Saab Festival – Day 1 Dispatch

At any other time, this would be an extraordinary photo. This weekend, it’s just another day in Sweden 🙂

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Congratulations to the graduates, too. Every time I’m here I seem to wake up to this Swedish tradition – students on trucks making lots and lots of noise now that their basic schooling is over. Time for the real world, kids.

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It’s Saab Festival time once again. The sun is shining (mostly), the people are smiling and a convoy of two-strokes screaming down the street is no longer unusual.

As usual, there are all manner of Saabs here. As I sit here in the foyer of the Scandic Swania (without a camera!) I’ve seen a NG Saab 9-5 Combi and that most disregarded unicorn of all cars to ever wear a Saab badge – a Saab-Lancia 600!! That’s the Saab Festival for ya.

The feature events for yesterday were the open day at NEVS, the parts sale and various events at the Saab Museum. The open day at NEVS was the real feature and I’ll do a separate article about the tour at Technical Development later, but first…..

The visit to NEVS

It was a bittersweet experience going back to the Saab factory. Sweet because it really is the heart of the company. Bitter because…. well….. you know.

But I have to say I was heartened by the visit with NEVS yesterday. I missed the speech by Matthias Bergman about the future of the company, but I’m not overly fussed by that. From what I heard, it was a presentation that nearly anyone even remotely familiar with the situation could have written. i.e. it didn’t really give away much and I got basically the same information chatting with a few people in private.

The news is that we can all expect a significant press conference this coming week. Probably Wednesday. The word is that new partners/investors are on board and progress will continue.

The news behind the news is more interesting (to me).

I met at least one key recruit who has only recently come back after leaving Trollhattan at the end of 2011. This is a recruiting coup straight from the top drawer, a man in the prime of his career who could pretty much work anywhere he wants.

You can have all the PR-vetted speeches you like, but the fact that this gentleman has bought what NEVS is selling tells me they’ve got something real to sell.

The other news from the day, not completely new but nice to have confirmed, is that NEVS is shifting its focus back to electric propulsion and range-extended hybrids; away from internal combustion cars. Now, I’m an internal combustion guy so this leaves me with mixed feelings, but it’s somewhat of a relief that they’re re-focusing on their original plan after the spanner thrown in the works by their recalcitrant Chinese investor.

What I took away from yesterday: I feel quite confident that NEVS will come out their recent troubles and build cars. Whether they build cars that either you or I find interesting is another question. But they’re going to build something. They may or may not be able to call it a Saab but cars will roll out of Trollhattan (and China) in the future and if they stay here, that’s a good thing for the city.

NEVS allowed people to tour some of the technical development area at Stallbacka. I’ve got exclusive photos and video from the tour, which I’ll share shortly.

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The Parts Sale

The parts sale kicked off in earnest at 9am yesterday. It was smaller than last time, which was smaller than the time before. I guess that’s the nature of selling parts of finite supply.It’s always good, though.

This year the punters had the added fun of being able to strip a number of wrecks mounted out in the yard. That looked like fun. They even had a few old V4’s out there.

Click any of the photos to enlarge….

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Rony Lutz

Saab’s wonderful in-house artist, Rony Lutz, has an exhibition at a gallery near the Saab Museum. Rony made a presentation about his work at 2pm yesterday but I can’t tell you much about it. I was there, but it was all in Swedish 🙂

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In The Car Park

The two biggest attractions at any Saab Festival are the cars and the people. Accordingly, I spend much of my time chatting with friends that I almost only see at events like this, and with my camera out in the car park.

The cars here are always amazing. It’s a rich collection spanning all of Saab’s near-70 years.

Click to enlarge and enjoy.

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22 Comments

  1. Well what a welcome start to my day here in Chicago. Didn’t realize you had made the trip. Looking forward to your updates.

  2. Ooo ooo ooo, that matte black 96!

    Well the Combi got a good wash and vacuum today, least we could do.

  3. I’m felt in love of the SAAB trade mark overtop of the firsts 92, 93, 96, 95 with two stroke engines or V4 four stroke, and of course 99 and 900 all the pre GM the 9000 and when GM like me less.

  4. I saw your name mentioned on saabtala and was glad to see you were there. Thanks for the many photos for those of us who can’t be there!

  5. Wonderful photos, Swade! And we can’t wait to read your further thoughts on things…

  6. You know you are shopping for a 96…… you just have not realized it yet. Or maybe one of those shiny 95’s. Some pretty cool looking old Saabs there, I wish I was there hanging out at the Swania but I am stuck in Santa fe fixing broken Saabs…..
    Thanks for the pictures, they are great!

  7. Wow, so you are in Trollhättan! Nice to have solid down-to-earth information on what is going on there.

    I agree with the comment on NEVS focusing on EV. They need something that makes them unique. Me, I would happily buy an EV. But the market need something new, so hope NEVS can fill that gap.

    Looking forward to your post about NEVS. Have a nice stay! 🙂

  8. Nice to see you are in Sweden! Also nice that someone is covering this event. Not a Word at SU so far…..

  9. Thanks for the update. I wish I were there…..just got to get off my butt for next time.

    Rich Chenet runstealth255@gmail.com is also there. You must know him, he is a great professional automotive and motorcycle photog from the East coast USA. Get in touch with him, maybe you can work a deal for some photos.

    Have fun and enjoy all those Saabs, and Saab people.

  10. Kept that one quite Steven, sneaking up to the Northern Hemisphere.

    See, SAAB is really still in your Heart!!.

    Enjoy your trip.

  11. Come on spill the beans who has returned – JC? BTW how did your interview with NEVS go Swade? Just me fantasising about them sorting out their PR by getting the best guy for the job onboard

    1. It was drool-worthy, Pete. The owner’s had it 13 years and is fanatical about it.

  12. Thanks so much for this Swade. Some great looking cars there. Interesting to see the resurgence of 99s. I hope that you’re right about NEVS. It would be great to see new Saabs coming out of Trollhattan but as you say, the town needs something, anything to come out of the factory.
    Kudos, mate