Saab stories at the 2021 Owners’ Convention
The Saab people drive their cars. At least most of them do.
At Saab owners agreement 2021 in Albany, NY, Ray Kopczynski of Albany, Oregon, held up a sign saying, “Albany to Albany or Bust!” He had driven his 1965 Saab 96 — with a 40-horsepower three-cylinder, two-stroke engine that required adding oil to gasoline — all across the country, only struggling to cross the road. Continental Divide. It took him 12 or 13 days to cross, pulling a small trailer and carrying a large amount of Aleve and Tylenol. Another Saab owner had come from Minnesota.
In contrast, Greg Smith of Catskill, NY, brought his emerald green 1975 Saab 95 wagon from storage 10 miles away. And he towed it. “I won’t be driving her in the rain,” he said. Smith paid US $ 31,000 for his unique economy car, which has spent most of his life with a family in the Swedish far north province of Lapland, on site Bring a trailer. To say it was a virgin was an understatement – it was almost new, hence the owner’s reluctance to weather the weather.
Saab filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and the latest efforts to save the company ultimately came to naught. But the failure of the other Swedish automaker did not prevent a rather dramatic increase in the value of orphan vehicles. The pre-General Motors Saab C900 turbo convertible was particularly popular, as were early turbos, 95s and 96s, late period 9000 Aero sedans, and low-production quirks like the two-seat Sonett sports car. .
According to Hagerty, who publishes an old car price guide: “The current market for a five-speed Saab 900 Turbo convertible of the first generation (up to model year 1994) shows values ranging from US $ 14,000. for a car in good condition at US $ 31,000 for a car in excellent condition. The Saab 900 Turbo also has a younger demographic with 63% of quotes coming from Gen X and young enthusiasts versus 58% for all enthusiast vehicles.
One of the oldest cars on display was Asher Schlusselberg’s teardrop-shaped 1959 93. This version of the two-stroke Saab was introduced with a total output of 33 horsepower. Only 52,731 Saab 93s were produced. But much rarer at the show was the Saab Sonett Super Sport, a Corvette-style racing car produced around 1956 in an edition of just six. Owner Bill Jacobson was a second generation Saab dealer. He serves them now in Delaware and owns more than 40 Saabs.
Jason Duncan from Voorheesville, NY brought an unsold version of the 900 to the United States. The 900i featured an “opera window” at the rear and Duncan’s is a British right-hand drive car. He’s another collector with several cars.
Former Saab owner Gary Hamilton of Ipswich, Massachusetts is a history buff who puts old Saabs (and other vintage cars) back on the road to competition. Hamilton recreated a version of the Great American Mountain Rallye, which was originally run from New York to the Canadian border between 1953 and 1956.
Competitors on a 1,100-mile rally that traversed the New York Adirondacks, New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Vermont’s Green Mountains each Thanksgiving weekend included legends Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio. It was called “America’s longest, hardest and coldest rally”. A selling point Hamilton used at the convention was that in 1956 the three original Saab 93s placed first, third and fourth in their class.
Rally Master Hamilton will host the event in Vermont next September, using rally technology that existed in the 1950s and as many original roads as possible. To date, 20 teams have registered.
New Yorker Gary Stottler’s Saab 9000 Aero is a survivor because its previous owner only drove it 4,400 miles a year on a “low-salt diet”. Kim Arthurs’ 9000 lost compression in the number one cylinder when it had “only” 193,000 miles. Now it’s back on the road with a “new old stock” factory engine.
Achieving high kilometers is a mark of pride for Saab owners. The Saab network, where Saabs and used parts are marketed, maintains a register cars that have huge numbers on their odometers. The defending champion is Peter G. Gilbert of Glendale, Wis., Whose 1989 900 SPG Turbo has driven over a million miles. Of course, this is overtaken by another Swedish car, Irv Gordon’s Volvo 1800S, with over three million miles.
William Stilwell of Alexandria, Virginia, came from the Washington, DC area in a convoy of six Saab owners. They encountered torrential rains on the way, and Stilwell was still wringing out the cargo that was in the trunk.
His car is a 1991 Saab 900 Turbo convertible bought by his father in 1994 with 44,589 miles on the clock. By the time his son got it, the car had driven 112,554 miles, and when he repainted it in 2015, the number had grown to 137,100, and it now has 142,000. The car is still in. immaculate condition, although a little soggy.
After Greg Smith bought his station wagon, he was offered US $ 2,500 just for the vintage Saab brand roof rack. Needless to say, it’s a rare accessory, but selling car parts didn’t seem fair to Smith. The roof rack is still in place.
There will be a second Saab event, exclusively for convertibles, on Sunday, September 19. It’s the Green Fest @ Rhinebeck at the old Rhinebeck Airfield in Rhinebeck, NY