With so many great cars at the SOC 2010 in Aurora, Ohio this weekend, where does one start? With the best feel-good story that one can muster, that’s where.
Naturally, this well-cared-for and obviously clean Saab 1958 93b is a wonderful story on its own. Resplendent in red with the matching wheels, this car would be remarkable solely on the basis of looks and sound, but its history places it at the top of my “survivor” list.
I’ve just got back from 2 days offline, attending the Saab Owners Club annual meeting in Bath, in England.
Whilst that’s been happening, the Saab Owners Conference has been happening in the US and we’ve already had some great snippets come through from Eggs about that one, with some more to come. It seems VM’s and JAJ’s enthusiasm has infected the US group, which is good to hear.
Greg Abbott has sent through some images, including the all-important group photo from the conference. There’ll be plenty more images to come in the next few days, but my thanks to Greg for this one (and a few more)….
Click to enlarge:
And Victor Muller with Greg (below) and Eggs (below that):
Greetings once again from the Saab Owner’s Convention in Aurora, Ohio. As we wind down here after the round table panel discussion with Victor Muller (CEO of Spyker Cars), Jan-Åke Jonsson (CEO of Saab Automoble), Mike Colleran (President, Saab Cars North America) and John Libbos (Saab Product Manager, North America), which, by the way, was a great discussion, here are the top nine things I’ve learned this weekend:
9. If you bring your Saab 9-2x to the track for some aggressive driving, make sure that you have a baffled oil pan. Since the 9-2x is a Subaru at heart, it employs the horizontally opposed (so-called boxer) engine configuration. Because the heads are on both extremes of the engine, this set-up requires an exceedingly wide oil pan. This means that most of the oil sloshes to one side of the pan in hard cornering on sweeping turns. The seconds-long lack of lubrication at high revs spelled disaster for one SOC track-day participant.
8. The new Saab 9-5 is a real stunner in person. Plenty of ink has already been spilled here, but the car lives up to the hype.
7. Our brand’s leadership has great vision and great enthusiasm. Reading and seeing are two different things. This is the first time I’ve seen our brand’s relatively new leadership in person. They are all seemingly working on the things that we wish for Saab. Their confidence and enthusiasm are infectious.
6. Victor Muller and Jan-Åke Jonsson spend way too much time together. These guys are finishing each other’s sentences (figuratively) and they’ve only known each other since late November.
5. One of the reasons that Koenigsegg backed out of buying Saab was that the BAIC deal was too complex to execute. Jan-Åke Jonsson credited Koenigsegg with a great deal of vision for coming up with that concept, but there are many, many contractual pieces that have to happen to get the right kind of joint venture in place in China. These additional funds were imperative for the KG offer. Of course, we now know that BAIC bought the outgoing 9-5, so either Spyker was more adept and made it happen, or they were better funded and could forgo the Chinese funds in the short term. Just an interesting footnote to watershed moment in Saab history.
4. GM knows how to restore cars. Wow, how good are all of the former GM Heritage Collection cars? They are immaculate. Pristine. They even found and restored a Saabo!! The attention to detail is truly astounding. If you find no good in GM, please at least give them credit for preserving these great Saabs.
2. Jan-Åke Jonsson’s wife reads SaabsUnited.com to find out what Jan-Åke is planning. Yes, Swade is the source for all things Saab. Even for the insiders!!
1. The global affection for our own Steven Wade is even greater than I expected. Unprompted, Victor Muller spent about six of his 30-minute speech at the SOC awards banquet praising the mobilization and enthusiasm lead by, as he put it, “a guy on the island of Tasmania, about as far from Sweden as you can get, who cared enough to do something with an idea planted in the Netherlands.” He credited Steven with single-handedly turning away the enormous negative tide consuming Saab and replacing it with a grass-roots movement to save the brand. Kudos to Swade!!! Additionally, everyone recognizes him and to a man they praise his work ethic, humor and generosity. I wholeheartedly concur!!
Wow, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve written on SaabsUnited. Too long. Swade’s been keeping the place up well; I’m a fan of the remodel. I hope that all are well. Some of you I’ve seen today and I appreciate the goodwill.
Greetings from the Saab Owner’s Convention in Aurora, Ohio, USA.
I’ve loved the hospitality thus far. No doubt in my mind that Saab people are, as a whole, great folks to be around. The Saab Club of North America are to be commended for the great rapport that they enjoy with the owners that actively participate in events like this. Naturally, it’s also very exciting to meet our brand’s corporate ambassadors at a grass-roots gathering such as this convention.
Needless to say, Victor Muller, Jan-Åke Jonsson and Mike Colleran don’t have to spend their precious summer weekends with us, yet they do. And I, for one, am thankful for their generosity.
And, of course, the cars are magnificent, especially when you add Mr. Backstrom’s fleet (read: museum collection) into the mix. I’ve got a trove of photos to post, but I’ve not got the time at present for all. This will have to do for now.
Unfortunately, after a few tribulations, my own 1991 900 Turbo Convertible developed a severe breathing problem as I approached Cincinnati, Ohio on my way to the SOC. So, to make the story short, I swapped the 900 for a Chrysler 300C about one-third of the way into the trip. Fitting. (See what I did there? 900, 300, one-third.) More on that later as well.
The 2010 Saab Owners Convention started yesterday with a track day at Nelson Ledges Race Track.
Million-mile Saab guy, Peter Gilbert, has checked in with a written report and Greg Abbott has been kind enough to send along some photos, so here’s the combination of both served up as a Day 1 report….
We just returned from a full day at Nelson Ledges Race Track, with cloudless skies, mid- eighties temperatures and wonderful camaraderie. The plethora of Saab models was well represented on the track, other than the 96, late 9-3’s or 9-5’s.
The track has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 24-hour Saab Longest Day run and the two yellow Sonnets which participated were actually running today.
Thank God there were no accidents or spin-outs but several cars had breakdowns, of which two had engine mechanical failure, a couple with brake problems and one 2-stroke Sonnet that could not be diagnosed.
This was a particularly fun day for me as I had only driven my 2001 Viggen for an hour at Road America, Wisconsin, with stock specifications. Now I had the opportunity to open her up with the SQR update and with much better Bilstein heavy duty shocks. This was a particular treat as the Viggen was the most popular car on the track and to this day was probably Saab’s best kept secret, as so many people have never had the experience like we had to have so much fun.
Greetings all from Dulwich, in London, where I’ll be for most of the next week except for when I pop on over to Bath for the Saab Owners Club GB gathering.
Geez, this is a big city. We are still trying to find our bearings after a full day, but hopefully we’ll get busy tomorrow.
Lots of Saabs around here. I saw my first within two minutes of leaving Heathrow and have seen more than a dozen in my brief wanderings today. Lots of potential here, too.
The big event – starting tomorrow in the US, in fact, is the Saab Owners Convention for 2010. It’s being held in Aurora, Ohio and with VM and JAJ attending, it’s sure to be a great meeting for all you US Saabers.
Please do hit me up with some emails as things progress as I’d love to post on how it’s going. I wish I could be there.
I posted a few entries full of photos from the Saab Festival car show (part one and two), but for those who would like a fuller view of the whole event, check out these galleries on Flickr.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Audi A1 Audi A8 BMW 5-serie BMW X3 Chevrolet Spark Citroën C3 Citroën DS3 Citroën C4 Dacia Duster Fiat Doblò Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max Honda CR-Z Hyundai ix35 Jaguar XJ Kia Sportage Kia Venga Lexus CT200h Mazda 5 Mini Countryman Mitsubishi ASX Nissan Juke Nissan Micra Opel Meriva Renault Wind Saab 9-5 Seat Alhambra Suzuki Kizashi Suzuki Swift Volkswagen Touareg Volkswagen Sharan Volvo S60 Volvo V60
Whilst I’d naturally prefer that the Saab wins the award, my bet is that it’s either the Jaguar XJ or the Alfa Romeo Giulietta that takes home the chocolates.
Voting is done by journalists from the seven organising magazines, which are from seven different countries in Europe.
Whilst history will teach that I most likely will, there’s no use pretending that Saab Talk doesn’t exist. Another year, another Saab blog.
One of the guys I met and chatted quite a bit with at the Saab Festival last week was Jim Smart, a Saab tech who runs an indy Saab shop called Smart Motors in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This is just a reminder for all of you who are thinking of attending, that registration for the 2010 Saab Owners Convention – to be held in Aurora, Ohio – closes this Monday, June 21st.
Victor Muller and Jan-Ake Jonsson will be the honored guests at the SOC this year so it’s a great chance to go and meet these two fantastic people who were the keys to Saab’s survival during 2009 and the move to independence in 2010.
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