When I Am King…….

Do you ever wish you could be the world’s benevolent dictator? We’re actually all better off than we think. We’re living longer, we’re more educated, richer and believe it or not, more peaceful as a species than we’ve ever been (thanks to Jeroen for that link).

That’s not to say we’re over the screw-ups, though. That’s not to say we couldn’t all benefit from an omnipotent kick in our collective pants.

I wouldn’t mind getting in on the whole dictator thing and of course, I have a few people and things I’d get out of the way so that we can all get on living in peace and harmony. (Or my version of it, at least, which would be compulsory of course. Being King has its privileges.)

So……. When I am king, these will be first against the metaphorical wall…..

Religious Fundamentalists

I don’t care what religion you are. You’re free to believe and free to practice what you like, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else in that religion’s name.

We were chosen by God!
We were chosen by God!
For centuries, civilisations that sprang up around the place had a couple of basic things in common. One of them was a localised belief system that sought something outside of their own humanity to give them purpose in this life and keep them preserved after death. Many had gods in nature, worshipping the sun, the moon or the stars. Some made sacrifices to keep their god(s) happy, fearing for both their present and their future if they didn’t.

The desire to hope for something else after we’re gone is not unusual. Whether it be the Romans, the Greeks, the Norsemen, the Aztecs, the Moors or the Whoeverelses, they all did it, most of them developed their beliefs independently and they all thought they were 100% correct. Amazing, isn’t it?

If you feel the need to fill your god-shaped hole with a god, that’s fine. Please feel free to fill that space however you like. Talk to your friends about it, if you wish. Gather with like minded people and enjoy it together. Whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or Pastafarian, it doesn’t matter to me.

Just don’t push it down anyone’s throat and do not commit violence in the name of your religion.

The law of Swade will subject you to a year of being tickled, non-stop.

Doof Doof music

One of the things I’ve learned while living in Sweden is that there hasn’t been a song written through all of history that can’t be re-jigged and set to shitty doof-doof dance music. They love it here.

Hey, baby.
Hey, baby.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and that might – might – be true of learning a musical instrument. I suspect it takes longer for most. I still marvel at those guitarists for whom an instrument seems to be a natural extension of their body. Those who know what to play and when, and those who (crucially) know when NOT to play.

Music is supposed to be an art form. A thing of true beauty. Its magic lies in a unique skill; an artist’s ability to draw on their emotions, paint pictures with sound and/or words and to generate energy from it. A true artist can capture both pleasure and pain and balance them on the head of a pin. They can fire you up for a fight or inspire you to fall in love. The soundtracks of our lives are based in sensory expression, which is why music is one of the emotional triggers that sticks so well in our memory.

Doof doof might do it for you but it doesn’t do anything for me. And I’m King here, remember.

OK, so there is artistry in true showmanship, in engaging a crowd and bringing them along with you. There are enough people going to big dance venues and having a good time listening to the stuff to suggest that some of the best doof doof DJ’s obviously have something. But it’s not for me. And let’s face it, there’s a reason all these festival goers are popping pills, right?

Doof Doof adherents will be beaten lightly with a Gibson Les Paul, then forced to listen to actual rock-n-roll for 2 years. Call it gentle re-education.

The guy in the photo is actually a work colleague who I love dearly and is an in-demand DJ here in Sweden. I love this picture. I wish I could tamper with his playlist, though :-)

Tony Abbott’s Political Career

If you’re reading this and thinking “Who is Tony Abbott?”, count yourself as one of the lucky ones and move on.

Say goodbye, Tony.  There's a good lad.
Say goodbye, Tony. There’s a good lad.
Our former Prime Minister is a fool and Australia is better off without him. He should now be confined to a post-political career of letter writing and ribbon cutting but sadly, it looks as if he’s going to stand for parliament again in 2016. Some say he still has designs on the leadership.

One of the defining characteristics of a cult is the steadfast belief that their way is the only way. Tony Abbott is his own cult. He truly believes that he is the saviour of conservatism, that it doesn’t stand a chance without him. Sadly, there are enough blue-rinsers out there willing to write him emails and egg him on.

Perhaps Australia should be thankful that Abbott had his chance at the top job. It was embarrassing, soul-destroying and the source of multiple double facepalms, but it only lasted a short time and we can, and will, recover. The people got to see what a prejudiced, bigoted, selfish, fear-mongering, privileged, entitled, misogynistic, backwards government looked like without getting too messed up. Now we know. Now we can move on.

This boil needs to be lanced, however, and King Swade is up for the job. Tony Abbott will be sentenced to five years of ironing Anthony Albanese’s shirts in the basement of old parliament house, while listening to the ABC 24/7.

Donald Trump’s Presidential Bid

Do I even need to explain this one? No, I don’t.

Breaking wind....
Breaking wind….
Donald Trump says what he thinks and a lot of people are buying into that. Some are buying into it because they want to give the Republican establishment a bit of a shake. Some are buying into it because they’re genuinely dull xenophobes and habitual cheerleaders.

The problem, of course, is that this is a Presidential bid with real consequences. The winner will be in charge of one of the most important countries in the world, with nuclear codes and stuff. It’s not reality TV. There has to be a point where it turns from entertainment to serious business. A nominee actually has to have well thought-out policies and a strategy for communication that brings out the verbal sledge hammer only when absolutely necessary.

There are 194 countries in the world that are not the United States. If you really want to be seen as a world-leading country, elect a man who is worthy of the title to run the place. Donald Trump is a performer. A clown. A blustering windbag who is preying on fear. What’s worse is that his inflammatory statements steal all the oxygen from people who could actually be responsible and presentable Presidential candidates. The people of the United States need to hear from these candidates.

Sentence: Donald J Trump will do 10 years hard labour giving piggyback rides over the border to Mexican immigrants.

Continued Stupidity in Classic Car Prices

The Porsche 911, just a few years ago, was the car that most keen drivers could aspire to with some realistic hope of actually buying one. Yes, the old ones were about the price of a new family sedan but that was reasonable. It meant that the serious helmsmith had a choice to make and in making that choice, they would forego the sensible nature of the modern sedan. Their reward – a wonderful driving experience to offset the shouty stuff coming from the other side of the bed.

Acceptable collecting
Acceptable collecting

Thanks to a recovering world economy (what GFC?!), there’s a bunch of cashed-up tossers in the classic car market and they’re being egged on by the belief that their cars will continue to rise at 50% a year like 911 prices have for the last two or three years. It has to stop.

Classic cars are for the people have paid their dues, done their time and had these cars in their hearts since they were a little kid. They’re for the people who LOVE TO DRIVE, not for some Johnny-come-lately who scored some stock options or a profit share and is looking to, quite literally, park their money in a good investment.

Anyone buying a classic car without having owned a series of worthy, aspirational sub-classics (including at least one Alfa Romeo) will be made to drive a 1993 Toyota Camry. Forever.

Stu, you get a pass as you’ve already done your penance :-)

Debate over Gun Control

Jim Jeffries can take this issue, in two parts.

Warning – there is a LOT of foul language in these two videos. A lot of good argument, too, and it’s all very, very funny. But again, a LOT of foul language.

Persistent gun control advocates will also be sentenced to a year’s tickling. If you’re a religious fundamentalist who also loves guns and you’re unwilling to tighten up gun control laws, you get double the tickles.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Hawthorn Football Club

Hawthorn has won 12 of their 13 AFL premierships in my lifetime. That’s nearly one every four years, on average.

I’m pleased to have been such a good luck charm for somebody, but……. give it a rest, Hawks. Seriously.

The penalty: every Hawthorn premiership since the 1980’s is erased and links to all Hawthorn highlights online divert to this:

Debate over Climate Change

One of the interesting sideshows during Australia’s recent political history was the fiscal argument about ‘inter-generational theft’. Those on the right were arguing that because those on the left are soooooooo financially irresponsible, the country would be leaving more and more debt that our kids and grandkids would have to pay. That might be a fair call, too, if those on the right hadn’t made the national debt so much worse since taking office, but I digress…..

There was no call from the right for any sort of real, actual solution to this most egregious problem. No-one asked for people to put their hands in their pockets and make a one-off contribution at X-dollars per head in order to save our kids from this burden. Why? Because it’s the accusation that wins votes, not the solution. All people have to do is agree with you and you’re golden.

Discuss, people!  Discus!
Discuss, people! Discus!
Climate change is somewhat different but just as polarising for some. This, despite the evidence being so clear and the scientific community being as close to agreement as it can responsibly be.

And yet you still get people making arguments against taking action. Most of the arguments are economic: We can’t afford to change. It’ll put us at a competitive disadvantage. Blah Blah Blah. We can’t afford to NOT change direction on this and thankfully, it looks like the world is coming together.

Why not look at it as a long-term economic opportunity? That’s exactly what it is, after all. The only difference is that it involves investments that may not see a pay-off in time for you to go to Tahiti any time soon. Clean energy and increased efficiency are keys to the future. It’s just that they’re most likely keys to someone else’s future, not yours.

If we want to talk about inter-generational theft, by the way, climate change is about as bad as it gets. Debts can be repaid in relatively short time if we all put our mind to it. A wrecked environment could take generations to recover, if it ever does. Extinction is permanent.

Climate deniers will spend an hour each day in a small pool with the water just 1mm below their nostrils (with head extended up/back). They then have to hope it doesn’t rain. Rescuers will be on standby and will assist if they deem it to be fiscally responsible to do so.

Peak Porsche?

I read a story on Petrolicious a few weeks ago that piqued my interest. It asked whether we’ve reached ‘Peak Porsche’ yet – a question to which there is no certain answer but one would have to hope that the silliness will end some time soon.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Porsche 911 is a rare and truly worthy recipient of the over-used ‘icon’ label. It has endured. No matter which model you talk about over the car’s 50+ year history, the 911 has always been elegant, reliable and in the top quartile of the performance scale for it’s generation. And that’s probably being a bit harsh.

So was it really under-valued for so long or have things gone a bit nuts over the last 3 years?

I’m really not sure, but here’s some of my personal experience.

Back in 2013 I sold my Alfa Romeo GTV6 and I was looking around for a fun car to replace it. I eventually bought my 968 Clubsport for $30,000 and that amount of money was a stretch for me. I briefly considered buying an air-cooled 911 at the time and believe it or not, I could have got one for that money. It would have most likely been an import, a less desirable 2.7 from the 1970’s or something in need of significant repair (see my vehicle value maxim) but it was possible.

The one that caught my eye the most was a UK-Import known as a Carrera Super Sport. It was for sale for $45,000 here in Australia at the time (2013).

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So that was then. This is now.

The cheapest 911 in Australia right now that isn’t a) a 996, or b) a cabriolet, is a 1978 3.0 911SC going for $59,000 and it’s a UK car rather than Australian delivered. This would have been a $30,000 car back in 2013, without doubt.

The prices rise quickly from there, too.

The 2.7 model that preceded the SC used to sell for even less given that it’s perceived to be a weaker engine. It was the least desirable model back when I was looking around, regularly available in the mid-$20K range. The cheapest one I’ve found on carsales today is selling for $79,990 at a dealership in Victoria.

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Then there’s the 1971 2.2 Targa that was originally Viper Green and LHD and is now Guards Red and RHD. This would have been a $20-25K car back in 2013. Not only is it a targa (go ahead, ask a purist) but RHD conversions were some of the lowest value cars back then. This one’s now offered for sale at $80,000.

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Of course, there are a lot of people speculating on the Porsche they bought 5 years ago. They see the prices going nuts and they want a piece of that action. Prices have been going particularly loco on Porsches up to 1974, which is why this buyer has the temerity to ask a price that would have had people rolling in the aisles just a few short years ago.

If you don’t get it, you’re not the only one. Yes, Porsches were probably under-valued for a few years prior to the recovery from the global financial crisis. You have to bear in mind, however, that there are so many 911’s on the road. These cars were made in big numbers and they’re very reliable, meaning there are still a lot of them around compared to other high-end sports cars.

I can certainly understand them going up in price over the last few years, but I’m not sure I understand them going up by this much.

Is it a Petrolicious effect? Is it a Magnus Walker effect? Is it simply that people are placing a premium on having an air-cooled Porsche experience?

Whatever it is, the 911 is now well and truly out of my price range, which makes me a little bit sad. I’m going to keep myself as debt-free as possible so that I can take advantage the next time that prices bottom out.

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The 968CS I bought?

968’s are currently selling for between $24,000 and $39,500 but none of those are ClubSports and my guess is that none of them are going to sell quickly. That was always an issue with the 968. It’s an incredible car but few people really know about them and fewer still want to spend their hard-earned on one.

I sold mine for the same $30K I’d paid for it and I was happy with that. It might be worth a bit more now, but it hasn’t kept anywhere near pace with the growth in the 911.

I probably should have stretched myself for that Super Sport.

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And for what it’s worth, if I was looking for something right now…..

This BMW M Coupe just sold for US$15,500 at auction on Bring-a-Trailer. You won’t get one for that price in Australia (or Sweden) but it seems like a very good way to spend some fun-car money.

I’ve never been a big BMW fan but I do love me a clown shoe.

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Support Jim’s Cancer Ride – Please

It’s that time of year again, when I invite you to support a Saab friend has he rides his bike to raise money for cancer research.

DSC_0387 (2)Right: Keeping calm and carrying on.

This is Jim’s 5th time riding the Pan-Mass Challenge and that’s significant. Not only is it his second year riding cancer-free, it’s the first time he’ll have more Pan-Mass challenges under his belt than cancer treatments.

Jim’s a four-time cancer survivor, which is why this chance for him to give back is so important. It’s become important to me to support a mate, too. Either Saabs United or Swadeology has raised money four of those five rides. The only one I missed was the one where I didn’t have an active website.

Jim’s participation in this event has been an unqualified success. He’s raised nearly $45,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Center and over the course of the Pan Mass Challenge, the event has raised nearly half a billion-with-a-B dollars.

A cure for cancer is the ultimate goal, but Jim himself is proof positive that even without a cure, effective treatment extends and enriches the lives of thousands of patients and their families. If you’ve ever been touched by cancer in your family, then you know how important this cause is.

Cancer is an equal-opportunity asshole of a disease. It doesn’t discriminate. It can hurt anyone – rich, poor, young or old. But it CAN be fought. And anything that you can do to help will come back to you in one way or another. Believe me.

I’ve just kicked in my contribution for this year and I sincerely hope you do the same.

You can contribute to Jim’s ride by clicking on this link: Support Jim Coggs

Thanks so much.

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Classics By The Track – Suzuka Circuit

Sooooooo……

One of the great parts about my new job is that I get to attend amazing events sometimes. The first job I did with Koenigsegg was actually a few weeks before I formally started working for them. It was mid-May when I hopped on a plane bound for Japan, to attend the Sounds of Engines event at Japan’s most celebrated racetrack – Suzuka Circuit.

There were a lot of cars on the circuit that weekend, typically they were cars that had some sort of connection to the circuit, such as a race win. There were some winning Formula 1 cars present, for example, and others that didn’t win but had been drive at the circuit in anger.

Then there was the display, with some of the most mouth watering sports cars on the planet, both old and new. Japan might have had minimal economic growth over the last few decades, but there’s still enough to go round and they really know how to look after their cars.

Click to enlarge and (hopefully) enjoy.

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Tjena från Vejbystrand

Hi there. Long time, no write.

If you’re reading this, thanks for hanging around.

All is going well in Sweden. Yes, the job is absolutely fantastic. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do for work and it’s slowly expanding into areas I didn’t expect.

I expected to take photos, for example. I didn’t expect to take so many, nor for them to be so useful. This one’s now one of the slider photos on the Koenigsegg homepage.

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There are lots of other unexpected things, too. Content management. Website layout. And plenty more. It all involves a learning curve but not one so steep as to be a problem.

The bigger learning curve has been in navigating the Swedish bureaucracy.

Just getting here legally was a nail-biting experience in itself. As I’m an Australian (read non-Swede or non-European), I had to get a permit to work here, which took a lot longer than anyone thought. I planned my exit from work in Australia back in March. It was supposed to coincide with the Saab Festival, with the belief that I’d be able to start work at Koenigsegg the day after the Saab Festival finished. I was working on the assumption that the work permit would come in plenty of time, which it most certainly did not.

The advice I received from the Swedish Embassy in Canberra was that I shouldn’t enter Sweden while the decision on my work permit was still being made. On the Monday before the Saab Festival, there was still no decision. Impatient as I am, I booked my flight anyway, crossing all my fingers and toes that it would come before I left.

I had to write to the Swedish migration agency and let them know that I would be entering the country in three days time for the Saab Festival. I was advised that my visit would be OK, but if the decision on my work permit still hadn’t arrived by then, I would have to leave Sweden as soon as the Saab Festival was finished. I made arrangements to flee over the border if need be.

My first night’s accommodation at Swania in Trollhattan was booked for Thursday night. The work permit decision arrived Wednesday morning, which is about as close as you can get.

There have been other red-tape nightmares since then. All of them worked out OK, but it’s frustrating having to work through an unknown process at unknown agencies just to be able to do the simplest things.

Getting the card that goes with the work permit.

Clearing my extra suitcase through Swedish customs when it (finally) arrived via Emirates air freight.

(Here’s a tip for any Aussies coming to Sweden and flying economy with Qantas: one suitcase only. Qantas will charge you $80 per kilo for any extra luggage if you simply arrive at the airport and try to check it in. Lucky I checked this first. Even the cheap option set me back $300 but that’s much better than the $1600 Qantas would have slugged me.)

Getting the all-important Swedish personnumber.

Getting the Swedish ID card that should really be automatic when you get the personnumber, but isn’t. It involves an extra fee and a visit to a bigger Skatteverket office.

Getting a Swedish bank account (relies on the personnumber and if your a working foreigner, proof of your employment).

Getting the aforementioned Swedish ID card so that you can access internet banking. Yes, you need one to do the other.

Buying a car.

Yes, I bought a car and yes, it’s a Saab. I bought a 2003 Saab 9-5 SportCombi in Merlot with a black half-leather interior and 5-speed manual shift. It was previously owned by a former tech at ANA and has been well maintained as a result. I gave the boss a lift home last night and even he commented on how smooth and quiet it is.

I’m also living in a ‘Falun Red’ timber cottage with white trim windows. I look like a regular Svensson now :-)

There are actually three little accommodation units in that building. Mine is the middle one. It’s tiny but that’s good for me right now. The last thing I need is to feel compelled to buy furniture and fill a place up with it. This little cottage in Vjebystrand Vejbystrand has most of the things I need – it’s cheap, it’s 5 minutes drive from work and about two minutes from this beach :-)

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The 9-5 is actually intended to be my sensible winter car. I’m looking for affordable vehicle storage nearby and hope to store the 9-5, then pick up something less sensible to drive for the remainder of the summer.

The work?

It’s been a very interesting experience so far. It’s a bit like bringing up a kid in that there’s no instruction book. You think of things, you float ideas and you run with what seems best. There should be more strategy to this but I’m working on that. I think it’ll be my job to write that instruction book and I’m going to seek some expert help from friends along the way.

There have certainly been some exciting experiences so far.

I did my first trip for Koenigsegg before I’d even left my old job in Tasmania. I flew to Japan for an event at Suzuka Circuit, which was a jaw-dropping debut. I put a gallery of images in a previous post but here it is again:

Since then, we’ve done an unofficial record 0-300-0km/h run in the Koenigsegg One:1……

….. and I made it to England to cover Koenigsegg’s presence at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Goodwood was astounding in its size and the access to mouthwatering vehicles that is given to spectators. It’s effectively replaced whatever old-style motor shows there were/are in the UK, too. It is massive.

We have more events and campaigns coming up, too. I’ll be abroad again in a few weeks and several times in the months to come after that, too. And there’s plenty to do when I’m here, not the least of which involves making some new friends, learning a new language and culture.

It’s all going OK so far. There are quiet times, which can get a bit lonely, but they’re more than offset by the work and the amazing things I’m seeing and learning.

I do hope to write here a bit more often now that things are getting settled. Being away from regular Australian news bulletins has given me a new perspective on what’s going on in my homeland and it’s distressing to say the least. But it won’t be all about that.

Thanks for reading. It’s been good to write something familiar again.

Have a great week.

Saab Festival: Kinnekulle

I have one more event from the Saab Festival left to cover – the track day at Kinnekulle.

Kinnekulle was the primary event on the Saturday, the second day of the Saab Festival. Kinnekulle is about 80km away from Trollhattan. It’s a nice easy drive, but one that you want to be committed to if the weather’s looking dubious.

And dubious it was.

So dubious, in fact, that I chose to stay in Trollhattan. The forecast called for a reasonable amount of rain in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. I was jetlagged and doubly tired due to a late nights on Thursday and Friday. Given that I was driving a borrowed car that wasn’t suited to the track, the weather was enough to put me off making the trip.

Others did go, however. One of them was a friend named Thilo Bubek and those who know Thilo, know that he’s almost always got a camera stuck to his face.

Here’s a small sample of Thilo’s work from Kinnekulle. You can view more of Thilo’s work on his website – Bubek Fotodesign. His 2015 Saab Festival photos aren’t up yet, but his Northern Lights photos from Tromso, in Norway, are mind-boggling. He’s also on Facebook.

As you can see, it was pretty moist at Kinnekulle. When I was there in 2007 it was stinking hot and watching the Saab 2-trokes being flung around the corners at high speed in the dry was almost the highlight of the whole festival.

I wonder how they went this time? :-)

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My New Job

I’ve mentioned the fact the I’ve got a new job a few times on this site. Well, it’s time to spill the beans……

When I was a kid, around 10 years old, I sat an entrance exam for a fancy private school. Well, I say ‘fancy’, it was fancy for a family of our humble means but it was really just a mid-tier private school.

Anyway, I went along to this entrance exam and as adults are prone to doing with young children, they asked me what I want to be when I grow up. As children are prone to do in such situations, I gave an unexpected honest answer – I wanted to be a truck driver!!

Mum came to pick me up after the exam and I told her what had happened. She responded…..

I’M NOT PAYING ALL THAT MONEY TO SEND YOU TO THAT SCHOOL SO YOU CAN BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER!!!

That went well.

So, I did the ‘right’ thing. The expected thing. Eventually. And after a remarkably dull accounting/auditing career I ached for a job that I actually cared about. A job that I could get excited about.

There are two possible jobs that come to mind:

a) Become a puppy – puppies get to eat, sleep and play all day. Everyone loves a puppy. Who wouldn’t want to be a puppy?

b) Write about cars.

Given that science hasn’t advanced to the point where I can become a puppy, I have to go for option b.

I’ve always loved writing and cars are probably the only thing that I can write about with anything resembling an educated manner. I did it as a hobby and that went well enough for me to get a job at Saab, even if that particular opportunity didn’t go well enough to last.

Thankfully, however, I’ve received a second chance. And it’s a very exciting chance, too.

Last weekend I enjoyed the 2015 Saab Festival in Trollhattan. As you read this, I’m now a few hours south of Trollhattan, sitting in an office in Angelholm. Here’s the view outside my window:

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If you know your automotive geography, then you know that Angelholm is the home of Koenigsegg, which is where I’m working from this week forward.

I have to say, working for Saab was pretty much my dream job. Working for Christian von Koenigsegg and his company goes way past dreams. We’re now in the realm of fantasy jobs and I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity.

What will I be doing?

I’ll be the native English speaker in the crew and I’ll work alongside the people in marketing, PR and social media. We’ll be doing all sorts of projects, events, press/sales materials, website copy and more, including some ‘Inside’ stories to share a little more about the processes and the people that make up this amazing company.

I’ve already been to Japan to cover an event the company did at Suzuka Circuit and in a few weeks, I’ll be off to cover other events in far-flung parts of Europe and beyond!

It’s a super-exciting opportunity and I feel like the most fortunate car guy on the planet right now.

Come and check things out at Koenigsegg.com and on the Koenigsegg Facebook page.

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Finally, to answer a few questions that I know you’re already thinking of…. :-)

1) No, I don’t get a company car.

2) Yes, if you’re visiting the area, there’s a chance I can get you a peek inside. Maybe. But check first.

3) No, I can’t get you a ride in one.

4) Yes, the new lenses came in handy. Click to enlarge.

Saab Festival – Sunday Display

Today was the last day of the Saab Festival, which saw the big car display in the car park surrounding the Saab Car Museum. I don’t know how many cars were in attendance but I can tell you it was a LOT.

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There was a special tribute to mark the recent passing of Erik Carlsson and that’s as good a place as any to start. A stage was set up near the entrance to the museum and the museum director, Peter Backstrom, conducted a number of interviews with Erik’s friends and co-conspirators.

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Erik loved his food and the photo of Peter Backstrom on the stage, above, was taken from behind the sausage stand set up by Orio. Free hot dogs were given out to the crowd (and they were good – why do you think I was standing in the Orio area taking photos? :-) )

Erik lived a long life and he lived it well. A minute’s silence is nice, but it wasn’t really Erik’s kind of thing. Instead, some two-stroke owners got their cars together and put on a two or three minute tva-takt tribute of their own. Here’s a sample….

To the display, then…..

Unicorn Saabs

This looks like a regular old line of NG Saab 9-5s, doesn’t it?

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It’s not a regular line of 9-5’s at all, though.

A small number of Saab 9-5 SportCombis were sold by the administrators when Saab went bankrupt. These cars were considered to be un-registerable but a tenacious bunch of owners tiptoed through the red tape and actually managed to get their cars road legal. That there were 7 of them attending this year’s Festival is a tribute to their dedication.

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A couple of Saab 9-4x’s were spotted in the crowd, too. Here’s one of them…..

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And parked behind the 9-4x was one of the most unloved ‘Saabs’ of all time – normally prone to rust but this one was in outstanding condition. It’s a Saab-Lancia 600.

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Saab 9-3

I should apologise to Saab 9-3 owners this year, because I didn’t really take much time looking over your cars at all. 9-5 owners, too.

A Viggen always catches my eye, though, and this three-door in Lighting Blue was just perfect…..

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This convertible in Monte Carlo Yellow looked the business, too…..

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The Turbo-X’s were out in force. It almost looked like a Star Wars convention :-)

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Classic Saab 900

It’s getting harder and harder to find a classic Saab 900 in good condition – even in Sweden. And when you look at the magnificent 900s present here at the Saab Festival, you know why. Nobody in their right mind would ever want to sell one, would they?

Click to enlarge.

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Saab 96

The Saab 96s were the stars of today’s display for me. I’ve developed a big soft spot for the old V4s and the two-strokes sounded glorious all day. What really got me, though, is just the sheer base-level character of the car, which lends itself to all sorts of custom presentations.

It’s probably be the rally heritage that makes this OK on the 96. More than OK, actually. It’s perfect.

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Saab 99

The 9-3 Viggen and the Saab 99 Turbo remain as my two favourite Saabs of all time. There were plenty of nice 99s in attendance this year, including some excellent turbos.

This Cardinal Red turbo was said to be in 100% original condition. It was incredibly clean and so popular that it was hard to get a clear photo of, as you can see.

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Some more 99s…..

My first turbocharged Saab was a 99 Turbo 3-door in Marble White. This 99 Turbo 2-door in Marble White was for sale and it’s mighty, mighty tempting…..

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Bo’s Stig Blomqvist replica 99 Turbo looked superb.

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Sonetts

All three generations of Saab Sonett were on display today….

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Saab 9000

The Saab 9000 was this year’s feature car for the Festival and there were plenty of excellent examples on display.

Saab designer Bjorn Envall once referred to the Saab 9000 as the most complete Saab in his eyes. I’ve had three of them in my driveway and it’s hard to disagree. The 9000 is exceptional value if you can find a good one. It’s a car that looks incredibly smart, is supremely comfortable, practical and quick.

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NG Saab 9-5

There might have been comparatively few of them sold, but the NG Saab 9-5 was prominent all weekend at the Saab Festival. This little gallery doesn’t do them justice.

This first car had a pearl white finish – a wrap, I think – that looked absolutely superb.

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Note the little front spoiler on this one. A nice touch…..

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I saw a write-up on this ‘Saab 9-5x’ a few months ago. It was nice to see it in person.

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The Oddities And Others

It wouldn’t surprise me if this Saab 99 turned out to be the most photographed car of the day. It’s hard to miss. Earlier in the Festival, it was seen towing a trailer with another (pristine) Saab 99 loaded on the back.

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A rolling nightclub? I call it FrankenSaab :-)

I’m not quite sure what was going on with this Saab 99. The 16V engine was pushed waaaay back.

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I thought this Saab 9-3 might have been wrapped, too, but on closer inspection it looked like actual paint.

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This Saab 9-5 looked pretty special. I had to look twice to figure out what was going on and finally got an explanation from a friend of the owner. It’s had some extensive re-working to make it a 9-5 widebody. The level of finish was outstanding. A look inside the back door shows you just how wide the arches have been flared.

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Saab 95 wagon in motion….

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Saab 92 with patina….

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Saab 92 and 93s….

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And I couldn’t resist a shot of this early Saab 96 in MCY….

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And there are my picks from the Sunday display at the Saab Festival. 100-odd photos means that probably missed about 600 or so cars. Apologies to those owners but there’s only so much time to write things up.

Thanks to the organisers and participants for what was yet another memorable Saab Festival in 2015.

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Saab Festival – NEVS Tour: Technical Development

NEVS opened (some of) their doors on day 1 of the Saab Festival with a great tour of the Technical Development building on offer. It was a short tour. It only covered about 2% of the facility but it was a GOOD tour and a wonderful gesture by NEVS to get the fans involved with the company.

NEVS did not allow photos during the tour and I can understand why. You don’t want 50 people in a tour group with all of them snapping pictures at will. It’s not a look that your clients will appreciate and contrary to popular belief, NEVS have been doing a lot of development/engineering work for other car companies over the last year or so, even during the bankruptcy.

If there were no photos, however, there wouldn’t be a story. And this tour was enjoyed so much by people who participated that it was a story worth the telling. So I had a chat with some NEVS people and they agreed that photos wouldn’t be such a bad thing :-)

As mentioned, the tour was short. It was intended to give people a small insight into the detailed work that goes into designing and building a car.

The first stop was at one of the electrical workshops. The test bench we saw is known as an A-frame and it basically lays out all the electrical components of the car on a horseshoe shaped bench. The operator can test any electrical functions on the car.

I wrote about this at length on Inside Saab back in 2011. Check it out here.

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This frame holds all the electrical components that go into the car. Want to try something new, or modify something? You rig it up on the frame and see how it works.

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A lot of the tour took in the various acoustics labs on site.

These are mostly comprised of ‘dead rooms’ that absorb all ambient noise so that the instruments can isolate and measure any noise coming from the vehicle.

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The images below show an interesting process. The body-in-white you can see here is actually acting like the membrane from a loudspeaker. It’s sitting on some air cushions to isolate it from the floor and it’s connected to an ‘exciter’ from underneath. Basically, the whole car vibrates like a speaker membrane, though the vibrations are not visible like they might be on a speaker.

They were playing a song called Rise Of The Phoenix :-)

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Cars are subject to constant vibration when you drive. This is a way of simulating that and seeing how the body-in-white copes with such vibrations. Body-in-white is a term for the basic body structure before you start attaching things to it. It’s important to get that basic structure sorted before you start building cars so this test will be done while the vehicle’s in development.

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Here you can see a microphone attached to a rotor arm in a hard-surfaced room. What you can’t see are the reflective panels hanging at various angles from the roof. Those panels make sure that noise is distributed evenly around the room and the rotor arm lets the microphone swing around so that it can measure the sound distribution.

On the back wall, you can see a red panel with a hole in it, which opens up to another ‘dead room’ behind.

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That red panel is used to mount various components of a car (e.g. doors, dash panels, etc) so that noise can be made in the ‘loud room’ and measured in the ‘dead room’. This tests how much sound leaks from those components. The red panel can hold certain items, or can be removed completely. Engineers find a solution for mounting the component that’s being tested at the time.

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This guy gets used for measuring sound sometimes…..

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This is another dead room, although it’s one with a full dyno in the floor. They can run a car in here at up to 200km/h for testing. The box at the front of the car provides cooling and hoses trail out from the exhaust for extraction.

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You saw the micro-vibration testing on the body-in-white, above. But what about testing the whole vehicle’s tolerance for rough roads?

This machine performs some gruelling tests over prolonged periods to simulate some pretty rough living on the part of the car.

The car being tested will stay on this machine for 8 days straight, 24 hours a day. It’ll then be taken to the test track and driven to listen for rattles and squeaks, etc. Then the process is repeated for a second time. Then, for a third time!! After the third cycle, the car is completely dismantled to see how individual parts have fared throughout the process.

The sound of rushing air that you can hear?

They have to pump air over some of the suspension components, particularly the shock absorbers, to keep them cool.

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We saw various robots that are set up to test components, like cupholders…..

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Door windows……

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Electric seats…… the robotic arm is moving the seat switches mounted on a table and the seats on the floor move accordingly

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And door opening/closing

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This is one of the early generation battery packs that NEVS were testing. It’s not going to be used in their electric vehicle as it’s too big and too heavy.

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Saab installed this brake dyno a few years ago and it’s one of only a few of its type in Europe.

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That’s just a quick look at the tour, which was itself just a quick look at a small part of the testing and development that gets done inside a car company. Most cars companies have this stuff spread out over very large areas, even spread around different cities or countries. Saab was always unique in that everything needed to develop a vehicle was on site at the same facility.

NEVS ought to be congratulated for allowing such access to Saab Festival visitors and personally speaking, I want to thank them for allowing me back inside with my camera so that I could share the experience with you.

The stuff that we saw was quite old – the bulk of testing for the 9-3 Sportcombi would have been done well over 10 years ago – but that’s NEVS protecting the interests of customers they’re performing engineering services for right now. Smart move.

Thanks again, NEVS, for the insight.

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Saab Festival – Day 1 Dispatch

At any other time, this would be an extraordinary photo. This weekend, it’s just another day in Sweden :-)

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Congratulations to the graduates, too. Every time I’m here I seem to wake up to this Swedish tradition – students on trucks making lots and lots of noise now that their basic schooling is over. Time for the real world, kids.

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It’s Saab Festival time once again. The sun is shining (mostly), the people are smiling and a convoy of two-strokes screaming down the street is no longer unusual.

As usual, there are all manner of Saabs here. As I sit here in the foyer of the Scandic Swania (without a camera!) I’ve seen a NG Saab 9-5 Combi and that most disregarded unicorn of all cars to ever wear a Saab badge – a Saab-Lancia 600!! That’s the Saab Festival for ya.

The feature events for yesterday were the open day at NEVS, the parts sale and various events at the Saab Museum. The open day at NEVS was the real feature and I’ll do a separate article about the tour at Technical Development later, but first…..

The visit to NEVS

It was a bittersweet experience going back to the Saab factory. Sweet because it really is the heart of the company. Bitter because…. well….. you know.

But I have to say I was heartened by the visit with NEVS yesterday. I missed the speech by Matthias Bergman about the future of the company, but I’m not overly fussed by that. From what I heard, it was a presentation that nearly anyone even remotely familiar with the situation could have written. i.e. it didn’t really give away much and I got basically the same information chatting with a few people in private.

The news is that we can all expect a significant press conference this coming week. Probably Wednesday. The word is that new partners/investors are on board and progress will continue.

The news behind the news is more interesting (to me).

I met at least one key recruit who has only recently come back after leaving Trollhattan at the end of 2011. This is a recruiting coup straight from the top drawer, a man in the prime of his career who could pretty much work anywhere he wants.

You can have all the PR-vetted speeches you like, but the fact that this gentleman has bought what NEVS is selling tells me they’ve got something real to sell.

The other news from the day, not completely new but nice to have confirmed, is that NEVS is shifting its focus back to electric propulsion and range-extended hybrids; away from internal combustion cars. Now, I’m an internal combustion guy so this leaves me with mixed feelings, but it’s somewhat of a relief that they’re re-focusing on their original plan after the spanner thrown in the works by their recalcitrant Chinese investor.

What I took away from yesterday: I feel quite confident that NEVS will come out their recent troubles and build cars. Whether they build cars that either you or I find interesting is another question. But they’re going to build something. They may or may not be able to call it a Saab but cars will roll out of Trollhattan (and China) in the future and if they stay here, that’s a good thing for the city.

NEVS allowed people to tour some of the technical development area at Stallbacka. I’ve got exclusive photos and video from the tour, which I’ll share shortly.

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The Parts Sale

The parts sale kicked off in earnest at 9am yesterday. It was smaller than last time, which was smaller than the time before. I guess that’s the nature of selling parts of finite supply. It’s always good, though.

This year the punters had the added fun of being able to strip a number of wrecks mounted out in the yard. That looked like fun. They even had a few old V4’s out there.

Click any of the photos to enlarge….

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Rony Lutz

Saab’s wonderful in-house artist, Rony Lutz, has an exhibition at a gallery near the Saab Museum. Rony made a presentation about his work at 2pm yesterday but I can’t tell you much about it. I was there, but it was all in Swedish :-)

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In The Car Park

The two biggest attractions at any Saab Festival are the cars and the people. Accordingly, I spend much of my time chatting with friends that I almost only see at events like this, and with my camera out in the car park.

The cars here are always amazing. It’s a rich collection spanning all of Saab’s near-70 years.

Click to enlarge and enjoy.