Car Club Life

Given the recent run of car clubs being listed on the blogroll, I thought it might be relevant to re-post this article. Many visitors to this site may not have been visiting back in December 2005 when this was first written. There’s a few out-of date statements in there as time has moved on, but the essence of the article is still quite valid – if you’re not in a Saab car club, it’s a worthwhile venture to either join one or form one if there’s no club already in your area.

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I first joined the Victorian Saab Car Club back around 1999 or 2000.  At the time I had a 1972 model Saab 99E (automatic).  I didn’t know any other Saab enthusiasts here in Tasmania and there was no car club here that I knew of, so I joined the Victorian club, which had a few hundred members at the time.  Through the car club I learned that there were a few other Tasmanian members.  Three of them in fact.  I didn’t do much about it as my ex-wife wrote off the 99E shortly thereafter.

Through various means (phone calls and one high speed pursuit through the city) the Tasmanian members of the club managed to track each other down and we organised our first get together, a short drive to the historic Richmond township just outside Hobart.  There were four Tasmanian members of the car club, though only three of us got together that day.

The picture to the right was taken at that first meeting.  That’s Don’s white 99t, my grey 900t and Jim’s 95 wagon, which was a real treat to see for the first time. 

We chatted for quite a while and parted with the reassurance that we would catch up again soon. 

The Victorian Saab Car Club merged with other clubs around Australia and with the backing of Saab Australia it became the Saab Car Club of Australia.  Shortly thereafter I placed an ad in the motoring section of the local newspaper.  Don, Jim and I planned a drive north to the township of Ross, and advertisied for any Saab enthusiasts to come join us for the first formal meet for the Tasmanian Chapter of the Saab Car Club of Australia. 

We received a bunch of responses and more than doubled the known interest in Saabs, literally overnight.  At this meeting we not only enjoyed a beautiful drive and a great lunch, we had our first AGM and put in place our inaugural office bearers for the chapter.

As you can see in the picture at left, we attracted a diverse group of cars right from that first meeting.

That was a little over three years ago now and through the support of our local dealership (every new car sold get’s a club magazine and a membership form!) and the enthusiasm of local members the Tasmanian chapter of the club has gone from strength to strength, mirroring the growth in the Australian club as a whole.  I’ve had the chance to meet some great people and share some great drives, not only with Tasmanian members but with members from other Australian states too.

There’s several things that are great about car club life.

First, there’s the diversity.  If you’re a Saab enthusiast then chances are you’re only going to be owning one, or maybe a few Saabs at any given time (usually – we do have some members with up to 5 cars).  The great thing about being a member of a car club is that you get to experience all the other models that you would otherwise only see in pictures.

We’re rather lucky here in Tassie.  We’re about as far away from Sweden as you can get (Robin Capper – you may argue about this if you like), yet we’ve got the following cars within the ownership of club members here:

Saab 99: steel bumper, Turbo, EMS

Saab 96: V4 and a 2-stroke

Saab 95 a V4 and one of only two 95’s believed to be in Australia

Saab 900: turbo, i, Aero, Convertible

Saab 9000: CS, Aero, Carlsson, Airflow

Saab 9-3: Sport Sedan, Aero, Convertible, Viggen

Saab 9-5: SE, SportWagon, Aero

That’s not a bad collection for a little place like Tassie.  And there’s no way I could get access to get a ride in some of these cars other than being a member of the Saab Car Club of Australia.

Another great thing about being a member of the car club is the experiences.  If you’re enthusiastic about your car to the point of joining a car club, then it’s quite likely that you love to drive.  We’ve had some great trips for car club events, seen some great places and enjoyed some fantastic company over the last few years.

Another benefit is the expertise you’re exposed to.  We have a few members that have done some incredible things with their vehicles, including Drew’s old 900 Aero, which he completely rebuilt from a wreck several years ago (at right).  We also have a great relationship with our local dealer, Tony at Motors Saab, and have had several technical nights there over the years, led by The Saabologist, Matt.  We also have a retired Saab workshop owner amongst our ranks.  Other states within Australia also have regular technical nights with the involvement of their local dealerships and other Saab workshops, such as Swedish Prestige or Wantirna Automotive in Melbourne.

On a national level, we have what I reckon must be the best laid out car club magazine in the world. One of our Victorian members, Steve Bunton has been volunteering his time for the last few years to collate, design and prepare SaabMissions, which comes out 3 times a year. 

Folks, it’s hard to access such enthusiasm, expertise and variety without getting together with other like minded enthusiasts.  My time with the Saab Car Club of Australia has been one that’s focused and increased my enthusiasm for Saabs and driving, it’s increased my knowledge about the company and the cars, and it’s helped me to meet some people that have now been good friends over a long period of time.

I can’t speak highly enough about the experience and if you’ve got a Saab Car Club nearby to where you live, I’d highly recommend that you get involved.  I’ve got some links to various car clubs around the world on my sidebar to the right.  If you haven’t already got a Saab Car Club nearby, it’s as easy as a classified ad in the car section of your weekend newspaper.  Get some people together, establish a relationship with your local dealership and you’re away!

If your Saab Car Club isn’t on the link group on the right sidebar, then shoot me off an email and I’ll be only too happy to add it to the list.  My email is swade99(at)dodo.com.au

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3 Comments

  1. Swade, when i bought the 9-5 wagon earlier this year, the wife and i got to go to a driver training day at Eastern Creek here in Sydney where most of the other participants were Saab club members. Through talking to them and being given a complimentary magazine it sounded like a great idea and i joined when the new financial year came around. I made it to my first meet just last month with 4 or 5 others driving down the coast to Nowra and back in a loop and the day was huge fun with some (very) spirited driving amongst the quiet roads of the Southern Highlands. Great people, great cars and a great day. I’d recommend it too to anyone to join up with their nearest branch. One Saab driving along looks great regardless of model and age, half a dozen different models and vintages look superb.

  2. Up to 5 Saabs sounds perfectly normal to me, and I’ll bet there are many members of clubs worldwide with more that that! My first club outing was a track training day at Baskerville (a tassie racetrack). The legacy for me is a 9000 Carlsson with a sick clutch but it was well worth it. I suppose I could have taken it easy!

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