Saab History Visits GM Media Archives

Posted on 29. Jan, 2008 by in 2000-2009, Detroit, Michigan

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On January 15th, shortly after my visit to the GM Heritage Center, I was afforded the opportunity to visit the GM Media Archive where the “official” Saab Film collection is stored for Saab Automobile USA.

The GM Media Archive is located in Livonia, Michigan about 30 minutes from downtown Detroit and about 45 minutes from the GM Heritage Center.

Upon my arrival I was granted the ability on a per request basis per photo to take snapshots, but digital video was not an option at this high security facility. I began my visit by getting a nice introduction and primer as to how this facility was managed, how the media material is stored and safeguarded and what their backup/contingency plans are for keeping the material in the event of a disaster.

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Photo Credits: Saab History

The first part of the actual tour started out with a walk through the various film libraries ranging from media in 8mm, 16mm, 35mm films to Digital Betacam. Of course, I was focused only on the the “Saab Film Collection” as I am calling it, which is a very small percentage of what this facility maintains covering all of GM’s brands. This Saab Film Collection consists of a number of films roughly totalling around 300 as I understand it, and are mostly converted over already to Digital Betacam format and in some instances, electronic format as well at this time.

I was told that these films that are housed in this collection arrived shortly after Saab Cars USA relocated to Detroit from their former headquarters in Norcross, Georgia in 2004. This material that was shipped from Norcross, was split up so that the videos would be stored here and the photos and paper material would be stored at the GM Heritage Center, for better maintainence and cataloging as I have depicted earlier.

I was then shown their computer cataloging system which gave me a good idea of what this collection consisted of, and for all intents and purposes, appears to date back to the late eighties, which is a lot later than I would have thought it did. It is great to hear that this collection exists, but I must wonder where all of the films from the late 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and early to mid eighties have gone before this move? I even asked this question to some of the friendly staffers which indicate that these situations are all too common in this industry, believing that many of these collections have typically ended up in former employees hands over the years. I certainly concur, given that we have received a number of these films as donations dating back to these years from former employees for our enjoyment here on Saab History.

During my visit, I got the chance to see everything from their duplication room to their storage archive. I was initially hoping that I could walk down an aisle of Saab videos, films, etc. and just browse like I was able to in the Saab Archive back at the GM Heritage Center. 4_3001.jpgThis opportunity to browse, was not the case here at all. These films are all cataloged with bar codes and there were no distinctive visuals or writing cueing you into identifying them as a “Saab Video” in a browseable manner. These films are also cataloged in terms of quality, not by brand, which made browsing certainly not a realistic option. The method in which one looks up film is actually a bit easier than I thought and it is not surprisingly done by computer. Their computer system accesses a database and within that database you can narrow your search down by brand, so we of course immediately directed our efforts to everything labeled “Saab”, and not “SAAB” since the archive did not go back to 1969 or earlier. The films that showed up included a variety of areas, all classified by what was literally written on the films, so if the labeling on the film wasn’t accurate from whomever originally produced the video, neither was the description that ended up in the database. I took the opportunity at this stage to do a few hypothetical run-throughs requesting films to literally pull off of the shelf and view. The first film I viewed was a film produced in 1993 featuring Saab Cars, USA’s PR representative test driving a 1993 9000 CS model on a track (note the labeling as depicted on the photo above as “Saab 900” being clearly incorrect here).

5_3001.jpgI was really impressed with this process where one could request a film, then they look it up in their computer database, then simply walk to where it would be located on the shelf and pull it from the bar code identification, then pop it in one of their expensive “VCRs” and play it in broadcast quality.

The ability to easily access this material in an intuitive format is great and it is nice that Saab Automobile USA has a tool like this available, but it certainly brings up again an incredibly important issue. Currently, this information is not available to the public to enjoy like I have on my website here in the Saab Video Archive. I believe, that we all need to enjoy every film in this collection in the same way we have already been enjoying the existing collection on Saab History. I owe it the myself and the Saab Community at large to see to it that we can enjoy this collection as well in a similiar method that so far, people really enjoy here on the this website. Please wish me well in this pursuit in the spirit of furthering our education on all things Saab moving ahead.

All in all, I was delighted that the schedules worked out so that I was able to get a tour of this facility shortly after visiting the GM Heritage Center earlier. This last day in the greater Detroit, Michigan area following the 2008 North American International Auto Show where the Saab 9-4x BioPower premiered was certainly a great way to end such an eventful and exciting trip.

A sincere and appreciative thank you goes to the staff at the GM Heritage Center, the staff at the GM Media Archive and Saab Automobile USA for making this happen in order to share this experience with the Saab Community.

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8 Responses to “Saab History Visits GM Media Archives”

  1. Joseph T. Mathis

    23. Jul, 2008

    Ryan,

    I have just read about your trip to the Saab Archive. What took me to the Saab History .com page, was a search for a friend who has a Saab 92B. He’s been looking for a copy of the parts list and service manual.

    Anyway, by reading your article, I was reminded of a question I asked of the man who was the head of Saab USA, back in the ’50’s, (can’t recall his name, deceased) . I asked him if he could locate a copy of the kinescope recording of Dave Garroway driving a Saab on the Today Show, back about 1956 or 1957. I saw that show, I was either 15 or 16 at the time. I’ve never forgotten it.

    When Dave G. hosted the show, once a week, someone would drive up outside the large plate glass windows of the NBC studio, and Dave would go outside, talk to the person delivering the car, then take it for a test drive. After he came back from his 4 or 5 minute drive around a few Manhattan blocks, he’d report on his impressions of the car.

    Seeing that Saab for the first time was the beginning of my interest in Saabs.

    Well, anyway, if you know if the GM Archives would have a copy of this recording, or (going back to my opening remarks ) a parts list and service manual for the 92, I’d be happy to hear from you on this.

    Thanks for reading.

    Sincerely yours,

    Joseph T. Mathis
    mathisj@william.jewell.edu

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryan

    24. Jul, 2008

    Joseph,

    Thank you for your note here.

    There are some people that have these SAAB Service manuals for the 92 as well as 93B, F and other vintage models.

    I would see if you could request a full scan of one via PDF actually.

    Where else have you looked for this item?

    As for the GM Archives, the videos apparently only go back as far as the early 1980’s.

    I will keep on the search for vintage material as soon as I come across any leads, so here’s hoping!

    Please let me know if you have any more questions.

    Best,

    Ryan

    Reply to this comment
  3. Kirby

    23. Feb, 2010

    I remember the Dave Garroway show err, the Today Show hosted by Dave Garroway. He was a character. I don’t remember the Saab thing, but I don’t think I watched it until the 60’s. Does anyone know when he stepped down/retired? Who was the next host?
    Wow, I wish I had seen those Saab bits on his show.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Joseph Mathis

    23. Feb, 2010

    Ryan,

    Thanks for forwarding the link to the note by Kirby.

    First, an update on Dave Garroway: he hosted the Today Show from 1952 until 1961. It was back then that I eagerly awaited the segment of the show when someone would arrive outside the studio in a car. Dave would go outside and interview the driver, and then proceed to drive the car around a bit, while Jack Lescouli did the sports or Frank Blair did the weather. After Dave returned, he would report his impressions of the drive, the cars handling and performance, no simple feat, given that he had to drive around Manhattan.

    It was probably about 1957, when the first Saabs were arriving near Hingham, MA, that Ralph Millet arrived with a Saab for Dave to drive.

    In 1997 at Waterville Valley, I spoke with Mr. Millet about his delivery of the car to Dave on the show. He remembered it very well. I asked him if he knew of a Kenescope recording that might exist of the episode. He checked with NBC but was never able to locate the shows episode. If anyone has a way of researching this and finding this tape (film), it would be a great piece of Saab USA history.

    Thanks again,

    Joseph Mathis

    Reply to this comment
  5. Andreas Lööv

    02. Apr, 2010

    Hi Ryan!

    I have both the spare parts list and the service manual for the Saab 92b in pdf format, if you want it I email it to you.
    Let me know the email adress and I send it right away.

    Sincerely yours

    Andreas Lööv from Sweden.

    Reply to this comment
    • Luca

      15. Jan, 2012

      Hi Andreas,

      I’m restoring a 92B too. Could I have parts list and service manual in PDF please?

      Many thanks

      Luca Spano’

      Reply to this comment
  6. tahar djebbar maamar

    16. Aug, 2010

    j’ai lhonneure de vous contacter je vous demondez de bien vouloire m’onvoyez numero de fax de centre de design saab afin que je puis vous envoyez des modeles incomparable puor des voiture et des camions j’ai un talent en design interieure et exterieure dant l’atente dune suite favorable resever monsieur mes cinseres salutation distinguer.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Yoan Granier

    03. Apr, 2012

    Hello everybody!
    I am here because I am french student whose live in Göteborg for one year. I am in master of historry my subject is the aircraft history of SAAB. So, I take all help. This is my email yoan_granier@hotmail.fr.
    Thanks. Best regards.

    Reply to this comment

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