IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Love for Saab

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet today has a very nice article about two American guys who love Saab. They seem like true enthusiasts. It is a great read. Below is a translation.

The love for Saab cars changed their lives

They have visited Trollhättan twice, own ten cars with the Gripen logo and are horrified by the thought of a future without the Swedish car brand alive. For the New York-pair Clint Grimes and Alvaro Isla, Sweden and the endangered car brand have become a lifestyle.

HARRIS, USA Just a few minutes ride from Bethel, where the first Woodstock festival was organized in 1969, there is a modest blue house with a garage. This is where Clint Grimes and Alvaro Isla take refuge on the weekends to escape the stress of Manhattan. And this is where the couple's impressive collection of Swedish cars is found.

In total, the collection spans more than ten vehicles - all Saab. Here you can find everything from a 96 from 1969 to a brand new 9-4X. The car that stands out most is an orange Sonett III from 1973 - exclusively produced for the U.S. market.

- Are you asking me to pick a favorite car? says Alvaro Isla and sighs.

- That’s about as rude as to ask a mother to point out her favorite child. These cars are my children.

The fascination for Saab has not always been there. The first time Alvaro Isla came into contact with the brand was in 1985. Then he loathed the model - an odd 900 - standing in front of him because "it was just too different."

But after having owned a Saab 9000, which he later was forced to sell when he needed money for a venture in the restaurant business, the now 51-year-old Alvaro Isla had begun a lifelong love affair with the Swedish car brand.

When the next car was to be purchased, the aim was pointing at precisely an odd Saab 900. The couple met 18 years ago and they joke about the fact that Clint Grimes already owned just a 900 was the "dealbreaker" to love.

- Since then it rolled on. We bought a 900 turbo convertible, a 9000 with a lot of horsepower, the Saab 900 SPG.

When Clint Grimes, who has worked as an engineer at General Motors, talks about the four-wheeled vehicles that are owned by the couple, he does so with a tone that is indicative of a tremendous love for Saab. If nothing else, it's a testament to the couple's two trips to Trollhättan (2007 and 2011) to meet other enthusiasts and visit the factory. Other evidence is all the clothes and stuff with the Saab logo and that they collect all the literature available about the car brand.
- I just started trying to study Swedish in order to read all the books I have, and not just what is available in English. In addition, we want to continue taking part in Swedish culture, says Alvaro Isla and get nods by Clint Grimes.

- Through Saab, we have discovered that Sweden is a totally unique country. It is fascinating that you with just 9 million people can make such a big impression in the world.

At the house in Harris, which is about two hours' drive northwest of New York, they mostly dedicate themselves to disassemble the cars and then put them back together – and they are just as often "struck by the insight of how well made they are" as to "try to improve them."

Quite often hours are spent on the Internet searching for original parts which the previous owner has disposed of.

- As soon as you open up the cars you realize that they are anything but a BMW or Mercedes. They are extremely well made, everything is perfect and carefully designed, says Alvaro Isla.

According to the couple that is precisely the advantage that is also Saab's biggest problem. That the cars are "made to perfection" means that costs increase and at the same time the consumers need to buy a new vehicle is reduced. Another problem they say is that General Motors chose to maintain a high price tag of Saab, despite an impaired sense of luxury, inter alia, "make the inside more plastic."

- I am surprised that not more people are buying Saab, that the brand does not become more popular. But I am happy about it - I don’t want to stop at a red light and see Saabs everywhere. The feeling of exclusivity is a big part of my feeling about Saab, says Clint Grimes.

According to him, the recent years have been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. News that Saab will be saved from bankruptcy has turned into quite the opposite – and then soon after swinging back when a new lifeline thrown.

Neither Clint Grimes or Alvaro Isla are reluctant to criticize the Swedish government which they believe should have acted more forcefully to save the pride of Trollhättan. At the same time, they want to give a dose of praise to Victor Muller for his hard work.

- You can say a lot about Victor Muller, but if it wasn’t for him, Saab would already be closed. The company may not survive in the future, but they have at least kept it alive for some time and tried, says Alvaro Isla.

The couple doesn’t sit idly by in the fight for a future for Saab.In order to support the Swedish car manufacturer, they recently bought Saab’s newest model, the 9-4X SUV, even though the money was actually reserved for a future 9-5 SportCombi.

- We will continue to love Saab even if the company goes under, but it will not be the same thing, says Clint Grimes who has not given up hope of an eleventh Saab.

-If the company survives, we will buy a 9-5 SC - that is our dream right now.

Here are the Saab cars own by Clint Grimes and Alvaro Isla:




• 96



• Sonett III



• 99 GL



• 99 Turbo Combi Cardinal



• 900 Convertible



• 900 SPG (Aero)



• 900 SPG (Aero)



• 9-5 Aero



• 9-3 Turbo-X



• 9-4 X