your favourite brand. Around 2.30 there will be an award for the best car and then just after that a car tour is arranged to visit the local area. There is a meal arranged for Sunday evening for those who wish to stay another night.
A few of us from The UK are planning to arrive together just after lunch on the Saturday, We are convoying from Calais so you may see us on route.
It promises to be a super fun weekend. So if you are close by or fancy a road trip please come along and join in and make this European Meeting the biggest yet.
I received this email from Dave Dalimore of GWS fame about the great weekend they had just had at a Classic Car Show in the West of England. In Dave’s words: (Also new link to photos)
Great Western Saabs were once again on display at this years Classic Vehicle Restoration Show in the UK which attracted 6,000 classic and vintage car enthusiasts plus displays and demonstrations from the professional restorers and from clubs..
GWS had two SAABs on their stand, a ‘pink’ 96 which was to be detailed and returned to it’s original Toreador Red and a MkIII Sonett in bright orange. The Sonnet attracted much interest as many had never seen one before. In fact it attracted so much interest it won an award! ‘The Most Interesting Car of the Show’.
Owner Howard Bennett says ‘I am still shocked – quite how I managed “Most Interesting Vehicle” in front of an ex-Roger Moore P1800 and a Superleggera Aston (amongst all the other terrific cars there) was a real surprise! Huge thanks to all who helped organise the stand, those who helped me out logistically and of course those who have helped me get the car into the state it is now. I had the best of weekends and the award was indeed the cherry on top of the cake.’ It has been a great year for GWS as they also won two awards at the Classic Car Show back in April of this year and ‘Most Admired SAAB’ at the very popular Swedish Day organised by our very own Robin Morley.
Spyker’s US$3bln lawsuit accusing General Motors of trying to bankrupt SAAB has been dismissed by a US federal court judge who said GM had the right to block the sale of a company using its technology.
This quote was everywhere yesterday and was not too surprising. Some of us thought there was a case when looking at the big picture but the US District Court Judge Gershwin Drain looking at everything before him ruled otherwise and granted the motion to dismiss the matter.
General Motors had a contractual right to approve or disapprove the proposed transaction.
He also stated that the deal Spyker had reached to purchase Saab had given GM the right to stop changes in ownership and that GM’s statements voicing its opposition to the Youngman deal were not made with malice or to intentionally harm Saab.
GM’s lawyer, Kathryn Kirmayer, called Spyker’s deal with Youngman where they would eventually take a 70% ownership in Saab, “sketchy in many respects”.
Spyker’s lawyer Ben Chew, had said that Spyker and Youngman had reached the framework of a deal that would have allowed the assembly of Saab vehicles without the use of GM technology and platforms. They had also agreed to loan Saab 200m Euro which would have kept the company moving.
Spyker has not said if it will appeal the decision and at this point with everything that has happened, it’s hard to say what the right move would be. Reuters had spoke to Victor Muller who said “we will be awaiting the written order and then we will assess”.
It is very hard to look at things from where most of us sit and think that GM’s actions and words were not made to intentionally harm Saab. It is beyond most of us to not think that it was very deliberate and direct. That all being said, if GM did in fact act within the agreement and within the laws that govern them, as crappy as their actions were….. maybe it is best to move on from this whole mess and focus on the future.
The future for Victor and Spyker looks to be promising with a beautiful new car set to be produced and a partnership that was formed through the Saab trials. For Saab/NEVS, we have not even scratched the surface of what they can be or where they are headed. We know now that turbo engines are not just the DNA of the past but will be a part of the future.
It may be time to forget about GM and look forward, I say forget as most will never forgive.
[email protected] has come and gone for 2013 and it appears to have been a great success once again. I would really love to attend this event at some point in my life as it really seems to be a place where the community of SAAB comes together to enjoy a weekend together. Whenever this event takes place I am blown away with the stories of enthusiasts helping and sharing with one another. It often looks like a workshop with people showing their cars and working on others. I am reminded of how the first year Jim McGuire went to Carlisle and met Julie Gardner and the amazing story of service like never before.
Not being there myself, I asked my friend Jim McGuire to write about the event and tell the story so I could visualize actually being there with the help of some photos. Jim took it a step further and printed one of my Facebook photos and brought me along. If you know Jim at all, you will know that one thing he is not short on is humor. Here is his take on Carlisle 2013.
Despite the not so great weather for most of the weekend, [email protected] was another great effort by the SAAB community. As always the official event “Imports at Carlisle” was overrun by cars that sport the SAAB name. My “flight” got me to Carlisle around 4:30pm Friday afternoon and to a show field bustling with many cars.
Once the post flight check was complete I turned off the engine and got out of my SportCombi to see Julie Gardner at the registration tent. Right away I braced myself for the traditional hugs and smiles that she openly gives. I also was happy to see her and her mate Jerry. Jerry along with Julie have become very great friends of mine and are just really good people. Once the “catching up” was done I proceeded to make my way around to see what was happening.
Since I had arrived alone and this being only my third year I was expecting to keep it somewhat low key. This thought quickly went away as I walked around. I kept running into people I knew and we shared simple conversations and story after story. I think one of the great things is that not only did the stories revolve around SAAB, but oftentimes it’s about work, trips overseas, kids, raising chickens (you know who you are), favorite beers we have found, all sorts of topics.
Dinner is always fun with cooking your own stuff on the grill. By special request this year I had made a Vegetable Lasagna to share with all who dared. Myself, Julie and Jerry sat enjoyed the feast while my newer friends Jeff and his better half Brittany enjoyed some as a side dish to their wonderful looking steaks fresh off the grill. Jeff is the proud owner of a rather unique car, a 1986 9000Turbo covered in a lovely Edwardian Grey. The story of this car was that it was originally purchased by a rather well known “rocket scientist” with some documents to back it up. This will be a story for another article I imagine.
One of my better Saab friends, Ross Bagwell and I spent a good bit of time talking over his 2004 9-5 Arc. This is a beast which has a 2.3T mill running Maptun stage 4. It has several big modifications such as a ETS intercooler, Genuine Saab Cobra, JT 3″ exhaust and other engine goodies too numerous to list. To better handle the grip on the road it also has several suspension mods such Powerflex bushings, SAS sway bars, MOOG tie rods and sway links He’s owned it since 2006 and it only had 15k miles when he bought it. I can certainly say based on what has been done and what will be done to this car, it will be a Grim Reaper to many unsuspecting threats on the street!
I was missing some of my other Saab friends who were at other important events such as the twins having a soccer game, settling into a new area or a relative’s birthday celebration. I’ll see you guys next year!
As Friday evening settled in we all scattered into our little groups and said goodbye to the first day of the show. From the turnout of Friday, I could tell this was going to be a great show!
Saturday I woke up and crawled out from my little tent to see people already washing cars and getting ready for the show. The weather was forecasted to be sunny and clear but a low base of cloud cover kept us in the shade most of the day.
My earlier thoughts of Saturday going to be a great day were right, it was. There was no shortage of nice cars to be seen as the show grounds got filled. I pulled the Combi into its “spot” on the parking ramp and was flanked with a clean TurboX SportCombi and a Smoke Beige 9-3 Aero. Across from me were 9-5’s for as far as the eye could see, far more than I remember seeing in the past. I’m not saying there were not plenty of 9-3’s, there were just as many! The 9-7x and 9-4x showing was a small scene but still a very proud showing. Viggens, yeah, plenty of those along with a nice scattering of 9000’s
Another highlight of the show was the appearance of Saab Parts North America. SPNA had a nice display booth and in my opinion gave a good showing to let us all know they are here for the long run. Mr. Tim Colbeck and I got to shake hands once again as he remembered me from many other occasions where we’ve met. I believe SPNA is in VERY good hands with Mr. Colbeck at the controls and I’m always thrilled to see him out in the community with us.
People often ask “Which Saab would you want to take home the most?” Damn, that’s a hard question because they all have certain style that makes each one unique. Personally, I like the one I have, my 2006 SC Aero but if I had to choose, it would be Bill and Joanne Clarks 2006 Anniversary Convertible Aero in Electric Blue (#236).
Those who know me well know how close I was to buying a 1990 900 that was being offered there. Oh it was tempting and I had taken money out to do so, but in the end, I know I don’t need yet another toy car. I need a daily driver and this one would not fit the bill as needed but boy it was nice and it ran like a charm. Thanks to the seller for the test drive and the time spent discussing the car!
The vehicle awards were handed out just before dinner time. Some of the classes were pretty easy to predict such as the Sonett and the 9-7x/9-4x which only had a few examples of each. All total we had 251 cars in attendance, not quite the 300 we all had hoped for but not a bad showing. There is always next year! Central Penn Saab Club put on an extreme effort for the show and as always deserves kudos for a job well done! Special thanks as well go out to all of the sponsors of the show. Without your support we could not enjoy a world class event!
Congrats to all who placed in their classes, job well done! However everyone should walk away with the satisfaction of being part of a great community, which to me, is the best prize of all.
Swedish Day in the UK has arrived again, and tomorrow for around six hours there will be a gathering of nearly 200 vehicles who have their routes in Swedish. Take a look at the Swedish Day website for more details.
Over 60% of them will be Saab with Volvo catching up fast, but this year we have around 14 Swedish Trucks coming along as well, both Scania and Volvo. Sadly no Koenigseggs have been in touch, but maybe one year.
Weather forcast is looking good so fingers crossed for a dry sunny show.
Many of the French and Belgium visitors are arriving in England as I type and we will all join together tonight for a meal at the local Sparkford Inn, no dout chatting until past closing time.
Everyone is welcome to take a visit and we look forward to seeing lots of visitors. A few of last years pictures are at my flickr page.
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