2008 Saab Owners Convention – Friday

Posted on 26. Aug, 2008 by in 2000-2009, Events

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On Friday, August 22nd, I arrived at the 2008 Saab Owners Convention in Devens, Massachusetts in my 1992 Saab 900 Turbo Project completed the week before.

Upon arrival, I registered at the main lobby of the hotel and then proceeded towards the parts vendor field, nearly a half a mile away from the convention center in order to unload some Saab literature and materials along with Granite Embedded Systems of New Hampshire.1.jpg

Fortunately, the weather was quite good, a bit on the hot side but with the nearly three solid months of rain this summer, I think everyone accepted the high heat index compared to torrential downpours, especially with other nearby vendors with an abundance of water, something that was not present at the 2007 Saab Festival in Sweden.

There was a lot of activities I was looking forward to participating in with my fiancee, especially today beginning with the test drives and vintage drives, but unfortunately, neither took place this year for some reason. I was also hopeful that the Saab Performance Team would make a surprise visit to the nearby air strip according to the rumors, but that also did not hold true.

3.jpgIn lieu of these activities, I did get in the doors of the “parts tent” which opened promptly at 10am, where there where numerous Saab owners and enthusiasts alike acting in a shopping frenzy to seek out any part, accessory, t-shirt, tire, wheel or you name it before anyone else. I must say that there were a lot of people in the room of the hotel where this activity took place, but it was not as insane as doors opened to the SDCC parts sale again, at the 2007 Saab Festival in Sweden last year. I walked away with a $5 engine block heater now that I live in Northern New England, which almost broke my budget.

As lunchtime arrived, I managed to drive back to the “other” camp, again about a 1/2 mile away to the hotel to pickup lunch, then turn right around to bring my other colleagues their lunch as well as they sweltered on the tarmac where the parts vendors were positioned on that day.

2.jpgBy 2:00, I raced back up to the hotel to attend the John Moss seminar on Swedish Air Conditioning. I was initially prepared to sit down in an air-conditioned room, to learn about why all of my Saab’s air conditioning systems fail and never work, but all of us attending that seminar were hit by a nice dose of humor as John Moss introduced a unique Saab heating system from the 1968-1969 era! A great surprise, comical delivery, but an entertaining seminar nonetheless.

As I made my way out of the seminar room, I met up with some folks from the GM Next and surprisingly saw two of them filming the convention! I asked them where they got the budgets to film this year as everyone I asked, did not have the budgets as I mentioned a few weeks ago here on Saab History. They indicated that due to the 100 year anniversary taking place on September 16th, 2008, there was some remaining expenditures, so they might as well film some of this event. Thankfully they did, so it’s great to hear that they got the budget last minute! A thank you to whomever authorized this expenditure at the GM Social Media Team!

5.jpgThe heat finally started to take its toll, and as the day started to come to a close, we began closing up our setup in the “other” camp, and headed back to the hotel region to walk around and see the GM Heritage Collection, namely that 1978 Saab 99 Turbo as well as the Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept car. I asked around as I was hoping to see both the former Saab-Scania of America President, Bob Sinclair as well as legendary Saab rally champion, Erik Carlsson, but I was informed that both were unable to attend this year.

4.jpgThe speaker for the evening was none other than Sten Wennlo, former Saab Automobile AB VP & Chief of Public Relations from 1968 until 1989, effectively the entirely Saab-Scania Saab Car Division Era. Sten Wennlo began his presentation about how he first got a job with Saab Cars in Sweden in Nyköping, and helped to sell the SAAB 96 due to getting younger drivers behind the wheel thanks to Erik Carlsson as well as how he managed to work with Per Gillbrand & the Scania truck division in Södertälje, Sweden. to create the first Saab Turbo in late 1977 as a 1978 99 model year. On a surprising note, Mr. Wennlo ended his presentation about what he believes will answer the demands of the public with a 1 liter Saab 9-X BioHybrid stating explicitly that just GM should not be hesitant in building a car like this and that if it is built, no one should be loosing their job as a result. I guess there’s more politics behind why GM is still on the fence about building a small car that the public needs.

The evening came to a close and many of us retired to the outdoor bar-b-que that the friendly folks at the New England Saab Association who have been running the grill in parallel to the dinner for those that chose to go for day-passes instead of registering for the entire convention.. A significant amount of donations to the club that were donated to the Kyle & Tim Crisman Foundation (Springtime in Sweden) as a result, and a nice wrap-up to the day.

2nd Day, Saturday

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