One man’s view: Why I will always drive Saabs

I occasionally get stories like this via email and I love receiving them. I’ve written plenty about why I Want The Saab. It’s always great to hear why others want the Saab, too. It feeds my Saab-Fu.

This story comes from Daniel B, who lives in Sweden.

——

My love and passion for Saabs began in 1987.

When I was about 13 years old, my father came home one day driving in a white Saab 9000i. It was a 1987 model, 2,0 liter 130 hp with burgundy velour interior. Today one might say that there is nothing special about that car at all, but in 1987, this was just something else.

My family had had Volvos since I can remember and the change from a Volvo 244 GLT 1981 to a Saab 9000 1987 – well, let´s just say that it was one HUGE step. In the public eye in Sweden, Saabs had always been the standing in the shadow of Volvo, and to be honest, were quite heckled.

With the 9000, Saab had made a car that had something of a halo-aura around it. In the late 80’s, it was THE car to have.

For me, personally, I was struck by love immediately. Car-wise.

In 1988 my father changed the 9000 for a 1988b model, with blue interior, and all the extras except leather. I remember sitting in the back of the car watching the interior, the dash and the various buttons with their glowing green symbols, and the ACC-panel with its small lamps besides the buttons. The SID which looked like it was taken directly from Star Wars.

I made my mind up back then. Saab was the car for me.

In 1992 when I got my drivers licence, I bought my first Saab. A brown 3-door 1980 900 2.0. It might not have been a beautiful color, but it was a great car. It was comfortable, great to drive, with great winter handling. My friends in their Volvos, well they were mostly gliding around in the snow with the rear wheels spinning.

One of the best things (mechanically) with that car IMHO, was how the drivetrain was mounted. One day I had to change the clutch. Let me just say, changing a clutch on an OG 900, is like a dream:

1. Off with the bonnet.
2. Get some tools
3. Your butt on the radiator, your feet somewhere in the enginebay where you can find room.
4. Get the old clutch out. Put the new one in
5. Put the bonnet back on.

What a car…

In 1994 I got my first job and I needed a better car, so I bought my dreamcar (well almost). A 1986 9000 Turbo, Silverish blue.

It had some rust on the doors, which I fixed, but there was more for this car to come since I crashed it in 1995 and made a total restoration as well as rebuilding it as a black 1990 Aero. I loved that car.

Since then I have had about 12-13 other Saabs, my current 2010 9-5 SC TiD GriffinSport being the latest and definitely NOT the last. I love this car as well.

I have sometimes come to wonder why I have come to love this particular brand. Why Saab? I’m sure that there are a lot of cars that perform better in some areas on paper, but for some reason the heart and mind keeps sticking to Saabs.

The only answer I have is that at least for me, Saabs have been the only cars that have perfomed best in the combined areas that I value the most.

Sure, VW´s might be more spacious, Audis might have better build quality and material in the interiors, BMW might have better handling in the hands of an experienced driver, Volvos may have better reliability, and Toyotas may (a big may) be more fuel efficient etc etc.

BUT in a Saab you get a combination of great performance in terms of all these features, a combination I just can’t find in any other car.

VW’s are boring, Audis are just the same (and they have looks like milk cartons – they all look the same but in different sizes), BMW is too “look at me” for my taste and too conservative, Volvos are….well…. just boring too. Toyota? No thanks, not for me.

Saab needs to be more Saab. The best comment I’ve heard from Victor Muller, one that Saab needs to adhere to: Say what you are. Do what you say.

What I feel that Saab have lost though is the way it was DIFFERENT from other cars in the past. And I truly hope and wish that this thinking will gradually come back to how it was in the old heyday.

The way the gauges looked, with green lights and orange needles, the compressed speedo. Controls for power-windows that you pressed down, when you wanted the window to go down, and lifted when you wanted the window to lift. At the same time other car maker had switches that you pressed forward to get the window down and backwards to get it up.

Controls for heated seats that were like reostats that you turned with the tip of your finger instead of pushing a button over and over in order to get the right level of heating. Other cars had just an on/off switch.

Doors that went down with the threshold integrated so that your pants or skirt didn’t get dirty getting in and out of the car.

The way the rear spoiler on the OG 9-5 SC was designed in order to keep the rear window from not getting dirty.

The clamshell bonnet that made engine bay access easy.

The hatchback

The list just goes on and on…

Don’t get me wrong. I love the NG 9-5 and 9-4X, and if there had been a 9-5SC back in August I would have got one instead of my 2010 OG 9-5. BUT, I get a feeling that instead of going their own way – The Saab Way if you like – the main focus has been to make the cars as equivalent to the competition as possible, and in that process, they have kind of not looked the other way, and thought out of the box. It may be a result of GM being the overlord of the decisions being made (I truly believe it is – SW)

It’s not that the cars don’t perform good enough. THEY DO. It’s not that the cars don’t look good enough. THEY MOST DEFINITELY DO.

It’s just that the I feel a lack of the intuitive solutions of controls, instrument layout. The HUD is fantastic though!!

It is my firm belief that people who buys Saabs do so because they want a car that is different and special (Intelligent if you like –which I personally think is a good description of what Saabs should be like. Kudos to Curvin O’Reilly) – and not just as good as the rest out there. We kind of take that for granted, we Saab drivers, and in some way we can live with the flaws as well.

It’s just like any other lovestory:

-You love her because she is just THAT. Special, different, to you just perfect. And the small flaws sometimes just makes you love her more…

/Daniel

Pat h
Guest
Pat h
5 years 8 months ago

Nailed it.

Allan
Guest
Allan
5 years 8 months ago

Agreed. What a wonderful read, written right from the soul. Daniel captured the pure essence of why I, too, will ALWAYS drive SAAB!!!

Robin M
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I love this type of story too, and that white 9-5 Wagon, lush.
Great to hear from you Daniel.

Tomas TL1000R
Guest
Tomas TL1000R
5 years 8 months ago

Great love story! When things go wrong for Saab and I even doubt a little, I can go back to this nice written story and get back all spirit!

The Saab unique sense is the key, hope they develop it even more in the future
Thanks Daniel for inspiration.

Gustaf
Guest
Gustaf
5 years 8 months ago

What a love story. Wonderful reading, Daniel.

Tobias A
Guest
Tobias A
5 years 8 months ago

A true great story Dabiel!

These “real life” stories are so great to read about!

Tobias A
Guest
Tobias A
5 years 8 months ago

Ops, off course I mean Daniel.. Sorry for that

Olav
Guest
Olav
5 years 8 months ago

This is definately among the best readings I have had for a long time! Well put, Daniel! 🙂

Cheers from Norway
-Olav-
Always on the longest road home when out there with my SAAB. Always!

RS
Guest
RS
5 years 8 months ago

+1

vince
Guest
vince
5 years 8 months ago

nice combi 🙂 don’t see too many in that color (white) Nice take on why you like Saab , however I personally don’t agree with the statement volvos are more reliable than saab..

Henrik
Guest
Henrik
5 years 8 months ago

great write up, and the ending lines was just icing in the cake!

JH
Guest
JH
5 years 8 months ago

Great story, thanks for sharing it Daniel! 🙂

Off-topic:
For Swedish Saabers relatively close to Stockholm: Bilcenter in Nyköping are having a Saab Outlet with almost new company cars from Saab in Trollhättan this weekend. They have around 40 pcs of Saab 9-3 BioPower MY2009 and MY2010 at great prices.
More information is here (in Swedish).

Sappy
Guest
Sappy
5 years 8 months ago

Good things from this reviewer who owns an old 9-5, I guess he is biased but the article is very fair and pleasingly positive.

http://www.pistonheads.com/roadtests/doc.asp?c=47&i=23037

Rune
Guest
Rune
5 years 8 months ago

Everybody who would like to see a picture of Daniel with his butt firmly placed on the radiator of his Saab, please raise your hands now. 😀

I wish I was good with a wrench. Last week I replaced the side mirror on my 9000. I probably would not have managed without the Saab maintenance manual.

Daniel B
Guest
Daniel B
5 years 8 months ago

Hahaha:D I wish I had a picture of that moment, but it was ages ago and long before the digital era..:)

saab93f
Guest
saab93f
5 years 8 months ago
Wow. That was so well written. Saabs do that to people – I just about remember my familys first Saab which was I guess a beige 1972 99L with metal bumpers. It was bought because it was a zillion times safer than the car my parents had before me, a Datsun 1600 SSS. Since then we had various 99’s and a couple 900’s before inevitable 9000’s first of which was malakite green with beige cloth. Just wonderful car and way above competition in late 1980’s. It is good that there are other cars and then Saabs – my mind is… Read more »
zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 8 months ago

Love it!! *two thumbs up* 🙂

J Fan
Guest
J Fan
5 years 8 months ago

That was a brilliant story – Daniel you are a hero for Saab.

*That* is what Saab should use in their ad campaign!

Jake
Guest
Jake
5 years 8 months ago

Awesome story!

Next time my dad thinks I’m crazy for loving Saabs, I’ll just show him this article!

benrp
Guest
benrp
5 years 8 months ago

That just makes me want to go live in Sweden with their Saab- Volvo automotive landscape. I am surprised to here a Saab had rusted but I guess the conditions are tough in Sweden.
This is unrealated but funny.

Per
Guest
Per
5 years 8 months ago

Good one, Daniel.

Daniel B
Guest
Daniel B
5 years 8 months ago

Hi all,
Wow, thanx for the response:) and thank YOU Swade for putting it up on SU!! Sorry about the bad swenglish…:) hahaha…:)
-I just felt that I had to write my mind and heart off, mostly after reading RED´s “I want my colours back” earlier this week. Great written by RED and definately pinpointed what I love about driving and owning Saabs…
Hope you all are having a great weekend!!
I know am. Just came back after grilling hot dogs out in the blue-skied sunny Swedish winterland, with my family:)

Cheers!

/Daniel

maanders
Guest
maanders
5 years 8 months ago

Daniel, great job of capturing both the details and spirit of why we love Saabs! (And your “swenglish” was just fine!) Griffin up!

Loma
Guest
Loma
5 years 8 months ago

Excellent writing . I think you put that “difficult to explain Saab-feeling ” perfectly into words for most of us Saabista’s.
Who needs 300 HP when you read something like this ? Just give us that distinguished Saab-personality (back) .

Talladegan
Guest
Talladegan
5 years 8 months ago

Bang on.

Great read …I echo those sentiments very closely.

74stingray
Guest
74stingray
5 years 8 months ago

Really nice write up, I especially like the comment

VW’s are boring, Audis are just the same (and they have looks like milk cartons – they all look the same but in different sizes), BMW is too “look at me” for my taste and too conservative, Volvos are….well…. just boring too. Toyota? No thanks, not for me.

Seems as though the driver and nameplate get the same reputation the world over.

meg haviland
Guest
meg haviland
5 years 8 months ago

Great write-up Daniel. Glad to have you as part of our Saab family. Lke you my love for Saab started n 1987 too! Love your SC in white. She’s beautiful 🙂

TurboLover
Guest
TurboLover
5 years 8 months ago

Nice to see a Dame Edna 2010. I have one as well, but 2,3 BP SC and in snow silver. How many 9-5 was made in 2010, can’t be to many. Gonna be a future classic 🙂

Red J
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I also have an “A” Dame Edna!!! 🙂

Ted Y
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Great story. Trouble is, I haven’t found a good way to answer someone quickly when they ask me why I like Saab. I start with something akin to this story but their eyes just glaze over after awhile and they say “Oh, okay.” They just don’t get it. 🙁
I’ve got to come up with a convincing quick answer. Loved your story though, I get it.

74stingray
Guest
74stingray
5 years 8 months ago

@ Ted…Some simpletons just can’t understand the Griffins’ seductive ways……. it’s more powerful than the dark side, chuck norris and the vulcan death grip……. combined.

ARUK
Guest
ARUK
5 years 8 months ago
I have the same struggle! More than once I’ve fumbled my response so now I simply reply with a single word -an emphatic, hand gesturing, “EVERYTHING!” If that piques interest, then counting from my fingers I rifle-off five adjectives in no particular order -Saabs’ blend of; Practicality, Performance, Safety, Economy and Reliability. The trick I find is to undersell them (the older stuff –<C900/9000/9-3 sells itself, the newer stuff requires a little more deftness) and let the inquirer make up their own mind. I can relate to Daniels’ great story too though there was no precedent of ownership in the… Read more »
Iiari
Guest
Iiari
5 years 8 months ago
BUT, I get a feeling that instead of going their own way – The Saab Way if you like – the main focus has been to make the cars as equivalent to the competition as possible, and in that process, they have kind of not looked the other way, and thought out of the box. It may be a result of GM being the overlord of the decisions being made (I truly believe it is – SW) The near complete parity amongst automakers now (no clear market advantages) and convergence of their characteristics (everyone is about as comfortable/safe/fast as everyone… Read more »
Anonymoose
Guest
Anonymoose
5 years 8 months ago

My two words to describe Saab:

distinctive
distinguished

with all the the other terms too: utility, styling, performance, efficient…….

Kandiru
Guest
Kandiru
5 years 8 months ago

The Goths are fiercely proud of their heritage. So much
that even stores have a central display of Swedish merchandise
knowing most vikings will only eat/wear their own. If more nations
were like this one we could have spared the steady decline of
western civilization in the last 2 decades. Well, you know what
happened to Volvo, xxxx……..mmmm, mmmhmmm, OK i chill out now.

Muppen
Guest
Muppen
5 years 8 months ago

Strange and funny Spanish Saab Commercial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNFWBGJvD9U

I’m Swedish, and I can confirm that we all look like Björn Borg when we are alone and no one can see us 🙂

Cardoso
Guest
Cardoso
5 years 8 months ago

A funny ad… but not Spanish. First of all, and although it’s quite old, I’m pretty sure I would remember it if I had seen it on TV. The accent of the actor, furthermore, is not from Spain: he speaks Spanish with a Latin American accent. I can’t say exactly where it could be from… perhaps Mexico, Argentina or even the US… but definitely not from Spain.
P.S. The webpage (www.elpoderdelanaturaleza.com) that appears on it doesn’t work any more.

Henrik S
Guest
Henrik S
5 years 8 months ago

Great story Daniel!
I totally agree with you: I love my 9-5 SC from 2010, no doubt about that. But I miss the Saab controls for the electric windows and the green light of the speedometer. But it is easy to forget when you take left into the fast lane to pass another truck!

By the way: For us swedes there will be a chanse to see Victor Muller on SVT2 tomorrow at 21:15. As usual here in Sweden the main question will be why Saab has failed during 2010., some times I just get sick of our journalists…..
/Henrik S

zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 8 months ago

Someone may want to ask the Swedish press why as of today, 22Jan2011, Saab is still in business if according to them Saab failed in 2010. *rolleyes*

Anders
Guest
Anders
5 years 8 months ago

Great story!

Off topic: Maptun of Sweden has just released their tuning for SAAB 9-3 XWD above stage 1, they have this stage 5 which gives you 325 hp. My guess is that it will be a blast to drive one of those 😉

http://maptun.se/tuningGuide.php?kategori=668&produkt=4573&model=3878&listorder=135

olaf95
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Daniel. Amen. Nothing more I could say about that Special Feeling for Saab. I drive exactly The Same Car As you do and everytime I recognise The Fasten Seatbelt light or I Grab The curved oval doorhandles I’m fascinated about THAT Feeling. My car understands me. The 9-5 griffin SC in White is a true follower to your fathers White 9000.

Daniel B
Guest
Daniel B
5 years 8 months ago

So, we are brothers i white then;) Fantastic!
Thinking about maybe Hirsching mine to 175 hp this summer and put a Hirsch rear deck spoiler on.
Apart from that the car is more than I can ask for.
Never thought of it that way, but the car IS a true follower to my fathers 9000:)

Stefan
Guest
Stefan
5 years 8 months ago

Spot on, Daniel. Loved to read it.

till72
Guest
till72
5 years 8 months ago

Great read, Daniel!

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix
5 years 8 months ago
Great that you wrote your story Daniel and thanks Swade for putting it out. g I remember when me and my friend got the first drive in the new 9000 2.3 Turbo with 200hp. His father worked with engine development at Saab and had brought one home. He put us on a hell of a ride on VERY small roads and put the 9000 to its limits. When we lifted the bonnet after the ride is was like a sunset in the engine bay. The turbo was glowing. The 2.3 Turbo wasn’t released to the market yet when we got… Read more »
Toby
Guest
Toby
5 years 8 months ago

You are right and a lot of folks whom end to look in here have bought or ordered…and some plan to advance an order in a few months tme…;-)

But well done to Dan for writing what so many of us think-when every thing seems to be the same…difference is the key. Unique, Intelligent, scandinavian design.

Tomas TL1000R
Guest
Tomas TL1000R
5 years 8 months ago
I agree! Why should anybody buy a Saab? When all the competitors are as good as Saab? Saab must be different in specific areas! Saab must bring there costomers something that noon els does. VM and JÅJ know this and the new 9-3 will be there examination. It´s rough out there, the cometitor is good and strong. To lift ,Saab must take care of there roots and develop them. The product itself is the key! If Saab manage to do this, there future is secure. The battle is really tough and will never stop but it all depends on the… Read more »
GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 8 months ago

Daniel, you have put in words what many of us can only feel. Excellent.

With respect to Saab being different. I don’t think that the engineers and designers in the seventies and eighties were thinking “well, lets make a different car because it will sell like hot cakes”. It was basically a form following function exercise plus some history mixed in. Many, if not all, of the innovative stuff was there because the people at Saab felt that it would work. This resulted in smart cars designed by and for smart people.

Patrik B
Guest
Patrik B
5 years 8 months ago

Let’s hope they will do it in the future as well and that they don’t spend to much time going after “Ådi”.

Daniel B
Guest
Daniel B
5 years 8 months ago

About the “form follows function” I agree 110%!

Nikolaus
Guest
Nikolaus
5 years 8 months ago

thank´s daniel for this great story about loving saab.
it´s more than perfekt and articulates in perfect manner my own opinion.

greetings form germany

nikolaus

Zizou
Guest
Zizou
5 years 8 months ago

great story, thank you daniel!

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 8 months ago

Certainly a very nice read, Daniel.

Doctor Donk
Guest
Doctor Donk
5 years 8 months ago

Why I will always drive Saabs?
-Safety

100%Saab
Guest
100%Saab
5 years 8 months ago

Well said. I certainly like my 2008 and 2009 9-3s. The rest of the automotive world may not like it, but you have to admit it. Saab has style.

The short answer to why I like Saab: Saab has style. Saab has balance. Saab has beauty.

Just a thought.

Harri
Guest
Harri
5 years 8 months ago
Great writing Daniel! I’ve been struggling for the past 6 years about why I left Saab. I told myself it was because I was tired of doing the mechanic work with having the gearboxes removed (sent for repairs and put them back in, done that more than 10 times, tuning the 90’s Saabs could do that to you!). Agree about the clutch, every car should be that easy. When reading your story I think that the reason I left was that from the mid 90’s the Saab feeling was partially gone, I stayed on and tried a few 9-5’s but… Read more »
Beltway
Guest
Beltway
5 years 8 months ago

I’ve never felt compelled to leave a comment but this post was pure connection with like minded others, feels good driving a Saab with other drivers like you, see you on the road..

spidaman
Guest
spidaman
5 years 8 months ago

Well put, Daniel!

You touched on why a Saab has been my daily driver for the last 24 years. That supreme balance of performance, utility and safety.

Other cars have come and gone from the second stall in our garage: Honda Civic, Dodge Grand Caravan, VW Touareg and now a VW Passat wagon, but the first stall always has a Saab.

wpDiscuz