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  • Guilford Saab in Connecticut closed after 34 years in business



    Guilford Saab in Connecticut opened its doors in 1979 and has been in business for 34 years. Co-owner Nancy Elderbaum shared her thoughts in an open letter and talks about the familiar problems so many Saab dealerships faced in the last few years. The last day was January 18.

    Her husband Phil passed away in December of last year after loosing his battle with cancer. The response and support from Saab owners was overwhelming but it just was not possible to keep the Saab dealership open because of large overhead cost, high discounts on new cars and the parts availability situation. Saab owners can take their vehicles to Land Rover Guilford for routine services like oil changes. Secor Saab in New London is the nearest dealer to go for Saab warranty work and other services.

    Nancy Elderbaum's letter:

    To All of Our Saab Friends,

    It is with great difficulty and sadness that I write you this letter. After 34 years of business, Guilford Saab is forced to close our doors. As you may or may not know, my husband Phil lost his battle to cancer on December 29th. It wasnít without a fight and a major effort on his part to try to be at the store every day to talk with customers and to support his employees right until the end.

    Phil opened Guilford Saab in 1979 with a passion for the Saab brand and a vision to take the best care of all Saab owners and enthusiasts. He built a strong team to accomplish what he set out to do with great success. He enjoyed living in Guilford and was proud as he drove around the shoreline towns seeing all of the SAABís on the road, customers waving and smiling as they passed by.

    As all of you have experienced, the takeover of SAAB by GM turned more smiles into frowns, and the recent and final blow to the wonderful brand came when all ties were cut to the retailers. Being put in that position put an end to all new car sales, it limited the parts availability and completely stopped reimbursement for warranty work. During that time there were many discussions and sleepless nights as to whether we close the doors and stop the frustration and financial burden, or try to continue on with the business to take care of our very loyal SAAB customers. Philís determination to continue to service all of his customers might not have been the best business decision, but he told me it made the customers happy and that was most important to him. Though the financial position we were put in strained the business, staying open made him happy and I wanted to help to keep that spark in him as long as I could.

    Our last day of business will be Friday, January 18th. We have been in contact with Charlie Secor at Secor SAAB in New London to help you with your future SAAB needs. Secor Saab is able to perform all the warranty work and also provide you with exceptional service. If you have questions or comments, I would encourage you to contact Philís partner Susan at Land Rover Guilford, who has offered to discuss options, answer questions, as well as provide services and routine maintenance for your SAAB.

    Again, as difficult as it has been to watch a wonderful brand and our 34 year history come to end, I send you this letter to let you know that we all thank you for your continued friendship and support over those 34 years. Phil was so proud to represent SAAB and though he knew quite some time ago that the end was near, he did everything he could to keep the momentum going, his team working and his customers happy. I feel that he accomplished what he set out to do regardless of all of the issues he faced along the way. I canít thank you enough for being such a large part of our lives, with all of the memories and friendships that have been established over the years. I will cherish them forever and will smile every time I pass a SAAB on the road.

    Sincerely, Nancy Elderbaum

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Closed Saab dealerships started by Frank Wulfers View original post
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. psymon's Avatar
      psymon -
      It's too bad really. I live 10 minutes from this dealership.
    1. photousa's Avatar
      photousa -
      Great article, however, hate to see a loyal dealership close it's doors. A gracious statement from the owner and typical of Saab owners. What happens in a couple of years if the stories we are seeing come to pass and Saab starts to crank out 9-3's again? Perhaps these owner know something that we don't, because they're not waiting. Hate to see a lot of people / mechanics lose their job, hopefully they will find a new home. On a selfish note, I would love to see one or more former Saab mechanics from some of these dealerships that have gone out of business, get interviewed, discussing a long list of mechanical / maintenance / performance questions about our cars. The wealth of knowledge that Saab pro mechanics would have would be incredible.
    1. nordwulf's Avatar
      nordwulf -
      Quote Originally Posted by photousa View Post
      What happens in a couple of years if the stories we are seeing come to pass and Saab starts to crank out 9-3's again?
      Saab Automobile dealers and importers are mostly gone. Saab Parts still exists but that is not an automobile company. It's a parts company.

      Fiat and Alfa Romeo once sold their cars in the USA and are now trying to get back. But it requires a huge amount of time and money for an importer and dealers to re-establish themselves again. And it is pretty much only possible through the Chrysler merger. NEVS is a tiny company with the plan of restarting production again of a single 10 year old car. Without a worldwide distribution network. If you were a (former) Saab dealer in the US, would you place your bet on becoming a NEVS dealer? The Saab brand took a huge hit in the last 3 years and even if it can be revitalized, it will take a huge effort.
    1. psymon's Avatar
      psymon -
      Here is what other dealership looks like now...sad....
    1. tunnanxwd's Avatar
      tunnanxwd -
      Real sad and driving by it would not be hard to tell that it once had a prominent SAAB on that blue canopy.

      Perhaps the saddest of all was the small dealer in Dallastown PA. It was his father who started the company and some of the signs still mounted outside still tell the tale of the once magnetic pull the "exotic" European imports had. When you see the MG octogon still in the wind and then the SAAB sign the whole tale is told. I called them to inquire as to the status of Hirsch tunes since they were listed as "participating" and they never heard of apparently even Hirsch. When I questioned that it may be possible that someone else in the company offices may have approved it this great and down to earth guy said he would ask his Dad and hollered over to him. The company was he and dad; here the Porsche or Lexus dealer has a hundred employees. We ended up chatting about MG's and that time of life.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Google Maps shows that the building is now full of cars as Land Rover Guilford. A green Land Rover oval is where the Saab sign on the upper left of the building was. The blue has been painted white. The building is no longer sad looking but there's no traces of Saab except sharp eyes will see the wedge that used to be blue.
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