Eric Mayne's Blog

Saab is Supernatural

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Detroit and Pebble Beach, CA were the places to be last weekend for automotive journalists and aficionados.

While the Motor City reveled in its blue-collar roots with its annual Woodward Dream Cruise, the oceanfront west-coast community staged its yearly genuflection to the industry bluebloods. (I once heard Ford global platform guru Hau Thai-Tang describe the events in these terms. Thanks, Hau!)

But my thoughts were with a small group of car enthusiasts gathering in Parsippany, NJ.

Located just west of Newark, the smallish township is home to the U.S. headquarters of Swiss cough-drop maker Ricola AG and once was mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld. There, some 500 Saab owners congregated to commiserate as their world collapsed around them.

I envisioned brand loyalists huddling in quiet circles, vigil-like, as they pondered the financial crisis that threatens to wipe Saab from the automotive landscape. But that’s not how it was.

“Very funny,” observes Len Lennart, a former Saab executive who addressed convention attendees. “Nobody really seemed concerned.”

He adds, with affection: “They’re nuts.”

That same defiance is demonstrated on the event’s Facebook pages.

“Enjoyed the swap meet,” says Jeff Shore. “Got some good parts I needed for my ’86 9000!”

Adds Scott Hutchings: “Great event! … Iowa next year!!!”

Next year? Saab is headed for the history books and he’s talking about the future?

And then it hit me. These people know Saab’s secret. The brand is possessed of an unholy power.

The signs have always been there. Consider that Saab is based in Sweden, which is part of Scandinavia, which is home to fairies and trolls and changelings and all things supernatural.

What really inspired the brand’s original griffin logo?

And how else to explain the period spanning October 1981 and March 1985, when Saab recorded 42 consecutive monthly gains in year-over-year sales, according to Ward’s data.

Only Chrysler has duplicated this performance. Hyundai has actually exceeded it with 45 straight months of sales increases.

Come to think of it, how much do we really know about Chrysler and Hyundai?

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