Ray Ciccolo, president of Village Automotive Group, made national news when he decided to buck the trend and expand his Saab service and parts operation at a time when most of the brand’s dealerships are winding down.
“We’re going to be the go-to Saab dealership in the Northeast,” Ciccolo says of the plan to add two technicians and launch a directmail marketing campaign to Saab owners in Eastern Massachusetts.
Saab stopped production and entered bankruptcy court last year. Last month, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB bought the automaker and plans to produce electric vehicles. Meanwhile, Ciccolo is looking to buy any leftover new or demo Saabs that the company puts up for auction.
Ciccolo’s Charles River Saab store, which dates back to 1957, is the oldest dealership in the country.
“Dealers aren’t doing anything with the brand and so their customers are going to look to go someplace to get good service,” Ciccolo says. “I see at least three years of good business.”
Ciccolo’s operation services several dozen Saabs a day, but he believes there are as many as 8,000 “orphaned” Saab owners in the Boston area.
A Going Away Party
Pierre Belperron, the service manager at Charles River Saab, made a long list of friends in his 23 years at the dealership.
So, it was sad news earlier this month when he emailed friends and loyal customers to alert them that he was leaving for a position at Singer Subaru in Plaistow, N.H.
“With the relocation of the dealership came a number of inquiries from those who erroneously thought the dealership was closing and that I might be looking for a position,” he wrote.
“Most, I dismissed out of hand. However, one was professionally intriguing and perfect in every other respect such that I could not resist.”
But friends and Swedish car fans will have a chance at a goodbye party.
That’s because Belperron has one more Saab event. “For those interested, I will be back one more time as I have committed to hosting Swedish Car Day (Aug. 26) at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, and I have decided—given that this possibly is the last Swedish Car Day—to make myself the guest speaker.”
For those of us disappointed at last month’s postponement of El Camino Night at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., there’s good news.The event has been rescheduled for this coming Friday (July 27) with El Camino owners and a guest being admitted for free.
The track has set aside an area where other fans can view the El Caminos, and the cars are being invited to do some parade laps during the evening with burnouts not only permitted but also encouraged.
Event organizer John Harris, past national director of the National El Camino Owners Association (NECOA), has taken the opportunity to make it a weekend event for owners coming in from out of town. On Saturday, El Caminos will be a featured marque at the large afternoon Cruise Day at Skip’s Hamburgers in Merrimack, Mass. On Sunday, there are plans for a breakfast gathering and cruise up the NewHampshire coast.
If you plan on attending, let organizer Harris know at firstname.lastname@example.org so enough space can be set aside at both locations.
Thanks to those reader-spotters who emailed with alerts of El Caminos for sale. I “adopted”one in Connecticut that is being “treated”for electrical issues and hopefully will pass state inspection in time to participate in the events.
Manning the Wheelman
NFL quarterback Peyton Manning uses his play-calling skills in a TV spot for the 2012 BuickVerano luxury sedan. In the spot, Manning“calls an audible”on the vehicle’s Turn-by-Turn OnStar navigation system and also displays the voice recognition functions that control navigation, telephone, and entertainment functions. “It’s definitely easier to call audibles in theVerano as opposed to the line of scrimmage,” says Manning. “After I call audibles in the Verano, I don’t get hit in the back.”
Meanwhile, archrival Patriots QB Tom Brady has a cameo in the introductory commercial for the new Dodge Dart. “Tom Brady, a little bit like us, started as an underdog,” said Chrysler marketing executive Olivier Francois. “The idea was not to have an endorser but to have a cameo…you will see a glimpse of him in other Dodge commercials.”
All Hands, a Carlisle-based nonprofit dedicated to enabling volunteers to provide assistance to communities affected by natural disasters, was a big winner in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good contest, winning a newTundra pickup…Chevrolet’s new “Love it or Return it” vehicle return program on new vehicles sounds a lot like the one Herb Chambers’ dealerships have offered for years on used vehicles.