What’s going on?

Hey there. Last week’s post notwithstanding, it’s been a while.

Given that this website was always intended to be a more personal site – rather than the Saab community sites of yore – and because I’ve made a few electronic friends over the years that I enjoy keeping in touch with when I can, I thought it indulgent appropriate to…. reintroduce myself, to fill you in on what’s been going on over the last 18 months or so.

There’s been a bit happening.

Brabham

As you might know, I left Koenigsegg to return to Australia and work for Brabham Automotive. My employment with Brabham concluded with a redundancy a few months ago, in June, 2022.

The less that’s said about my Brabham Automotive experience, the better. The car does what it says on the tin – it goes very quickly around racetracks – and has the potential to do more. Working with members of the Brabham family was a pleasure and a few of the colleagues there were absolutely great.

That is all.

——

Adelaide

Working at Brabham initially took me to Adelaide, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to stay with family I’d not seen nearly enough of over the years, and experience life in a new city.

Adelaide is a wonderful place. It’s dry. It’s got heritage galore – the locals revel in the fact that it was the first city established without a convict heritage – and it has miles upon miles of beautiful coastline.

Adelaide is a big automotive town with a significant car culture. It was the epicenter of Australia’s automotive industry at one point – Holden was founded there – and South Australians hold on (pardon the pun) to that heritage with quite a lot of pride.

Adelaide has Australia’s newest, and longest, internationally rated racetrack – The Bend. It used to host the Australian Grand Prix. It still hosts several large motorsport events every year, including on street circuits around the city center. And grassroots motorsport is alive and well on the city’s smaller circuits.

Given that a) the city is economically challenged, b) it has a big motoring past, and c) the state of South Australia has the most lax registration laws in the country, Adelaide also has a wonderful fleet of cars on its roads that would probably be regulated out of existence elsewhere.

These are cars that are truly nothing special – think Murilee Martin’s Down on the Street series for Jalopnik many years ago. But they’re cars that warm the heart because they still exist somewhere and they’re on the roads as daily drivers. It’s an automotive time capsule, if you like.

——

Brisbane

One of the (few) good things to come out of the pandemic was the emergence and growing acceptance of remote working arrangements.

I knew from the end of Week 1 that Brabham was not going to be the place for me. While I entertained the idea of settling in Adelaide for a short time – I even made an offer on a house there – the idea of getting away from the office became more and more appealing as the pandemic dragged on. Thankfully, I managed to convince the powers-that-be at Brabham that working from 1600km away was a good idea.

Accordingly, I packed my little Alfa full of all my worldly goods and headed east to the Queensland capital – Brisbane – where I purchased a great little apartment just 5km from the city centre.

Brisbane is fantastic. It’s a proper capital with all of the entertainment and business opportunities that implies, but it still has a bit of a country-town feel. It might be the warm weather relaxing everyone. It might be the picturesque Brisbane River snaking through the city. It might be the proximity to some of Australia’s most famous beach destinations.

Whatever it is, Brisbane is brilliant.

But Brisbane, for me, hasn’t been about whatever car culture might exist here. It hasn’t been about the warm weather, the beautiful (if flawed) architecture of old Queenslander houses, or the tourist hotspots.

Brisbane, for me, has turned out to be all about Caro.

Caro and I met online – as all the kids do nowadays – and have been pretty much inseperable ever since. We live our lives in the real world so I’ll refrain from posting any deep details but …. she’s the part of life that I didn’t know existed until we met. The missing bit. The mysterious bit. The wise bit. The fascinating bit. The curious bit. The courageous bit. The irresistable bit.

We’ve crammed a lot into the last 18 months. For two people who jumped onto a dating app for a week – just to test the waters – we’ve sure got decent value for money.

The most significant bit was an exchange of rings and a conversion from Ms Caro to Mrs Caro ….

COULD. NOT. BE. HAPPIER.

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The Future

Because a first date, a second date, many more dates, a few very sad family bereavements, a marriage, a redundancy and selling one property wasn’t quite enough to keep us busy over the last 18 months, we’ve decided on a move.

We’re on our way to Sweden!!

When I was made redundant at Brabham, I started applying for jobs locally but in the back of my mind, I also had thoughts about tapping into the international network and seeing if there might be any opportunities forthcoming in what’s become my second home.

It turns out there was. And it turns out that Caro was pretty keen to go exploring, too.

Consequently, we’re now in the middle of acquiring work permits, selling another property, packing up all our stuff and then flying 16,000kms to set up a new life together in Helsingborg.

No, I’m not returning to Koenigsegg (as many have asked). I’ll be working with a company called Abtery, who are involved in all sorts of electrification projects. Some of my old Koenigsegg (and even Saab!) colleagues are there and it’s going to be an absolute hoot. We can’t wait to get over there and immerse ourselves in fika, winter jackets, funny language and meatballs.

——

Cars and Cameras

It used to be all cars. Now it’s cars and cameras. Lots of cameras.

Photography has pretty much taken over as the #1 hobby. Cameras are (mostly) cheaper, easier to take on holidays and tend to not break down as much as cars.

I say ‘mostly’ cheaper as I’ve taken a particular liking to Leica cameras. I now have three of them – an M8, M240 and SL2 – and too many lenses to mention.

I’ve also got on the recent trend towards film and have a Pentax 6×7 MLU, a Zeiss Ikon folding camera, a Holga, a Diana, and a beautiful wooden pinhole camera that I’m yet to put a roll of film through.

Cameras are so addictive.

On the car front, I’ve had an Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV for the last three years and it’s been absolutely superb. It’s quite an underrated little hot hatch, this.

Of course, now that we’re moving to Sweden, the Alfa is up for sale and we’ll have to go car shopping when we get there. I have a few options in mind and I might have to plumb the collective wisdom of the community to sort the wheat from the chaff.

——

So, consider yourselves up to date.

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you. I hope to update this place much more often when we get north-side. I’ve missed it.

Take care.

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30 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update, good to hear from you again. Best to you and your bride. Miss those old Saab, still have a 2003 Convertible and a Tesla Model 3 Performance.

  2. This is wonderful. Couldn’t be more pleased for you, Swade.
    Cheers from Vermont, USA, always!

  3. Well that isn’t a good read while eating beeakfast on a very early late summer Thursday I don’t know what is.

    Can’t wait to see you and Caro. 😃

  4. Congratulations Swade you’re looking well and a wee bit distinguished (that’s British for Gray).

    I’m driving a Mazda and really enjoying it . If you want performance I’d say Focus ST or Megane R/S. Seat Leon Cupra is a love hate car but massively quick.

    1. Every time I get a haircut I look at the gray falling into my lap and think the person cutting it is playing a practical joke on me, using someone else’s hair.

  5. Good to hear your latest news and many congratulations to you both on your marriage. Looking forward to hearing about your Swedish experience – I was over there for the 75th Anniversary bash in June (superb!) – have you heard of a sort-of blog called The Local? It’s a Europe-wide newsletter, written by locals in each country, and there’s a “page” for Sweden, edited by a guy called Richard Orange (news@thelocal.se). He posts a lot about immigration processes and how “incomers” get along, what they have to do to survive etc. May be useful in some small way. Good luck with your move – maybe see you at the next Saab festival in a couple of years or so?

    1. Hi DAvid,

      Yes, Caro is a subscriber to the Local and has been keeping well informed.

      And I definitely hope to be at the next Festival!

  6. Thanks for the update, great to hear about all of the exciting stuff in your life! And really happy for you. Great to have you back in Sweden – I’ve been following you since the Saab days and enjoyed your thought and writing ever since.

    Wish you the best of luck!

  7. Great to hear that your life is going well!

    I am also a car-and-camera guy. Your camera list is remarkably similar to mine, or a sub-set of mine; I started acquiring cameras as a teenager.
    I had a 6×7 in the 90s, but I got rid of it because I couldn’t take it anywhere. It was a big clumsy beast. I suppose you’ll want a vintage Hasselblad, being a fan of Swedish design in general, and Sixten Sason design specifically. I can recommend a Rolleiflex instead. The less collectable ones (those with 3.5 and/or Schneider lens) are still affordable.

    The great thing about shooting film these days is that you don’t need to have a darkroom anymore. All you need is a processing tank and a changing bag to load it. The rest can be done in daylight in your kitchen or bathroom. You can make near-perfect “digital negatives” using your SL2 in multi-shot mode.

    Are you thinking of getting two cars in Sweden? We live in a perfect time to mix vintage and electric. I’m sure you’ll have something to write about that, given that you will be working in the field of transport electrification.

    1. Hey Bernard,

      A Hassy? I had one a few years ago (before the prices skyrocketed!) and then sold it again. I wasn’t sure it was for me. I’d love to get another one day but I’m not sure that’ll happen. I really love the 6×7 format and have an historic affinity for Pentax (my Dod shot with an LX). So I think I’ll just build that kit up over the coming years. Very slowly.

      And yes, I’m already using the SL2 to convert old family negatives and have plans to develop my own B&W at home. Not sure about colour yet. Maybe.

      I’ll look into the Rollei. I love the idea of adding a TLR to the collection. Caro has a “no selling” policy, though, so whatever I buy has to be a keeper.

      I’d love to know more about your collection and your work if you’re happy to share. Most interesting.

      Cars: I’ll deal more with that in a future post but – again – we’re thinking along similar lines. I think there’ll be either a 99 or a 96 in my distant future. Eventually.

      1. My dad had a Pentax Spotmatic. I inherited my love of cars and photography from him. I don’t use the Spotmatic, for the simple reason that Pentax (and Nikon) focus the “wrong” way. It really messes with my mind: backward is forward, forward is backward! It takes a while to re-program my brain, so I find it easier to avoid those two brands. I’m surprised you can mix the 6×7 with Leica M’s, since they require an intuitive feel for which way to move the focus ring.

        The first camera I purchased with my own money was a Rolleiflex SL35. It was used and abused, and frankly not as well made as any Japanese camera. The lenses however were and are outstanding. I still use them to this day.

        I switched to Contax in the early 1990s. Rollei had stopped making 35mm SLRs, and the ones you could still find were expensive and hard to fix.

        I used Canon at the beginning of the digital era, because I could adapt most of my Contax and Rollei lenses. I got tired of Canon over the years because each new model had a worse viewfinder than the previous model. I purchased a Leica SL the year they came out and have been happy with that camera since. Maybe I’ll upgrade when an SL3 comes-out.

        That’s just the 35mm history. I’ve also done a lot of cinematography, medium format, and large format. Most of my work these days is in video. It’s amazing how much equipment you can accumulate over decades, even if you only purchase one or two pieces a year. The key is to only buy quality equipment.

        By the way, I’m not sure if anyone else noticed: you wore actual long trousers to your wedding! You are truly a changed man. I remember when you wore shorts to the Detroit Auto show in January.

  8. HOLY SHIT! Very, very nice.

    Whatever the the topic, must say your style of writing is smooth as silk.

    How about doing an interview series about people still driving and tuning their Saab’s around the world? (tips and tricks incl.)

  9. Congratulations Steven, and safe travels to you and your bride as you head for Sweden! Whenever I attend “Swedish Car Day” in Boston I wonder if I’ll bump into you again. I wish you all the best!

    1. I would love to get back to SCD sometime. I miss hanging out with people there, esp Pierre and family.

  10. Congratulations! It was nice seeing the RSS feed suddenly come back to life again. Good luck with the move.

  11. Wonderful news! Many congratulations to you and Caro. I wish you a long and happy life together.

    Funny, seeing your pics of the Alfa made me think back to mine. I enjoyed the six years or so that I had it, albeit not the QV version. I don’t miss it too much, but it was a lot of fun and they still look great to this day. Wonderful pics. There is a part of me that is a hot-hatch enthusiast, particularly when you see what hatches can do at a rally or on a circuit. Probably my second favourite car style after wagons.

    I am desperate to go electric next and pleased that the rate of releases over here is slowly ramping up. Sadly, there are no real electric wagons and the trend is all towards SUV style electrics, or god-awful designs like the Tesla 3/Y. So, I am eagerly awaiting the Cupra Born in 2023…

    Your photography, as I have written before, is first-class. Strong composition and exposures. I dabble with film, although I am on my way out of it as it is just so laborious and the novelty has worn off. If I had more time or inclination to home develop, I would probably carry on more. Plus, I had some bad luck with cameras letting me down. The satisfaction of a fantastic image from film is amazing, but too infrequent in my hands it seems…. I have moved from Canon, to Fujifilm, to Nikon Z5 in digital terms. Each has their strengths, but there is something about Canon colours that I cannot leave behind and I am wondering about yet another change….

    I cannot wait to hear of your experiences in Sweden. Once again, congrats and all the best to you and Caro.

  12. Congratulations on your marriage and your move to Sweden. You write in such an engaging way.
    Glad you like Brisbane. We spoke briefly about taking pics of my Alfasud Ti QV but the pandemic got in the way. Have since sold the Sud but was taking some of my Fulvia doors to the panel beater and there was another Alfasud. I bought it the next day (1 month to the day after I sold my Alfasud and literally parts that filled a ute)! It’s a project car as well and I am not allowed to work on it or get parts until the Fulvia is on the road!
    Look forward to your next posts.
    Regards David

  13. Well played and mazel tov!

    Glad you’re heading back to Sweden and into the world of electrification. I’ve been looking into retrofitting a series hybrid drive (solar, diesel generator, batteries, electric shaft drive) to a trawler yacht and Abtery have popped up a few times in my research, albeit just for harvesting ideas. LOL

    On that note, I’m sure there’s an engineless 96 languishing in some barn waiting for an EV drivetrain.

    Don’t be a stranger.

    1. On that note, I’m sure there’s an engineless 96 languishing in some barn waiting for an EV drivetrain.

      I’ve always like the idea of something like that 😛

      1. You actually might grow to love Gbg of you give it a try. Got much to offer. And i would say it’s not really a commutable distance to live in Helsingborg long term…
        Hisingen (which is where Lindholmen is) has the advantage of having underdog reputation, making it less hard to find a place to live.

  14. I used to read your articles years ago, rarely now, but clicked on an email and have been reading again.

    Great photos of the Alfa! Reminds me to take more photos of my car 🙂

    Bet of luck on the move!