Located in Groningen, a city with some 200,000 inhabitants in the Northern part of The Netherlands, “Zweeds Autohuis Joel” is a household name in the region. Ever since their 1974 start, founder Lucas and current managing director Maarten Joel have always stayed true to the SAAB brand.
I’ve actually known Lucas for quite some time and when he heard that I had been able to buy the 9-5NG SportCombi, his immediate response to me was “when can you drive to Groningen with it”? Apparently many of his customers had actually pre-ordered the car when it was announced in early 2011 and despite the fact that it never reached the market, kept on asking for it. When it finally became clear that I in fact would be able to make the last weekend of September, Maarten quickly suggested that we could in fact turn the visit into something bigger: “why don’t we invite more customers and prospects and make it a real SAAB event?”. And that’s what it became…
Saturday the 27th was a beautiful day with blue skies and a temperature of about 20C; really perfect for the nearly 100 SAAB fans who actually signed up for the event. The news about the day had spread like wildfire and even on the morning of the 27th people were calling to ask if they could still come. Despite the fact that The Netherlands is geographically a rather small country, people typically don’t tend to travel outside of their own provinces for these purposes yet apparently this event was an exception: several cars arrived from the western and more southern parts of the country and there were even three SAABs from Germany!
Following my presentation of the 9-5NG SportCombi, the main part of the day (the rally tour) was kicked off.
What an amazing day it was. Great scenic route through the Groningen area, wonderful company, stunning cars and many talks filled with great SAAB passion.
Or as the tour guide stated: “Gronings Goud, voor wie van Zweedse auto’s houdt” (“Gold from Groningen, for those who love Swedish cars”).
Fantastic to have seen some many amazing people and their cars but very special thanks to the Joel family for their great hospitality.
I hope this may turn into an annual tradition…
And for everyone hungry for some more impressions, over 200 additional pictures taken by Jos Schuurman can be found here.