Hanging out with State of Nine

I’m fortunate to have a group of great, long-term sponsors with this website. They’ve all been with me for a number of years now, which is a great show of support and more importantly, a show of their commitment to Saab and the people who drive them.

It’s a double-blessing for me when I get to visit them and meet them in person. Such was the case back at Swedish Car Day, when I got to meet Dan De Vlieger from State of Nine and spend a bit of time getting to know him and his business.

Dan at SOC 2010 Dan sweating it out at SOC 2010 (photo by Eggs).

For those who are unfamiliar with State of Nine, it’s a small business run by Dan out of his base in Boston, MA. SoN specialises in supplying aftermarket accessories specifically tailored to be two things – (1) perfect for the Saab model they’re designed for, and (2) the best products in the field.

On a personal level, Dan is one of the most pleasant blokes you’d ever meet. We had a couple of lunches together, along with Pierre from Charles River Saab, and had a great time getting to know one another.

Dan is in his late 30s. He lives in Boston with his wife and two young children and maintains his SoN office as a single-room sublet in a grand old house that once hosted some of Boston’s social elite, with rooms in the house now converted into individual offices. Dan has a beautiful Saab 900 convertible that doubles not only as magnificent transport, but also as a test rig for many of the products he sells.

DanD Saab 900The SoN warehouse is located about an hour or so out of town, maintained as part of a larger logistics operation. When you place an order at SoN’s website, it’s sent to Dan. He checks it and sends it on to the warehouse, where the goods are selected from stock, carefully packaged and prepared for postage.

I think what impressed me most about meeting Dan and getting to know SoN’s operations was the sheer commitment that it takes to do what he does. He sells great stuff and asks a higher price than some people expect for it. He’s taken a bit of flack for that from some people, but when all’s said and done, he knows two things.

First, his business does supply the best products he can get his hands on. Whether it be wind-screens for convertibles, rubber mats for those northern winters or the best Saab clothing, his stuff is specifically sourced because it’s premium quality. I got one of his Classic White Saab Lands’ End Dress Shirts and it’s without doubt, the most comfortable shirt I own.

SoN warehouseSecond, if Dan’s going to keep serving his client base and feeding his young family, he’s got to stay in business. That means he has to earn a living. To do that, he needs to sell the best stuff he can find, which is exactly what he does.

Like his customers, Dan’s a Saab enthusiast who happens to also make a living serving the needs of other Saab enthusiasts. Thankfully, there’s enough people out there, especially in the north-eastern US, who agree with him when it comes to providing the best Saab official and aftermarket accessories you can find.

I’m proud to call Dan a friend, and especially grateful that State of Nine is a long term Saabs United supporter and sponsor.

Day 1 in Boston

Howdy all,

Just a quick update on my travels here in Boston.

First thing – I absolutely love this town. After doing the morning updates here on the site, I took a quick driving tour with Pierre from Charles River Saab and I’m now really hoping to get a good look around on foot on Monday. I don’t know what it is about this city, but it has a very nice way of making a stranger feel at home. It’s classy without being big and brassy. My kind of place.

And there’s Saabs by the bucketload here, too. People had told me that before but it’s amazing once you get here. It’s a bit like driving around in Stockholm, actually, in terms of Saaby presence.

Here’s one example – four Saabs in the one photo….(click)

The 900 on the far left is actually Pierre’s and it’s superb! Goes like a train, but faster.

We stopped in town and met up for lunch with Dan De Vlieger from State of Nine. Dan has a warehouse out of town but actually runs the site from an office downtown. The building is an old stately home that’s been turned into office space and it’d be a very cool place to work – big entry rooms and common spaces before it peels off into a rabbit warren of corridors and stairways leading to the various offices. There is some magnificent timber panelling and leadlight windows in the main areas of the old home and you can only imagine the social engagements that must have been held there a century ago.

Apparently the original owners made their money selling shovels to the railroad companies when they were expanding. That’s a pretty humble way to amass the kind of fortune you’d have needed to build that place. I think this is the point where I’m supposed to say “only in America”.

Speaking of which…..

This doesn’t happen just in America, but it seems to be so prevalent here that I’m wondering if it isn’t enshrined in one of those amendments to the constitution that get quoted sometimes (I’ve checked, but it’s not there. I’d like to propose it as the 28th amendment and see if it can take longer than the 27th to get ratified (which took 203 years!!)). It feels like there’s an unofficial casual business uniform consisting of light tan pants and blue shirt. Blue sport jacket is optional, depending on weather. The adventurous ones might substitute a blue stripe shirt for the standard blue shirt. The appropriate shoe color for the uniform is brown.

OK, I’ll stop this, lest someone jump on my back about my own (distinct lack of) fashion sense once again.

Back to Dan…..

The three of us enjoyed a fantastic lunch and yes, waitress, the rib meat did fall off the bone. Tasty.

Being so far away, it’s always a rare treat to meet site sponsors face to face, and it was fantastic to spend some time talking with Dan about his business. There’s an abundant spirit of entrepreneurship all around the US. Much more so than in Australia, or at least in my Australia. Talking with Dan and hearing all the war stories from what’s been a pretty tough few years was quite inspiring and his company – like all the companies that sponsor SU – is one that I’m proud to have forged a relationship with.


From there, Pierre and I headed back to his workplace and I got to meet a bunch of the guys and girls at Charles River Saab.

CRS is one of the oldest Saab dealerships in the United States and the people who work there are really proud of where they work. If you ever meet Pierre, ask him what time he gets into the office and what time he leaves. Talk about passion and pride in your work.

They had one new Saab 9-5 in the yard but as you might expect, it had already been sold. They were waiting for four more to come in and I got the distinct impression that they wouldn’t mind having them there….. like…. yesterday.

I also had a good chat with Peter M, a looooong term Saab technician who’s spent plenty of time in Sweden over the years when he was a field engineer for Saab USA. He was working today on a clutch that had had a tougher life than Hunter S Thompson and about as enigmatic an ending, too.

I love the banners they’ve had made up at CRS, too. Nice work.


Tomorrow’s going to be a great day.

It’s kind of like Day 1 of Swedish Car Day, but by necessity it’s a limited event to begin with.

We start very early tomorrow morning with a drive to a track, where we’ll be doing a driver training session with a group of professional instructors from In Control.

……we will partner with In Control Advanced Driver Training to host a day of intense crash prevention instruction, highlighted by the use of Saab and Volvo cars. Besides the excellent In Control half-day course, which features instruction in ABS technique, steering (slalom), tailgating and emergency lane change maneuvers (think moose avoidance), we will also provide cornering technique instruction and an autocross.

The good parts – I not only get to drive in this one, but Eggs will be there as well!!!!

The track day is fully booked, with 16 participants attending.

After that, we head back to Charles River Saab for a casual reception – an open house meet and greet type thing. CRS will be firing up the BBQ to fill the spaces and everyone’s welcome to come on down, have a look around and say G’day.

The open house will be between 5pm and 7pm. If you’re in the area, then do please drop in. Personally, I want to say Hi to as many people as I can because I may not be back in these surrounds for a while and Sunday’s going to be crazy busy (we have record pre-registrations!!).

Monday Morning Snippets

Site sponsor, STATE OF NINE, have their annual July 4th outlet sale on right now.


Z! has elongated the rear window of his 9-5 Combi Coupe:


What’s going on in England?

Saab 9-5 wheels on a Viggen……

…and then a 9-5 wagon with Viggen-like 5-spokes (Hi Robin!)

Those photos were taken at a local motor show in England, where one Saab dealer rolled out a new Saab 9-5 for show n tell…..


Because sometimes the regular Bugatti Veyron just isn’t fast enough……


My one World Cup gripe:

Shamed Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez received a one-match ban on Saturday for his handball against Ghana, meaning he could still play in the World Cup final if his countrymen can see off Holland in the semi-final.

He should have been shipped home. Doing it was bad enough, gloating about it afterwards was criminal. The guy is a dog and a one game penalty just goes to show how much this game needs to be cleaned up at the official level.

It was a very sad weekend for World Cup tipping. Being the superficial soccer watcher that I am, I was cheering for both Brazil and Argentina.

I’m not sure what the Dutch win says about them, but the Germans were incredible. If they can beat Spain……

Hirsch Performance Open Day – August 13th

There’s a new Hirsch ad in the left sidebar and it’s advertising their open day on August 13th, 2010.

The open day is timed to coincide with the IntSaab meeting in Interlaken, also in Switzerland the same weekend.

For one day, Hirsch Performance AG opens the door to the development centre in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Saab enthusiasts will have the chance to look behind the scenes of the official performance partner of Saab. Take the opportunity to visit on your way to the International Saab Club meeting in Interlaken, and learn more about the company and experience the products from Hirsch Performance.

Guided tours are available on August 13th 2010 from 9:00 till 13:00.

Registration under [email protected] is required, with information on the number of participating vehicles and persons.

Hirsch are still working with Saab to develop performance packages and I’m sure anyone who stops by will enjoy their tour of the facility.

It’d be worth stopping in just to see Hirsch’s collection of restored Saabs alone, including Saab Sonett #4.

Name the new 9-5

Here’s a good question that popped up on Twitter a few days ago, courtesy of @elkparts.

The 9-5 is called the 9-5 from a corporate point of view, but what about all those other suppliers and associated businesses who will have to refer to the new model in their literature and sales pages?

For example, the originator of this question, Elkparts, sells parts and accessories for Saab vehicles and typically, the various generations of vehicles are grouped together to make it easier for customers to find parts for their particular model. Consequently, the 900 model has two seperate spots to differentiate between the Classic Saab 900 of 1979-93 (called simply the Saab 900 at Elkparts) and the Next Generation Saab 900 that ran from 1994-97 (called the GM900 at Elkparts).

So what, then, should the new 9-5 be referred to as?

The NG9-5 – next/new generation?

The Indy 9-5 – suggested by Eggs on Twitter, due to it being the first car following Saab’s independence from GM?

The 650 9-5 – referring to the internal model name within Saab for the 9-5?

Your suggestions would be welcome in comments and once we’ve got a good spread, I think a poll will be in order.

Sponsors: State Of Nine Father’s Day Gift Kit

Site Sponsor State of Nine wishes to advise the following.

Sons, you might want to look into this one for your Dad. And Dads, maybe you want to send this one on to your kids as a subtle hint:

Father’s will appreciate the uniqueness and variety of this gift available only from State of Nine. You will appreciate the convenience and discounted price. The value of these combined items is almost $80 plus shipping, but you can buy it now for just $55!

The Father’s Day Gift Kit includes:

* Limited edition 20th Anniversary Saab Convertible ball point pen
* Saab Travel mug designed to fit in Saab cup holders
* Black “SAAB” embroidered visor
* Saab Griffin lapel pin
* Free shipping for Father’s Day delivery within the Continental US

This present for Saab lovers is only available from State of Nine. There is a limited quantity, so order now. Place your order by noon Eastern on Tuesday June 15th to guarantee delivery for Father’s Day*.

State of Nine gear up for Fathers Day (sponsors)

RE-POSTED: This Free Shipping offer on orders over $39 ends at a minute to midnight on Monday, so get your Father’s Day orders (or pass them on to your kids) today.


If you need some ideas for your Saab driving Dad, State of Nine have got you covered:

State of Nine do Free Shipping on a large number of their products, too, so check ’em out.


A message from Dan at State of Nine……

Saab Enthusiasts Giving Back

I’ve always wanted to find a way to enable our catalog to give back to a charity or cause, but as you can imagine it is difficult to implement and manage. Saab enthusiasts experienced a miracle this winter and our favorite brand was saved from a destiny that so many forecasted and several other automotive brands recently met. We have a lot to be thankful for, so let us try to give back a little.

Last December, my 25 year old niece decided to resign from her promising career at Accenture to help run “BackOnMyFeet.org“, a non-profit start-up in Philadelphia. Pretty courageous in this crazy economy (though maybe not as crazy as quitting a job to start a Saab Accessories company…) and obviously something that caught my family’s attention.

Recently, I caught up with Sandi (some of you may have met Sandi at the Detroit SOC) while she was in town to help set up the new Boston Chapter. I learned a lot about the charity and the incredible success this program has had in helping turn lives around. Their 55% success rate is unmatched in these types of programs. The stories are inspiring and I encourage you to read more on www.BackOnMyFeet.org. Simply put, it all starts by getting up and running with their team at 5:30 AM, three days a week.

With the launch of the Boston Chapter on May 24th we have a great excuse to jump in and give back! For every sale of our Classic “SAAB” Lapel Pins, State of Nine will donate $10.00 to BackOnMyFeet.org. We will ship you this classic pin, free within the USA, and we will contribute $10.00 to this cause. I hope we can contribute $1,000 or more and I will keep you updated on the total in upcoming newsletters.

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