Held only once every two years, the Saabfestival in Trollhättan is probably the largest SAAB gathering in the world. While the majority of the attendees were from host country Sweden, it was fascinating to see that people came from all different countries: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland (!), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Czech, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium, The Netherlands, China, the USA and Australia (did I miss anyone?). For me it was my 3rd festival and this time the excitement already started on the day prior to the official opening.
My daughter and her boyfriend joined me on our mini-convoy from Stockholm south bound. Rather than to head straight to SAABcity, we had decided to join (at least partially) the pre-tour organized by Autohaus Lafrentz and our very own blogger Tom. The journey with our 9-4X, 9-3N and 9-5NG SportCombi to Gothenburg on Thursday evening was very enjoyable but took some 6 hours and just before midnight we reached the hotel. The next morning we set course to the Stena Line terminal as this is where the ferry from Kiel, Germany would be arriving at 09:15. We were pleasantly surprised to find two more SAABs already waiting for the arriving convoy of 43 participating cars and another at least 20 SAABs that were also heading for the festival. After a quick stop in the parking lot to welcome the arriving SAAB friends, the engines were started again to head over to Trollhättan.
First stop: NEVS
The preparation of this year’s festival had a few ups and downs if you ask me. Looking at it from the positive side, the announcement about the festival actually taking place already happened in November. The organizing committee (the Saab Car Museum, Saab Turbo Club of Sweden and Saab Club Sweden) went the extra mile again to put a very attractive 3-day program together. Exhibitions, different seminars and workshops in and around the Museum on Friday, racing on the Kinnekulle Ring Racetrack on Saturday and the traditional exhibition of all attending SAABs and a flea market on Sunday.
Missing on the official program this year were the Festival dinner on Saturday and activities in/around the SAAB factory. The dinner was supposedly “postponed” due to illness, somewhat strange knowing that there were many people involved in the program, but my sense was that everyone was able to find good dining alternatives in and around Trollhättan. The fact that NEVS was missing on the program was probably even more remarkable. Recommendations on different car wash alternatives were included in the Festival program, but not a word on NEVS. Very strange. Independently of whether NEVS technically can use the SAAB name at the moment or in what stage the negotiations with SAAB AB are, the vast majority of the cars this Festival is all about, were built in the factory that supposedly “wasn’t invited”. Of course, there are multiple sides to a story and it takes two to tango, but excluding NEVS from having a presence at the Museum area and the official program is not only hard to understand, it’s close to being an insult to the SAAB fans. Apparently things were somewhat normalized later as a 9-3EV was allowed to park in front of the Museum on Sunday anyway.
As I wrote earlier, NEVS put a pretty compelling program together themselves for the first Festival day. So compelling that several groups that had been planning convoys to jointly drive from different parts in Sweden to Trollhättan changed their plans to ensure they would arrive in time for the NEVS activities and the presentation from their President Mattias Bergman in particular. And so did we… more on this in my next post!