By on August 28, 2011


“Frankfurt in September, a city full of car crazy people from all over Europe, but no Saab at the IAA. However, few will notice it. “ So far, so true. Saabsunited reports that Saab will NOT have a booth at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Which is a good thing, because the cost saved for a decent display at the IAA can easily cover a good part of the monthly payroll at Saab. Currently, there is no money for the payroll – which has turned into a bit of a tradition at the storied Swedish carmaker. If I’d have the money just for the hyperinflated hotel rooms for a whole crew, I could retire comfortably. It’s THAT expensive. However, Saab has not given up on Frankfurt. Which is a bad thing.

Before we continue, let me disabuse blogger-turned-budding-car-propagandist Steven Wade of the ill-advised notion that what we do is all for the clicks. And that – by extension – “the media” is to blame for Saab’s woes. Jack Baruth’s only vaguely car-related guitar rant pulled-in more clicks than the average Saab story – by an order of several magnitudes. Actually, if we’d just be whoring after clicks, we should have stopped covering Saab long ago. People either seem to be tired of the topic, or their mouse gets stuck when it hovers over “Saab.”  Actually, if you are still reading this, you are in a tiny minority. However, we are chroniclers of the auto industry and we serve even the tiniest minorities. We’ll cover every brand until it dies (actually, like any good news outlet, we already have a nice Saab eulogy ready to go – written by the master of passed-away cars.)

But back to Frankfurt:

Indeed, if a car company does not show up in Frankfurt, people won’t notice. In that orgy of vehicular pomp and circumstance, where major car companies don’t rent booths but complete exhibition halls, not showing up is better than having a half-baked booth in a corner. Of course, if Volkswagen wouldn’t show up, old IAA hands would talk: “Where is VW? Don’t they usually have Halle Drei?” But someone who has barely made 30,000 cars last year and next to none this year will be missed as much as a much larger Rongchen Huatai or Ziyang Nanjun – as in  NOT.

The only thing you absolutely should not do in this case: Remind people of your absence.

And this is exactly what Saab seems to have planned. According to the faithful at Saabsunited, “Saab is planning to shows presence before the exhibition entrances, at the parking lots and on the Frankfurt hot spots.”

My unpaid and unsolicited advice to Saab: Forget it. “Before the exhibition entrances,” you will be shooed away, and ticketed or towed if you don’t move. The Messe Frankfurt is owned by the city of Frankfurt and the State of Hesse. They also command a sizable police force, and they have experience with squatters. If you want to make an appearance at the parking lots, good luck. You will drown in oceans of cars. The only people who might notice you are the ones who can’t find their own car. They will look at the 93, mumble “no, that’s not mine either” and stumble on. Even the parking fees can get prohibitive.

Worst of all, the few people who notice you will be reminded that you can’t get in. You’ll receive as much sympathy from the crowd as the yokel from Dreieich or Dietzenbach who gets the onceover from the doorman of the hot nightclub, and with a last look at the shoes, the doorman says: “Sorry, members only.”

If you want to preserve the last ounce of dignity: Don’t subject yourself to that torture. If you absolutely must: I know some BDSM studios in Frankfurt who will denigrate you away from the public eye (albeit at likewise inflated Messe-prices.)

And while I am doling out free advice: From a lifelong car propagandist-turned-blogger to a lifelong blogger-turned-car propagandist: Crisis PR is the pinnacle of the fine art of spin and propaganda. Many are called, but few are chosen. Blaming the media is the worst you can do in that case. You need every friend you can get. When the world around you is on fire, don’t flame. If you think the whole Swedish Press is against you: Tough – you lost your last friends. Leave it to Eric Geers. That’s what he gets paid for. I hope he still does.


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27 Comments on “No Saab At The Frankfurt Auto Show – Who Cares? But Wait …....”

  • avatar

    To prove Bertel’s point, I will not leave a comment here. Oh wait- dang it.

  • avatar

    “If I’d have the money just for the hyperinflated hotel rooms for a whole crew, I could retire comfortably.”

    I thought you already had! ;O)

    Actually, I don’t read the SAAB stories for the news as much as I read them for the way they are written.

    (And to leave my commentaries on all kinds of things.)

  • avatar

    The point you’ve made is fair enough — but after a number of Saab-related posts which openly revel in the bad news about the brand (and which used arguably inaccurate or exaggerated points as a point of departure), it’s now hard for me to read TTAC objectively on any topic.

    I get the snark directed at, say, Toyota. But why the negative attitude towards Saab? In a single day Toyota commits more sins against the Platonic ideal of automotive goodness than Saab has committed in its entire 64-year history.

    We will know soon enough what happens. Either Victor gets more money or he doesn’t. In the meantime could you at least not appear to enjoy Saab’s misfortune? Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      “…Saab-related posts which openly revel in the bad news about the brand” Are there any good news?
      To “enjoy Saab’s misfortune” is not the topic here. It’s just a chronicle of a long, painful death of a small car company.
      The above article is just describing another fruitless approach. Could you find some positive words on this attempt, and how?

    • 0 avatar

      “Could you at least not appear?”? Don’t ever say anything nearly that dumb.

      And nothing is objective. What a dumb thing to think.

      Dumb, wasteful comment.

      • 0 avatar

        “Could you at least not appear?”? Don’t ever say anything nearly that dumb.

        And nothing is objective. What a dumb thing to think.

        Dumb, wasteful comment.”

        This is in clear violation of TTAC’s commenting policy. I really hope this user gets banned.

    • 0 avatar

      “In a single day Toyota commits more sins against the Platonic ideal of automotive goodness than Saab has committed in its entire 64-year history.”

      I have very little idea what you mean, but it is still enough to remove any sympathy I might have had for your plight as a blind Saab fanatic. Are dependable electrical systems a sin? Headliners that remain adhered to the roof of the car? The ability to engineer a platform? Customers that don’t owe more than their cars are worth? Products that can be sold for close to list price? Engines that aren’t copied from DKW, bought from Ford, slowly evolved Triumph disasters, or GM leftovers? I sold Saabs. They were the one brand we didn’t have an employee purchase plan for. Not because the top salesmen and managers couldn’t afford them, but because nobody who saw that half the cars in for service every day were Saabs even though they constituted closer to 5% of our total sales would ever buy one. We didn’t have Toyotas to sell, but the last of the independently manufactured Saabs made Oldsmobiles look like Hondas and Hondas look like gifts from God.

      • 0 avatar

        Where was this dealership from hell? Which cars are you talking about? Early ’80s 900 Turbos??? No doubt there WERE a lot of multi-line dealerships that didnt know which end of a test light to…way back when. The engine Saab made in ’74 that was somewhat similar to the junk Triumph engine was totally Saab and the bottom end lasted until just recently. Their 16 valve head was bulletproof even when turbod. Between Saab and Opel, GM finally learned how to make a four cylinder. The only recent Saab engines Ive seen go bad are ones that had inferior oil filters disintegrate and clog head oilers. Leftovers? Disasters? Headliners? How bout Embellishment?

      • 0 avatar

        The dealership was in Charlottesville and the year was 1989. We had two stores. One sold new Hondas, Oldsmobiles and Saabs. The other sold Chryslers, Dodges, Plymouths, and Subarus. Oldsmobile actually outsold Honda at our store, by about 10%. Perhaps it was because Honda buyers of anything other than Preludes all but had to beg for their cars while Oldsmobiles were stacked high and sold cheap. People wouldn’t line up and beg for Preludes at the time, and there were even secret dealer incentives to move them. Saabs were sold in fairly token numbers, and one of the first lessons I learned as a sales trainee was not to use them for lunch runs or allow myself to be selected to drive one to a remote location sales promo. The Saab mechanics would hate me if I did, as the end result would be them pulling the interior of a new 900 convertible apart chasing wiring shorts. The Saabs I remember being in stock were turbo convertibles, really stripped 900 4 door sedans, and 9000s with trunks instead of hatchbacks. The cars in the shop were mostly hatchbacks, 900 Turbos and 9000s. We did not stock used Saabs. Perhaps nobody ever traded one in on another Saabs. Even though we sold maybe 80 Saabs a year, we weren’t the only shop working on them. There were at least two other Saab specialists staying busy trying to keep the few on the road running.

      • 0 avatar

        Um CJinSD you speak about Brown Saab in Cville, which was a poor excuse for a Saab dealership in my humble opinion. Better described as a Stealership. I know because I owned a Saab from new in NJ, and was in school when I had the displeasure to have it serviced there. The dealer was obviously more interested in Olds and Honda than making its Saab customers happy. It’s predecessor, BSR, was heads and shoulders better. Have no idea how sales was at Brown back then when you were on “the team” but you need competence in both sales and service to be successful. I ended up going to the Saab dealer in Roanoke for service. They knew what they were doing.

      • 0 avatar

        The dealer in C’ville was Brown Honda & Oldsmobile. One store at 29 and Rio Road, across from Fashion Mall. The other, a mile or so up the road on 29.

        I received my U.S. driver’s license there, ages ago. The DMV was close by. I asked the guy who gave me the road test in a quiet subdivision: “This is getting boring. Do you want me to go down to 29 and make it real?”

        “Heavens no. Too dangerous. The people I ride with all can’t drive.”

      • 0 avatar

        I remember BSR from my childhood. They had one row of brightly colored Saabs out front on West Main Street for sale new, and another row of brightly colored Saabs out back that they were parting out. It couldn’t have taken long for the front row cars to matriculate to the back row, because they looked the same except for the odd missing hood or suspension assembly. BSR managed to go out of business selling imported cars in Charlottesville, so I don’t see how good they could have been.


        I took my driving tests at the same DMV. First was the written test for my learner’s permit. My answers were all correct and the administrator was dubious. There was one question involving a divided highway and a schoolbus that everyone else had gotten wrong. You don’t have to stop if there is a median between you and the bus. He didn’t even want to believe me when I explained why I’d provided the correct answer. My road test for my license was less impressive. I’d been driving for many years, but I guess nerves came into play and I couldn’t push the unassisted brake pedal in a borrowed Plymouth hard enough to actually stop the car. I rolled out of the parking lot, rolled through a few stop signs, and almost rolled into the curb when I parked the car. Pass.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, I came from Germany. Walked into the DMV and announced I need a driver’s license. I was given a sheet of paper. Expecting (German as I am) an application, I noticed to my horror that it was a written test.

        “I can’t possibly take that test. Please give me the book. I need to go home and study.”

        “Sir,” said the ample lady behind the counter, “please read what it says on top of the page.”

        It said: “This test may not be taken more than once per day.”

        She explained that if I take the test and fail (which she said was unnlikely,) I can still go home and learn. If I go home and learn without taking the test, I would probably just waste my time.

        Steeled with that logic, I sat down and checked my boxes. Handed the sheet to the county mounty. He circled three out of about 20 which I had wrong. I put on my thickest German akzent and said: “Offizer, I am verrry zorry, I am a foreiger, I do no know vat a yield iss.”

        He told me to be quiet. Said that apparently I know what to do in the 17 cases. “Now, let me explain you.” He patiently explained the right answers to the three questions. “See, it ain’t that hard.” I was handed a learner’s permit, got out of the DMV, told my girlfriend Bambi to “move over” and drove off in the direction of Garth Road.

        I can very well imagine that 100% correct ones from a damn Yankee gave rise to his suspicions.

    • 0 avatar

      automotive goodness and Saab don’t belong in the same sentence since, like, ever.

    • 0 avatar

      @gabbott66: “In a single day Toyota commits more sins against the Platonic ideal of automotive goodness than Saab has committed in its entire 64-year history.”

      Yeah, possibly — but if so, then that’s probably only because they produce more cars in a single day than Saab has produced in its entire 64-year history…

      (Sorry, but somebody had to say it.)

  • avatar

    This just another example of why you don’t let amateur wannabe’s run a car company. The Saab faithful have to come to grips with the fact that the people in charge can’t possibly save the company. I’m not sure real pros could have done that, but I am fairly sure that an Iacocca or Mulally could have pulled the plug without the long soap opera plot line. Investors may even have gotten back a few cents on dollar.

  • avatar

    Anyone for a dance?

  • avatar

    If only VW wouldn’t show up…anywhere…ever.

  • avatar

    For everyone who says just pull the plug remember that there are several thousands jobs at stake here in the us and in Europe, if I work for Saab I would want them trying everything they can think of to try to make it work, and lets be honest here they have lasted much much longer than anyone thought they would, I am pro Saab and like to think they can pull a rabbit out of they hat, if they can’t they can’t but at least let them try every thing they can think of. Feel free to flame if you like to.

    • 0 avatar

      They can always do a caravan to the Swedish government offices. Just make sure there are Lexuses on standby in case teh Saabs break down halfway.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree they should try to do what they can.

      I give Müller credit for trying (I didn’t see anyone else step-up, therefore, he gets the credit for at least taking a shot; whether he could do it differently or better is a different topic.)

      Problem is, that SAAB is not really S.A.AB anymore; it ceased being that when Investor AB sold them off in stages to GM. Even if Müller is successful, and finds money to survive and develop new cars, SAAB will cease being GM-SAAB, and become Spyker-SAAB. Only question worth wondering is whether this will be an improvement for the product and brand or not.

  • avatar

    I for one would love to see Saab turn around. There is no joy in this, just as there is no joy in seeing any car company with any sort of history go down in flames.

    Cars have completed their transformation to appliances, commodities. With the death of each of these brands, more doors open for the appliance manufacturers.

    Enter Geely, enter Roewe, Volvos pulled by Oxen, TTACers need not rejoice.

  • avatar
    Hockey Bum

    “I know some BDSM studios in Frankfurt…”


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