Carrer de Rafael Battle. A quiet street in a rather upmarket residential area in Barcelona. In the house with the number 14 there is a small auto repair shop. Her name is "Tallers Berma". Not an unusual phenomenon in itself. When the gate is open, it resembles hundreds of existing 2-3 man businesses in the city. A bit messy. Crammed with vehicles on the existing lifts and below.
However, if you take a closer look, you will find that there are always a few Saabs under the vehicles. And an old Saab logo that is part of the workshop sign. If “Saab Workshop Barcelona” is entered in the famous search engine, this workshop appears in the first place.
But now at the beginning of the story….
It is the late 80's. A young man named Juan has just completed his military service. Before that, he graduated as a mechanic from the Carrer Rafael Battle Technical School. This was next to the then branch of "Ibercarerra", the exclusive importer for Porsche and Saab in Spain. Juan - at the time a Corsa Gsi driver - always found Saab a bit strange, successfully applied for one of the vacancies, and started his career as an auto mechanic in 1989.
About 10 years later, another young man named Xavi graduated from the same school. Coincidentally, he learns everything about ABS and turbocharging from a Saab workshop book in the school library. It was his first encounter with the brand.
In June 1998, the two met on a lifting platform at "Ibercarerra".
You will quickly become friends and an unbeatable team of specialists. They are sent many hopeless cases from all over Spain, where the mechanics who have been trained by GM in short seminars on Saab are biting their teeth.
As is common in Spain, they have lunch almost every day in a small family restaurant across the street. There they get to know two older gentlemen who run one of the small, chaotic car repair shops I mentioned in the same street in number 14.
People joke and talk shop. One day Juan and Xavi will be chosen as heirs to the small workshop when the time comes ... ..
But it is far from over.
In 2004 the sales of Saab and Porsche are separated. The said branch becomes a pure Saab operation, and Juan becomes the workshop manager.
A few busy but quiet years pass.
In 2008 Spain was hit hardest by the economic crisis.
We all know the drama about Saab running parallel to this.
The branch will be closed on April 29.04.2011, 2011. Juan and Xavi get some job offers despite the crisis. But now the early joke of "inheritance" becomes reality. You would like to work on Saabs, know your way around and take over the small workshop in September XNUMX. And the younger of the two owners directly with it. He stays one year.
The beginning was difficult. Customers scattered in all directions. Hardly anyone spent money looking after their mobile treasures. The "accidentally" saved customer file, and above all Xavi's wife, who tirelessly puts a flyer at every Saab seen, help to build up a new customer base. And over time, the old customers of "Ibercarerra" will find their way to "Tallers Berma".
Now they are the last. The penultimate operation of the area, which was run by former Saab employees, closed a few weeks ago.
They tirelessly take care of the Spanish Saab stock. Customers from distant parts of the country also seek their advice. It can happen that you have to wait a little longer for an appointment. But when the time comes, the inspection or repair is carried out to the minute. Unless something unforeseen was found or parts delivery is delayed.
However, the vehicles always leave the workshop without any defects.
And it doesn't matter whether it's a Saab (approx. 40%) or a different make.
Juan also cultivates his Saab passion privately. His collection includes a 93-series 900 full turbo, any 9-3 I, 9-5, or the 9-3 II Aero from the last series, a total of 9 vehicles that are guests at international meetings every now and then.
Xavi never drove a Saab privately. At first he found her strange. Then no model fit into his life situation - woman and child outside of Barcelona with back then partly unpaved roads. And when the 9-4 was announced, it was simply too expensive for it. But it is obviously possible to live the fascination of Saab without having one.
And may they live for many more years ... ..
Text and images: The Lizi