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  • Saab Owners Convention for the Uninitiated

    It seems that the internet-based community of enthusiasts is somewhat divided with regard to the SAAB club of North America's annual owners' convention. Some claim it is a waste of time and energy, while others steadfastly drive there year after year, from surprisingly far-flung homes.

    Not knowing who to believe, and living just an hour away, I decided to visit and see if I could form my own opinion. Parts and cars formed the focus of Saturday's events, with the parts tent auctions finishing, Concours d'SAAB and People's Choice show events, and private parts vendors out in force.

    The free-form nature of the event lent itself to socializing, though generally the crowd divided itself based on vehicle type.

    A few displays and owners, however, were universal.

    Peter Sorensen was there with his rally team and two classic 99 cars. Also on display was his factory 16-valve "B"-engine, whose well-documented build can be seen over at saabrally.com. "Living the dream" is how he describes building up this engine, though few have the patience to see-through the countless hours of labor he has put in.

    A trailer-born dyno was also available for anybody willing to pay to get horsepower evaluated, ensuring that the sound of rev limiters and the occasional overboost-cutout punctuated the day's conversation.

    The Concours d'SAAB show produced some very elegant models, all of which looked as if they had just rolled off the showroom floor, save the mileage on their odometers. From the 96 to the 9-5, there was eye candy of all sports.

    Their "People's Choice" show award was more for the friendliest owner than the best car. Socializing that began with enclaves of model-specific tech talk continued well past midnight, gracefully degenerating into alcohol-influenced philosophy.

    A special members-only initiation ritual involving potatoes, PVC pipe, and a DI cassette took place as well.

    As for parts, I found the selection and pricing very good indeed, with private vendors at the swap meet offering deeper and deeper discounts as the day wore on. After reading stories of a dearth of good parts-hunting, it was a pleasant surprise to find a great selection at rock-bottom prices. Charles River SAAB, out of Watertown MA, a few private vendors, and the event-sponsored Parts Tent (which, despite the rumors, does allow day-pass holders in) rounded out the field. To quote one enthusiastic Saaber, "You can't even get these parts from scrapyards at these prices!"

    The hazard, of course, is not recognizing a part. I found, when I got home, that I'd picked up two right-hand side engine mounts, a suspension bushing for a 9000, and an oddball window motor from a still-unknown vehicle. Such are the dangers of bargain-basement shopping.

    Even with all the parts, interesting show cars, and tech galore, the best thing about the Saab Owners' Convention was undoubtedly the people. Regardless of internet allegiance or even model owned, Saturday at the SOC was dominated by a sense of camaraderie. As a passer-by car enthusiast noted, "It's a great sight, all these cars--and all these people--in one place." With SAAB's future still uncertain, the SAAB community appears to still be going strong.

    Pictures by SaabScott. Find more SOC pictures here: http://saabworld.net/f85/soc11-photos-2769/

    This article was originally published in blog: SOC for the Uninitiated started by euromobile900
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. nordwulf's Avatar
      nordwulf -
      I have been to a couple of SOC's (Novi, MI and Aurora, OH) but haven't seen this before... Anyone has a picture or video?

      A special members-only initiation ritual involving potatoes, PVC pipe, and a DI cassette took place as well.
      Next year is going to be in Iowa City, IA as Scott reported. Closer than NJ for me so I'll plan on attending and perhaps combine with a roadtrip put West.
    1. euromobile900's Avatar
      euromobile900 -
      The ritual was conducted fairly late at night, so I don't think video would have worked, and I forgot to bring my tripod! I hope I can make it to the next one--I need a few more parts!
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