I said the other day that I could sit and write 100 reasons why a Saab fan should visit Trollhattan, especially during the Saab Festival. Given that this is a Saab site, the number 99 seemed more appropriate – but I’m ashamed to say I got stuck around 50. I’m in one of those recirculating whirlpools of thought where I just keep coming back to the same things again and again.
I guess I could have listed 50 different brilliant cars that I saw or people that I met, but I felt like that might be a bit like cheating.
So here’s my 50 or so reasons why a Saabnut should visit Trollhattan during Saab Festival. Maybe with your help in comments we can get to 99…..
1. You can’t separate this city and Saab, but it’s undeniable that Trollhattan itself is a beautiful little place.
2. The locks. A great place to go for a walk.
3. “The release”. I didn’t see it, but apparently they open the gates and do a massive release of water every week during the warmer months. The photos look spectacular.
4. It’s an easy place for an English-speaking tourist to get around. Like most places in Sweden, nearly everyone speaks English and they don’t get uppity about doing so (hello, France!)
5. Web access. They have faster access in just about any hotel you’d stay at than what most people have at home here in Australia. Made my job a lot easier.
6. Breakfast. Everywhere I stayed had a huge cooked breakfast buffet available and it was included in the cost. This happened in Stockholm too. Maybe it’s a European thing, but you’d pay plenty for that in Australia.
7. They have Viggens mounted as statues just out of town.
8. Only 4 hours of ‘darkness’ in June means there’s heaps of activity.
9. The kids finish high school and provide plenty of entertainment, both night and day.
10. Pizza is readily accessible and quite good. Combine this with the 4 hours of darkness and it makes for a great night out, eating El Fresco with some Trollhattan mates (English ones too).
11. The urban myths about Sweden and the number of blond inhabitants are totally true. I’m happily married man but can appreciate some of our Lord’s finer works from a distance.
12. #11 combined with a social predisposition towards riding bicycles
13. The Erik Carlsson roundel (roundabout) just near the Saab Museum. At one point of the Festival I sat there quite happily just watching the Saabs go by.
14. The Saab Factory – do I even need to explain?
15. The carpark of the Saab Factory. It was interesting to walk through on my way to the factory office and just see what the locals are driving. lots of Saabs there, naturally. Lots of older Saabs there, too.
16. Hearing a 2-stroke in the distance.
17. Knowing that you’re driving around many of the same streets that Carlsson did as a kid.
18. The Wednesday night car show – the locals all get out their favourite cars, head to the locks and show them off.
19. ANA – the big local dealership. At the time of my visit it was still Saab/GM owned, but for sale.
20. The locals. Saab is a common thread through almost all their lives. I was even accosted by a drunk who hadn’t seen a bath, shower or bed for several days yelling “Saab – 60 years” at me. It was great.
21. The Saab Museum – an incredible store of Saabs in great condition. Even better, they’re all kept in driveable condition. Even UrSaab and the EV-1.
22. UrSaab and the EV-1. I’d only read about cars like these in books and never thought I’d see them in the metal.
23. Seeing the Saab Performance Team at home.
24. Chance meetings 1 – Running into someone like Bjorn Envall, assistant to Sixten Sason on the Saab 99 and father of the 900, EV-1 and NG900.
25. Pulling up next to Saab Sonett II in the carpark. Where else could you do this?
26. Spying cars coming into and out of the Saab Technical Center. Fun.
27. Chance meetings 2 – seeing Jan-Ake Jonsson in your hotel lobby
28. Chance meetings 3 – when you’re standing around outside and then you turn around and there’s Erik Carlsson crossing the street.
29. Sitting outdoors at a restaurant having dinner when a Sonett III pulls up and parks next to you.
30. I can’t remember the proper name for it, but I’ll call it the King’s Rock. There’s a rock formation there that kings dating back a looooooong time have all written a message on. Cool.
31. The hydro power system. It may not sound too interesting, but you’d be surprised once you see it working and hear about the power it can generate. I think it was one of the first in Europe, too.
32. The Saab Turbo Club of Sweden
33. Going at Festival time means you get to visit Kinnekulle and drive with all the other Saabs.
34. Going at Festival time means you get to visit Kinnekulle and see vintage Saabs on the race track.
35. UrSaab. Being driven.
36. The SDCC sale. An unbelievable store of parts and accessories at crazy prices. I think I’ve still got video of that to process….
37. It’s fun driving on the right-hand side of the road when you’re only used to driving on the left.
38. Crazy modded Saabs, like the Saab 92 with a V6 in it.
39. Swede Team Motor.
40. If you meet the right people and play your cards right you could get a ride in a Saab Sonett
42. The sheer fact that of only six Saab Sonetts ever made, four of them will be in close proximity.
43. The 9x – still my favourite Saab concept car.
44. You get to meet some amazing people with some incredible Saab history to tell. Like the guy whose best friend grew up taking weekend trips in UrSaab as they had to do so much testing in it. His father designed a lot of the factory layout there back in the 40s and 50s. If a Saab employee took UrSaab for the weekend they HAD to do minimum 500 miles in it. Amazing.
45. Erik Carlsson, Gunnar Palm and Stig Blomqvist chatting about rallies over dinner.
46. Talking with Kjell AC Bergstrom about the LSD in his 9-5.
47. Watching one of Saab’s engineering chiefs, Stig Nodin, walking around as happy as can be looking at Sonett IIIs. There’s something beautiful about that.
48. Unexpected moments like walking into a room and seeing the Saab NG900 prototype that eventually became the 9-3 Viggen just sitting in the room – with the keys in the ignition!
49. Jets. Yes, we saw jets.
50. Trollspeed. There wasn’t much going on when we visited, but just knowing what’s come out of that place and seeing it firsthand was worth the short drive (in a RHD 99 – thanks David!).