Thursday, December 01, 2005
Swedish Car Day
This year's sixth running of Swedish Car Day was a smashing success. Coming on the heels of ten straight days of heavy rain, we actually had some blue sky and reasonable temperatures. Unfortunately, the windspeed about matched the temperature, and having any event in heavy wind is not ideal. I did point out to the fellow from the Larz Anderson Auto Museum that the registration tent was not really needed, given that the rains had stopped. But he was hell-bent on us having a tent. And a grand tent it was--heavy gauge steel tubular frame, and about 10' x 20'. About 30 minutes before the event started, a huge gust lifted that tent (with a dozen of us working under it!) straight up, and then sent it hurtling into a parked truck, which inflicted a huge dent on its roof and shattered a side window. No one was hurt. The truck belonged to the museum. Whew!
While not the best attended SCD, it was one of the best. Every year I have gone to Saab looking for them to contribute display cars. Some years they sent a car or two from their training center in Connecticut, and usually we had to provide the transportation for those cars. Some might remember the "push-me-pull-you" 900, two 900 front halves spliced together, or the Skip Barber 1980's race car. But they never sent the really cool stuff, because it was holed up in Georgia, and we had to be embarrassed every year by Volvo North America, for they would bring grand collections of antique Volvo's to display. This year, the tables turned.
At the Saab Owners Convention, I lobbied every Saab Cars employee I knew, and some I didn't, to press the case for having Saab's collection sent to SCD for the first time. Chip Wilkerson from Saab was designated by his comrades as my point man. When I returned from the convention I started sending him information and pictures and pleaded for help. One week before the event I still had no confirmation that anything was coming. Finally, the Wednesday before I was given an assurance that "some cars" from the collection would make it to Brookline on Sunday. On Saturday morning, I got a message that a tractor trailer of cars had left Michigan (the Saab collection is now a part of the GM Heritage Collection--which is a very good thing). One trailer fits about 5 cars, so I was really happy.
When I arrived at the museum at dawn on Sunday morning, I was shocked and thrilled to see not one but TWO trailers being off loaded. The collection was amazing: 5 two-stroke cars including the ultra-rare Sonett 1 (one of six built, one of five remaining), two Talladega speed/distance record cars, an original 900 Convertible, a Pike's Peak racer and Monte Carlo racer that Erik Carlsson raced to victory at the RAC rally in Britain. The GM Heritage team has restored these vehicles beautifully, and has done ultra due diligence in learning about the cars. They run them, pamper them, and love to show them off. Our good fortune was to have former Saab technical guru John Moss (a perennial participant at SCD) who intimately knows every car in the collection give a walking tour and technical description of each car. What a delight that was.
Otherwise it was a grand time with old friends and new acquaintances. There seemed to be an extra air of excitement this year, and I got a rousing ovation when I suggested a competitive rally next year between Volvo and Saab owners. Have to start dreaming up that one soon!