A very special Saab story comes from Switzerland. Patrick reports on incredible 44 years with Saab!
Saab: fascination without expiry date 44 years of Saab experience - 20 models - over 1.8 million kilometers driven
My first contact with Saab
When I was ten years old, a friend of my father had bought a Saab 1963 for the transport of his family of seven in 95. Space for all the family members, for the smallest on the emergency bench in the hold, looking back. Almost unbelievable, so much space in such a small car! The front doors for entry were still attached to the B-pillar on this model - the shape of this 95 took some getting used to, but all the more fascinating.
In the year 1971, my siblings and I were already in possession of the driving license, the car had to be replaced in our family. It should be solid and above all safe, since we were allowed to use the car for our exits for four young people.
Even then, I was strong for the new Saab 99, which met these criteria. And as the Saab 95 continues to prove its value to our friendly extended family, the Saab brand was in the way. They opted for a dark green 99 with 1.85 triumphal engine and 4 doors, a choice that caused a shrug in our environment. Because almost nobody knew this brand, let alone their qualities. Exactly these were already in the coming winter in the mountains with a self-accident on black ice to the test to the test. The Saab overturned, but I was able to get out of the injured vehicle unhurt. The replacement: a Saab 99 vintage 1972, equipped as standard with innovations such as impact bumpers and side door pillars. The heated seats meant extra luxury.
Four years later, the Saab again showed off the best side: with 100 km / h I rammed a candelabra in the evasive maneuver because of an animal. Unfortunately again total loss, but I remained outwardly unhurt.
My own first Saab cars
I had long been convinced of the Saab brand and at the beginning of 1976 I bought my first vehicle, a Saab 96, year 68, for CHF 1.- fresh from MFK - but unfortunately with a lot of rust. In the following time, I had restored this 000er in countless working hours. The vehicle accompanied me for the next three years at home and abroad.
In 1978 I exchanged it for a younger variant, a 96 Saab 1974 for CHF 3. I was able to give the predecessor a payment of CHF 500.
After another 2 years, another milestone in my Saab history came: I bought the first Saab 99 Turbo, a pre-series vehicle based on EMS, a coupé in Bordeaux red. During this vehicle change, I realized how stable the Saab vehicles were, as I only had to accept a small surcharge for the 99er. An additional water injection, enriched with fuel, elicited 170 hp from the vehicle, with the corresponding turbo boost - for this time a wolf in sheep's clothing.
With this Saab I also got to know an enthusiastic Saab garage owner - Marco Lüthi. I was allowed to lend a hand to him for repairs, because that was the only way I could afford a Saab as a student.
In 1985 he offered me a Saab 900 Turbo with black paint and cognac-colored leather upholstery, a 16 valve with 175 hp - wow! After all, my 99 had already covered over 250 km and had various quirks.
Shortly thereafter, the Saab 9000 was launched, with more space and space, just right for me, after all, I had become a family man. I was allowed to ride this model in 6 different versions within ten years and enjoy. Lastly, a 9000 CS Aero with the high-quality bucket seats, the Mickey Mouse ears and tuned 250 PS from Hirsch-Performance.
Even active for the brand Saab
My identification with Saab grew in particular as a result of my long-standing mandate for the Swiss Saab importer.
In the year 1990 I learned from my friend and garagier Marco Lüthi that the Saab importer, then Scancars AG under the management of Lars Eriksson and Jens Becker, was looking for a marketing / communication agency for better customer service. After a selection process, my agency received at 10. December 1990 to my pleasure the pledge. Thus, all my Saab knowledge and Saab enthusiasm could be incorporated into this mandate. It included dealer support in Switzerland, development of the CRM database including programming, the creation of invitations for customer events such as Winterdriving on the Arctic Circle in Sweden, horse racing in Dielsdorf, Ski Week in the Bernese Oberland, etc. Also press events in the factory in Trollhättan and test drives were part of it. In the far north, of course, we flew with a Saab 340, slow, but very Saab.
Another task was to look after the Griffin Circle, a private club within the Saab community, which was regularly served by a customer magazine.
All these activities contributed significantly to the well-known "Saab Spirit".
I was able to work with Christoph Bleile, Saab's press officer at the time, for more than a decade - a happy Saab time. This also resulted in the purchase of a particularly beautiful blue Saab 900 Cabriolet for my wife in 1992, which still gives her great pleasure with almost 300 km and of which she says, "I will not give it away".
End of a good era
Due to restrictions imposed by GM, Saab had to tighten its belt in 2002. Several marketing activities have been canceled. The external marketing tasks became smaller. The individualistic ideas had to give way to economic criteria.
Despite everything, Saab continued to accompany me. As part of the launch of the first Saab 9-5 in 1997, I received my first Saab 9-5 LPT. The Aero did not exist yet. But already in the year 1998 I switched to the long-awaited Saab 9-5 Aero Kombi Hirsch-Performance. The last acquisition of this model series was a Troll R with 300 PS, vintage 2004.
The economic slump in the year 2008 / 09 left its mark in many places, also in the auto industry. My agency was concerned because services such as marketing and communications are known to fall victim to savings. Also, I had to save and so I separated myself at the end of 2008 of my Saab 9-5 Troll R station wagon.
But not without Saab
Fortunately, there was an almost nostalgic Saab 900 Turbo Coupé vintage 93 in blue with 160'000 km in my garage; it should be the vehicle for my kids. This accompanied me in everyday life from 2008 to 2014 and 260'000 km.
Connected to this Saab I got to know 2 more highly qualified garagists.
In this context, I would like to mention Matthias Krauer in Saland near Bauma, who looks after our 900ers in the best possible way. Because without care and attention to detail, it does not work.
And if spare parts are missing, Matthias Krauer takes courage into his fund. He himself also equips vehicles of the Saab 900 I + II, 9-3 I + II, 9000 and 9-5 I series. His enthusiasm and Saab know-how contribute to theirs.
I always consulted Johann Heuschmid from Germany with his crew in Obergünzburg, formerly in Benningen, if I did not get any further in Switzerland. He is considered a luminary in the maintenance of old Saab vehicles.
So he had provided the convertible of my wife before 3 years with a new roof including new rear window, as well as the engine and the transmission revised. The vehicle is still of the highest quality today.
And even the accident a year ago couldn't bring my Saab 900 Coupé to its knees thanks to Heuschmid. He repaired the vehicle perfectly thanks to his great expertise, experience and last but not least thanks to his huge spare parts warehouse. He is not afraid to make a missing part himself or to find it somewhere - his relationships go as far as Sweden.
The Saab fever continues
The Saab fever left and does not let me go, especially the old 900er have it done to me still. In the year 2011 I found in Switzerland one of the last Saab 900 Turbo S Cabriolet Aero vintage 1993 in black with beige leather upholstery and 138'000 km as well as top equipment with 175 PS (the Saab with the red control box). Since my everyday car took over my daughter and my convertible is intended for special rides, I recently bought a Saab 9 5 NG V6 Aero with 330 PS. A car with a little less Saab Spirit, but a Saab: high quality, safe and extremely comfortable.
Why this story
The many articles on Saabblog.net have also moved me to write down my Saab story and show that the Saab fascination lives on. Let's hope that in Trollhättan something moves again and in the right direction.