Tag Archives: Bob Sinclair

Robert J. Sinclair, A SlideShow Of Memories (1932-2009)

Posted on 30. Jun, 2009 by .


Saab History has just received a very nice slideshow representing the memories and accomplishments of former President Of Saab-Scania Of America, Bob Sinclair.

Robert J. Sinclair, former CEO of SAAB in North America and beloved father, husband, and friend, passed away peacefully on May 10, 2009. He was a gifted pianist, raced sports cars, offshore powerboats and his beloved Volvo Burro dunebuggy, and had a lifelong passion for fine automobiles, motorcycles, classical music and native american fishes which he avidly studied and collected for his aquaria. His good friend John Stein assembled this slide show of snapshots from his life, which was played at a celebration of Bob’s life on June 20th 2009 near his home in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Bob Sinclair, Learned Of Koenigsegg Arrangement In 2004

Posted on 23. Jun, 2009 by .


This just in from a colleague of mine with permission to publish granted. It involves Bob Sinclair’s knowledge of the Koenigsegg plan back in 2004!

I find this news exciting, bot not necessarily surprising since the aircraft inspired emphasis was being built-up a year later in 2005. At that time, we heard from Saab Automobile AB’s President, Jan-Ake Jonsson that this plan began in 2005, so today, we’re finally seeing it transition into the new era finally.

I have no doubts that Koenigsegg was part of the original plan from the very beginning. I believe that 26 of the original 27 bidders that entered the process, were in there for due diligence sake on behalf of the reconstruction team, with a very small few knowing who would originally come out in the end.

If Bob Sinclair knew it was going to be Koenigsegg all along, cheers to him for keeping this a secret all of these years.

Here’s the e-mail with the proof.

from    Bob Sinclair
date    Thu, Apr 8, 2004 at 12:27 AM
subject RE: Koenigsegg

Congratulations.  To my recollection you just wrote the very first e-mail message to hit my PC that mentioned the Koenigsegg … other than folks involved directly in the project, I mean, as I was contacted very early in the project by one of Christian von Koenigsegg’s team, suggesting I might want to become involved in the project.  I didn’t, though.  But I sure was tempted.


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Saab-Scania Of America Dealer Support Promo Video With Sten Helling, National Director Sales & Marketing – 1987

Posted on 04. Jun, 2009 by .


Sten Helling, former National Manager of Sales & Marketing for Saab-Scania of America, Inc. until he retired as President on October of 1991, significantly impacted Saab’s sales in the United States over that time.

Through a stellar effort along with former President of Saab-Scania of America, Bob Sinclair and their team in Orange, Connecticut, they ensured the historical “60 consecutive months of sales growth” from 1982 until 1986.

There were many aspects that contributed to this unprecedented time for Saab in the United States, but one of them was quite clear, dealership development.

In this video above received a the Saabs @ Carlisle event recently, Sten Helling describes all of the aspects that the Saab team prepared, in order to support the dealerships in the United States in 1987 for the following year.

You will find that this support is absolutely incredible, and it is my hope that this kind of organized, well thought out and planned approach can return again some day in the not-so-distant future for Saab in the United States.

I hope you enjoy watching this video whether you are a consumer, dealer or just plain all around enthusiast interested in seeing a turnaround for Saab Automobile.

* Stored Permanently in the Saab History Video Archive.

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Saab History Visits “Saabs @ Carlisle” – 5.16.2009

Posted on 18. May, 2009 by .


This past Saturday, May 16th, 2009, I managed to get down to the annual Saab show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania “The State of Independence” with a colleague of mine’s new 2008 9-3 2.0T SportCombi.

The Saab show, launched by the Central Pennsylvania Saab Club 10 years ago was apparently suggested by the local Opel club 10 years ago this weekend. This suggestion to have Saabs placed in the show adjacent to the Opels would make some good sense, since professionally speaking, Saab have partnered with Opel in development for the past 15 years or so. Having Opels & Saabs at a car show, alongside each other made logical sense. Since then, the incremental growth of the Saab show at the event over the past 10 years has been outstanding. It was to be expected that this year, over 200 vehicles turned out, making it another record attendance.

While the weather was variable, the rain held up throughout the day during my visit and as a result, I had quite the time getting to take more of an in-depth experience since my first visit, a whole two years ago when the Saab USA Heritage Collection was present.

As I circumnavigated the Highways, Streets, Roads, Avenues, Vistas and other developed marque designations for Saab models, I got to see a nice variety including just about every production Saab production model. I also explored other manufacturer’s camps this year including Saab’s Swedish sister, Volvo. In speaking with them, they said, they continue to be surprised by just how many Saabs show up year after year without fail. I told them, that these people are devoted so much that they may break another record this year of attendance, even when the future direction of Saab Automobile has been uncertain for the past year.

There were also many dealerships involved this year, three this time including an independent and Saab History sponsor, Swedish Motor Cars of Washington, D.C.!

I have said it before and I will say it again, it is clear that the the “SAAB” presence far outweighed all other marques on the lawn that day the sheer square footage that was designated as “Saabs @ Carlisle”.

Unlike my previous visit two years ago, I managed to visit the vendor spaces that included those specifically selling a plethora of SAAB parts, accessories, product literature & toys. One of the vendors showed up for the first time this year, where I managed to acquire an incredible amount of never before seen videos and other television advertisements, stay tuned!

Throughout the event, the photography, conversing with colleagues, and all other activities were great, however the memorable experience this year was the tribute to Bob Sinclair during the lunch hour where we gave a moment of silence.

I hope that this summary and photographs best captures some of the major Saab highlights as well as the other key aspects of the Saabs @ Carlisle event this past Saturday, May 16th, 2009.

This second visit was very good and I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend it.

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Robert J. Sinclair (1931-2009)

Posted on 11. May, 2009 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History / Saab USA 60th Anniversary Event, San Diego, California Feb, 2007

bobanne.jpgRobert J. Sinclair, Former chairman and President Of Saab-Scania Of America passes away at the age of 77.

Friends, it is with a very heavy heart that we share this news we’ve received from Santa Barbara, California. Our friend Robert “Uncle Bob” Sinclair has succumbed to his valiant battle with cancer. He passed away last evening around 8:30pm PST surrounded by his beloved wife of 56 years, Anne Sinclair, and members of his family. Bob was a great friend to all those who came his way, a devoted family man and the manifestation of a sort of sea-change in the way the automotive industry was conducted in the latter half of the 20th century.

Sinclair first joined Saab in March, 1958 as one of the Swedish automaker’s first field representatives when the company was known as Saab Motors, Inc. He further served as public relations manager and advertising manager. In 1962, Sinclair accepted a position at Volvo. He went onto assume the role of president of Volvo’s Western U.S. distribution company, which was based in California. There he created a strong and effective network of dealers, dramatically increasing sales volume.

In 1979, Bob Sinclair rejoined Saab as the President of Saab-Scania of America, where he changed the image of Saab in the United States into a more upscale and worthy contender in the automotive landscape. During this time, he was responsible for introducing the Saab 900 Turbo, the Saab 900 Convertible as well as the Saab 9000 model lineup which, along with his strengths, led to the historic “60 consecutive months of positive sales” for Saab cars in the United States (1982-1986). At that time, Sweden’s King Carl Gustav XVI named Sinclair the commander of the polar star, the highest honor presented to persons other than heads of state for economic, cultural and academic contributions in Sweden.

In 1991, he retired and handed over the torch to his colleague, Sten Helling. According to Sinclair, “It has never been my plan to work to the traditional retirement age of 65, as I have many and varied personal interests that business pressures have kept me from pursuing to the degree to which I’d like.” He continued, “I love fly fishing. A leading automotive journal recently summed it up when it quoted me as saying, “It takes ten minutes to tie a fly. I don’t have ten minutes.”

Bob was the guy who challenged the engineers at Saab in the early 80s to construct that Saab 900 Convertible concept which later spawned a revolution of new drop-top models across the world automotive scene and quite possibly earned Saab permanent recognition as a builder of truly world-class convertible automobiles. Bob presided over one of the most prosperous times for Saab in the United States, changing the way that car companies interact with their customers and extend the customer service experience into innovative new media.

Bob’s cordial manner and lust for life will certainly be missed as we move forward, but perhaps we can all take a page from the book of life that Bob wrote in his 76 years on this Earth. Even when Bob knew his time with us would be cut short by cancer, he didn’t let it get him down; living every moment he could for the sake of living. He once said it best in an interview conducted by Saab History: “It’s easier to apologize than to ask permission.” This quote, perhaps a mantra to some, I think sums up what our dear old friend was all about.

Bob, old friend, we hope that you’ve achieved whatever celestial reward you were hoping for. We hope the vintage motorcycles, Ferraris and Dune Buggies are full of fuel, and that the roads are twisty and gorgeous and that you never run out of rare fish to find. The Saab community, which certainly wouldn’t be as strong had you not achieved such great things as an individual and in business, will never forget you.

Friends, we would invite you to share any memories you may have shared with Mr. Sinclair in the comments section.

Ryan Emge & Carl Levine


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Former Saab USA Employee Tom Letourneau Shares With Saab History His Restored & Modified 1979 Saab 99

Posted on 06. May, 2009 by .


Photo Credits: Tom Letourneau

Tom Letourneau of Providence, Rhode Island, a former Saab-Scania of America employee worked for almost a decade as a district parts sales manager in Orange, Connecticut from 1980 to 1989, has kindly provided Saab History a nice account of his restored & heavily modified 1979 Saab 99 GL 2-door.

This Saab 99, had a color coordinated european air flow kit installed, then it was converted to a Saab 900S Twin Cam 16-Valve engine and 5-speed transmission in the mid nineties!

A sincere thank you to Tom Letourneau, your enthusiasm is evident and your kindness in providing this material is much appreciated.

Here is a writeup in the Providence Journal thanks again to Tom.

CUMBERLAND Tom Letourneau’s 1979 Saab 99 hardly looks its age.

In addition to its modest size and modernist design, the car is armed with a Euro AirFlow Kit that, with its lower body panels, front scoop and spoilers plus Shelby American Mag Wheels, gives it an updated tuner look.

But the AirFlow package dates back nearly 30 years when Letourneau, who worked for Saab at the time, said he and others convinced the company to import a show car.

However, Saab decided not to import the package and Letourneau acquired the car after it had done its turn as a demonstration and executive model.

Letourneau then took it a step further — after his son had blown out the engine — by installing a 16-valve twin-cam engine with a five-speed transmission that he picked up from a Saab dealer in Maine.

“George Siegmund of South County Motors helped me fabricate it,” he said in an interview at his house. “It’s the only one like it in the country.”

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Saab History Wants An Aggressive Relaunch Of Saab Automobile In North America This Year

Posted on 01. May, 2009 by .


It has been twenty years since I recall seeing one of the most aggressive advertising campaigns spearheaded by none other than former Saab-Scania of America, Inc’s, Bob Sinclair.

In this video, filmed in 1989 at the former Saab-Scania headquarters in Orange, Connecticut, just before 50% of Saab Automobile was purchased by General Motors, you will see Bob Sinclair sending a strong message about an aggressive advertising campaign that really hits the nail on the head.

At that time, it was the energy that leaders such as Bob Sinclair had that really encouraged people to be excited about a car company such as Saab and you can see it in the video so clearly.

Today, it’s about not only leadership and energy, but also those that have passion for the company and we need to bridge that gap this year to what Bob Sinclair brought to the table. I have said it before and I will say it again, we need all of this and more for the new Saab Automobile North America, Inc. that I hope is relaunched later this year in the United States.

We need a workforce that is committed to the company, we need leaders that are focused on long-term success, and we need a new home that is appropriate and logical and makes the most sense for the company.

I am a strong proponent for an aggressive relaunch of Saab Automobile in the United States this year and again, I am committed in assisting in this process in just about any way I can.

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Saab History Suggests That Saab Automobile USA Leave Detroit & Relocate Headquarters Back To New England

Posted on 27. Mar, 2009 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History

As Saab Automobile AB continues its reconstruction process and General Motors work out deals pertaining to their future, there are a lot of areas now that are being forgotten, namely the number one market in the world, the United States.

As others have also suggested, it seems clear that between now and December 31st, 2009, when General Motors ends its funding of Saab Automobile AB, it should be easily understood and obvious that Saab Automobile USA’s offices will no longer have any reason to be located within the Renaissance Center at GM headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.

I believe that Saab Automobile USA should not only leave the GM Renaissance Center, but Detroit, Michigan entirely. I am not the only one that thinks so, many now former Saab employees beginning in 2002, and again in 2005 chose not to move to Detroit.

As you know, the Northeast region of the United States is where Saab began its stateside operations in 1956. The Northeast region is also still Saab’s most significant share of the market. Over the past few years, the sales in this region have been reduced due to the lack of institutional knowledge being applied to the Saab brand in the areas of Products, Promotions, Placement and dealership development. Ralph Millet & Bob Sinclair’s team at SAAB Motors, Inc. & Saab-Scania of America, Inc. respectively, did an incredible job in these areas. During their long tenures the company’s headquarters was located in the Northeast region of the United States at both New Haven (10-years) as well as Orange, Connecticut (20-years). It was location that was certainly a factor at building a stronghold in this geographic region over 30 years, it was certainly not irrelevant. Another example besides Saab, would be L.L. Bean in Maine, as a current model of this kind of geographic influence on building a strong and loyal customer base over a period of time due to proxemics.

Let’s also not forget as Saab History has been recently brought up to speed on, it was General Motors that forcibly moved Saab Cars USA, Inc. in 1992 to Norcross, Georgia from It’s Orange, Connecticut campus. This decision to make this move was against not only the wishes of the Saab leadership and staff, but also against the advisement of a Boston based consultancy firm that did a 1-month review of the pros/cons of moving out of New England. Their findings, stay in New England, your number one market. It’s one thing to relocate headquarters from one place to another, but when you’ve built a loyal following and customer base over 30 years and leave, you are not just relocating, you are turning your back on your roots. It’s time to return home.

When Saab Automobile emerges from reconstruction, there will need to be a clear and concerted effort in re-establishing itself in in the United States beginning with the relocating of the Saab Automobile USA headquarters relocating back to where it began. I can envision a new low overhead headquarters in the greater Boston, Massachusetts region named “Saab Automobile of North America, Inc”, complete with the GM Heritage Center & Saab Media Archives stacks also relocated within, as the first step in the right direction.

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