Spyker Bankrupt, Muller Determined

Most of you would have heard the news by now, but for those who have not…..

Spyker’s situation went from really bad to terminal last night when their bankruptcy protection/reorganisation status moved into plain old bankruptcy (receivership). Spyker Cars sought protection from its creditors just two weeks ago but the bridge funding it was counting on to survive the reorganisation process has not materialised. The court moved the company into receivership at the request of the administrator leading the reorganisation.

The-Black-NightTypically, our mate Victor Muller (right) doesn’t see this as the end of the road.

“None of the ambitions we had when we founded Spyker 15 years ago, has vanished as a result of today’s events. In 2000 we set out to establish a super sports car business from scratch with a global distribution and we achieved that. Over the years we undertook some daring ventures that left their marks on the company which in turn contributed to today’s demise.

However, I would like to make clear that as far as I am concerned “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning” to quote Winston Churchill. I will relentlessly endeavour to resurrect Spyker as soon as practically possible and, assuming we will be successful, pursue our goal to merge with a high performance electric aircraft manufacturer and develop revolutionary electric Spykers with disruptive sustainable technology.

Gags aside, I am very saddened by this news, if not surprised.

I admire Vic because he has a crack at things. He doesn’t wait for someone else to do it. Yes, he often does things with other people’s money but tell me the name of a business or entrepreneur that doesn’t. This is the way of the business world and investors know it.

Victor – I wish you well, my friend. I will be following your movements and hoping like crazy that you get to build those electric Spykers.

Nulla Tenaci Invia Est Via

It’s Getting So Ugly I Can Hardly Breathe

I had a big long rant planned about Rupert Murdoch and the ugliness he peddles wherever he casts his gaze.

Sadly, the news out of Pakistan tonight has me feeling completely and utterly defeated…. for the moment. Personally speaking, it’s fair to say that 2014 has been a pretty shit year and 2015 only holds the tiniest glimmer of hope for getting better. Every time you try to pick yourself up there seems to be another idiot with an agenda just itching to bring you back down again.

So I’ll leave my long rant alone. Here’s a short one instead.

Yesterday, in the midst of the siege in Sydney, Rupert’s masochistic chip-wrapper The Daily Telegraph rushed out their PM edition with this wraparound:

Telegraph

Sydney is the city of ‘shock-jocks’ in Australia and the Tele seems intent on being the print version of the same. At the very moment when cool heads were required – when lives were still on the line and nerves were at their edgiest – there’s the Tele trying to whip up a frenzy. Turds.

Then……

Just when you think News Limited has already jumped the shark, up comes Rupert Murdoch himself with a tweet posted live from the bowels of hell:

Rupert

Yes, in the aftermath of a lone-wolf hostage attack resulting in two innocent people dying, Rupert’s first public utterance is to congratulate his mini-me psychopathic birdcage liner for being the only one to capture the action live.

(and…. they weren’t the only ones reporting live, but why let the facts get in the way of a shit story?)

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I’m a news junkie. I love writing and I’d love to write for a living one day.

Being a writer means you have to read, though. With crap like this going around, it’s getting harder and harder to do.

Be decent. Be decent to yourselves and decent to one another. Please.

Fiat X1/9 Update

I’ll get to the Fiat in a moment…..

I drove a few interesting cars on the weekend. Both experiences were unplanned. One car I drove with a view to buy and the other was purely for fun.

Peugeot 205 GTI

The first car was a Peugeot 205GTI. I stumbled across this one when I ran into a co-worker at Salamanca Market on Saturday morning. The Pug belongs to his son and Mal let me know that it was now up for sale.

Pug205gtiGiven that the 205GTI is a bit of a cult car, I had to check it out. Click the image to the right to enlarge.

Mal’s son is a young fella and being a young fella, he’d made a few young fella modifications. There’s a Whiteline strut brace across the top of the engine bay and a big fart-can exhaust. The strut brace made the top edge of the hood sit up a few centimetres. The fart-can was just way too loud.

The 205’s party piece is its handling and yes, this car shone in that department. I only took it for a short drive but it was plenty enough to see why the little Pug hot hatch is so loved.

I’ve got my eye out all the time for an inexpensive fun car and this one definitely fit the bill. I didn’t buy it, though, as there is just a little too much still to be done. I’ve got enough work to do with the Lancia and the X1/9 right now. I don’t need another fixer-upper, even if it’s already running and registered.

If you’re interested, the car is on Gumtree and Hew’s a wonderful young bloke. The interior’s a bit tatty but the mechanicals are all sorted after an engine rebuild done around 4 years ago. The clutch might need a pedal adjustment (at least) but the car goes like a cut cat and feels like it would be big bags of fun.

Alfa Romeo 145

My second drive for the weekend was an Alfa Romeo 145.

DSC_0173I featured this car a few months ago after it made its debut at Classics By The Beach. The owner is a mate of mine named Norman and he called in to our place on Sunday.

Of course, as soon as I saw he’d parked the Alfa out front I suggested he might like to take me for a ride :-) . He went a step further and handed me the key! Woohaa!

The 145 was never officially sold in Australia so Sunday was a very rare opportunity. The 145 came with a variety of petrol engines over its lifetime and interestingly, they were in two very different configurations. The early cars had Alfa’s wonderful boxer engine, the one I’m quite familiar with from my Alfa 33’s. Later cars had Alfa’s Twin Spark inline 4 cylinder engine.

Norman’s 145 has the 1.6 litre 8-valve boxer. It’s got a little less grunt than my old 16V Alfas but the Fiat chassis that underpins the 145 is a lot more solid than the 33. The end result is the most refined Alfa Boxer experience you’ll ever feel.

When you say “refined”, people often think you mean boring. Far from it. The sound is still fantastic and the little 145 loves a good corner. There’s nothing quite like a small car revving to 6,000 and sticking like a limpet.

Outstanding!

Fiat X1/9

I’d normally be doing a Lancia Fulvia update around now but I spent the last two weekends gardening! Regardless, there isn’t a whole lot left for me to do with it parked out in the front yard. I’m at the stage where I really need to get the Lancia into the garage so I can clean it up and start stripping the paint. I can’t get the Lancia into garage, though, until we get Geoff’s Fiat X1/9 out of the garage.

Our young bloke, Geoff, bought the little Fiat from the same deceased estate that I bought the Fulvia from. It’s got 45,000 genuine kilometres on it and is in great cosmetic condition.

Sadly, it’s not running yet.

DSC_0564

The first job we did on it was to change the timing belt. I say “we”, by which I mean Geoff did it and I handed him the occasional tool. It was actually an easier job than I thought it might be. The hardest part was getting the yellow cover back on.

DSC_0555

Then the fuel was freshened, the oil, filters and plugs were changed and a new battery was connected. After that, it was time to try and start the car. Thankfully, the engine isn’t seized like the engine in my Fulvia. Sadly, though, it wouldn’t start.

Fuel, Air, Spark.

We have air, of course. And we have fuel. Spark is the problem.

We did a few tests and found there was no spark making its way to the plugs at all. A call to our local generic parts store got us a new coil, but it still wouldn’t start.

DSC_0556

A local mate with considerable Fiat experience (G’day Ant!) came over to lend a hand. On closer examination, it seems we installed the new coil incorrectly (there were some extra, confusing wires in place). We corrected, but it still wouldn’t start.

Ant re-gapped the points. Geoff cleaned out the distributor cap. Still, it wouldn’t start.

I made some enquiries about getting a new distributor cap and was surprised to find that you can’t get one for a 1.3 Fiat X1/9 anymore. They were particular to that car and they fail so infrequently that the manufacturer hasn’t made them in a long, long time.

The guy I spoke to did give me some recommendations, however, so we have some new HT leads and a new condenser on the way. We’ll try it again when the new bits arrive.

The big jobs that remain on the little Fiat are the clutch and brake master cylinders, which are going to be a complete pain in the posterior (for Geoff) to replace.

While the engine’s in the mid position, the master cylinders are located at the front but you have to go under the dashboard to get to them. That means removing the seat and quite likely the steering column as well (we’re still researching that one).

You’d think removing a seat would be a pretty simple affair but not this one. Normally you just undo the bolts at the front and rear of the seat rails. With the earlier Fiat X1/9’s, though, there aren’t any bolts. You have to undo a spring underneath the seat, then you hold the seat adjustment lever and slide it forward until it slides right off the rail. It would’ve been nice and easy but the seat was stuck fast on the rail until a liberal dose of WD-40 finally got it moving.

So that’s where we’re at right now. We’re waiting on parts to try and get the engine started and the cabin is now ready for Geoff to hang upside down and get under the dash to replace the master cylinders.

Hopefully that’s all the little Fiat needs before we clean it up and get it registered. I can’t wait to see Geoff’s face the first time he takes a bend in this little mid-engined Italian.

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Final note……

If Bertone can design the tiny Fiat X1/9 to have a full-size spare – it goes in this hidey-hole behind the front seat – how come modern cars can’t get one so easily?

DSC_0562

Inside Saab Archive at SaabWorld

For those who don’t know, I worked for Saab Automobile for a short time back in 2011, running a website for them called Inside Saab. As the name suggests, it was designed to bring all the latest news, events and other developments from inside the company.

I started with Saab in April 2011 and finished when the company declared bankruptcy later in December 2011. When the company died, the website died with it.

I have an Inside Saab archive here on this website but it’s text only. I don’t have the images that went with it and the layout is exactly the same as what you’re looking at right now.

Thankfully, a friend you might know as Wulf saved a complete archive of Inside Saab that includes all the text, the images and the CSS to get the layout right. Wulf runs a Saab website called Saabworld and he’s just loaded the full Inside Saab archive on to Saabworld’s pages.

You can see it here: Inside Saab at Saabworld.

InsideSaab

Make sure you check out the video page, too. The first two of what would have been a series of ten Inside Saab films are still on the site. All ten films had been shot and edited (I think) before I even started at Saab. We showed the first two but decided to hold off on showing any more because the factory had stopped production. We didn’t want it to look like we were treating that situation lightly, and we wanted to save what was really excellent material for a time when there was a better vibe about the place.

The video page also features a few other films we’d put together, too. It’s one of the things I really enjoyed about the job and it’s a shame we didn’t get to do more of it. I have a subscription feed for Porsche’s Youtube channel and those films have great cars, of course, but the films lack any real warmth or personality. The films I planned to make for Inside Saab were completely amateur in style, but featured real people telling real stories and doing real things to make great cars. One of the great things about Saab was its accessibility. I really wanted films that came across as one friend talking to another.

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Sadly, much of Inside Saab is taken up with Saab’s slow death spiral over the latter part of 2011.

There were some really fun highlights, too, though.

IntSaab 2011 in Finland was an amazing experience. If you live in Europe and haven’t been to an IntSaab event yet, put it in your plans. IntSaab was simply wonderful.

I started my tenure at Saab with a trip that would have been typical of the future if Saab had survived – coverage of the New York Motor Show. And if you cast your mind back to 2011, that means the US debut of PhoeniX.

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If you want to pick a subject to look at on Inside Saab, there is a tag cloud in the column on the right side of the home page. Just scroll down a little to see it.

Don’t use the search function just under the banner at the top of the page as it’s not currently working (it tries to search insidesaab.com which doesn’t exist anymore).

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My thanks to Wulf for having the foresight to do a complete download of the website. And my thanks to Wulf again for re-creating it at Saabworld. It’s nice to see the old site back up again (even if I’ve lost around 20kgs since that photo was taken!)

That link again: Inside Saab at Saabworld.

NEVS Gets Reorganisation Extended By Swedish Court

NEVS’s press office has been pretty crappy ever since……. well, forever.

But they certainly nailed it with this headline:

The reorganization of Nevs is prolonged

Yep.

It’s one of the most prolonged, drawn out affairs I’ve ever seen :-)

The good news for Saab fans today, however, is that NEVS does get more time, which means that Mahindra can continue their due diligence work and their discussions with Saab AB about the naming rights.

The District Court of Vänersborg, today December 11, decided that the Reorganization of Nevs shall continue for an additional time period of three months, until March 2, 2015.

“I am glad that the District Court has decided to prolong the Reorganization. We need the time the prolongation allows to concretize and finalize the ongoing negotiations” said Nevs’ President Mattias Bergman.

concretize?

Let it go, Steven. Let it go.

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My 2 cents

Some of you might be wondering why I sound upbeat about this when I’ve been down on most-things-Saab in the last few years. The answer is simple: there’s an actual solution in sight and it doesn’t involve NEVS being majority owners of a company that makes Saab cars.

I’ve always questioned NEVS’s business plan and their capacity to pull it off. That they were so evasive about it only heightened my cynicism.

I don’t know what Mahindra will do with Saab but they know a little about the automotive industry. They don’t know much about the higher end of it, which might be why they’re interested in Saab. But they know enough and I believe they have enough resources to make a go of things. They’re a diverse company with good governance, a good sense of corporate social responsibility and access to markets that Saab hasn’t sold so well in. To me, that’s a good start.

A lot of Saab fans are ready to let the brand slip into the pages of history. I am, too, if that ends up being the case.

But while there’s a chance that a good owner can take over the brand and build something useful, I think they should be given every encouragement to do so.

Saab Reports – Mahindra ‘Confirmed’, Creditor Wants Out

In Court….

There’s a little bit of news on the Saab front today.

Via TTELA, via comments (thanks to Pingu)

One creditor (the financial company SVEA Ekonomi AB that has provided NEVS with loans during the year) has opposed an extension of the reconstruction. The reason is that they fear that there is no longer enough property at NEVS to secure the loans, since the property that was originally used for the loans (cars, etc.) are currently being sold off to fund NEVS’ operations. They also note that since the operations is now largely funded with other loans with special privileges, their loans will likely not be paid in the end in case of a bankruptcy later on.

The original report in TTELA is here.

A few more things must be noted to give this context, however…..

Firstly, this is one creditor speaking their mind on NEVS’s reconstruction extension. The court would take this creditor’s opinion into consideration, however they’re not bound to end the reconstruction because of this.

Secondly, and perhaps much more importantly, the committee appointed to represent the creditors group as a whole has written to the court in support of NEVS’s reconstruction extension. That will carry a lot more weight.

TTELA also write that a decision on the extension may be forthcoming today and that’s a pretty big deal because if the court says ‘No’ then all of Mahindra’s plans to talk to Saab AB about naming rights, finish off their due diligence, etc, go out the window.

Feel free to keep us updated in comments as I’ll be in bed soon.

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Mahindra confirmed. Sort of.

Nasdaq.com – which is a real thing, not just an opportunistic guy with a domain name – is reporting as follows:

India’s Mahindra & Mahindra plans to take a stake in the company behind Sweden’s Saab Automobile brand, according to documents filed to a local Swedish court…..

…In a document filed to the court by one of the creditors of NEVS–a British consultant–Mahindra & Mahindra is named as the auto maker about to take a stake in the Swedish company.

NEVS, of course, have been very secretive as to who the potential investors are and while it’s never been confirmed by NEVS or Mahindra, the whispers have been all over the place.

NEVS do have obligations to their creditors, however, including the disclosure of information that will influence their decisions. I’m sure they disclose this information with instructions to keep it confidential, but our British consultant has seen fit to waive that particular request for now.

NEVS’s declined to comment. Of course.

Wednesday Snippets: Hot or Not, V8 Jag, Shannons 928, 912alicious

Porsche 928S

I mentioned earlier in the week that I had 928 fever, right?

Sooooo …… Monday night was very nearly a big night in our household.

The Shannons 2014 Summer Auction was held in Melbourne and I had a specific interest, having registered to bid at the event. My eyes were on this white Porsche 928S from 1986.

The car had a super-clean mechanical inspection report. The only faults mentioned were the aircon system not cooling and the sunroof not working. When looking at a 928, those are amongst the least of your worries. A friend in Melbourne (Gavin – who’s written here occasionally and owns a most glorious Alfa Sprint) went and took a look at it for me and the report from him was overwhelmingly positive, too. I went into Monday night feeling nervous about the auction process but confident about the car.

I needn’t have worried about nervousness. The auction went beyond the limit I’d set myself pretty quickly. I budgeted around $11K for the car. That would mean around a $14-15K cost once I got here to Hobart, got it registered and a basic service.

The car sold for $12.5K.

So, I didn’t get my 928 but looking at the silver lining to that cloud, it was a positive exercise in self-restraint and the money I didn’t spend will allow Mrs Swade and I to travel to Sweden next year for the 2015 Saab Festival!

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Hot Or Not?

I saw some early publicity for a few new hot hatches this week and the paintwork had me wondering – are they hot or not?

First, the Renault Sport RS275 Megane Trophy, which gets a dollop of flouro orange on it’s white premise:

RenaultRS275TR

And second, the new Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary, which looks like they’ve dipped a red car in black chocolate:

Peugeot208GTI30

The Swadeology verdict – Yes to the Pug but No to the Renault.

What say ye?

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V8 Jags

I was roundly mocked when I revealed my desire for an older Jaguar with a V8 conversion but can now revel in justification as Bring-A-Trailer featured three such cars in just a few days this week :-)

A Dutch Mk II with a Rover V8 installed:

A Series 1 XJ6 with a Chevy V8 installed in Connecticut:

And…. another Jaguar Mk II with a Chevy V8 in Maryland.

I’ve always been interested in an XJ6 conversion myself, but those Mark II’s sure look pretty sweet. I’d take the third one if I had the choice.

Consider it back on the long term list!

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Porsche 912

The Porsche 912 is one of an increasingly long line of cars that I’ve noticed just before they shot up in price (hint – get your good 928’s now as the price is only going to go up).

Petrolicious released this Porsche 912 video this morning. The close-up videography can be annoying, but the video does give you a very nice taste of the 912. The key, as always, is that it’s so much fun to drive slow cars fast.

Saab Festival 2015: June 5-7

UPDATE: We just booked some accommodation. Trolltown, here we come!

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Good News!

The 2015 Saab Festival dates have been announced. The event will take place in Trollhattan from June 5 to June 7 next year.

SaabFestival2010

There are no details as to what will be going on but information will be available at the Saab Museum website when it comes to hand.

If you’re a Saab fan, a visit to the Festival at least once in your life is a must. Trollhattan in the summer is just magic and the events around the festival are always first class.