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We are SAAB: Northern England & Southern Scotland event

A report from the We are many we are SAAB meet Northern England & Southern Scotland Jan 15th 2012

When SAAB's parent company General Motors took stock of its affairs some 3 years ago, it was resolved that they would wind down the brand along with Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn as part of a reorganisation process that would enable them to concentrate on their core brands. 

The germ of an idea advanced by a lone enthusiast on a SAAB forum, fuelled by the Internet and the SAABS United website in particular, quickly snowballed into the global phenomenon that came to be known as the SAAB Support Convoys. The Support Convoys of 2010 demonstrated the tremendous passion and loyalty SAAB owners and enthusiasts had for the brand.

Worldwide participation in a co-ordinated move to show support for SAAB and to tell the world that the brand will live on no matter what was required 2 years after the original convoys and on 15th January 2012, more meets were staged. This article is the story of one support meeting comprised of SAAB owners from Southern Scotland and North East England.

Organising events is a thankless task but this one, like the others, relied on local initiative and determination to find a suitable venue and feasible route that would enable as many people as possible to participate but without causing undue disruption for other road users. The date, of course, was not negotiable.
The route

In the end, the itinerary involved  running East to West from the starting point in Gateshead to the finishing line at Carlisle.
Route for the NE England/S Scotland We are many, we are SAAB convoy 15/01/2012

Fittingly, because most of the participants were praying for the survival of SAAB as a company, the starting point was beneath the Angel of the North. The run to Carlisle, however, avoided the obvious route of the A69 to take advantage of the more relaxed pace of the B6318, which is better known locally as the military road.  This made for easy access to Hadrian's Wall, (for the road follows the course of the wall and when it was built, General Wade's forces used considerable quantities of stone from the wall as foundations for the road) with two interim stops scheduled at Housesteads and Birdoswald Roman Forts. Of course Vindolanda and Chesters are excellent stops along the Roman Wall in their own right but Housesteads and Birdoswald fitted the schedule better and offered sufficient parking plus opportunities for participants to explore or use refreshment facilities.

SAABs lining up for the We are many, we are SAAB' NE England/S Scotland event 15/01/2012

SAAB owners turn out in force for the 'We are many, we are SAAB' event staged by NE England/Southern Scotland enthusiasts 15/01/2012

A photograph that captures the spirit of the event: SAABs head west on Jan 15th 2012 as NE England & S Scotland SAAB enthusiasts tell the world: "We are many, we are SAAB"

The Roman Wall: a great day out in summer but can be bleak on the exposed sections

Let us take you under our wing: Carlisle Airport palyed host to the convoy, providing the opportunity for cars to pose with preserved resident Avro Vulcan

Intrepid SAAB owners fly the flag for SAAB at Carlisle Airport on January 15th 2012

The event - what happened on the day
Of course, having a plan is one thing but translating it into reality is quite something else and there remains that small niggling worry that not enough people will turn up or that the weather will ruin things. These fears, of course, proved groundless - probably because the publicity had been well managed (mainly through UKSaabs) and because the route chosen was nothing less than inspired. Not only was this a good drive in its own right but the easy pace and stops allowed folk to leave and join quite easily.

The bitterly cold start did not deter diehard SAAB enthusiasts one bit and the gloom of the outset meant that the Angel of the North looked rather paler than usual. But the wintry start did not set the tone for the event and as the day proceeded, the sun came out, helping things considerably, despite the cold. At no point during the drive was the number of SAABs less than 25 presenting a magnificent sight. Overall, about 60 people attended - a result that comfortably surpassed initial expectation. Some people had driven quite a distance to 'do their bit' but perhaps bravest of all was the driver of the world's oldest surviving V4 - the author knows better than most about the frailties of 50 year old automotive heating systems!

UKSaabs member RedSAABs told me that he was a bit apprehensive about turning up on the day because this was the first such organised event he'd ever been to and was a tad concerned that his recently acquired SAAB might have looked out of place. He had this to say "I seriously considered pulling out the day before because l thought my car might just get laughed out of town. I should not have worried. ....enthusiasts were taking photos of MY car."

This, of course, is the essence of a SAAB community event like this - so long as you drive a SAAB (any SAAB!), everybody is welcome with no need whatever to be part of any club or organisation. Many people who do, however, often find they get addicted and go on to join a forum such as UKSaabs or the SAAB Owners Club (GB) which has local branches that 'do their own thing,' as well as organising the SOC National Rally. For some diehard enthusiasts, even this is not enough and only international events will do!

The author would like to thank all who attended but in particular must acknowledge the considerable contribution of Craig B. (Carlisle) who not only provided the photographs and allowed them to be published for this article but also dedicated time and effort into planning the convoy and making it happen on the day. Well done!

In a nutshell: a few facts about Hadrian's Wall, Angel of the North & the Avro Vulcan

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