Saab History

Norwegian Mr. SAAB

Oddmund Bartender in front of the Saab car showroom in NorwayOddmund Bartender in front of the Saab car showroom in Norway

Hans Erik Lund does not think the Saab interest in Nordfjord would have been the same without Oddmund Barmen – popularly called “Mr. SAAB“. All Saab enthusiasts know Erik Carlsson (nicknamed “Carlsson på taket” as well as Mr. Saab), but in most countries where Saab cars were sold, there is at least one more person who can take the “title” of “Mr. Saab”. This is exactly the case with Norway, where many Saab enthusiasts have recognized Oddmund Barman as their Mr. Saab. Interesting post about Oddmund Barman is written by Hans Erik Lund and was published in Fjordenes Tidende a couple of years ago.

Today’s norwegina Saab enthusiasts are too young to experience the start of the Saab community in Måløy and Nordfjord and that it can easily be forgotten. As Hans Erik Lund says, We must not forget that «Mr. Saab », Oddmund Barmen, started this environment and that without him he doubt if we would have had the same environment in Måløy and Nordfjord today.

It all started with Oddmund buying his first Saab 96 with a two-stroke engine in 1962. At that time, there were not many Saab to be seen on the roads in Nordfjord. Hans had some experience from car repair and racing and Oddmund asked him for advice at that time.

He replied that the Saab is a solidly built car, but He was not so excited about the two-stroke engine and at that time it was on its way out. But Oddmund was determined that he should have Saab and so it was. For 5 years it was a bit back and forth with the idea of ​​Saab, but in 1967 Oddmund decided to become a Saab dealer. He contacted AS Autoindustri in Oslo, which at the time was an importer of Saab in Norway.

The management of Autoindustri was skeptical of the inquiry, but Oddmund convinced the management that he should sell many Saab cars. He was then assigned to Nordfjord as his sales district. For most people in Måløy and Nordfjord, Saab was a relatively unknown car brand at the time. In addition, he started without a sales premises and workshop. The skepticism was great among the buyers, but Oddmund managed to convince the buyers how good the quality of a Swedish Saab was, so the occasional Saab was sold.

Oddmund was convinced that selling the Saab was the way to go. In strange circumstances, the car company Barmen & Lund AS was established in the summer of 1968. That year, partners rented a ground floor at Lars Flo’s house for NOK 60,000. This was furnished for a workshop, parts warehouse and office. Exhibition of new and used cars was in Gate 1 outside the premises. The company’s chairman was Oddmund and Hasn got the role of general manager. The division of work was otherwise that Oddmund took care of the sales work and He took care of service and repairs, as well as setting up parts warehouse and the daily chores in the room and Hans wife Liv took care of accounting and office work.

With little start-up capital, it was initially a struggle to survive from day to day. With his sales talent, Oddmund gained momentum in car sales and gradually they could see a brighter future. For business partner, the work tasks in the basement became too extensive and they hired another two car mechanics. In addition to Saab, the company also became a car dealer for the English Triumph. This is how they kept it going for over a year, but then the working conditions in the basement became so bad that they had to look around for new premises. In 1969, the premises of Kvalheim & Rønning on Seterneset were put up for sale and they took over this in the autumn of 1969. Everything was ready for the office, workshop, parts warehouse and exhibition, as well as a petrol station.

Oddmund’s sales success only increased and increased, and gradually there were many Saab and see in Måløy’s streets and elsewhere in Nordfjord. In just a few years, this small Saab dealer has positioned itself at the top among Saab distributors in Norway. In Nordfjord, They competed with VW for the best-selling car brand. Gradually, the company increased in size and more sales people, car mechanics and office employees were hired. Furthermore, a showroom was rented in Ytre Fjordane Kraftlag’s building on Seterneset.

Without being wise afterwards, I doubt that the interest and environment for Saab in Måløy and Nordfjord would have been the same without Oddmund’s eager involvement in the 1960s. According to the author of this text, he doubts that the interest and environment for Saab cars in the Måløy and Nordfjord regions would be the same without Oddmund’s eager participation in the 1960s.