Tag Archives: saab owners convention

1995 Saab NG 900 Pikes Peak Car Sold At Auction For $8,470

Posted on 14. Jan, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Barret Jackson

At 4:00pm yesterday in Scottsdale, Arizona, the 1995 Saab NG 900 Pikes Peak Car sold for $8470.00 at the Barret Jackson Auction house.

I mentioned this vehicle back on December 19th, and I hope it’s the last Saab USA Heritage Collection car to be sold.

I hope that this car makes its way to its rightful owners, either the Saab Automobile museum in Sweden or the Rocky Mountain Saab Club who are hosting the 2009 Saab Owners Convention nearby Pikes Peak Colorado.

At this time, I have no idea who purchase the car, but I hope to find out soon.

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Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Joel Manby

Posted on 31. Dec, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Manby (L-to-R Ralph Millet, Joel Manby, Bob Sinclair)

I have recently had the privilege of interviewing Joel Manby, the former Saab USA President from June of 1996 until April of 2000.

Below is his updated and candid account of our interview, it is a great read, so take the time and enjoy!

Thank you Joel for your time and contribution, we all appreciate it!

Saab History: How Did you end up joining Saab Cars USA in June of 1996?

Manby: I worked at Saturn as a Regional Vice President and was picked to lead Saab Cars USA in order to improve the dealership distribution network by making it more focused and more profitable.

I used to co own some retail dealerships so I knew how important the car buying experience was in the customer’s final decision on what brand to buy, especially since it was the 2nd most expensive purchase a family would make after a home. I also knew that our competitors like BMW, Audi and Volvo had a much more profitable and focused dealer network. I was determined to reinvigorate the dealership network to turn around the car buying experience to one that was enthusiastic for not only the customer, but the dealership’s sales team as well. We were asking dealers to invest in exclusive dealerships and sales people so in many cases we actually removed some dealers who were not committed or dueled with poor brands in order to get other dealers to invest heavily. Our basic goal was to go from selling 25,000 Saabs through 360 poorly focused stores (average = 70/year per store) to 40,000 sold Saabs through 240 stores (a more focused and profitable average of 170/year per store). Dealers need to know they can be profitable before they will invest.

Saab History: How did this strategy work?

Manby: The units sold per dealership increased to over 150/store as did the national sales figures which topped 40,000 during my time. We had more exclusive stores than any time in recent history and had the 2nd highest sales year in Saab history to that point….so I would say it worked well. We also gained huge share in Southern California where we were almost non existent.

Saab History: Consistent advertising was never something that Saab had, what did you do to turn this around?
[…]

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Saab 9-3 Turbo-X Reviewed in Colorado

Posted on 14. Oct, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

A Saab 9-3 Turbo-X has recently been reviewed by a journalist in Colorado for Colorado Daily.

The review was quite positive and great given that it could provide some good exposure to the Colorado market. Here is my favorite line from the writeup.

“Saabs are as sophisticated in safety as they are in active handling and performance.”

The thing is here I would hope that these vehicles would sell, and there were only 600 available in North America! It is worth mentioning that Saab Automobile USA used to have some great presence in Colorado with two great Colorado police departments. These police departments in ski resorts (Vail & Aspen respectively) used to be active ambassadors for the brand for nearly 30 years until 2005, when unknowningly, GM pulled the plug on this relationship.

When I asked both departments about why the program ended, they told me that they wanted to continue and tried as hard as they could but GM did not give them an option of continuing, which is absolutely sad.

So here we have another press release of the Turbo-X, and wouldn’t it have been quite the appropriate police interceptor for both departments, but again too little too late both police departments have moved onto Toyota & Volvo.

I see the 2009 Saab Owners Convention as Saab Automobile’s last hope to save this particular market in the United States.

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2008 Saab Owners Convention – Sunday

Posted on 26. Aug, 2008 by .

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Sunday, August 24th marked the conclusion of the 2008 Saab Owners Convention after two full days, on both Friday & Saturday.

For those who woke up extra early that morning, which were approximately 25-30, we got to see the same Saab 9-3 Convertible “Recycle” ad again, but we also got to see the second “work in progress” television ad that featured the Saab USA 9-3 Sport Sedan XWD that we could not see the night before. In addition, to these two new television ads, we also got to see a very well done 1 minute 30 second promotional video. This promotional video, that I believe should be an ad, albeit shortened of course, excluding less critical components. I see this as another ad contender because it encompassed all of what Saab stands for, finally representing the “Saab brand pillars” as Jay Spenchian first referred to them as. If this was also the work of the folks at McCann-Erickson, being their 3rd video overall, congratulations, you are well on your way!

ssxwd.jpgAs the videos ran their course, the classic 2008 “Saab Round Table” took place. This year, unlike the past years namely 2006 and 2007 where they were filmed, Stephen Goldberger, formerly of Nines Magazine, MC, emphasized that there was to be no videotaping, audio recording nor photographing this candid discussion between the folks at Saab Automobile USA (Steve Shannon, Jan-Willem & John Libbos) and the participants at the 2008 Saab Owners Convention. While I understand the request, I am surprised that that they would be requesting this because if anything critical was to be said, it certainly would not be stated in public anyways such as when and where a product would be released or what the new 9-5 will look like.

In the 52 minute 2008 Saab Round Table, Steve Shannon again responded to Rick Wagoner’s comments as he did the night before, where he indicated that Saab in Europe is doing well, Saab USA has some challenges due to currency exchanges and other economics, but will be shortly in a better position to become profitable just as Saab Automobile is in Europe.

parts.jpgOther questions and answers involved the existing dealership network, future products as well as advertising and marketing as well as details about availability and the possibility of creating a business case for opening up specifications for vintage parts from Saab Sweden that Saab Cars Musem Curator, Peter Backstrom chimed in on.

The final chapter of the event this Sunday concluded with the parts auction by John Moss ranging from rare Saab 900 spoilers to play toys and miniature model cars, it seemed like there was something for just about everyone and no price was too low!

turbox1.jpgAs I made my way outside after the parts auction, I met up with Alex of Herb Chambers Saab, a Saab History sponsor, who was showcasing a beautiful 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo-X, which was a great way to wrap up the 2008 Saab Owners Convention celebrating 30 years of the Saab Turbo with none other than this special limited production Saab Turbo.

At approximately noon, the weekend of activities came to an end, and all were packed in advance and departed leaving the 2008 Saab Owners Convention as a not too distant memory.

Prevous Day, Saturday

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2008 Saab Owners Convention – Saturday

Posted on 26. Aug, 2008 by .

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7.jpgOn Saturday, August 23rd, I arrived promptly by 9am to thankfully continue selling Saab literature in the shade this time around, but also to sign up for the people’s choice lawn event. The people’s choice event involved just that, showing your car to the people, and the people can cast their vote all any Saab based on any factor, whether that be appearance, interesting approach or any other subjective reason.

While the judging continued, I met up with Liam of Okemo Mountain Resort, who hosted Saab History this past March during the Aero-X Ski test drive in Ludlow, Vermont. 8.jpgLiam brought with him, his Saab 9-5 Aero which made had its first encounter with a dynometer, an instrument used to test the torque, horsepower and a number of other performance features of automobiles. Evidently, the statistics report produced after the experience, were right in line with the manufacturers specs, so that was comforting!

At noon, the New England Saab Association made their renewed and strong presence felt as they decided to do another bar-b-que in parallel to the boxed lunch activity.9.jpg This allowed for those day trippers, whom far outweighted full convention registrations, a chance to eat at the vendor & field area, a good 1/2 mile from the hotel. Even Felix Bosshard, former owner of Gaston-Andrey of Boston, mentioned in the book “In Quest Of A Company Soul”, who made a surprise appearance at the Saab Owners Convention, went directly to the bar-b-que! Way to go NESA!

The majority of Saturday involved lawn events from the Concours and aforementioned People’s Choice to a rescheduled group photo at about 2pm.
10.jpg The group photo, in my opinion, should be one of the most critical activities because it visually communicates attendance figures, and while this year’s group shot looked nice, with the green grass and blue sky backdrop, the number of vehicles continues to be dramatically down. With that said, there were probably twice as many remaining Saabs not in the group shot in the adjacent parking lot as well as back on the hill near the hotel. The group shot is said to be open to anyone, day passers, registrants or even guests of visitors, so why can’t we get more vehicles in the photo? Do we need more time to prepare, more advertising and communication to encourage more participation?

As schedules changed over the course of the day from the original schedule on the program guide, I ended up missing a bunch of seminars including the curator of the Saab Museum, Peter Backström’s presentation on the Saab facilities in Trollhättan, Sweden.

11.jpgFollowing the group photo and attemps to attend the rescheduled seminars, the banquet was next. This time, I made my way just in time not to miss this activity (hope it too was not rescheduled), I began to head towards the hall where the dinner was held and I noticed that the GM Heritage Collection was getting prepared for departure. One of the vehicles that I made my way over to, with a much anticipated photo opportunity, was the none other than the Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept car alongside my 1992 Saab 900 Turbo! The most hiliarious part of this visit & photo op included seeing the biohybrid run out of gas, yes gas. Since this 9-X BioHybrid Concept has a rooftop solar panel setup designed to power the battery hybrid system, I suggested that they just switch the car to the other energy system and power it that way. I was told, not surprisingly, that none of that works on the car and that it is just a gas driven traditional engine underneath. As unfortunate as that was, at least I tried to help get the car back on the trailer and safely home with my suggestion. I know these concept cars are theoretical design exercises, but you can’t blame me for my optimism, right?

13.jpgThe final chapter of the evening was Saab Automobile USA President, Steve Shannon’s “State of Saab 2008” presentation at 8pm. Momemts before the presentation was to begin, I was happily surprised to see Saab Automobile USA’s PR chief, Jan-Willem Vester, a die-hard Saab fan for years, owns a 1984 900 since new as well as others, showed me a tie he was proud to wear that evening. The tie had some historical significance, it was given to him when back when he was a journalist in 1988 while he attended the Saab 9000 CD launch in Nice, France. At this event, you will see that it is also the same event where Bob Sinclair met with Jan-Willem early in his career, and little did Sinclair know that Jan-Willem would end up becoming head of PR for Saab Automobile USA years later.

12.jpgThe 2008 State of Saab began with a follow-up to GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s comments a week earlier. He said that this statement was interpreted as positive, indicating that Saab Automobile AB in Sweden is a strong European brand in order to communicate that they are actually in the black opposed to what some media outlets have been speculating lately. As for the United States, Steve Shannon said we still have some work to do. Following this response he focused on communicating on new products, from the Saab 9-4x, new 9-5 (sedan to be introduced prior to the combi) as well as mentions of even the 2nd generations of the Saab 9-4x, new 9-5 and new 9-3! There were no mentions of the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi however, but I suppose that’s due to that product being a natural extension of the existing 9-3 cross-wheel drive equipped lineup we have today. The other areas that were discussed included advertising, which consisted of their first ad from McCann-Erickson featuring the Saab 9-3 Convertible “Recycle” Ad that has been out for a good month and a half now, as well as another ad that is a “work in progress” that Saab USA may be seeking comments on at this time which is to be their first ever, XWD ad in the United States. Unfortunately, due to technical issues, we were unable to see those ads that evening and had to wait until the following morning at 8:55am. The spirit of the presentation was upbeat, but realistic and certainly sent some messages to the participants that Saab USA is doing all they can including working even more efficiently with their european counterparts at GM Europe.

Prevous Day, Friday
Final Day, Sunday

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2008 Saab Owners Convention – Friday

Posted on 26. Aug, 2008 by .

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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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Saab Owners Reconvene near Boston this Weekend

Posted on 20. Aug, 2008 by .

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This just in from Saab Automobile USA about the 2008 Saab Owners Convention.

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For Immediate Release — August 19, 2008

Celebrating 30 Years of Saab Turbocharging

North American Saab Owners Reconvene near Boston this Weekend

Detroit – Saab owners and enthusiasts from all over North America and beyond are planning on gathering for the annual Saab Owners Convention in Devens, Massachusetts west of Boston this weekend. Celebrating the passion for their cars and the Saab brand, around five hundred owners and their cars are expected to attend the event which opens Thursday, August 21 and runs through Sunday, August 24.

The 26th consecutive annual Saab Owners Convention is organized by the Saab Club of North America. The center of activities is the Marriott Spring Hill Suites Hotel at the Common Center in Devens, Massachusetts. The venue has excellent facilities and is ideally located, as it is close to most attractions in the area. Though registration for this year’s event is now closed, day passes can still be obtained at the Saab Club registration desk in the hotel. Continuing updates, including details on the exact location and program activities are available at http://www.saabclub.com/soc08.html.

Main theme of the 2008 SOC is 30 Years of Saab Turbocharging Leadership, which started with the 1978 Saab 99 Turbo. Now widely known as a true “cult car”, the original 99 Turbo laid the foundation for many of the essentials that carry on in Saab’s current product portfolio, largely consisting of cars with highly efficient turbocharged engines.

Steve Shannon, Saab Automobile USA General Manager and a native of the Boston area, is scheduled as the keynote speaker at the Banquet Dinner on Saturday night. “I am looking forward meeting many owners and their cars in person again, and participate in their unparalleled passion for Saab”, Shannon said.

Beyond exhibiting the very best examples of its turbo heritage collection and latest array of products, Saab Automobile USA has selected this venue to showcase potential future classics such as the all-black 2008 Turbo X performance car as well as the exclusive and very sunny-looking Convertible “yellow edition”. In addition, the award-winning 2008 Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept car is coming over from Sweden to be one of the key attractions.

Already labeled “Best Concept” by AutoWeek Magazine upon its world debut at the Geneva auto show last March, the Saab 9-X BioHybrid has been voted “Specialty Concept Car of the Year” by a jury of 25 professional North American automotive journalists. The award ceremony took place last June at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan.

“The Saab 9-X BioHybrid blends organic form with ecologically sound propulsion for both aesthetic and environmental appeal”, said jury panel member Arv Voss of Auto Impressions. Added Bob Kroupa of the Automotive Writers Group: “Saab takes center stage with a new design approach for a compact vehicle. With the BioHybrid turbo engine included, we have a winner”.

“We are honored by this important recognition from an expert North American media organization,” said Saab Automobile USA marketing director Roger McCormack accepting the award. “Following in the footsteps of the highly inspirational Aero X, and the 9-4X BioPower crossover concept which also debuted earlier this year, the 9-X BioHybrid demonstrates that Saab is truly on the move.”

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The Saab 9-X BioHybrid To Be On Display At 2008 SOC

Posted on 20. Aug, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

The Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept car that made its global debut in Geneva, Switzerland, and North American debut in New York City this past March, will be on display at the 2008 Saab Owners Convention in Devens, Massachusetts this weekend.

Having attended the North American launch of the Saab 9-X BioHybrid with co-editor, Carl Levine in New York, it will be interesting once again to see what becomes of this concept car when it comes to a production version.

To find out everything you need to know about the Saab 9-X BioHybrid, please check out the designated section where I have over 46 postings about it at this time.

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Production Concept