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:
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.
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.