The 60th Anniversary Saab Festival 2007

Posted on 08. Jul, 2007 by in 2000-2009, 9-3 SS, Events, Trollhättan, Sweden

Two years ago, I managed to get back over to Sweden for my first visit to Trollhättan for the Saab Festival in 2005. That trip was my first visit to Trollhättan, the home of the Saab Automobile but not the first time to Sweden since formerly living in the Stockholm area a year earlier. copenhagen_300.jpgThis year, I managed to return to Sweden for the 60th Anniversary Saab Festival in Trollhättan but not without a stop in Copenhagen first and another stop in Munich on the way back to Washington, D.C.

Upon arriving in beautiful Copenhagen in the morning of June 5th, known as “Constitution Day” which was an observed holiday and many shops were closed, it was also raining, so my thoughts of what inclement weather weather may do to the trip had me wondering how to re-arrange the schedule for alternatives. Fortunately, after a few hours, the rain went away and the blue skies began to copenhagenhotel_300.jpgshow their wonderful blue colors while the sun also cast its rays throughout the beautiful downtown area of the city. During my time in Copenhagen, I also found out that a number of the museums and other tourist-type activities would be running, which led to a very fun and fulfilling first day to this trip. The canal tour downtown to the garden explorations culminated with a nostalgic visit back to Tivoli, since the last time I visited it back in 1984. The incredible day came to an end in Copenhagen where just before it was time to call it a day, I got to experience a spectacular view of the city from the window of my accomodation during sunset.

sportcombi_300.jpgThe following day, with good night’s sleep, I had an early wake-up in order to arrive at Kastrup airport just in time to catch the first flight to Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden. Just before I departed from Copenhagen, I could not pass up the opportunity to sign up for the possibility of winning a free brand new 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi that was being raffled off at one of the new duty-free shops inside of the terminal near my gate. The number of Saab sightings this early in the trip clearly indicated that I was in fact getting closer to Saab country being in Scandinavia.

copenhagen_sas_airplane_300.jpgAt last, the time had come to depart from friendly and overwhelmingly beautiful Copenhagen with a short flight on a commuter jet on Scandinavian Airline System to Sweden to pick up the 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi from AVIS for the next leg of the trip. The flight to Sweden included wonderful vistas of the baltic region as well as all of the islands in and around Copenhagen that were truly spectacular.

gothenburg_9-5_biopower_300.jpgOn June 6th, 2007 we landed at Landvetter Airport in Göteborg, Sweden at 9am and immediately headed over to the AVIS to pick up the Saab 9-3 SportCombi. To my surprise, the 9-3 SportCombi in silver was the last one available in the lot that I had pre-booked some months in advance. One part about this experience at this location that I was unaware of was the fact that there were a huge number of Saab 9-5 SportCombi BioPower models available for rental, marked up quite a bit more than the normal rate. In the future, I think this will be the obvious choice, so anyone visiting Sweden and landing in Göteborg, AVIS will certainly have enough 9-5 BioPower cars to suit your needs. It is important to know that although the cost associated with renting the 9-5 BioPowers is more than a normal 9-5 or 9-3, the cost of ethanol (E-85) in Sweden is lower than both standard gasoline as well as diesel.

As I left the rental car area that is adjacent to the airport, I had to stop at the Saab Design Center in Mölnlycke, Sweden. Today the Saab Design Center facility not only includes the Saab Advanced Design Team, but also the Global Sales & Marketing teams and employs approximately 120 people.saab_design_center_300.jpg

The members of Saab Advanced Design Team that have worked in this facility include Michael Mauer, Anthony Lo, Ola Granlund, Simon Padian and Alex Daniel and others on projects such as the Saab 9-X, Saab 9-3X, Saab 9-3 Sport-Hatch and the Aero-X.

Following this brief visit, I drove about an hour South to a quaint little town called Varberg right on the coast and visited a castle and then double-backed on the E-6 highway North about 2 hours to finally arrive in Trollhättan.

June 7th, 2007 marked the first of four full days of the 60th Anniversary Saab Festival where my first activity began at the Saab Development Center for Car Recycling (SDCC) in Trollhättan that is connected to the same building that the Saab Museum is connected to. sdcc_300.jpgThe SDCC holds an enormous selection of rare and hard-to-find brand new Saab parts and accessories, unfortunately they are not in the business of shipping worldwide, so you have to be there in person to find what you are looking for. This facility has just about every genuine Saab part and accessory you could ever imagine. One of the best Saab promotional items not a part nor an accessory at all, but the recently released SAAB 92001 “ursaab” prototype scale model. If you had the chance to visit Sweden this summer for the 60th Anniversary Saab Festival or any other time for that matter and made it over to the SDCC while you were there, you will have had an overwhelming experience with the sighting of all the rare and hard-to-find items that you never new were available, brand new!

After spending nearly an hour at the SDCC, I had to rush over to the Saab Factory for my 11:00am pre-registered free tour. saab_factory_300.jpgAlthough visiting the factory was interesting, the employees had time off so there was no movement or activity inside of the factory which meant that it was less optimal of an experience unfortunately for most. The weather however as you can see in the photo was perfect, so I managed to get some of the photos I had always wanted to take of the outside of the factory and with the arrangement of renting the Saab 9-3 SportCombi I was even able to snap some photographs of myself with my Saab with the factory in the background. Although the inside of the factory was a ghost town with barely anyone in sight, the outside of it was bustling with delivery vehicles and Saab employees passing in and out of the Huvudporten (main gate), so I am thankful that I managed to get this particular photo taken with all of the traffic that was present.

This trip being a revisit as I mentioned previously, there were a number of places that I did not make it to last time that I was adamant about visiting this time around. One of these places included the Saab Technical Center that is across the street from the Saab Factory.

saab_technical_center_300.jpgIt is at this facility that there are resources to design, test and develop Saab cars to meet todays and tomorrows automobile requirements in terms of safety, efficiency and environmental standards.

It is also interestng to note that as I was visiting this facility from the perimeter, I noticed a number of the new Saab 9-3 models being driven by employees driving into and out of the main gate, completely revealed for the public to see.

After spending some time in and around Trollhättan, it was time to leave the town for some other activities. I decided to drive North this time up to a town called Skövde, Sweden via Lidköping, Sweden to the Läcke Slott that I had visited back in 2005. The drive through this part of the West Coast of Sweden was breathtaking and it was important to note the number of windmill powered farms I spotted along the way.drive_north_300.jpg The drive itself included some of the best maintained roads I have ever driven on in the world, period. The wide lanes, full shoulders complete with Swedish drivers that passed driver’s tests and examinations both in time and cost being equivalent to the getting a pilot’s license in the United States. It was a nice change of pace in getting used to these kind of superior driving conditions and I knew it would make Sweden even more difficult to leave.

Upon my revisit to Läcke Slott, it was a refreshing feeling being back. Lackö Slott is a castle that began construction on the foundation back in 1298 and sustained additions and improvements throughout the sixteen hundreds, has become a beautiful historic landmark for Sweden. This castle has been used in a lot of marketing materials as well as the music group, Ace of Base’s music video created back in 1998 called “Travel to Romantis“.

lacke_slott_300.jpgThis castle was undergoing a substantial amount of construction during the visit, however the scaffolding was all contained to the rear of the castle which was fortunate for the tourists that were prepared to take a number of photographs of this architectural masterpiece.

balloon_300.jpgThe final event on Thursday consisted of a hot air balloon ride in town called Skövde which was about another hour North East of Lidköping, Sweden.

Upon arriving at the staging point in this town at 7pm sharp, we were greeted by the pilots and assistants and were oriented on wind patterns and whereabouts we would originate and conclude our flight. Once we agreed on a plan, we left the SportCombi and hopped into the company vehicle complete with the attached trailer with the balloon and equipment. We arrived at a quaint little town about about an hour later and began to assist the team in preparing the hot air balloon and keep in mind in Sweden at this time of year it was daylight until semi-sunset around 10:30pm. This was my first time in a hot-air balloon and when the basket finally lifted off the ground, I was surprised how subtle the experience was and also how relaxed I was when we were elevated into the Swedish sky on that beautiful summer evening.

The pilot that orchestrated the logistics and pre-flight preparations was very helpful during the early stages as well as the flight itself by pointing out to various notable geographic regions that we were fortunate to see at up to 800 meters in the sky including Lake Vänern to the North West as well as Lake Vättern to the South East.

balloon_sky_300.jpgAs the sun finally began to set, I experienced some of the most incredible vistas across the countryside of Sweden that I will never forget. The photograph that you see should give you a good idea of what that experience was like. This event on the first day of the festival was probably the highlight of the trip hands down that I highly suggest you experience if you get the chance.

As the sun rose early on Friday morning, the 8th of June, hundreds of recent high school graduates in the town of Trollhättan were driven around in trailers by tractors and other such vehicles in celebration of their recent graduation. Although I set my alarm clock for about 6:30am, I woke up like many others that were also present for the Saab Festival around 4-5am due to this overwhelming number of celebrating convoys that were heard throughout the town that morning.

museum_300.jpgWith the kind wake up call, I was up and had a nice breakfast and headed over to the Saab Museum to explore the newly remodeled museum since 2005. The arrangement of vehicles was similiar to what it had been, but this time with some new exhibitions such as one that covered Saab’s BioPower program as well as an arrangement of Saab models according to technological advancements through the ages. This visit to the Museum, I also managed to take a number of photos of the vehicles with particular attention paid to the written descriptions displayed in the windshields of many of the models being showcased. museum_inside_300.jpg
In the near future, you should expect to see more photographs of these vehicles along with some good descriptions about them and why they were important to Saab’s history and continue to be while being held in the safe confines of the Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden.

The Saab Museum’s curator is Peter Backström, whom is responsible for the organization and managing of the Saab Festivals as well as the Saab Musuem. Peter Backstrom certainly has his work cut out for him with the events, records and archives that need to be managed while also continuously maintaining and preserving all of the vintage Saab models at a high standard and ensuring that all Saabs are mechanically and electrically sound at all times.
museum_insidea_300.jpgIt is clear that the hard work that has gone into presenting each and every Saab model at the Saab Museum has been very well choreographed with the new interior redesign at the Museum.

There were a number of seminars that were taking place at the Saab Museum on Friday which consisted of the following:

“Workshop diagnostics of a Saab” with Bengt Frick, “The combustion engine” with Per Gillbrand, and “Talladega 1986” with Olle Granlund. I understand that most of these seminars were done entirely in Swedish, so for many of us, we weren’t unable to digest all or some of the content being communicated to the audience. I managed to experience the seminar done by Per Gillbrand on the combustion engine, the genius behind integrating the turbocharging technology into the Saab product line back in 1977.

Earlier in the day, I met up with John of Elkparts who also enjoyed the Saab Museum tour together as well as the seminar by Per Gillbrand.

The Saab Museum was an incredible and somewhat overwhelming experience that I suggest you visit if you have not done so already.

After we wrapped up the tour of the museum, we travelled over to the largest Saab unlimited dealership in the world, ANA Trollhättan. ana_300.jpgAt 14:15, the elaborate tour began of this incredible dealership. As a special engagement during the Saab Festival, participants were given access to just about every area of this facility. The areas we were shown include the sales, service, parts, body and paint shop.

In addition to the multiple services that this dealership provides to its customers, it also runs the International Delivery Program, Special Saab Police Car program as well as the SDCC which are all owned and operated by ANA Trollhättan.

With everything that ANA Trollhättan is doing, it is not hard to believe that this dealership has by far the largest sales record globally with over 10,000 Saab sales a year.

The final installment to the ANA Saab dealership visit included the “Saab BioPower Seminar” by Kjell ac Bergström, the chief of the program at Saab Automobile Sweden. ana_biopower_300.jpgIt was at this seminar that Kjell ac Bergström gave an incredibly informative seminar in English to the global audience on everything you need to know about Ethanol and the BioPower program with Saab while also opening up the seminar for a question and answer session.

It was immediately apparent by the applause given at the end of this seminar that everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent and thought provoking dialog on the ethanol debate as well as the Saab BioPower program.

This seminar concluded Friday’s Saab related activities so I departed for the downtown area of town to a highly recommended restaurant known as “Butlers” where I enjoyed a great talk over dinner with a number of super nice people also visiting from the Unidted States that I met whom were also here for the Saab Festival.

On Saturday, the 9th of June I embarked on a trip to Kinnekule racetrack North of Trollhättan on what was beginning to be a beautiful day with virtually no clouds in the sky. saab_grastorp_300.jpg During the trip, I enjoyed a scenic drive on route 44 between Trollhättan and Lidköping to the Kinnekule racetrack about an hour North in that beautiful 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi 1.8t rented from AVIS. During this drive, the Saab sightings were quite remarkable, in fact, there were so many sightings that a number of Saab enthusiasts admitted later in the day that they were late to the track because they decided to follow the caravans of Saabs instead of the signs to the racetrack. I believe it could be safe to say that only in Sweden could a caravan of Saabs be seen as typical. On this trip, I managed to stop off at a historical landmark for SAAB aircraft history known as Grästorp, Sweden. On route 44 between Trollhättan and Lidköping, Sweden you will pass through a town called Grästorp where alongside the road there is SAAB JA37 Viggen mounted on the ground at least a good 25 feet in the air. At this information booth I managed to uncover a number of bits of information about how this section of highway amongst many others in Sweden doubled as aircraft runways for takeoffs and landings that I have made available.

kinnekule_300.jpg Track day at Kinnekule Ring began at 08:00 and concluded at 16:00, however I arrived around 10:00am and left about 2:00pm with most everyone else due to the the excessive heat and lack of an abundance of water being present for the public to drink. I have found out that the temperature broke a record by hitting 31 centigrade. Saab Enthusiasts in attendance at the Saab Festival in Trollhättan traveled just over an hour North to Kinnekule racetrack to watch other Enthusiasts cars as well as vintage cars from the Saab Museum go out for a spin on the racetrack.

saab_9-3_convertible_300.jpgThe Track Day at Kinnekule Racetrack concluded with the Saab Performance Team act. The Saab Performance Team consists of 4 members, Kenneth Backlund, Bengt Dahl, Jean Pennholm and Kent Anderson who are also Saab engineers that work in Trollhättan, Sweden. The acrobatics and manuevers this team managed to perform on the track in 4 stock Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan Aero models including a 9-3 Convertible on 2-wheels, were simply incredible.

saab_dinner_300.jpgThe final event of the day culminated back in Trollhättan just behind the Saab Museum at a large facility retrofit for dining accomodations for 1600 Saab Enthusiasts worldwide where the 60th Anniversary Dinner took place.The Saab owners and enthusiasts that purchased tickets to this dinner were treated to a world class scandinavian cuisine while enjoying a decade by decade account of the history of Saab Automobile from notables such as Rolfe Melde, Erik Carlsson, Gunnar Palm, Stig Blomqvist and Jan-Åke Jonsson and others. This was a real treat that I hope was professionally filmed and will be archived for years to come by Saab Automobile in Sweden.

The final day had finally arrived and on that Sunday morning, I began by making it over to the former location of the Saab Advanced Concept Center in the vicinity of where all of the festivities were taking place that day.sacc_300.jpg
The Saab Advanced Concept Center (SACC) in Trollhättan, Sweden was renovated in 1998 and completed in 1999. This space was occupied from 1999 until 2003 when the Saab Design process was relocated to the Saab Design Center headquartered in Mölnlycke, Sweden just outside of Göteborg en-route to Landvetter Airport. Gert Wingårdh Architect also from Göteborg that designed the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C. also was responsible for the redesign of the Saab Advanced Concept Center.

After snapping some photos of this former facility, I managed to venture over to the Saab Enthusiasts swap meet where I located a number of items including the aforementioned SAAB 92 1:43 scale model as well as three books. The first book was published for the Saab 50th Anniversary event titled, Saab 50 Years, All cars 1947-1997, another was the extremely rare book The Development and Design of the SAAB Automobile, by Gunnar Ljungstrom and lastly En Ung Veteran, 20 Years with SAAB by Gunnar A. Sjögren.

As I continued to walk around where the Sunday festivities were taking place, I also took many photographs of the numerous Saabs on display by enthusiasts who have driven short and long distances for the Saab Festival. Similiarly to many other Saab events, the models were all properly aligned throughout the various parking lots. The weather was nice, but the continuation of the record-breaking intense heat made it really difficult to really spend the necessary time to appreciate each and every Saab on display as I would have liked. Furthermore, the lack of water available in the area made it that much more intense, so I hope that in the future festival there will be an abundance of water available for people in order to properly hydrate themselves.

Later in the morning, the “Stars & Saabs” car parade took place at 11:10am sharp, but I was not within close proximity to snap photos at the time of when it began, so I did end up missing some of the 15 minute parade. I hope that others who have best captured it will be able to provide such footage for others to enjoy here on Saab History. I do know that individuals such as Erik Carlsson drove a 96, Stig Blomqvist driving a 99 to Björn Envall driving the EV-1.

laura_oh_300.jpgAfter sitting down to a quick lunch near the Saab Museum, the Swedish band Laura Oh with lead singer Frida Öhrn began their concert starting with the much anticipated song “Release Me

Laura Oh performed a number of songs on the stage on Sunday afternoon leading up to the unveiling of the new Saab 9-3 range. One of the songs that Laura Oh is most notable for is the “Release Me” television advertisement that has gained a lot of global popularity over the recent months.

saab_9-3_unveiling_300.jpgAt last, the moment everyone was waiting for, the official unveiling of the new Saab 9-3 model range took place at one o’clock on schedule. While there were many excited to witness the event first hand, there were many surprised to see the number of test cars throughout Trollhättan days and weeks before the public unveiling without any protective coverings for all to see. It is however, incredible to see how the design of the Aero-X styling cues were integrated into the new 9-3 that were overseen by the Director of Design of Saab Automobile, Simon Padian at the Saab Design Center as detailed in the new 9-3 design promotional video. As a special tribute to the new 9-3 unveiling in Trollhättan, four SAAB SK60 jets from Linköping performed in the sky as a tribute to the 60th Anniversary Saab Festival and was quite a sight for all of the spectators present on that beautiful, but hot Sunday afternoon.

The 2007 Saab Festival celebrating 60 years of Saab Automobile operations was a real treat and I am thoroughly happy that I made the the trip this year once again. In comparison to the 2005 Saab Festival, this event was simply much larger in scale in just about every way so I would be hard pressed to be able to compare the two simply because this event was geared for a much greater audience.

The 60th Anniversary Saab Festival was a truly magnificent and memorable event that I will never forget. See you at the next Saab Festival in 2009!

P.S. I would be very interested in seeing our comments after reading this summary by clicking on the comments link.

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4 Responses to “The 60th Anniversary Saab Festival 2007”

  1. Corrine

    08. Jul, 2007

    What a travelogue…lots of detail.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Moose one

    08. Jul, 2007

    My moose and I loved your write-up, but after a few paragraphs we became overwhelmed. When I looked over at my happy stuffed moose toy, he had fallen on his back. Maybe it was the excitement, ya think? Certainly not boredom.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Laban Paul

    31. Jul, 2009

    Their is so much detail in this blog. Great to went through your blog.

    Laban Paul

    Reply to this comment
  4. Corrine

    31. Jul, 2009

    That was a great read!!

    Reply to this comment

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