Alone with the headline I catch resentment from some parts of the Saab scene again. But it is so. I'm in Kiel for a control visit, if you will. Finally, drop by Markus Lafrentz again. As a blogger you should be a lot. Influencer, as it says in Neuland-German. Influencer, which I don't like to hear. Observer is more appropriate because I have been accompanying the Saab community for years. Watching what happens, how workshops and brands develop after 2011.
Markus and I - we have known each other for a long time. The contact is continuous, and I hardly know anyone who has lived Saab as consistently as he has for years. With every new visit to Kiel I note the small changes, the details. For example, there are these iconic Saab cups at the coffee counter, which were somewhere in the pool and have now turned up again. Popular with visitors, which is why their population is melting in an almost incomprehensible way like the ice in summer. Yes, I would like one too. But not like this.
Kieler Erde, pure Saab feeling
The Lafrentz dealership is very Saab, very iconic. And it continues to develop on its own. The brand no longer exists, and with its demise there are also no authorities who could have prescribed further development. You use the freedoms. The Saab column in the corner bears the modern black and white lettering in NEVS style. Fantastic classics such as a 9000 CC Turbo, a Sonett and one of two Saab 9000 management cars in XXL format are parked in the exhibition. The car, says Markus to me, should never have left Sweden. It is a piece of Saab history, closely linked to Trollhättan.
Now it is here, now restored, because the museum in Trollhättan could not find a place for it. It is not for sale. Neither is the 900 II in new car condition. First hand, incredibly beautiful. Unfortunately, in the meantime also incredibly rare. The Saab community has not been good with the newer products from Trollhättan in recent years.
I stroll across the yard. Saab 9-5 NG, a sports suit from the pre-series, chrome glasses, 9-4x. Markus should make day visits to the car dealer offer as therapy for fans with moral sag. Not by prescription, but for a flat rate. Work in the workshop included. These few square meters of Kiel soil have been providing pure Saab feeling for years. Consistent, consistent. Markus - the Saab instance.
It really is like that! The Saab feeling does not let go of him and his crew. The clients register this and are grateful for it. The clientele comes from all over Europe, and the planning continues towards even more Saab. Pilots wanted 2020 is already a done deal. On a somewhat smaller scale, because the catering industry in Kiel cannot easily cope with so many fans and plus vehicles. A slightly crazy conversion project of a 9-5 NG is pending; I write about it when it should become a reality. In addition, the Lafrenz car dealership has been the German representative of for some time Maptun.
The Saab instance is on course
Is he happy with what he's doing? He says yes, I believe him. He could sell another car brand if he wanted to. Manufacturers are always presenting themselves, but Markus has no desire for new cars and a bond with a group. The loss of freedom, as he notes. Regulations, from tiles in the sales room to outdoor advertising and 1.000 other things. Not for him. He'd rather stay with Saab. The workshop is always full, there is no shortage of projects and restorations. In addition, the sale of well-kept vehicles from previous ownership comes into play, in addition he has to take care of 9-4x and the pre-series sports suits.
As for the 9-5 NG, he really is the authority, even if he might not like to hear that. The final instance in matters 9-5. Europe-wide, because he took care of it early on. Nobody else wanted it back then, he says. And anyway, he feels satisfied in the niche. He not only brings 9-5 NG and 9-4x from the USA. Other exotic species also find their way across the Atlantic to Kiel. He imported quite a few Fiat 500s, the electric version. They are popular, quickly find a new home and diversify their activities a bit.
Today, some car dealerships would be happy not to have unscrewed the Saab sign so quickly. The crisis in the auto industry is emerging, is becoming tangible. Saab is the small, firm, cyclical rock in the storm. I don't have to worry. Kiel is on course for Saab and its customers. I am looking forward to the next visit!