SAABs Run the Show at Carlisle Imports 2013

saab 10

Just like last year, SAABs have completely dominated the Carlisle Import Nationals. In terms of plain numbers, SAABs led the way with 251 cars on the show field and 310 registered attendees, with Audi being a distant second with around a hundred cars. And then it was downhill from there, with every other marque gathering upwards of four dozen cars at best.

And once again, by the end of the day I had grown so envious of the SAAB club’s organization and activities, that I wished I had driven a SAAB to Carlisle this year just to be able to get food that were being served in their tent. Perhaps next year, perhaps next year. Just need to find a SAAB first. But right now, let’s take a look at the Swedish cars that gathered at last weekend’s Carlisle Import and Kit Nationals, and not just SAABs.

saab 20

This was my hands down favorite SAAB at the Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals this year, a brilliantly maintained 900 Turbo. The overall presentation gave the impression that this car was brand new inside and out, right down to the stark black plastic on the bumpers. If this was in the car corral, I think I would have been seriously tempted to blurt out a number. Hemmings Associate Editor Mark McCourt and I both went “Whoooaahh!” when we saw this example on the show field.

saab 93

This was a charming old SAAB 93, with the passenger serving as rally navigator. All 93s of course sound like Japanese motorcycles, but this one sounded like a really loud Japanese motorcycle as its exhaust system has clearly been messed with. Or was removed entirely. Either way, this was one my favorite 93 this year from the SAAB region of the field.

saab striped

There was no shortage of SAAB 99s at Carlisle this year, and this was one of my favorite models, even if the fog lights do dominate the front fascia quite a bit. This exampple was really clean inside and out and wore some snazzy paint.

amazon 1

One of the nicest Volvo Amazons at Carlisle this year was this station wagon fitted with the optional roof rack. The vintage Volvo turnout at Carlisle grew noticeably this year, with upwards of 15 different Volvo Amazons on the field alone.

142 1

This was a nicely kept 142 accessorized with many period Volvo racing accessories. Back in the day the dealer catalog was full of rally-style parts, and one could order up quite an impressive number of lights and wings.

242 2

This was basically so cool that I don’t even need to say anything, and I’ll just leave this here. No drooling on the keyboard!

142 2

Here’s another sharp 142, this time the GT model. Like the yellow example a few cars above, this one was accessorized with a number of original Volvo dealer catalog items. This is an earlier model than the yellow example, with extruded “refrigerator” grab handles.


This was a ridiculously original early 244 sedan in seemingly as-new condition. If this had been in the car corral, I think I would have needed to rent a trailer and hitch pronto, or else just leave my car in Carlisle and drive this gem home. The vintage New Jersey plate here was a nice touch. When was the last time you’ve seen a quad-light 244 or 245 just tooling around in traffic?

142 3

This was another tidy Volvo 142 i a charming light blue color. These cars make great starter classics, and are quite easy to service. I still can’t decide which of the three fascia variants of the 140 series cars is my favorite.


This 1990 SAAB 900S was one of the best surprises of Carlisle 2013, at least as Swedish car fans were concerned. Look closely and you’ll note that the steering wheel is on the wrong (or right, depending on where you’re reading Hooniverse) side of the dash. This example was recently imported from the UK, but I will hedge that statement by noting that it did not display a US plate anywhere and may merely be touring the country. Which would make far more sense overall since this car is very much a 1990 model year example.


This was a fantastic looking P1800, in what I maintain is the best color for any 1970s car. Except a Cadillac. Or an UAZ. Perhaps I’ll haveto revise my statement regarding this color to something like “best color for any small to midsize western and eastern European passenger car.” Once again, thankfully this car was in the show field as opposed to the car corral. Otherwise I might have had some ‘splainin to do when I arrived back home in a different, and much older car that I left in.

1800 2

This was another nice P1800, this time in a dark shade of red. I am not sure if the export plate indicates that this ca was recently brought into the country, or if it’s wearing it just for kicks.  This was a very nicely preserved example, inside and out.


Perhaps the oldest Swedish car at Carlisle 2013 was this PV544, in a wonderful faded green color. The paint on this particular example was just fantastic in person, and the chrome appeared excellent as well. A spectacularly detailed car all around.

amazon wagon

This was a nice Amazon wagon, and one of several that appeared at Carlisle this year. The whole Volvo contingent grew pretty noticeable this year, and it was nice to see a number of well restored Amazons in every body variant.

That’s it for Swedish cars, and next time we’ll be taking a look at the French cars that gathered at Carlisle this year.

Massive gallery from Carlisle Import Nationals below:

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]




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13 responses to “SAABs Run the Show at Carlisle Imports 2013”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Indeed some gorgeous cars! I had a 1971 145 for a couple of years, my best designed and one of the cheapest to maintain cars ever. Nowhere near the shape of the cars shown here, though. I guess everyone here knows how to appreciate the effort in keeping cars in such wonderful shape – and everyone will probably hope that these cars get the chance to show themselves in public regularly.
    Appreciation bonus how the Volvos in this post kind of took over and smashed away that headline about SAABs. The internal Swedish combat continues.
    <img src="; width="600">

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Numbers-wise, they didn't. Volvo didn't break 100 cars on the field, and SAAB had 251+. Plus their organization was just outstanding.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Your numbers are 10 Volvos and 4 SAABs under the headline "SAABs Run the Show at Carlisle Imports 2013" – I like that. I appreciate any SAAB there is, but I adore most Volvos even more.

  2. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    The "71 and "72 142's are my favorits, I specially do like the light blue one with the stainless steel rim rings. ( the owner should align the bumber)

  3. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    note that the PV544 doesn't have AV plates – must mean the owner actually drives it!
    there was an Amazon for sale at my Pick-n-Pull a few months ago and i am really struggling to think of why i didn't photograph it
    i notice a lack of 850 and newer Volvos from the show. i dunno if that's because they're just not old enough to be considered classics, but i don't think the FWD Volvo cars will ever be as collectible as the older models, especially the 240s. the 850 is a solid car but it and its successors never achieved the same cultural icon status as the 240, and the way Volvo is headed no future models seem likely to do so either. perfectly nice, but perfectly forgettable.

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      There were quite a few of them there, some T5Rs and T5R clones (850s with T5R wheels). I actually remember how harsh the stock 850s rode, so I instinctively avoided posting them : )
      There were plenty of late model (90s) Volvos there, they just weren't especially outstanding visually, or interesting in the classic sense.

      1. julkinen Avatar

        I'm again in talks about the 850 I reviewed a year ago. I need to re-drive it, so I can realistically compare it to the E34.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      In Norway, a used 850 will be priced pretty much along the lines of a used 240. Obviously, the 850 is a more modern car, so I consider this a nice fun fact about how the market works.

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        doesn't work quite that way in the US. the 240s have a much wider range – a clean one with no rust will cost you dearly, and a beat-to-shit one will cost you three figures. 850s tend to be pretty stable in price because they don't rust and don't break much, so any working 850 will cost you from ~$1750 to $3000-4000 for a nice one.
        finding that nice one is hard. wagons with 5spds are few and far between. sedans with 5spds are reasonably common, though.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          That's interesting! Good 240s have only lately started on a steep price rise here. I have seen several low mileage, no rust examples breaking the 10000$ threshold, and there is a lower limit for a rusted out 240, too. But then again Volvos equal Camrys in the US. "Villa, Volvo og voffvoff" (a big house, a Volvo and a dog) is the mantra of Norwegian suburbia. Which is all of Norway because we don't have big cities. So high mileage in these family beaters is very common, but even a nice and well kept 850 does not demand big money yet. Have a look if you're interested, divide prices by ~6 to get US-$. And if you'd like a car from Hell, the actual place "Hell", this would be your choice.

          1. wunno sev Avatar
            wunno sev

            ugh, that S70 plastered in 850 badges is terrible…
            those are surprisingly expensive for 850s! we don't pay nearly that much around here. also we only got the T5 with the manual for two years (98/99) and during those years there were only ever a few hundred brought into the country, so i am quite jealous of your selection.

          2. wunno sev Avatar
            wunno sev

            also, i like that "voffvoff" is dog

  4. Synchromesh Avatar

    The guy I sold my Miata to last year had an old Amazon sedan with 4MT sitting in his garage. It had some issues and hasn't moved in years but still looked quite decent and was sitting inside a barn all this time. I bet it would belong if somebody managed to get it running!

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