United We Stood

I actually never thought I would write this post. Better said, I never hoped.
Disbelief and major disappointment were probably the main emotions when I was reading the recent posts on Saabsunited in the past week. What a journey this site has gone through. From primarily being an individual fan site in an underdog position (Trollhattansaab.net) to the leading news source globally for everything SAAB-related to its current state of decay.

Many SAAB fans standing united in 2010.
Many SAAB fans standing united in 2010.

Saabsunited (“SU”) was started by Steven Wade, a very gifted SAAB enthusiast who managed to run the community very successfully for several years. I always greatly enjoyed his very effective mix of timely, relevant and detailed contributions that made it not only educational but also great fun to read. More importantly, SU brought the whole SAAB community together in a way that I don’t believe was shown anywhere in the world before and has –according to the books “Kampen om SAAB” and “SAABs sista strid” (“The fight around SAAB” and “SAAB’s last fight” written by Jonas Fröberg respectively Jens B. Nordström)- been one of the major influencing factors for GM to sell SAAB to Spyker in 2010 and later for the Vänersborg district court to approve the reorganisation request in 2011.

2010: SU playing a key role in the SAAB community
2010: SU playing a key role in the SAAB community

When “Swade” (Steven’s online alias) got hired by SAAB Automobile AB and started “Inside Saab” in early 2011, he sold off Saabsunited. The site was now run by a small core group, supported by a few guest writers from around the world. So far, so good.

SU continued to cover SAAB-related news for the years to follow. There were some distinct differences though, in particular as to what types of articles were published and how disparate views were handled.

One of Swade’s strengths with SU was that he always seemed to have access to relevant and unique inside information that he then communicated in a very balanced way. SU in my view has been struggling with both since 2011. Their position as main news source faded with a decreasing number of inside stories, but also a lack of coverage of specific topics (e.g. anything controversial about Victor Muller), with local newspaper TTELA, Swedish daily SVD, Swedish Radio 4 and several international blogs slowly bridging the gap. The other key challenge I observed was how opposing views were handled by SU’s core team. As an example, one of my own remarks a while back was countered by: “I don’t believe I’ve seen you making comments on SU before, so I can’t really take you seriously”. I was then later blocked from SU. This also happened under various circumstances to several other SU readers.

Some months ago, members of the SU core team started to write about other car brands. This by itself doesn’t pose an issue in my view, but when it’s either completely unrelated to SAAB or it’s actually against SAAB, I really wonder what it has to do with SU.

The fact that people like and buy other brands is totally fine but when it is starting to become so blatantly obvious that the authors have lost the faith in SAAB and are no longer willing and able to serve as ambassadors for both the brand and the community, I think it’s time to make a change.

I was already very surprised and disappointed with the earlier coverage of this Munich-based car manufacturer, but last week’s article and the responses in the corresponding comments section really crossed the line from my perspective.

SU is neither SAAB nor United anymore.

15 thoughts on “United We Stood

  • Fully agree with you Michel ! ; turning point was for me when the two main editors used the SU site to offer their Saabs for sale and a few weeks later posted the Beamer stuff. SU played its role and but has now made itself obsolete…. Hope this Saabblog can fill the gap; with no factory there anymore, spareparts uncertain but with a still considerable number of loyal enthusiasts we have all the incentives to stay united..

  • I agree with these comments. Have been looking here and other places for news recently. Not really interested in hearing about BMW’s.

  • Like both and hope that Trollhättan soon nows the “XXX” (SAAB cannot officially be used for new manufactured cars anymore 🙁 ) cars can be manufactured again so that good insight information from that factory can again revive the SU site with Saab news.
    I have always wanted to be able to have more than one source so that different articles and opinions can be compared.
    Stories that do not attract my interest, I just ignore.
    However I agree with Michèl that a Saab blog should not start to discuss other brands when not on relation to our beloved brand.

  • Do we really have to discuss another blog? Let them do what they want and focus on your own way.

    • That’s a really good question, Anddeu, and one that I have been struggling to answer myself (part of the reason why I opened the article with “I never thought I would write this post”) as I actually in principle agree that we shouldn’t discuss other media on this blog. I think this is a notable exception though. When considering what defines “Pure SAAB” (the basis on which we try and build Saabblog.net), it’s not just about the cars, the factory, fan stories, etc, but also what makes the brand and the community around it. I believe SU has been an incredibly successful and widely respected catalyst in the worldwide community for years and unique unifying force amongst SAAB enthusiasts. This strength has helped SAAB to live through the difficult times and to keep people informed, motivated and optimistic about the future. This post is a reflection on the fact that I think that SU no longer plays this pivotal role, which saddens me greatly, both given what has been and what could have been.

  • altough i have my thoughts about SB, (too much NG9-5 stuff), i think it’s a better blog than SU. regarding NG9-5 stuff: it’s hardly unavoidable. to me the impression is given that the NG9-5 and the 900Classic are/were the only Saabs. not only here, but also on the dutch Saabforum. last weekend there was a Saab meeting near my house and there were only 2!! 9000s, from which my 9000 was the oldest (1986), and closest to ‘original’, the other one was f**cked up (as in: ‘far from original’)

    • All articles written and posted/published here come from individual persons, and from a small number of people. Of course they write about topics they like better first. The 9-5II was the last new SAAB, so I can understand why several articles are written about this model. Whenever there were any news about the NEVS 9-3 you could read about it here. What topics related to SAAB do you like to read about (at a new car blog – there’s also the youngtimerblog for more classic SAAB).
      Besides of that: it’s not Saabblog’s nor Saabsunited’s nor the pope’s fault that no other SAAB showed up at the meeting you’re talking about. I can understand your frustration, but that cannot be an argument used in this discussion in my opinion since those blogs might influence, but don’t make people’s decisions – if you like to see other cars there: motivate people to show up with one by presenting your own “not so typical” classic SAAB.

  • SU had good contacts to VM and later to some guys at NEVS. I really appreciate what they’ve done in the past. They kept us informed and they have managed to unite the worldwide saab community and spread the news throughout the world. But unfortunately, SU is becoming more and more another bimmerblog… When I open the SU site I’m not interested in reading news about German cars… Good to have this alternative 😉

  • Like! That’s why I’m here now 🙂 Another issue was the rudeness on some replies. Not cool.

  • Great article Michel!!

  • Well said. Especially the recent posts of SU really felt like betrayal. On the other hand SU has posted some way too optimistic news articles when we all knew things were going wrong at NEVS.
    I have been owning Saabs since 1985.. Saab has been in our family since 1960..so I have a profound preference for Saab. Let’s stay united.

  • Wir haben ja zum Glück saabblog.net. SU ist Geschichte.

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