Out front of the Saab Museum – part 1

I’ve still got a few stories left from my trip to Sweden earlier this year. Here’s part one of a three-part drive experience Dave R and I got to share in on our visit to the Saab Museum.

If you missed them, here’s a few entries from out the back of the Saab Museum:

Out the back of the Saab museum, part 1

Out the back of the Saab museum, part 2

I visited the Saab Museum on a Friday afternoon. In the morning I toured some of Saab’s technical development areas (I’m still trying to get photos to show for that) and I arrived at the museum just before lunch. Upon arriving there, I was greeted by three of the museum’s cars sitting out front.

We chatted for a while, had lunch, and then I was more than a little surprised when the museum’s director, Peter Bäckström, suggested we take the cars that were sitting out front for a test drive!

The first car we drove was this one – an original Saab 92.


This was an enormous amount of fun, but in a strenuous kind of way. Any chance to drive part of Saab’s history is a chance worth taking and I wasn’t going to miss this for the world, but I have to be honest and say that this wasn’t the most pleasant drive I’ve ever had.


The car has a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine capable of producing about as much power as an oscillating fan. It has a three-on-the-tree gearshift with no synchros in first, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I did clean the teeth just a little on one occasion. It was noted.

That engine and the confusing gearbox pattern meant that it took some time to get up to anything that resembled ‘speed’, but that’s a good thing because the brakes were so bad that in order to stop in the museum carpark, you needed to hit the brake pedal in Norway.

Being used to more modern cars, I’m not accustomed to how rough things were back in the old days. I was amazed that Saab actually managed to build a company on the back of this little green teardrop and it speaks volumes of the competition and the desire of the Swedish people for a car of their own that Saab managed to survive with this as their only offering.


But survive they did, and thank goodness for that.

I know my brief thoughts don’t sound particularly complimentary, but driving this car was actually an absolute blast. It was an education. It was a fight that involved you from the moment you sat inside and tried to figure out the secret combination of buttons and levers that fires this baby up.

Once you get it going, figure out the gearshift and get just a little speed up, the car was an adventure in the truest sense of the word. It was noisy, rattly, hard work but exceptionally good fun.

Put it this way – I was very fortunate to drive it and I’m incredibly thankful for the privilege and the experience, but boy am I happy I live in the here and now.


The beauty of this Saab 92 is in what it says about the Saab Museum and the collection there.

This car has marks on it. It has faded paint. But it’s in pretty good order over all, and like all the cars in the Saab Museum, the first priority is that it runs. The cars in the Saab Museum are all working cars, maintained by a couple of dedicated, retired engineers from the company.

The fact that it has some marks and some faded paint is illustrative of the fact that each car there has a story to tell. Some are brand new from the factory when they arrive there and some have a history. Saab don’t make a point of erasing that history simply for the sake of presenting a pristine vehicle.

That’s a very important distinction and a good illustrator about the practical mindset of the Swedes. Form follows function, and the function here is to show a working Saab 92 that’s had a rich life.


Again, my endless thanks go to Peter Bäckström for an unforgettable day, part II of which will be coming along soon.

Out the back of the Saab Museum – part II

In part one of our tour around the back-end of the Saab Museum, I showed you a whole bunch of cars that they’ve got there, but don’t generally have on display in the main museum area.

Now I’d like to show you around another area out the back, one in which I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in. In fact, a Saab enthusiast could spend a week and barely cover a quarter of what’s out here. I’m talking, of course, about the museum’s archives.

Dave and I were there for only around an hour and that was after spending the previous 5 or 6 hours either looking over or driving some of the Saab Museum’s own display vehicles. Needless to say, our minds were already spinning!

This is just a quick look around – about a dozen photos – of the still beating heart of Saab’s History.


This is common view in the archive: heaps of compacted shelving that hold all manner of Saab information. There’s manuals for everything, advertising materials, even Saab Club magazines from various parts of the world.

And a few looks inside some of those compacted units:

There are also a whole heap of file drawers for flat storage of various sketches, technical drawings, original artwork and etc.

The museum has a whole bunch of classic and rare Saab photography, too. Much of it is of the old competition days and of course, I was drawn to the Saab 99 images (and this was before I’d bought the 99T!)

All of you collectors out there might want to study these boards to see what badges you might be missing 🙂

Unfortunately this one was partially obscured by some old TV monitors. Best I could do….

And finally, one of my favourite areas – scale models of all sorts of Saab models and concept models over the years. I’ll get the original photos and try and enlarge each one individually. To be posted soon.


Again, my thanks must go to Peter Backstrom at the Saab Museum for the access he allowed us and the things we were able to see there.

It was the Saab day of a lifetime!

These photos are viewable as an album on Picasa.

Sunday morning snippets – winding road edition

It’s the weekend and things are slowing down a little on the SU Sweden Tour 2009.
I’ve been joined here in Sweden by Dave R, who knows this area like the back of his hand and has graciously acted as host and guide around the area.
Yesterday we headed north for a drive and apart from the scenery and some great strawberry waffles, the highlight of the drive was a road called Brudfjallsvagen (forgive the lack of umlauts but I haven’t figured those out on this new computer just yet).
This is an 11km stretch of undulating, winding road that’s just so much fun you want to drive it again and again.
The road runs between Tisselkog and Haverud and it well worth searching for if you’re over this way.
Here’s a video of the drive shot from a motorbike. You don’t get the full rise and fall of the road, but it’ll give you an idea.
The SU Trollhattan meetup was on last night and whilst we were few in number we were many in spirit. Dave and I were joined by Mats (a local) and Rune made a huge effort in travelling all the way from Oslo with his wife Anna.
It was great to see Mats again (he gave me my first tour around Thn back in 2007) and fantastic to meet Rune and Mrs Rune for the first time. We had a drop-in visit from a young guy named Hampus (forgive me if I’m wrong), but he was too young to be allowed to stay in the pub.
Thanks to all for another great evening!
Just a small part of the fleet of 9-5 test mules in Trollhattan. A post about that experience will come later.
I’ve got enough content backed up to last a month, but there’s even more still to come on the SU Sweden Tour 2009.
This afternoon we’ll take the 9-3x out for a good thrashing 🙂
Tomorrow I jump in a rental car and head for Orebro, which is where Maptun have their facility. I’ll meet up with Fredrik and the rest of the team there and have a look around before heading off to Stockholm.
In Stockholm I’m hoping to meet up with Jorgen from the SU Historic Rally Team as well as some guys from Auto Motor and Sport.
That’s Monday and Tuesday morning taken care of. Tuesday afternoon will see me jump on a plane again for the long ride home to meet my wife’s loving arms and my dog’s loving wet nose.

Coming soon at Saabs United….

It’s been an incredible couple days here in Trollhattan. This is, of course, Saab heaven and this flying visit has exceeded every hope I could have had about coming here once again.
The staff at Saab have done an incredible job in making me feel really welcome here and opening up some wonderful and normally very private doors so that I can share a peek inside the organisation with you. It’s been a true privelege and i’m looking forward to sharing everything that I’ve learned here in the coming days and weeks.
Just to give you a taste, this has been my schedule over the last 2 days (and it’ll go some way to explaining why I haven’t written much in that time).
Thusday 17th
Up at 6.30am – get packed and ready, check out of hotel and check in for flight from Frankfurt to Goteborg.
8.45am – Watch the clock as my scheduled takeoff time ticks by….
11:30 or so – After two separate delays before takeoff, finally land in Goteborg (the airport approach was spectacular) and drive to Trollhattan with Dave.
1pm – Tour around ANA Specialbilar and SDCC. Have mind blown for the first time in two days.
3pm – Drive the 650. That’s the Saab internal code for the new Saab 9-5. I got a chance to drive a 220hp BioPower version for about 80 minutes all together. Mind blown for the second time.
6pm – Dinner and bowling with Dave and the guys from ANA. Martin from ANA is a bowling hustler and easily creams us in the second game. Ronny won the first. Kyckling was good, as was the Sirloin.
11.30pm – fall into bed.
Friday 18th
8am – Arrive at Saab front gate. Go upstairs to see the PR staff who are in today. Say G’day to them all.
8:30am – Tour around parts of Saab’s technical development center. Get mind blown for the third, fourth, fifth etc times in these two days. We started off looking at crash test simulations using some incredible software.
Then on to the actual crash test facility, where I saw vehicles being prepared for test, as well as the actual testing area itself. Amazing tech going on here and some of it brand new, and very cutting edge.
After that, we looked at the NVH labs and had a look at some incredible acoustic rooms.
And finally, we took a look in one of the mockup studios (possibly not the right term, but it’s late) where they have a full driving simulator in place. Unfortunately it was being taken to bits so I couldn’t have a go.
11:45am – All of the activities previously listed were suitably mind-blowing, but the best was yet to come.
Eight hours at the Saab Museum with Peter Backstrom.
The Saab Museum is an incredible place to visit under any circumstances. To have the rare pleasure of being shown around by Peter was an experience that may be hard to top – ever.
By the time I turn off my light and go to sleep tonight, Peter will have already forgotten more about Saab than I’ll ever know. The things that we saw, learned about, and DROVE today will keep amazing me for many days and weeks to come.
Those two incredibly full days have been the reason why there hasn’t been much content from me in that time. I hope you’ll find that the silence from me was worthwhile as there will be plenty of stories to tell, and for some time to come.
Many thanks to Eggs for keeping the home fires burning whilst I’ve been busy. You’re a champ, mate!

Guess where I am…..

Hi folks,
Today involved lots of travel, some of it quite delayed, and then a whole lot of rushing around making two very important appointments.
I’ll talk more about the first one later, but you can click through for a photo of the second one.
More later, but right now I’m off for my firswt meal of the day – dinner – and some bowling with Alf from ANA and Dave from the UK.
Back later. Plenty to tell.

Read moreGuess where I am…..

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.