Goodbye Trollhattan and Thankyou

Whilst I look forward to returning home, it’s with some sadness that I’ll say goodbye to Trollhattan tomorrow morning. I’ve seen this place in even-warmer-than-perfect summer weather and it’s a beautiful little city that’s full of stories, many of them to do with Saab, of course.

As a Saab enthusiast, this trip has been the highlight of my automotive life. How often do you ever pull up next to a Sonett II in a parking garage? How often would you turn around and see Erik Carlsson crossing the street? It’s the many small unexpected pleasures like this that has made this trip to Trollhattan such a joy.

There’s a lot of feeling for Saab in this city, and there’s a lot of the city in the cars as well. Having come here and experienced the place in person, I feel even more moved toward preserving and promoting the core values of the Saab ethos and culture.

The next Saab Festival is in 2009. I probably won’t be here for that (Canada’s next) but plan on coming again in 2011. Can I suggest, however, that as many of you who can get here in 2009 start making plans to do so. If you love the Saab brand then this trip will slowly and gently show you why.

—–

At risk of sounding like an Academy Awards nitwit, I do have a lot of people to thank for making my experience here such a memorable one. This trip has been a huge experience from many standpoints and I feel compelled to express some appreciation publicly for those who have made the last week or so such a pleasure.

I’m bound to leave someone out, but please don’t take offence if I do:

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Always first – my long suffering blog-widow of a wife, PJ, for supporting this trip. I’ll spare you all the mushy stuff.

The Scandic Swania Hotel, where all the staff are incredibly helpful, the internet connection is fast and reliable, the breakfasts are hot and plentiful and the drinks cooler is always full. A highly recommended place to stay.

My fellow Aussie travellers (Brendan, Dan, Steve, Geoff and Diana) for…….for……..being Aussies and proud ambassadors for the Saab brand.

My international mates – Mats, Tim, Johanna, Rikard, Robin, Phil and Joseph for a great week and in particular, for the willing hospitality shown by the Swedes amongst them.

To absolutely everyone at the festival who stopped to say G’day and made me feel very, very welcome. Especially the other bloggers and electronic Saab enthusiasts that made the trip: Etienne from Belgium, John from Elkparts and Ryan from SaabHistory.

To the Saab people I met – Jan-Ake Jonsson, Kjell ac Bergstrom, Stig Nodin, Peter Backstrom, Bjorn Berglof (and several others who’s name either conveniently or otherwise escapes me – you know who you are and why you’re nameless here) – for being so responsive, welcoming and appreciative of the enthusiast community. Also, to all the people in the Media area who I met on the first day and have been instrumental in helping to make this event in general and my attendance here in particular go smoothly.

To all the former Saab people I met – Gunnar Larsson, Gunnar Palm, Erik Carlsson and especially Bjorn Envall – once again for your warmth, interest and enthusiasm.

Bo Lindman from Swede Team Motor, who’s a brilliant guy to talk to and did the best presentation of the whole Festival in my opinion. Good luck this season.

Jenny Johansson, who turned an average story into one that got me into more than a few conversations with people I may not have met otherwise.

Par Brandt, for all the help, hospitality and friendship.

To Berth for the historical education – a brief start to a story that I hope will be told about the beginnings of Saab.

To Mamma Mia for great pasta and the pizza shop out past ANA for great pizza.

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Second-last but not least, I’d like to express my unqualified appreciation, gratitude and every other appropriate word that says “thanks” to Christer Nilsson from Saab Sweden. Your generosity with both your time and resources helped to make this the trip of an automotive lifetime. Every bit of coverage I have already posted, and the volumes still to come have been enhanced by the assistance you’ve brought to this trip.

You are a credit to the company.

—–

And finally: to all the people who have kept me up late at night – the Saab enthusiasts that frequent this site from all around the world.

Your constant encouragement and assistance, your enthusiasm and love for the Saab brand and your willingness to contribute to the ongoing enthusiast conversation is priceless.

Many of you contributed to this trip financially and all of you contribute everyday to the energy that this site brings to the enthusiast community. I literally couldn’t have done this without your help.

So thank you all very much. There’s plenty more to come, including film and bunch of stories and inside snippets – the value will continue to come through long after I get home.

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27 Comments

  1. Please tell me before you leave Sweden that you got Mr. SAAB’s autograph on that special item you had planned! Have a safe trip home, Swade. Try to sleep as best you can. You deserve the rest. Thanks for all the great coverage. It was more than we could have asked for.

  2. Thank you Steven for your wonderful reporting from the Trollhattan Saab festival 2007. I am a Norwegian living in Tokyo Japan (for the past 27 years), and I have been driving Saab 9000 since 1992 (currently a full Abbott Racing tuned 9000 Aero).

    I think all genuine “Saab lovers” are pretty worried about Saab under GM, and more than once I have looked at “the enemy” (Volvo ;-)) for my NEXT car purchase.

    However, the new 9-3 especially in “Black Turbo” disguise with Haldex XWD and 300 ponies on tap (as you have kindly reported) makes me “come back home”. I believe there are good people at Saab in Trollhattan that are fiercly resisting GM orders, and they try the “good way” by creating excellent Saab products that also will bring money into “the corporate coffer”.

    Please contintinue the good work, Steven. I will be watching your site (as I have) on a regular basis.

    Stig in Tokyo

  3. Stig,

    We not only looked at the enemy, we in fact bought an S60 R. It’s cool to have an Aero and and S60 R in the garage. I half expect to come down one morning and see only shrapnel left as if they have dueled to the death.

    Seriously though, the SAAB is just much prettier. And unlike Volvo, SAAB is not mainstream.

    Still, that interior introduced in -07 isn’t a winner. I liked the Information Display! Damn the beancounters for forcing it out of the car.

    Oh and Mr. Swade. Well done.

  4. Your posts have been excellent and i look forward to all you have to post when you get back. Some days i’ve felt like i was there. Thanks Swade.

  5. Thanks Swade!

    Thanks to Saab for taking care of Swade and, by extension, us while he was visiting!

    2009? It’s on the radar. I’ve talked to my wife, perhaps it’s a trip that the whole family will enjoy!

  6. Swade,

    Many, many thanks for all you’ve done here. Your palpable enthusiasm is infectious.

    I’m going to seriously consider the ’09 Festival. Maybe I can pick up a Black Turbo at the factory at the same time!

  7. My turn to chime in,

    Swade – you’re passion is second to none and the coverage has been of monumental proportions!

    I thank you for all that you’ve done. You have amazed me over and over and have fanned the flames that I have for love in this brand.

    I say, job well done! Get home in one piece.

  8. Swade, thank you for all the fantastic work you have done over the past week. Saab couldnt have a better person to promote the Saab brand around the world and I think they realise that.

    Enjoy your trip home, spend some quality time with your family, take the Viggen out for a long relaxing drive. Is that possible as I think if I had such a car my adrenaline would be pumping all the time?

    cheers

    zippy πŸ™‚

  9. A pleasure having you here, hopefully next time I’ll be able to spend alittle more than two hours with you. πŸ™‚ Have a safe flight home.

  10. for the past week this has been my favorite tube on the internet. πŸ˜‰

    outstanding coverage Swade. i’ve been without my viggen about the same time you’ve been on your trip (trans issues.) i get it back tomorrow and boy will she know it. someone up above mentioned the fanning of flames. round my house “bonfire” would be more accurate.

    here’s to the 08 being a huge success.

    -jeff

    ps – would it be sacrilegious to repaint my red viggen in snow silver? gorgeous color!

  11. Ah, ok, well that makes sense then.

    I wish it was in Canada (though that wouldn’t make sense, of course) because then I could actually go to it.

    I would like to go to the Saab Owner’s Convention sometime, but that probably won’t happen either.

    I’m anxious to hear all about all these interesting things Swade has seen and heard that he hasn’t told us yet. He should totally type them all up on the plane :p

  12. I put this

    “I’ve also had some incredibly interesting conversations with people today.”

    and this

    “(and several others who’s name either conveniently or otherwise escapes me – you know who you are and why you’re nameless here)”

    into context and expect some juicy info about the future of Saab… πŸ™‚

    Have a safe trip back to the winter!

  13. All good things must come to an end, I suppose. Ah well! Many thanks for the excellent reporting, which fore the most part has made it felt like I actually attended! Shame I couldn’t attend this time, but rest assured I’ll be there for the 2009 one!

    See you shortly!

    Drew B

  14. Jeff,

    It’s ok to be angry. Just as long as you don’t become large and green. πŸ˜‰

    We really were going to buy a second Aero, but we did our due diligence and checked some other brands. Turns out Volvo was offering an $8000 rebate on the R. This put the payments within a few dollars of the Aero. The S60 R is a bit more car than the (current) Aero. Apart from the more powerful engine and AWD there is more value add in terms of little features like the trunk divider, the availability of accessories like rear and rear side window curtains, the adjustable ride etc…
    So since the price was the same that was that.

    Let’s put it this way: If the new Aero is anywhere near the R, it’s a definite contender for our next car.

    Flame all you want (I know this is a SAAB site). I really didn’t want to like the S60 R. I have never been a Volvo fan. They have always struck me as a bit bland. It definitely is not as pretty as the Aero. But I had to be honest with myself and not just blindly go “SAAB”.

    And this doesn’t mean I love SAAB any less. I’m just a very loving guy and can have more than one. πŸ˜‰

  15. Actually, the S60 is a nice car. The right size for me (don’t want a wagon or a smaller car like the S40). I think it looks good, and it’s really a comfortable drive. The problem for me is the horrible dashboard that reminds me of Volvo 740… πŸ™‚ And also, for me the seats are a little bit better in the Saab.

  16. Swade,

    I sent you my comments last week via email to your gmail account, so you know how I feel. But I’ll also say publicly how much your coverage is appreciated, and that you’re an enormous asset to the Saab community.

    -jim

  17. The dash on the S60 is a bit utilitarian, but it grows on you. Also the R has those nice looking blue dials. But the SAAB dash definitely feels more sporty and less “heavy”. The one instrumentation/dash thing that really bugs me in the 9-3 is that you can’t go from rainsensing on the wipers to “pulse”. You have to go past “off”. On the S60 this is more logically laid out. But now I am really nitpicking. The Information Display (now sadly defunct) in the SAAB is fabulous and I really miss it in the Volvo.

    As for the seats, it’s a very individual thing. They are different but I can’t really pick a favorite comfort wise. The SAAB seats certainly look nicer.

    I wouldn’t consider any other S60 than the R. The others are not nearly as nice. If the new Aero is 280hp with a rumored Black Turbo at 320hp and they have AWD (oops, XWD) the 9-3 will be able to compete with the R on a level playing field. This is very much a good thing. More and more manufacturers in this space have performance versions around 300 hp. The Infiniti G35x comes to mind. So at least in the US this kind of performance has become expected in the top of the line version. With leases so cheap here, many people can actually afford such a car too. And right now they are going Infiniti or some other rice cooker because SAAB doesn’t have one and Volvo is too much Volvo. SAAB was lagging on the update.

    Sadly for me, there are about a zillion S60s on the road. I had to pick a color that only comes on the R just to stand out a bit. Those discreet aerodynamic extensions and 16 R logos (I have only found 13, but apparently there are 16 logos on/in the car) aren’t big enough to differentiate from the ten billion gray S60s in Connecticut. πŸ˜‰

  18. Thanks, Swade, for a terrific journal of the event. This is a great site for those who care for and admire the SAAB brand. Your coverage of the Festival was top of mind for me on a daily basis. Hjertelig Hilsens fra Texas!

  19. Hi! As for the 280 hp thing: What they said at the presentation was that the 4 wheel drive “aero” was to be upgraded to 280 hp and – if I remember right – 400 Nm. As the whole 4wd thing was still a secret when your spec sheet was issued, they would only be talking about the 2wd aero – which probably won’t be upgraded for obvious reasons.

    Furthermore – thanks for the chuckle when I read about the girl with the smile at the performance team show. I have notified her about your entry about it in the blog and it made her smile too. I was the guy in the Ferrari T-shirt, if you recall me (and no, I won’t blame you if you don’t)

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