RMSC News 2012 Issue 5 September-October 2012

From your Club President

Many of my friends that I know from all over the USA whom I have met and a few of our Saab Club members have purchased what might be the last Saab ever built as we now know it. John Elway Saab has sold 28 new units last month. We all want to get a piece of Saab history. It proves we still want Saabs.

Should I buy a car without a factory warranty? Here is what I have experienced. It seems to me since 2007, the car has been highly refined. All the usual problems have seemed to disappear. GM has finally got it right where reliability and predictably have finally come together. I rarely have heard of any big mechanical problem hap- pening and if it does, the parts seem to be there. Talking with John Elway Saab (formerly Mike Shaw Saab) Grant in parts sums it up like this. “Whenever parts are needed for a warranty on the 08’s & 09’s we are working on, Saab Parts North America usually stocks the parts.

Sometimes when parts are out of stock, they sometimes can be crossed over to GM part supply. As far as now, it has not really been an issue.”

2011 cars are sold without factory warranty however aftermarket warranties are available and highly recom- mended. Everyone always doubts the cost of any insur- ance policy however when it is needed, you are glad you have it. The cost of an aftermarket policy ranges from

$2,300.00 to 3,000.00. Is it money well spent? I believe so. Talking to John Elway about how many new 2010 & 2011’s come in, their answer is hardly any. Meaning the car is well built and reliable. If it is needed, you will be glad you have it. The system has not been strongly tested yet as the car is still new. Time will tell.

What happens when your local dealer cannot get a part and you cannot drive your car? Great question! John Elway has a great dealer network to query dealers who participate. 1) they will get it somewhere. Some dealers stock a great amount of parts. 2) check the aftermarket

The October 9th meeting will be 7PM at Mile Hi Body Shop, Inc., 519 Lipan St. Denver. RMSC pur- chased a 1991 Saab 900NT, 3dr Black, 5 speed that is in need of a few mechanical repairs.

Bring work clothes, food will be served.

suppliers. 3) The option is installing used parts. Some- where something can be gotten. 4) Try to repair your part.

Mike Shaw, when Saab was at its prime, placed part or- ders daily. Back in 2008 when parts orders were placed, there was a 98% chance of getting all the parts. Always there was a small chance some are backordered only to

From your Club President


be filled in a short period of time. When Saab was in its bankruptcy, the percentage rate fell to a dismal 57%. You cannot keep a car company going with that low numbers. What is a customer to do when they cannot get parts?

Since then the average percentage to fill an order is now at 79%. That’s better (I believe?)

Friends, do not bail on the older cars. Parts are always go- ing to be available on them. Patients have ran out and now you can buy new aftermarket parts.

DO NOT WRECK YOUR CAR!!!! Period! Almost all mechanical parts are purchased from suppliers except sheet metal. Sheet metal is stamped at the factory and are not supplied from suppliers. The factory is not stamping sheet metal at this time, thus no sheet metal. Insurance companies hate Saabs. A Saab is wrecked and for example you are a claimant, claimants are entitled into a loaner ve- hicle until the car is fixed. We have had one 2008 9-5 waiting for seven weeks waiting for a bumper cover and a turn light. Everything else was completed. If you have a light hit say RF corner and you are a claimant, don’t be surprised that your will total just because the availability of sheet metal. Insurance companies do not want to pro-

ceed with any unforeseeable future. It is cost effective to total the car, pay off the claimant, finalize the claim as to pay on going charges. Older cars are different say from 2005 and older. There are a great amount of good quality used parts available to keep the older cars going. Good news!! Saab Parts North America, the supplier of Saab Parts is working a deal with the factory to open the factory and start creating sheet metal products. As of this writing, nothing has been started yet.

I think I got off the question of “Would you buy a new car without a warranty and the factory is closed down? It is all about the comfort level you have and the trust in the prod- uct. Say what you want about GM but GM has made a reliable, predictable vehicle that has many of miles ahead of it trouble free. At this time I feel a new Saab is a great value however time will tell. I will do my best to keep every Saab on the road and do whatever I can do to keep the parts coming.

Have a great fall driving your Saab. Drive safe!!

Jerry Danner, President (Photo by Charles Stoyer)

Infrared Thermometers

by Charles Stoyer

A friend of mine road with his brother in law to the top of Pike’s Peak this summer. On the return trip down, the driver did not use the transmission to slow the vehicle by downshifting but instead used the brakes. About half way down, they encountered a check station where the rangers measured the brake disk temperature with an infrared thermometer. His brakes were way too hot so they directed him to take a 1-hr break before proceeding the rest of the way down the approximate 9,000 ft climb.

I mentioned this story to another friend and he sug- gested that infrared thermometers are quite useful fro diagnosing potential problems with cars and trucks. He suggested that when you stop after a long drive that you check the tires and brake disks/drums with an infrared thermometer to look for problems. If all tires read the same temperature, then all is likely OK but if one tire is warmer than the rest, it may be low on pressure. Checking this with the infrared ther-

mometer is much faster and easier than using a tire gauge. The brake disks and drums If you have drums should also be checked. If one side is considerably

(Continued on page 14)

Jerry Danner opened the August meeting at the Breckenridge Brewery and introduced 2 new mem- bers, Jay Dowling who has an '08 9-5Aero and.

Keith-Arnold who has an '08 9-3 Turbo X as well as

some vintage Alphas and an old truck. Keith is also looking for a V-4 to add to his fleet.

This month’s meeting agenda is board elections for 3 positions and a recap of SOC12 in Iowa City. Jer- ry also thanked Charles for the newsletter and had a call for articles from members on their projects and items of interest on Saabs.

Bob Buck facilitated the elections for the upcoming 2 year terms, we have 3 positions open from Tom Nelson, Jim Beetham and Treasurer Paul Bottone. Tom declined to run for re-election, Jim and Paul

accepted to run again. New nominees included: Dave Snider, Paul Bottone, John Clary, and Jim Beetham.

Dave, Paul, and John were elected, the new board is now Jerry Danner (President), Paul Bottone (Treasurer), Larry Beetham (Secretary), At-Large members are Bob Buck, Darrell Christianson, Dave Snider, and John Clary

Board members are at large and then assigned to positions by the board, a motion was made to the attendees to make the treasurer and secretary posi- tions appointed by board and not necessarily filled by board members.

This can only be voted on this month and was passed during a meeting of the new board following directly afterwards.

Jerry and Tom gave a recap of the SOC12 in Iowa City in August, the club had 18 members and family that attended and overall we received 14 awards by RMSC members. Most notable, Dave Snider won the Walter Kern Award for innovations in design and improving the breed through ingenuity. We pre-

viously had an RMSC member, Dan Bollschweiler that won this award for his Sonett III dragster.

Tom said it was one of the best conventions he has

been to, particularly due to not having a car of his in competition for once! He also talked about his quest for a new 9-5 manual for his wife, Avis through the recent auctions, he has been following the auctions for months and 71 are going up for auction this com- ing Thursday.

They both showed pictures of SOC12, including 4 new 2011 9-5s as well as the Colorado Barn Find 96s, Jerry’s pics of old 95 & 96s in Nebraska that he has been interested in for years and of the Mt. Evans Drive event to the Meyers observatory.

Paul Bottone showed a Popular Mechanic’s article of Jay Leno’s 2-stroke and mentioned the plans for tour- ing the Clive Cussler museum on Labor Day. The

plans for a weekend trip to the museum in Gateway, Colorado will be moved to next fall and will still in- clude trips to the Colorado Monument and local win- eries.

Respectfully submitted,

Larry Beetham, Secretary - RMSC of Colorado

Who Was Walter Kern?

by Bruce Turk, President, V.S.C.N.A. (pictures by Scott Prentice

Walter Kern was a nuclear physicist trained at MIT. Dur- ing the 1950's he was an amateur sports car racer who had

some success with a Fiat powered Siata and a Porsche, until the cars engines were blown. Walter realized that engine oil starvation on tight turns was responsible for many engine failures, so he was drawn to the Saab two cycle engines.

He decided to design and build his own car, incorporating the Saab power plant. Walter worked with Al Conrod of

Itek Corporation and Jack Soumala of the MIT instruments lab on an IBM computer to design a chassis with neutral steering. Walter told me that he believed his was the first car to have its chassis designed entirely by computer (remember this was around 50 years ago!) The computer he used filled an entire room.

Walter settled on a chassis configuration made of sheet metal with a Saab engine and trans axle. The completed chassis, which he called the Quantum, had a hand built aluminum body. The car was raced at Thompson speed-

way in Connecticut in May of 1960, taking first in class. At a race in the rain at Vineland, NJ, the Quantum won, beating out a Ferrari and a Maserati. In fact, in its first racing season the Quantum took first in class every time it ran.

Another Quantum was built; this time with a gorgeous

fiberglass body that Walter said resembled a 3/4 % scale E

-type Jaguar. The car was shown at the 1962 New York Auto Show, the public absolutely loved it. Saab gave out press reports that said the car would be in production soon, with the anticipatled price of $2,995, FOB New Haven, CT.

The CEO of Saab at the time, Ralph .Millet, supp0l1ed Kern's efforts by handing Walter the "keys" to the Saab warehouse parts bin. Mr. Millet believed in Walter's de- sign and made arrangements to have the car sent to Swe-

den for review. Saab was designing what would become the Sonett and thought that maybe, just maybe, they would use Walters design.

The rest of the story is history. The Swedes picked Wal- ters Quantum apart because they couldn't bear the thought of producing a sports car designed by an American. A purely political decision was made to manufacture what we now know as the Sonett II. This was an error of epic proportions. The Sonett II was not "taken well" by the American press, to put it mildly. We can only speculate what would have happened had they produced the super sexy, convertible Quantum.

Walter was Chief Mechanical Engineer at Teradyne Corp.;

a computer controlled testing systems company. He developed formulas for some of the earliest synthetic oils ever produced. He was the president of The New England Sonett Club (later became the VSCNA) for almost twenty years.

He loved Saab Sonett's. He had a need for speed so his Sonetts always came equipped with a custom installed turbo. When his turbo Sonett got boring he helped develop a fuel-injected turbo! His cars were all about innovation.

When he was 78 years young, he commuted to work (yes he still worked) in his electric Sonett III. His self-designed electric car would travel 60 miles at 50 miles per hour be- tween charges. I had a chance to see the car on a few occa- sions. This was a professionally built car that WORKED. He said that free wheel drive made vintage Saabs the per- fect candidate for an electric conversion. GM could have spent 50 million dollars to design a car that didn't work as well.

He lived in a retirement community the last few years of his life. One day his community was having a hobby show. The residents were displaying their handiwork on the great front lawn. On display were needlepoint, quilts, crafts etc. Then Walter drove in with his screaming yellow 1974 electric Sonett III. He just parked that thing right in the middle of all the other items on display. His grand en- trance gave him instant celebrity status in his new commu- nity!

He was a true gentleman that always had time to explain things to anyone who asked. His work wasn't always es- thetically pleasing but always challenged the senses and improved the breed.

The nice thing about the Walter Kern Award is that it can go to the owner of any year or model Saab. lfyou're an innovative genius, maybe you will be the next to be honored by receiving the prestigious Walter Kern Award.

Air conditioning was working perfectly well with R- 12 so there was no change for 55 years (1940 to 1995). Around 1990, scientists determined R12 re- frigerant was associated with ozone depletion and the loss of a protective ozone shield in the northern hemi- sphere. Chemically R12 interacted and decreased the protective ozone layer allowing increased UV radia- tion damages that alarmed the residents of Canada and Alaska. Manufactures fazed in using R134a and by 1997, and R12 was illegal for new car makers to us. Also its availability for R12 repairs on pre-1997 cars was severely restricted.

Now just 17 years later it’s R134a turn for environ- mental banning because of green-house gas carbon content. Though safe for the Ozone layer, R134a does have a carbon content rating of 1433, a high and harmful number. By comparison HFO-1234yf has a global warming friendly carbon pollution rating of just 4. By the end of this year the switch to HFO- 1234yf as factory fill in new cars will be underway.

This new refrigerant will bring a multitude of expen- sive changes to the A/C service landscape. For in- stance, until manufacturing plants are in full swing during 2014, HFO-1234 will cost 10 TIMES more

than R134a. Also the EPA has not as of this date made provisions for over the counter sales to the pub- lic. Until amended, no home mechanics will have ac- cess to HFO-1234yf. To service any HFO-1234yf system, every shop will need to be HFO-1234yf trained and state licensed and the shop must have the EPA required HFO-12234yf specific and dedicated equipment that will cost somewhere North of


2012 American cars using this new refrigerant is the Cadillac ATS and all 2012 Subaru’s. Dealerships will need to consider service equipment for HFO-1234yf during this year. This may also be the case for colli- sion shops, depending on whether they perform A/C work in-house. Your local independent shop will need to consider HFO-1234yf-ready equipment with- in the next couple of years.

For the most part, systems filled with HFO-1234yf are substantially identical to R-134a systems. Both systems work at very similar pressures, which be- came an attractive trait in helping the industry choose HFO-1234yf over carbon dioxide (CO2), which re- quires higher pressures ( 2000 lbs!). Of course, HFO- 1234yf must have its own fittings and service label,

which is typical for differ- ent refrigerants. One im- portant characteristic of the new refrigerant is that it is “flammable in some settings”. Smoking in shops has been illegal for some time and new A/C equipment will be spark free, yet car accidents where the HFO-12124yf is released quickly with a smashed condenser has me wondering what happens then.

We can trace the ruling about carbon restrictions and CO2 to EPA regula- tion upheld by the Su- preme Court in 2010.

Who's to say that the last 900 new 2011 Saabs im- ported into North America will be the last Saabs ev- er? It could happen that in a few years there will be all-electric vehicles coming from the NEVS factory in Trollhattan, Sweden to the US with a Saab badge. But I can't wait for that possibility, and the 2011 Saabs are just too darned nice to pass up. So this is the story of having a chance to buy, brand new, some of the last Saabs imported to our country. And I was- n't the only one of our RMSC members that bought a car; there are four of us to date, and there were sever- al other club members who seriously considered the opportunity; some are still looking for the right car.

A little background information is in order before I get to the activity of these past few months. In 2009, when GM was in process of shed-

ding Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab there was a major push in the global Saab community to influ- ence would-be potential buyers and investors that Saab should live on, and that there were indeed many customers out there for all the new Saab models com- ing. I was one of the hundreds, or were there thou-

Saab 9-5 SportCombi for 2012; Unfortunately it

never got to production

sands? of believers that signed an internet pledge to purchase a NEW Saab in 2012 or 2013. I fully ex- pected it was going to be the all new 9-5 Sport Combi that we would buy, and that it would be a 50th Anni- versary present for my wife Avis, to replace her 2003 Aero Wagon that she has loved dearly for almost 10 years. That dream was not to be, of course, but hold that thought for about 3 years of turmoil in the world of Saab leading to early 2012.

After the December 2011 bankruptcy of Saab in Eu- rope, followed shortly by the bankruptcy of SCNA (the Saab North American distributor) in Michigan I started hearing rumblings about 900 brand new Saabs caught in limbo during the process. Then there were photos of dozens of new Saabs in every model, trim, and color imaginable setting forlornly in warehouses and parking lots at ports on both coasts of the US. A

Some of the 900 port-stranded Saabs at a Newark, NJ Warehouse (Photo by SaabWorld.net)

blogger on SaabWorld.net had access to the develop- ing story about a court battle for ownership of the cars. These 900 cars had been ordered for distribution to US dealers but never paid for by SCNA

so the court awarded the cars to Ally Financial (formerly GMAC). In addition, Ally was awarded ownership of all the SCNA company cars, another 50+ late model used Saabs that were mostly located at SCNA HQ in Royal Oak, MI.

The 900 brand new Saabs at ports in NJ, GA, and CA along with the 50+ SCNA company cars made a list 27 pages long, organized by VIN, model, body style, value, and location. This listing was published by Al- ly Financial in June 2012 along with the announce- ment that the grand plan was to auction the cars indi- vidually in batches, to Saab dealers only, starting in late June. The on-line auctions were to be conducted by Smart Auction, a connection that all remaining Saab dealers already had in place. The plan also was said to allocate 300 of the new Saabs to the individual auction approach, and the remaining 600 cars would

be sold in lots of 100.

But before the first new car auction, Ally offered all the SCNA company cars in one lot. The successful bidder on June 27th was Schmelz Countryside VW Saab in St Paul, MN. These cars arrived in Schmelz inventory in early July and most were quickly sold. The first new Saab auction offered 45 cars on June 28th. At that point I was still going through the 27 page 900 car listing trying to find a 9-3 Sport Combi with 6-spd manual gearbox. There was only one, and it was a very "stripped-down model" without even heated seats. I knew better than to bid on this car for Avis. After all, every Saab we have bought since our new 1972 model 99SSE has had heated seats!!

To place a bid on any of these cars I needed to get locked in with a Saab dealer to bid for me, so I start- ed with Mike Shaw Chevrolet Saab in Denver, as that's where Avis bought her new Aero Wagon in 2003. But the General Manager said emphatically that they would not be participating in the auction. Period. I then hooked up with Julie Gardner of Kelly Cadillac Saab in Lancaster, PA as I had become en- amored with her postings on the internet that detailed her successful bidding on a 9-3X Sport Combi for a client in Washington State. She even agreed to try to influence the Smart Auction folks to add any car I wanted to bid on. But by the time the second auction date was set for July 24th Julie's boss had decided (temporarily) to not participate, as the labor intensive process was not worth the effort for their dealership.

Meanwhile a couple things happened Schmelz