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December 22, 2006

Saab Chronicles Part 5

I’m not alone. That’s what I have realized the past few months. I’m not alone in liking “classic” Saabs. I thought that this Saab 900 thing I had going was just a bit off kilter and that I would need to explain myself to all those who would take one look at my 16 year old heap and turn up their noses. Instead I run into giddy excitement from most; often times accompanied by stories of Saabs past (yes, “Saab stories”). I guess strange little cars like the old 900, VW Beetle and Rabbit, Fiat X1/9, Datsun 510, BMW 2002—the list goes on—can illicit emotions that vanilla cars like Camrys and Accords and Tauruses—and that list, unfortunately, goes on even longer—just can’t.

aero x.jpg

It’s a shame that Saab has been neglected for so long by GM because there obviously still is some left over brand equity, or plain old nostalgia, in it. And when GM’s radar needle did finally sweep across their adopted Swedish step child, the only thought they had was to badge engineer a small car and an SUV while the two core products received only mild facelifts to their aging skins.

The Saab Aero X dream car that GM has been previewing indicates that at least some internal fondness for the brand exists and though it may only be a wild design exercise it does provide hope for the faithful that Saab will not be neglected completely. Frankly the “kappa” platform based 9X show car of a few years ago excited me even more because it was not only closer to being production capable, it captured a bit of the old 900 idiosyncratic charm in its design.


If I were product planning king for a day at GM, I would immediately put into place a basic three car strategy at Saab: small, medium and large. A small sporty car similar to the 9x that I would call the 90, a new more expressively styled small sedan/coupe/wagon (all hatchbacks) called the 900, and finally a larger midsized 4 door coupe/sedan/wagon, aka 9000. No SUVs or big engines needed. Saabs should be uniquely functional, efficiently sized and powered, and sporty.

December 07, 2006

Forging Wheels

We at VRPerformance are in business to sell only the finest aftermarket performance equipment for sporting cars (okay, sorry for the little plug here at the usually non-partisan, non-commercial blog part of the website, but can you blame us?). Our quality driven philosophy means that we search out not only equipment that looks good, but also equipment that is engineered with performance and durability in mind. The process by which the equipment is made is often as important as the design, and when it comes to wheels, forging is the only way to go.

If you've checked out our wheels section you'll notice we talk extensively about forging and its advantages over other processes. You'll also notice that the three main wheel brands we recommend sell forged wheels: Fikse, Champion and Volk Racing.

The tech geeks that we are, we happened to stumble upon a great video primer on wheel manufacturing by Rays on the internet. Rays is the parent company to Volk Racing. It's a typical industry trade show style video, but interesting nonetheless. They first go through the forging process and then a little about casting. If you're at all interested in good quality wheels and wondered why all the expensive ones are forged, check this video out.

December 05, 2006

Engineering Emotion

The love that enthusiasts have for their automobiles is hard to explain to people not equally inclined; it is just a cold machine after all. And maybe love is too strong of a word anyway, since most enthusiasts that I know do not actually love their car like an aging baby boomer loves a 1969 Camaro as it sits in a row of equally loved old relics at the local Denny's on cruise night. That is nostalgic ardor and schmaltzy sentimentality.

No, real enthusiasts love the experience to be had by driving the car. They're thrilled by the technology and the engineering. They will trade in their current generation car for the next if it's better. And no matter how good it is from the factory, they love to strip away the government and market driven compromises and come into shops like ours to tweak it some-- enhance the technology even further.

Audi has produced a great little spot that goes straight to the heart of what I think excites the real automotive enthusiast. It literally combines technology and emotion into one poetic little piece of advertising brilliance. Check it out: