Thanks again to Phil R for writing up this account of an event hosted recently by Saab Canada.
It was a drive day held recently at Niagara Airport, with the participants being mostly prospective customers used to driving Lexus, BMW, Audi etc.
As we sat down to breakfast in the hangar, a lone Spitfire screamed overhead, while a billionaire’s LearJet taxied across the tarmac towards us. This was the start of Saab Canada’s Test Drive Event at Niagara Airport one fine Sunday morning in June and it was the perfect location to showcase Saab’s latest line-up of vehicles.
The event began with some driving instruction from seasoned race drivers. It was hard to concentrate as we were surrounded by a Czech fighter jet, an old WW2 bomber and various gliders. Cessna cropdusters and joyriding helicopters fought for air space above us as we went through the driving drill. After a quick run through the specs and features of each vehicle, we were bundled into the limo-bus and the Saab team radioed the control tower for access to the runway.
The convoy then moved across the tarmac to a second runway about a kilometre away. The dual East/West and North/South runways had been setup as two separate test tracks. Both tracks featured orange cones arranged to form a different slalom course, with a straightaway on the return where drivers could experience the acceleration of each vehicle. Drivers had the chance to experience most of the Saab vehicles including the Aero versions. With blue skies and a blazing sun, weather conditions were perfect to test the attributes and strengths of each vehicle.
At the end of each session, drivers had a further treat by watching JL Racing’s Saab 9-3 go through it’s paces on the same track. Everyone could see first hand how the race car was not that different from a regular street vehicle when it came to handling and performance. Then attendees had a chance to go around the track in a regular street 9-3 Aero as a passenger with a professional race driver at the wheel. The two race drivers played a “cat and mouse” game as they pushed the two 9-3’s Aero’s to the extreme limits of roadhandling at lightning speed. Although White faces and a white knuckles seemed to be the main theme at the first corner, most people settled down and enjoyed the ride as they realized the truth about the Saab 9-3’s handling abilities.
With the session complete, it was back to the hangar for last minute refreshments and some “plane spotting” as the Niagara Airport is one of the busiest in the area. Organizers of the event including Saab Canada and Cossette truly put on a memorable event that will stay with the everyone for a long time. Test drive a Saab at the airport? – it makes perfect sense. “Over and Out” – Phil Reilly. P.S. Thanks to Brian Bussiere of Saab Canada for the great photos.