Reflections on Sydney

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I’m back in Hobart now, and after going flat out on video clips and catching up with various Saab people in Sydney I slept flat out for about 11 hours last night. As I normally sleep about 6 hours a night, it was unusual to say the least.

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I’ve got to say “Hats off” to Saab Australia for putting together what I think is one of the more aesthetically pleasing stands at the motor show. There’s a lot of stands there that were just one primary color (quite often that one color being red) and a bunch of cars. Saab’s stand had a hell of a lot of texture to it, with a honeycombed wallpaper on the walls featuring various bits of Saab imagery.

There were also feature pieces of Swedish glassware on display. The cars were all black except for the Aero-X and the girls were tastefully outfitted, unlike some of the others which were good for a laugh but must have been a bit embarassed by some of the things their employers asked them to wear (and do – there was a topless chick at the Peugeot unveiling).

I know I’m biased, but it really was a pleasing aspect of the show to see that Saab Australia were representing the brand so well. Congratulations to everyone that was involved.

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The Aero-X itself made a huge impression. As I mentioned in the Motor Show video, the unveiling of the Hummer at the Holden stand was met with a stone wall of silence from the entire media throng at the show, which was considerable in size. Saab were the second manufacturer on the program, so it was straight after the Hummer – and there was a reasonable amount of applause.

Considering that the media at these events cover cars for a living and there’s little that’s new to them by the time the cars get to Australia, this was a good thing. Even the Lexus guy had to ask for a round of applause after their theatrics were over and done.

After the unveiling there was a lot of interest in the car through most of the morning. I had scenarios in my mind of the roof failing to open, though this particular vulnerability is now covered with the car being plugged in rather than relying on batteries.

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The media in Australia can still be a bit unfair when it comes to our favorite Swede.

The Sydney Morning Herald had a feature on the Motor Show in Friday’s edition. It had a full page pic of the Aero-X’s turbine wheels on the front cover – but the Saab badge had been photoshopped out and made silver.

I’d be interested to know if Saab Oz contacted them to vent some fury.

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In speaking with Dirk, the engineer who travels with the car to various shows (what a tough job!), he thinks very highly of the car. He’s not a Saab employee, so to speak. He’s a GM Europe employee and the Aero-X is the seventh concept car he’s worked on. He mentioned to me that many concepts are built to look OK but in terms of build quality they’re actually quite bad. The Aero-X, in his estimation, is the best of the cars he’s worked on in terms of being a well built concept.

I can vouch for the way it’s put together myself too. With the roof lowered, the only sounds Richard and I could hear inside he car were our own voices. Go check out the video again and see what I mean. That canopy is well fitted and well sealed – a credit to the guys that worked on it.

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About the video – I realise it’s pretty small here on the site and even on Google Video it’s not the best way to view it. Therefore I will be producing another video and making it available on DVD. It’ll be quite similar to the one I put on site here, with a few bits edited out and a few other bits added.

The cost will be quite minimal, just a few dollars per unit plus the actual cost of postage to wherever you are. For those of you interested in the Aero-X it really is good to see it on a proper screen, where you can appreciate the level of detail a little more.

I’ll also add on a photo-montage of the excellent shots Richard took at the show, one example of which is at the top of this post. Here’s another:

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Whilst I was up in Sydney I also had the chance to drive a new 9-5 Aero thanks to Brendan B, the chairman of the Saab Car Club of Australia and Saab City.

It was a Nocturne Blue model, which actually looks alright with the Dame Edna treatment. It’s as fast as a bullet and still pretty smooth, but the shortcomings are there and were given their greatest evidence on the signage painted on the windscreen – a price reduction from $92,000 down to $77,000. Whilst you could argue that this was a demonstrator model – we were allowed to drive it, after all – it only had about 105 kms on the clock.

I think delears all over the world are praying for a new 9-5 sooner rather than later and I think Saab heads in all countries are silently praying for the same thing, though they could never tell you that in public.

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As was mentioned in another video clip here at Trollhattan Saab, the 9-3 SportCombi range here in Australia will be complimented with a Vector model being included in the lineup. This is possibly the best real news to come out of the motor show and it’ll be released to the mainstream press next week, after all the rest of the motor show buzz has died down.

You can view the Vector now on the Saab Australia website, but the following enlargeable images should give you a quick run down.

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My final engagement in Sydney was a chance to catch up with some local members of the Saab Car Club of Australia, some of whom are regulars here at TS.

Simon A has an absolutely mint condition Saab 99 Turbo, which I was fortunate enough to get a ride in from his place to the restaurant. I really was a sight to behold and went every bit as good as it looks. Simon’s family have been long-term Saab owners with 22 Saabs over the years, including six in the driveway right now.

Paul H has had his car pictured on this site several times, a 9-5 Linear wagon. Paul’s one of those rare breed of customers that actually purchased a 9-5, brand new as a private buyer. Saab would do well to have a chat with him and discover his reasons for choosing the Saab (which he shopped against a BMW 5 series and various others) as well as listening to his service experiences since purchasing. I think I could almost start a whole new blog on the ideal service experience (and whether or not Saab owners regularly see it).

Andrew D also has a long family history with Saabs and next time I’m up in Sydney I’d love to be able to make time to see it as it includes a very rare Super Swede – a limited edition 9000 that I can’t find any info on just at the moment. I have read about it before though as there was one for sale here in Australia in the last 12 months. Think Carlsson trim on the outside but with some real extra beef under the bonnet.

Brendan B, the chairman of the NSW branch of the car club, was generous enough to drive me around on Friday for the run in the 9-5 Aero and then hang around while I immersed myself in video editing. I though we were going to be running around in his black 99T, however this developed some last minute mechanical hiccups. Instead, I got to ride shotgun in his very impressive 1974 99 EMS, which looked particularly good in the Saab City showroom. Photos yet to come.

Richo was there too. He has a Viggen – a blue 3-door similar to mine but with some suspension tweaks and an air filter that audibly sucks. His car is actually the October SOTW calendar car.

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I have to finish by thanking Richo for all his help during this trip.

He shot some incredible photos, which I’ll be processing and putting up here soon. He sourced the hi-def DV camera and shot a lot of the video, too. And finally, he opened up his office and the Mac resources therein, which I spent about 15+ hours using to view and edit video over the last couple of days.

It’s fair to say that his generosity has been major factor in me being able to get any of the interesting motor show content up on site in the last few days. Richo, thanks for the use of your equipment (I bet I’m not the first to have uttered that particular phrase) as well as the hospitality, the rides around Sydney and most importantly, the laughs.

It was an absolute pleasure.

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7 Comments

  1. Yeah congrats on the coverage to both Richo and Swady, top notch, pure tounge in cheek, was the silence from the hummer launch really that bad?

    Eggs, mate, what is you dont like about those wheels, i am dying to know!!

    al

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