Sort-of Saaby snippets

I’ve been on the road for a week, seeing a bit of northern Tasmania from behind the wheel of a new Subaru Forester. It’s a very fat and floaty car and I wouldn’t recommend one to a driving enthusiast. Families? It’s probably quite good.

Seems I didn’t miss much, but there have been a few good stories and happenings.

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I got an email from the very efficient Swiss people behind the Geneva Motor Show today. I’ve been offered accreditation for the 2013 Geneva Show. Didn’t even have to ask for it. Just fill out a form and I’m in.

If only they’d sent an airfare as well.

Geneva 2013 should be very interesting. Spyker should be there and Koenigsegg might show that One:1 hypercar that’s been doing the news circuit this week.

Another point of interest will be the international debut of Qoros, a Chinese-based venture with plans to launch internationally. The Saaby point of interest is that quite a few members of Saab’s former PR team are now working for Qoros.

Geneva’s very, very tempting…..

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Yes, GM screwed with Saab. It’s not really news and it’s not surprising, but the details of the dates are at the very least, interesting.

Despite that, however, it’s the latest news from Volvo that maybe puts what might have been Saab’s future into some perspective.

I always thought that Saab could have had a wonderful few years with the new 9-5, 9-4x and the 9-3 replacement designed by Jason Castriota. What I worried about, however, was the generation that would have to replace those cars. Having new product for the ‘now’ is a wonderful thing, but you’ve got to have new product for the future, too.

Volvo are about to embark on a US$11billion (with a ‘b’) investment spree to bring their production facilities up to date and develop their next generation of vehicles, the generation that will finally cut the ties with Ford completely.

Now let’s assume that Saab survived 2011 intact. I have a hard time picturing Saab getting even half that sum for investment in a future model range. Development on PhoeniX probably wouldn’t have cost that much, but it still wouldn’t have been cheap. Maybe we could have done it, but at the very least this decision from Volvo shows the sort of commitment and resources an owner needs to have to try and grow a stable, stand-alone car company in the global marketplace.

I still wish we had the chance. Good luck, Volvo. I wish you well.

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I have one BIG Saab story left in me. Might wrap it up, put a bow on it and leave it under the tree.

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I’m currently reading a book called On The Road To Winterhaven. I’m about one-third of the way through and despite it being a more ‘feel-good’ book than I’m used to reading (I’m more of a wintry Swedish crime reader), I’m actually enjoying it, quite a lot. That link, by the way, is to the Amazon download page, where the book is a mere $2.99 in electronic form.

The Saaby connection? On The Road To Winterhaven is the first published work by a guy known in comments as “J Fan”. He’s a long-time Saab guy from Ireland and this is his first book, a fictional piece set in the eastern United States at the end of the 1920’s.

Congratulations, Geoff, on realising a dream. I wish I had the skills, courage and commitment to do the same.

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Congratulations to a mate and long-time reader from New York, Hugh W, who just traded his 9-3 SportCombi in on a ‘new’ Saab 9-3x. It’s a 2011 model but had just 17 miles on the clock when Hugh picked it up last weekend. I got to drive the 9-3x a fair bit in Sweden and it was a very satisfying car. Hugh put 260 miles on his driving it home from New Hampshire and sounds well pleased already, which is fantastic.

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RIP Sami.

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20 Comments

  1. Who’s Sami?

    Anyway, I have been thinking for years that the smaller ambitous car manufacturers should have tighter cooperations. Only this way, they can maintain their independence. Am pretty sure VM was of the same opinion. Volvo, Saab, Jaguar, Aston Martin, maybe even Alfa (platform lacking) and Morgan. Maybe it is too late now, Saab gone, Volvo in trouble, JLR having problems finding their broader audience, Alfa being err re-branded.

    1. Sami – the most elegant little black cat you would ever see. Owned by some good friends of mine and laid to rest this week at 18 or 19 years of age.

      Hopefully Alfa might get some mojo back when they finally release the 4C. The Giulietta was a good start.

      1. Speaking of Alfa….when are we going to get to hear more about your Alfa, Swade? (I am assuming the Forester you were driving was a rental/hired car and not a new purchase of yours.)

        As for the Volvo news, that is really interesting as I thought Geely was having some financial trouble and Volvo also with their sales not so good over here in North America. That is showing some real commitment to the future even in the midst of current tough economic times.

        That is a nice photo of Hugh’s new 9-3X. With my 2000 9-3 about to hit 200,000 miles later this month, I am really tempted to look at a low mileage 9-3 or 9-3X SportCombi (since I will never now have my JC designed 9-3 replacement I had hoped to buy). It is either that or buy a lower mileage 2001-2002 9-3 hatch for $5000 or so when mine eventually gives out. Decisions, decisions….

  2. I second the congratulations to Hugh W on his purchase of the 9-3X. That car is really one of the best driving Saabs (and best kept secrets) in recent Saab history. Enjoy.

    1. Pierre, I was travelling for work. It’s our office pool vehicle, now 1500kms old now that I’ve added around 1000 in the last 7 days.

      I love the two Suubys we have in our driveway but they’re a bit older and more utilitarian. Like many cars, this one seems to have got bigger and fatter. I’m sure it’s got better, too, just not in ways that I can put my finger on straight away.

  3. Sorry to hear about Sami. As much as you and your readers love cars, I was hoping that Sami was a car and not a person or animal. I’m sorry for your & your friends’ loss, it sounds like Sami touched a lot of lives.

  4. Cheers for the mention, Steve 🙂 Regarding courage, foolhardiness might be a better word..! Working night and day to have the next book out by December 15th…about a girl racing driver. And a terrorist threat 😀
    Geoff

  5. And somebody….please pay for Swade to go to the Geneva Show. You know we all want to read what Swade would blog about that show, the cars, the trends, and the latest examples of Das Boring. 🙂

  6. Good work to the fella with the 93x. Had Saab been on a more secure footing, I am sure that would have sold well in the UK, where people are increasingly looking for light weight, compact but capable cars for the winter (see Octavia Scout sales over past 12 – 24 months in that market). Looks good. I nearly picked one up back in 2011 here in Australia, but the uncertainty over Saab and warranty put me off. Now there are none left on the market and no similar car that fits my requirement, at least not from a European manufacturer.

  7. I looked at the Qoros site. It seems strange the way they built the place already. They must have major money. I see Eric Geers is there. The concept model next to the CEO in the jacket and jeans looks very much like a Saab design. Especially the A pillars.

  8. Somehow it makes me sad that all the good forces emanating out of the former Saab Automobile can’t work together and create something new and interesting. Spyker Phoenix, Qoros, NEVS… Obviously there are some money available between the three of them. On their own, though, I think they don’t stand a chance being more than parenthesis in the automotive history.

    1. I’ve filled out the online form and got confirmation of my registration. I’m now in the door, as long as I can book a fare and find somewhere to stay (“have Volvo got any spare rooms?” he asked nicely 🙂 )

  9. Re: new 93X.

    Looks like Gary Blake Motorcars (previously Gary Blake Saab). Bought a new 2011 93 Turbo4 XWD from them exactly a month ago. Our fourth Saab. For a Saab owner it’s comforting to know places like this do continue, for service and even for the sales of new Saabs, more than a year after production stopped. Sort of a time machine.

    1. Yup. Gary Blake motorcars. I drove up from NYC and traded in the white 9-3SC you see behind the 9-3X. There are definitely many wonderful miles left on the 9-3 and I hope it will bring a lot of enjoyment to someone. It’s a completely trouble-free and clean car, but the temptation to buy one last new Saab, and with AWD, navigation, and premium everything, was just too much to resist.

      And yes, this was my first and only experience with Gary Blake Motorcars, but they are certainly a class act.

  10. I have a really good book about a SAAB mechanic , the book is called “Working Knowledge” , As a SAAB mechanic I thought it a great read
    I can get more info on it if ya need , and Swade can find me

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